There is a good reason why Black Widow won the Eisner for best new series, as Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande dropped Natasha into a new location and a new kind of adventure. Out this week is Black Widow #13, with guest artist Rafael T. Pimentel in a throwback issue from earlier in Black Widow’s career. Hope she can survive the experience!
This is part two of the “Die by the Blade” story arc, which takes place “years ago.” Spinning out of the last issue, Black Widow is fighting The Living Blade. He showed up in the last issue and now we get to see them spar and find out why they have some major beef. The entire issue takes place over a few minutes across Madripoor as they trade blows. It’s a fight comic that is primarily narrated via Black Widow through captions and it’s a fight where Black Widow is primarily losing.
Black Widow’s voice via the captions is very matter of fact. She might be taking a knife to the shoulder, but she’s still certain and confident in her next move. She fully admits she might be losing, but she doesn’t let that break her. It all builds towards a heroic self-sacrifice end that feels even more certain due to Black Widow’s voice.
It’s a cool concept to take a serial format like comics and jump back in time for an entire issue. It gives this issue a one-shot feel while the fight between The Living Blade and Black Widow in this issue adds weight to their relationship. These two don’t necessarily talk, and we don’t really get to know The Living Blade, but we do get the emphatic proof as to how The Living Blade is a formidable foe.
Pimentel infuses the book with old-school charm thanks to the visible dots to make up the colors as well as a cityscape that’s got a lighter color palette by Jordie Bellaire. It helps that Pimentel perfectly draws Black Widow’s classic gray costume. The action shifts well from scene to scene as well, with various locations depicted well. It’s also cool to see a double-page splash of Black Widow fighting across both pages, which is a staple of the series done up in an old-school way.
Black Widow #13 is a good fight comic that shows us why The Living Blade is formidable. It also shows both as heroic in their own ways even though we have yet to find out why he wants Black Widow dead. The bottom line is this is a clever way to shed light on a key character in the story arc.
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