Buddy Reads for the Shallow Comic Readers this week is “Red” Theme…Black Widow is…a Redhead. and Russian, which is…Red. And she makes people bleed…RED. And the art is heavy on the colour…RED. And I just..RE(a)D it!
Where to start…First off, I don’t love ScarJo’s movie version of Black Widow, she just doesn’t have any gravitas or tortured soul feeling. She’s just T&A. I wish she was more.
This version of Natasha is bang on, right up my alley.
The artwork by Phil Noto is ideally suited to this book and character, so bravo to him on this. It’s got somewhat muted tones, but is heavy on the red, blood red, the colour of spies (because a heavy on the black book would be too dark lol).
I like Nathan Edmondson a lot; his Jake Ellis series was fantastic, and though he did write the less than stellar “Grifter” reboot for New 52, that wasn’t entirely awful. This, however is great.
Natasha feels like she’s worn out, far too old for her actual age, and not just a support player with the big guns. There’s a terrific section where she talks about not being a marksman, or a dude with a shield or a philanthropist with a suit of armour…she’s just a spy. So she doesn’t seek out bang bang shoot em up style action.
I love that she’s motivated by making atonement for her earlier life, and I don’t think we need to have it spelled out for us; I really respect a writer who gives the audience credit to figure it out. She kills people, she used to kill people for the Russians, so she probably killed a lot of people who might not have deserved it. Ergo, she funnels most of her money into trust funds for those left behind. I like it. She’s got a conscience, but at no point do I ever consider her soft or weak.
She keeps people at arm’s length, because people obviously hurt her; the closest thing we see is her lawyer, a neighbour, and Maria Hill, director of SHIELD. (We even get a cameo from Hawkguy, where she looks less than enthused to see him, which I think is a great touch from Edmondson and Noto, differentiating this Black Widow from the Avengers/movie version).
Other reviewers have said that the plot isn’t intricate enough, or details enough given, but really, I think that would be a waste of time. I don’t need to be explained what her motivation is and who everyone she’s going after is, and what they did. I just know she does what she does, it’s work, and she’s damn good at it. This is probably a more accurate depiction of the assassin/spy/operative life anyhow; detached, but highly functional.
I also feel like this minimal style of plot gives us a lot more time to focus on Natasha, see her, and develop our own feelings towards her; we’re not being pressured by the writer to love her, or hate her, we’re being given an honest look, and allowed to make up our own minds. I like this approach a lot, because it doesn’t try so hard to force a character onto us. However, she’s here if we want.
Of course, the Mad Russian Monk is always fun, and it’s nice to see a hero(ine) who, although badass and deadly, isn’t indestructible like an 80s movie hero. She gets beat up, she doesn’t always win, and she doesn’t like it.
There’s so much to like here, I cannot wait to get my hands on volume 2. Also, this day in age, it’s a blast to get a strong female character written well, and independent of others. There’s enough little humour here, but I also like that a Marvel book isn’t afraid to go lighter on the funny for once. It’s not in danger of being a DC book, but it doesn’t try to fit the formula of sarcastic/self-deprication, because that wouldn’t work here at all.
It works, I really enjoyed it, and it’s a great combo of solid writing and superb art. Winner.