Sunday, 21 February 2016

Black Widow Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto

Black Widow Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Phil Noto is the first volume of the pre-Secret Wars run of Black Widow. I put off getting around to this series for a while because I don't have particularly strong feelings about Black Widow from either the movies or appearances in other comics. And because Russian characters are usually quite poorly done. Happily, this was not the case with this Black Widow run.


And the Black Widow has plenty of that. She may be an Avenger and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Widow has her own mission: to atone for her past as a KGB assassin. Her methods are dirty. Her heart is cold. But her work is flawless. On an undercover assignment in Russia, she finds that the Hand of God is reaching for her--and it's as merciless as its name. Outmatched by the brute force of this powerful new villain, Natasha discovers a deadly globe-spanning plot. It's a race against time, and the Widow has nowhere to turn for answers. The trail of blood and destruction will test her strength and cunning--but it may also test her faith.

Of one the first things that struck me was the art style of this issue. A lot of it is done in a more painted style compared with the bold colours and clean lines of many superhero comics. It suits the somewhat darker mood of this comic — Natasha trying to redress the wrongs of her past — and, best of all, doesn't feature icky objectification. Whoo!

The story, as I said, focuses on Natasha's desire to redress the wrongs she committed as a Soviet spy. However, nothing is ever simple and her side missions quickly devolve into conspiracy and supervillains. The this issue contains a complete story arc, but one that ends with several unresolved threads. I look forward to picking up the story in the next volume. Also, Natasha has a cat, as every good superhero should. This was one of the things that hooked me when I read the first issue (originally by itself when it was a freebie).

In many ways, this Black Widow run reminds me of the Matt Fraction Hawkeye run, in that it's mainly about what the protagonist does when she's not being an Avenger (but still sometimes being a SHIELD agent). I would hence recommend it to fans of that Hawkeye series as well as, obviously, fans of the Black Widow character, either in comics or in the movies. As far as I can tell, the storyline so far is not (very) incompatible with the MCU, in case that makes a difference. I will definitely be reading the next (two) volumes.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Marvel Comics
Series: Black Widow 2014-2015, collecting issues #1-6 plus the Black Widow story from All-New Marvel Now! Point One
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Comic book shop

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