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Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW #1 (Review)

Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW #1 (Review)

Thanks to Scarlett Johansson and her portrayal of the Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character of former Russian spy/current SHIELD agent Natasha Romanoff is probably the most widely known female superhero this side of Wonder Woman. But her current name brand hasn’t always translated into bigger comic books sales, despite the best efforts of some great creative teams.

Her most recent solo series by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto was a more serious look into the life of Natasha Romanoff, and was a little bit more about getting into the character’s head. It was pretty good, but maybe not what fans of the character were looking for.

This latest series however, doesn’t have time to get into the deep thought process of Agent Romanoff, at least not yet. This new Black Widow series, from the creative team of Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee (who is credited as co-writer) is pure action all the way through. The first issue of the All-New, All-Different Marvel run of Black Widow starts with a bang and never lets up for a second. This new creative team is the same one that recently wrapped up their excellent and critically acclaimed run on Daredevil, and judging from this first issue, their take on the Black Widow has a solid chance of being just as acclaimed.

The best way to properly describe this issue is to say that it’s the best cold opening to a Bond film, or a Mission Impossible film, that I’ve seen in a long time (it’s also a great homage to a certain elevator scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). The issue opens in SHIELD headquarters, where an APB is put out by SHIELD director Maria Hill that Agent Romanoff has stolen something very precious to SHIELD, and should now be considered an enemy agent. All SHIELD agents are to try and capture her and bring her back alive.

What ensues for the next 20 pages or so is comic book sequential storytelling at its best, as the Black Widow runs from an army of SHIELD agents with her precious cargo — whatever it may be — and pretty much makes mince meat out of them. In just a few pages, this issue showcases why — even though Natasha is “just” a former spy with no powers –she deserves to stand toe-to-toe with heroes like Captain America and Iron Man on the Avengers.

Artist Chris Samnee keeps the action moving in every panel, in every page, and you feel like you’re looking at some excellent storyboards for an action film. In fact, Marvel Studios would be lucky if the opening sequence to this issue was what the opening for a potential Black Widow film ended up being. Samnee’s clean lines have been praised by many during his run on Daredevil, but his stuff here is as good or better. If you’ve never encountered his art before, if you’re a fan of the clean lines of artists like Cliff Chiang or even David Mazzucchelli (who did the classic Batman: Year One) you’ll probably love Samnee’s style.

Unfortunately, here’s where my one and only complaint about the issue comes in, and I feel bad for even saying it. Because this issue is not stop action with barely any dialogue at all, the entire comic takes about four, maybe five minutes to read. Sure, it’s quite an exhilarating few minutes, but when comics are costing $3.99 a pop, you can’t help but feel cheated just a little bit, no matter how good it is (and trust me, it’s good. But still). If the rest of the issues are similar to this in terms of lack of dialogue, etc, then it forces me to have to do the “wait for the trade” speil. And I hate having to do that, as I’m still believer in the monthly format for comics being viable.

So do I recommend this issue, and want to continue reading? Absolutely! But at the same time, I’m fully aware that there are fans out there who are going to feel gypped because it takes so little time to read. So based on that and that alone, Black Widow #1 gets one half of a burrito less than it probably deserves. But make no mistake, this is still a damn good comic book.

RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS

3.5-burritos1


Images: Marvel

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