By: Nathan Edmondson (Writer), Phil Noto (Artist), VC's Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
Story: (Quoted from inside cover) Natasha Romanov is an Avenger, and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and an ex-KGB assassin, but on her own time, she uses her unique skill set to atone for her past.
That honestly sums up the story of Black Widow as well as I think anyone could do it.
For many, you mention Black Widow, and something akin to the picture below will come to mind:
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with Scarlett Johansson being the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the character. When the character showed up in Iron Man 2, she could easily have been seen as a relatively unknown character. I don't believe she ever really had the comic book presence that characters like Captain America, or Spider-man had. However, I think we can give the Marvel Cinematic Universe a little credit for bringing the character into the spotlight, and thus leading us to this particular comic. Also, it gave me a reason to put a picture of Scarlett Johansson into a post, and I will not complain about that.
This particular title hit the shelves on January 8th, and I'm a little late getting to this post... Actually ended up reading the comic after I wrote my recap of 2013, and my Most Anticipated of 2014, and have been a little busy since then. From what I can tell from this first issue, this title is going to be a story all about atonement. Natasha Romanov is a character that has done some bad things in her past, and it would appear that the guilt is gnawing away at her.
The story is just starting up here, and it makes a good starting point for new readers. There is very little reference to any sort of story outside of the issue, and as such it doesn't require any kind of foreknowledge to follow it. Nathan Edmondson's story flows well from panel to panel, complimented perfectly by Phil Noto's artwork. (Click on their names to view their websites. Totally worth it). The art style is a simple, aesthetically pleasing sort of thing, and honestly the last page is a thing of beauty. Meanwhile the writing feels like a nice spy story, that would make a fun little action film. Seriously, Marvel Studios, we need a Black Widow film like this comic.
This comic, is fun, and offers up some decent action without devolving into the realm of being mindless. It offers up a story of a woman, struggling to come to grips with what she's done. It is not necessarily a story that comes from a place full of hope, but it is a story that is on the long road to redemption. Based on the depth of the character's guilt, this is a story that could go on for a long time, and as long as they can keep it fun, and interesting I'll be checking it out every month.
My one complaint, and honestly, it is more of a back-handed compliment, is that the issue is too short. I think this would be a comic that will be wonderful in a collected edition, especially if they toss in a cover gallery of all the variant covers like the Skottie Young one... Seriously, EVERY comic needs a Skottie Young cover. (Click on the first Skottie to head on over to his site, and check out more of his work)
Final Thoughts: This comic fits in thematically with what I have perceived to be the entire point of the "Marvel NOW!" Initiative. In that, it serves as a great jumping on point for new readers. It also serves another purpose. Combined with the recent Captain Marvel series, as well as the recent X-men, and the upcoming Ms. Marvel series, it shows a nice push towards having strong female characters leading their own series. This is always a plus. I look forward to seeing where this title goes.
22 Page Grade: A very solid A