Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto began their run on Black Widow for Marvel Now/All-New Marvel Now on quite a high. The first five issues did a great job of introducing Natasha Romanoff’s character and establishing her as a high-level Agent of SHIELD while also referencing her time as an Avenger and making some callbacks to the Avengers movie as well, although that was more subtle. What these two storytellers did in this issue was explore her character and give her some new challenges to face, both within and outside her area of expertise, which spiced things up really nice. And now, their first arc comes to a close.
Black Widow #6 is the close-out issue of Edmondson and Noto’s first arc on the new series. Last episode, we saw a really nice cinematic showdown between Natasha and her enemy-at-the-time Molot, and then we got introduced to an even bigger mystery as someone from Natasha’s past returned. Said character seemed to be playing the long game and in this issue we see how well that works out for him (*snicker*). At the time, I thought this issue was lacking a bit in terms of story because there were too many things going on, although the artwork remains as amazing as ever.
Let’s start with the cover first. I’ve loved all the covers that Phil Noto has done for this series prior to this. Each of them is quite cinematic and always keeps Natasha in the center of the composition. The colours, the action, it is always great But, I can’t quite say the same for this one. Sure, Natasha is once again the center of the image, but there is far, far too much red here. And the contrast with the black just serves to enhance all that redness. The red almost hurts the eyes, there is so much of it. and it all bleeds into the bottom of the cover with the All-New Marvel Now logo and the credits and issue number.
The story itself, it has to do with Natasha coming to an interesting showdown with Damon Dran the Indestructible Man. She was captured by his thugs when she was investigating a case on SHIELD director Maria Hill’s behalf, and now we see how all of that plays out. Molot from the previous two issues is back of course, because this comic just wouldn’t be the same without his brand of religious insanity and fanaticism, so Natasha is able to get another round with the big guy, putting him properly in his place before she confronts Damon. The way this issue ends, there’s clearly a far bigger game plan in play, and that’s what Maria turns Natasha on to next, with the promise for the reader that things are going to get even better and bigger than before.
Once again, I loved how Edmondson characterised Natasha. He really seems to be able to get her, and he just builds off who she is, who she is supposed to be, and who she is trying to be. Plus, he handles Maria Hill really well, capturing her ruthlessness and concern for her agents at the same time. The balance is not easy to achieve, but Edmondson gets that without going overboard with any of it, and that in itself is great. There are lots of opportunities here for these two ladies to interact, and given their high profile in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is extremely satisfactory to see them reflected in this series. Oh and we also get to see a brief shot of Clint Barton in this issue, least I think it is him. Quite humourous really, I must say.
As with all the issues preceding this one, Phil Noto’s artwork really makes this a standout issue and series. Whether we have night scenes or day scenes, his is always on top form. And what’s interesting is that he seems to change colour shades slightly when switching between these scenes. Like, for example, in the night scenes Natasha’s hair are dark red, a bit muddy even, but in the day scenes, they are lighter in colour. And she also smiles in the day scenes, so that’s yet another small difference that really makes this a full-fledged visual masterpiece.
Edmondson ends the issue on a rather philosophical note as Natasha muses on what she is and who she is, and going into the next arc of the series, it is a nice moment to end this arc on, wrapping everything up. Can’t wait to see what the next story brings to this series.