Last month on Black Widow we saw what happened when news media across the globe got access to some classified and confidential files on the titular character. Noted real-life news anchor/journalist Anderson Cooper guest-starred in the issue, providing a damning account of Natasha’s recent activities and the question was raised whether she was an asset or a liability for SHIELD and the Avengers. It was a fantastic melding of the real-life and comic-life, and I thoroughly enjoyed the issue from all angles, whether you look at the story or the art or the characters or what have you.
The new Black Widow from this past week looks at the fallout from last month’s events as Black Widow kinda-sorta goes under the radar and visits with her attorney and friend, Isaiah, who was shot by an unnamed assailant at the end of Black Widow #12 and left for dead. Isaiah survived, thankfully, and now he has a few things to tell his friend and employer. Once again, Nathan Edmondson delivers a great look at Natasha and Isaiah both, and we even get to see another guest-star on the book in the form of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. And Phil Noto’s art, just amazing.
Natasha has always done what she wants, within the parameters of her missions, whether personal or SHIELD-sanctioned. She is someone with her own mind, who can take care of herself, and that gives her a lot of leeway in doing what she is required to do. As such, it is really no surprise that when everyone expects her to just lie low and ride out the storm of public criticism directed at her by the news media, casting an unwelcome light on her work for SHIELD, that she would just go out in the open and hunt for those who have hurt her and her friends.
Much of the issue takes place in an autumnal setting, and thus, we see some incredible work by Nathan and Phil Noto as Natasha gets out for revenge. We see her interact with a whole bunch of people in this issue, and it all serves to show what kind of a person Natasha really is. And the great thing is that we don’t have Maria Hill or any of the mainline Avengers in the issue, trying to tell the character what to do or not do, being all high and mighty and patronizing towards her. We just have the people close to her, friends and allies, reaching out to her for a helping hand. I like that. Though Clint Barton is in the issue, we don’t see him directly interact with Natasha, since he comes to visit Isaiah instead and the two of them talk about her and her determination to do what she wants.
As usual with this title, there’s a lot of internal exposition, and there’s a lot of dialogue as well. Nathan Edmondson is basically firing on all levels to deliver the best experience he can, and it certainly feels like that all through the comic. The story starts off slow, but then builds up in momentum until Natasha is confronting the man who shot Isaiah, and learns who exactly has been behind all her recent troubles. And it all comes back to something that Nathan introduced in the first arc, CHAOS, an organization that has been causing quite a few problems for SHIELD recently.
So you certainly get a sense for the long game here, which is all well and good since it allows Nathan to do the smaller arcs, but also lets him do the big stuff where it all back-connects, giving more cohesion to his entire run.
Phil Noto’s artwork is at his absolute best here, and I say that as not hyperbole. The autumnal oranges and reds and yellows, combined with the frequent light sky-blues and whites, all conspire to make a visual feast unlike any other we have seen so far on the title. He has always used a great mix of colour palettes for his work, and the visual storytelling in this issue is beyond all of that. The thematic resonance with the story itself also works out rather well and just goes to show that Phil’s art is a great complement to Nathan’s story, and that VC’s Clayton Cowles’ lettering, especially with Natasha’s inner dialogue, is just as great a match given the placement in every panel.
Damn good issue to close out on what has been a fantastic year for Black Widow and Natasha Romanoff.