Even though she made an appearance in 2010’s Iron Man 2 and co-starred in 2012’s The Avengers, it’s been three years since Natasha Romanov had her own comic book for fans to enjoy, but it’s finally here. In one of the more surprising moves of All-New Marvel NOW! super spy Black Widow is starring in her own ongoing comic series, and we’re here to say it’s pretty great.
Nathan Edmondson writes the new series, which sees Black Widow, in her time between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers assignments, taking on some assassination and extraction duties around the world. What I like best about Edmondson’s approach to this series is his focus on simplicity. So many comics can become engorged on dialogue and the story that in turn they become no fun to read. Ideally if you can take your storytelling and smoothly lay out your concept while carefully feeding your characters, it’s a total win, and that’s what Edmondson has crafted here.
What’s really remarkable about this comic is how much it can squeeze into the page without feeling like it’s sacrificing its own plot. Much like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s “Hawkeye,” artist Phil Noto uses several compartmentalized sections of the page to fully illustrate the minute detail of the situation and when you’re telling assassin stories, that’s the attention to detail you need. Noto’s art works in perfect harmony with Edmondson’s story.
Noto’s coloring scheme is also noteworthy, simply because it transports you to the various locations seen in the first issue. Late night in Berlin? Noto presents a cold, corporate vibe that sets the tone. Day meeting in Central Park? I could feel the sun right on me. Assassination attempt in Dubai? Swore I felt sand in my shoes. This is all thanks to his flawless color technique.
Black Widow is the simplest of the first batch of All-New Marvel NOW! comics and that is not a bad thing. Instead of building a giant world in front of us and cramming it all into 22 pages, it tells its own story at its own pace, and doesn’t demand your attention. Even though some aspects of the issue’s plot feel a tad cliche, it’s not enough to overcome the overall engaging storytelling. Noto’s artwork has never looked better and Edmondson’s eye for action will keep you on your toes, and like any good action series, once you think you’ve got it figured out, it takes a turn right into the unexpected.