BLACK WIDOW is turning out to be a fantastic espionage series. This issue kicks off with a big bang as Black Widow has to help a man escape from prison. Things aren't incredibly easy for Natasha (they never are) and she must traverse the jungles in order to help the man known as Lobo Blanco return home.
This issue is one non-stop thrill ride. Writer Nathan Edmondson crafts a story that is all adrenaline pumping action that furthers the character development of Natasha as a leading lady running the show in her book. There's lots of suspense and little moments, aside from the narration, that give us better insight into who Natasha is in this series.
This series depicts a bit of a softer side of Natasha. Sure, she's still killing people, but she has morals that she follows while on her missions. Here, she explains, at one point, that she didn't bring guns with her, to help Lobo Blanco escape because the guards are just doing their job and they don't deserve to be shot. This is a really cool look at this character. She feels much more like a hero here. She's doing things for the betterment of mankind, on a very small scale, and she doesn't want there to be unnecessary casualties.
Phil Noto's work here is nothing short of brilliant. He has a real knack for drawing the reader in. His page layouts are pretty simple and straight-forward, but his art and colors stand out so much that doing anything too non-traditional with his layouts would muddle his own work. He does some great work with facial expressions and his close ups are breathtaking, especially of Natasha. This is a book you can buy just for the art; however, Edmondson's writing is on par with Noto's art, so it's like a super-awesome treat.
We're three issues in and there's still no larger arc to this book. Thus far, it's been three (very good) one-shot stories and a lot of reestablishing who Black Widow is and what she's all about. Now, there's a good chance that a few months from now I'll have to pull my foot out of my mouth because Nathan Edmondson is a much better writer than that, but the reader in me wants something more to connect all these issues to something greater. Looks like we'll just have to wait and see.
I felt there were quite a few times, especially the scene during the night, where Black Widow was helping Lobo Blanco escape, where the art felt a bit stiff.
Where is this series going? It's something I keep asking myself, and it's really my only complaint about the book. It feels like we've been treated to a series of stellar one-shots, but not real over-arcing story yet. Hopefully, Edmondson has some bigger things planned down the road (I'm sure he does). BLACK WIDOW truly impresses. It's suspenseful and intriguing, with some brilliant looking art. While many of Marvel's new series are must reads, from me, this one tops the list. I highly recommend this issue.