Comic Vine Review

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Black Widow #9 - Friend From Foe Review

4

Widow runs afoul of the Marvel U’s favorite vigilante killer. Sounds like a match made in Heaven, but there’s something more going on.

The Good

Another issue, another fantastic crossover between Black Widow and another upper street-level hero. This time Frank Castle makes an appearance, disrupting, then helping, Black Widow’s inspection of a ship and interrogation of one of its only remaining denizens. Nate Edmondson has been writing both these characters and while I’ve had mixed feelings about his PUNISHER, I’ve been consistently a fan of his BLACK WIDOW and a cross-over between the two is definitely something that would interest me. Sure enough, Frank fits in perfectly, bringing Crossbones and his crew in from his own title while not disrupting a single thing in Widow’s narrative. While she and Bucky had some incredible chemistry, with Castle it’s all business and that fits just fine. This issue feels like another jumping off point for a bigger story, breaking the streak of semi-self contained issues just in time to get Romanova back into a longer-form story.

Phil Noto continues to, apparently, make use of his own professional time machine and turn in solo art that looks like it would require months of time to hammer out. The action has a vicious fluidity in this issue as well as an organic flow that makes the characters almost seem to move through the book of their own accord, and I always love to see it. His colors are subdued and murky, matching the tone of the book perfectly. This is a book, and an issue, where things like morals and allegiances are questionable at best and Noto communicates that on every level.

The Bad

This issue crosses over with PUNISHER #9 and you really need to read both to get the full story, particularly why Punisher and Crossbones are on this boat in the first place, and even then it remains a bit unclear. Widow arrives on the ship with a ton of questions and, by issue’s end, has almost no answers. Punisher isn’t out of place in the least, but if you just take this issue at face value, he definitely seems to blow in without any kind of rhyme or reason. He’s not unwelcome, and it isn’t that he doesn’t fit with the rest of the book, but there’s a logic hiccup, particularly considering how the issue ends, which is even MORE ambivalent unless you read Punisher’s issue. Overall it gives the issue a sense of being disjointed and only part of a larger narrative.

The Verdict

Despite being a little too tied to another book which is, to both issues’ credit, also by Edmonson, I still thoroughly enjoyed this as a starting point for another, longer storyline. “Fun” comics may be getting their share of praise, and rightly so, but there’s something to be said for a comic that takes itself deadly seriously and goes out of its way to EARN that tone, which this one does. Black Widow is fast becoming the covert hit of the year, and I can’t think of anything that would be more apropos. Edmonson writes Natasha as cold, but she never comes off and boring or emotionless and Noto’s visuals continue to be almost unreal in how consistently great they are considering he does them all solo, making this book a look underneath the curtain of the Marvel U, but one that’s worth checking out if you want to see what goes on when the Infinity Gauntlet isn’t obliterating entire worlds.

17 Comments
Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

Oh, that's why my comic shop guy was rather insistent I also get the Punisher book as well. I'm sure I'll still enjoy the Noto art even if I'm missing part of the story.

Posted by longbowhunter

I wasn't really feeling this issue. The trip to the boat and run in with Frank didn't provide much story. Curious to find out what's going to happen with Isaiah.

Posted by WheatStalker

Jeepers, Natasha is pissed, with a capital P. For Punisher. I felt kinda bad for the poor Costa Rican electrician ... "I've beaten enough liars to death to know. This guy knows nothing."

Pretty entertaining crossover. In fact I'm adding Punisher to the monthly list. I dig his monologue.

Posted by manwithoutshame

What's the deal with Edmondson? I've never seen a writer that's wants to say so little. Mike Baron wrote more story in one issue of any classic Punisher issue than this guy does in an entire story arc.

Posted by MegaHGFan

I was really looking forward to this crossover but ended up disappointed. They weren't bad books, but I hated the idea of Natasha taking Frank to a Costa Rican prison. Absolutely no reason or motivation was given for why she would do that, and it seemed out of character. For anyone confused, you see more of this in Punisher #9, but it still made no sense for Natasha to do this.

Both Edmondson's runs on Punisher and Black Widow started off strong and I loved them. However , Black Widow is really starting to fall apart. It doesn't seem like it has much forward momentum or plot anymore. Punisher has been much better recently, but issue #9 was by far the worse issue of this run.

Edited by DcNoobReviews

@manwithoutshame:

i totally agree, although i find that i blow through most modern comics in no less than 5 minutes nowadays, its not just edmonson, its most comic writers now adays, but edmonson is up there with warren ellis in the sense that they write the least amount possible.

Edited by danhimself

does anyone else find it hard to believe that Natasha wears khakis, polos, and tennis shoes when she's not on missions or whatever?

Posted by Zumafire

I mean seriously!! Phil Noto is so great it kind of hurts..

Posted by MegaHGFan

@dcnoobreviews:

Now, I'm a slow reader, so I don't breeze through any comics in 5 minutes, but I can get through many in about 10 minutes. With comics costing more now than ever before, they should take a bit longer to read IMO.

Edited by Teerack

The only thing I didn't like is how she stabbed Frank in the back after he not only saved her life, but stopped her from making a huge mistake and killing an innocent man. Also her arresting Frank is actually really hypocritical.

Posted by Akindoodle

@teerack said:

The only thing I didn't like is how she stabbed Frank in the back after he not only saved her life, but stopped her from making a huge mistake and killing an innocent man. Also her arresting Frank is actually really hypocritical.

Yeah, that REALLY bothered me. I thought that of all the Avengers, Black Widow would be the most willing to let something like this slide. I mean, she's done some shady stuff too. In fact, that's EXACTLY what she's doing now. Who would know that she let Castle go? The Watcher? Bah! He's dead.

does anyone else find it hard to believe that Natasha wears khakis, polos, and tennis shoes when she's not on missions or whatever?

Yes but I can't critique it because when I think about it, I don't know what she'd wear. Jeans and a tank top? I can't see that either.

Edited by Teerack

@akindoodle: Well I think Wolverine in Punisher War Zone proved he was most likely on Frank's side since he came and warned Frank the Avengers were coming after him. Widow just ended up losing to Frank when she tired to take him down, but yeah she was a huge hypocrite in this issue.

Posted by Akindoodle

@teerack: Oh yeah. For some reason, I forgot that Wolverine was in the Avengers. But you're right; it's highly hypocritical for an assassin/fixer/mercenary to stick a vigilante in prison and as far as I can tell, out of character. She's let some really dangerous people go in past appearances in her series from around 2008 and I think the Winter Soldier comics too. Ah well.

Edited by Ms-Lola

Since both titles are on my pull list, I particularly enjoyed this mini-crossover. One thing that hit me was the Winter Soldier vibe I got (the actual movie) from the situation. It's not a criticism, but something I find worth noting.

I found the interaction between Frank and her believable, and contrary to what others have posted above me, having Natasha take Frank in is completely within character for her. The Punisher and The Avengers are almost polar opposites when it comes to justice, and yes, while the argument for hypocrisy can be a valid one, so can one put forth in Natasha's perspective of what's right and wrong. At this point, there isn't much weight behind owing anyone when it comes to saving their lives. These are two very capable mercenary types and how the story panned out was believable to me.

Noto is on fire (when is he not, though) and I am appreciating how the Black Widow is being portrayed as by Edmonson. This book is about her and her perspective, and that's a huge reason why I am enjoying it so much.

Great review. I especially agree with the point made with unfortunately needing to read Frank's book to understand how things were left with him. If I had only Natasha's book to go on, I would have been annoyed as a reader.