Black Widow #16-17 (Comics Review)

The previous issues of Black Widow have been pretty spectacular, as has been the norm on the title since its launch early last year. Natasha’s investigations into the organization CHAOS that has been causing all sorts of problems for SHIELD of late yielded some surprising results back in #15 and it made for a really interesting change of pace as far as the story was concerned. It also gave artist Phil Noto a chance to really go to town with the visuals and none of that seems to be headed for a slowdown in any way.

The two most recent issues, Black Widow #16 and Black Widow #17 are all about what CHAOS really is and what plans they have for Natasha and others like her all over the world. The reveal about CHAOS is something that really twists the head in ways you wouldn’t expect. Nathan manipulates the story in a really deft way and he shows some really mad skills as he has Natasha navigate the web of lies and half-truths being peddled by CHAOS. Supporting him, Phil also does a pretty incredible job and though some of the scenes were a bit more low-key than usual, his own mad skills were never in doubt I’d say.

The most remarkable thing about Black Widow #16 is not the revelation about CHAOS’ true purpose or their agents, but what we get to see about Natasha herself. I don’t mean Black Widow here, but Natasha Romanoff the person. It is so easy to forget that in the middle of everything that is going on. We see her all the time as an Avenger, and a kickass SHIELD agent. We rarely, if ever, see her as a person in her own right. That’s what Nathan Edmonson focuses on so much in this issue. And I loved every moment of it.

These are the kinds of stories that I love so much when it comes to superheroes. Exploring their personal histories and seeing what made them who they are. Seeing Natasha as a kid on the streets of Moscow, best friends with another urchin like herself, making her first kill, that was something totally amazing. And the references to the Red Room, where she was trained as an assassin, well that too left an impression. Frankly, this was beyond impressive. We got a great peek into her personal life, and every moment was memorable.

Things took a turn for the worse with Black Widow #17 however, and we began to see that CHAOS truly wasn’t who it appeared to be or even what it projected itself to be for Natasha. They have ulterior motives, and it is all up to Natasha to figure it all out. Especially when she is shown a possible future that she could have, should she join CHAOS. And that’s where the emotion really hits because we know that while Natasha excels at the life she lives and that she is also comfortable with it, it is also something that wears her down and prevents her from having any real relationships with the people she wants. Romantic relationships most of all. This is a direction that the recent Avengers: Age of Ultron movie has gone with as well so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the comics are headed off there too, and it is handled very nicely by Nathan Edmondson.

More than anything else, these two issues really bring out the other side of Natasha that you really don’t see all that often, her emotional, vulnerable side that she hides behind a mask of determination and detachment and calm professionalism. A highlight of both these issues, undoubtedly.

Phil Noto is the artist on both issues with Clayton Cowles on the letters. As I said above, there aren’t particularly any big flashy pages for the artists to work out this time around, but that doesn’t mean that the quality of the artwork is any less. In fact, the consistency is just too great. Phil Noto really knows Natasha inside and out by now, and in the flashback scenes of her past, we see the same kind of… deterministic drive in her body language and her expressions as we have seen in the present-day Natasha. The scenes where she is playing in the streets with a fellow street urchin and they are just having fun… the unrestrained happiness on her face, that’s totally awesome.

Another highly recommended pair of issues!

Rating: 10/10

More Black Widow: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #12, #13, #14, #15.

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Posted on May 19, 2015, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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