Black Widow #11 Review

It was very upsetting to learn that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Black Widow was going to come to end after only a year of its release. As upsetting as that news was it won’t stop me from showing support for Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow, which has been one of Marvel’s better reads. The last few issues have been particularly interesting as Waid and Samnee explored the relationship between Black Widow and Winter Soldier. Now that they’ve finished exploring that relationship we can march on to whatever the endgame will be. Will they have enough time to properly set-up the series’ ending? Let’s find out with Black Widow #11.

Writers: Chris Samnee and Mark Waid

Artist: Chris Samnee

Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Some SHIELD agents are talking about the facility they are in re-built from scratch in Antarctica by SHIELD after it was constructed in the 1960s. As they talk someone is sneaking through the facility’s ventilation system.

Click for full-page view

The SHIELD that has come to inspect the facility mentions that the facility holds a lot of power as a nuclear reactor. The agent working in the facility says that just maintaining 100% functionality causes them all to stay up at night. The agent inspector says that if the facility falls in the wrong hands it would be dangerous.

Suddenly the assassins trained by the Dark Room come out of the ventilation system. One of the SHIELD agents’ sounds the alarm.

As the Dark Room assassins charge in to attack Black Widow reveals she was secretly one of the SHIELD agents. Black Widow tries to stop the assassins but they are able to get around her and run deeper into the facility, while stealing the key from the SHIELD agent working in the facility.

Black Widow gets the SHIELD agent into cover. The agent mentions that each of the agents working at the facility was given a self-destruct key with one of them getting a key that does not work. Black Widow tells the agent to evacuate the facility. She then goes after the assassins.

Black Widow fights one of the assassins that stayed behind. Black Widow plays defense and as the assassin gets frustrated she can touch her. This frustration leaves the assassin open for Black Widow to tie-up her whole body.

As other SHIELD agents surround Black Widow another assassin shows up and takes another key while setting the assassin Black Widow captured free.

Black Widow chases the assassins and finds them as they are stealing the keys they need. She is able to knock out one of the assassins after they don’t reveal the information about how they got in the facility.

Click for full-page view

One of the SHIELD agents finds Black Widow and reveals the other invading assassins now have the six keys.

Black searches the facility for the rest of the assassins. As she reaches a dark corridor all of the remaining assassins surround Black Widow.

Black Widow uses her “Widow Bite” gauntlets at full power to knock all the assassins down in one hit. As she systematically takes out all the assassins she is reminded of her entire history. After taking them all down Black Widow gets the keys they had.

Black Widow finds the control room where the SHIELD agents are being held by the last remaining assassin. Black Widow tries to reason with the assassin but she does not want to hear what Black Widow tells her.

As Black Widow slowly approaches the assassin her injuries are blur her vision. The assassin threatens to kill the agent if Black Widow doesn’t shoot her. Not seeing any other way Black Widow shoots the assassin in the head and retrieves the final key.

Black Widow checks on the assassin she shot. The assassin gets back up and kicks Black Widow in the chin, dropping the keys as she is knocked to the ground.

Recluse shows up and pins Black Widow down with her foot on Black Widow’s head. Recluse then announces that she has become the new headmistress of the Dark Room.

Click for full-page view

As Black Widow is unable to move she silently watches as Recluse has the Dark Room assassins activate the self-destruct system of the facility. End of issue

The Good: Even though the ending of this Black Widow ongoing does feel abrupt Mark Waid and Chris Samnee aren’t letting that get in the way of their story. As Black Widow #11 showed Waid and Samnee are going to make sure that they wrap things up in a way that will not rush the story to the ending. Instead everything looks to be progressing as planned with Black Widows conflict with Recluse and the Dark Room coming to an end.

For the majority of this series it has felt like Black Widow has been one step behind everything Dark Room Headmistress, Recluse and Weeping Lion. Even when she tried to go on the initiative to get ahead of the game she has felt behind. That is exactly where Black Widow #11 is able to be most successful as Waid and Samnee continue to find a way to challenge Natasha even though she is the most skilled person in the issue.

Seeing how Recluse’s assassins continued to try to use the shadows and their numbers to try and overwhelm Black Widow made this cat and mouse game even more fun to see play out. There was a sense of tension every time Black Widow was investigating areas after the assassins escaped her grasped. That sense of tension was furthered by the fact that she not only had to take the assassins out but also get the keys before the self-destruction system was activated. This all made how Black Widow was able to overcome the numbers even more impressive as she was continuously on her guard around every corner.

The threat that Recluse and her assassins pose was also well executed. Waid and Samnee gave them a plot that made them a danger to the entire world but if Black Widow stops them no one will ever know. This type of plotting is perfect for both sides of the conflict, adding to the rivalry between Black Widow and Recluse in the process. It at least shows us how far gone Recluse is as she claims to be the new Dark Room’s Headmistress. Now with everything Recluse has done it will be very interesting to see how Waid and Samnee wrap her story up with Black Widow.

Click for full-page view

The strength of the story is made even stronger by Samnee’s incredible artwork. Once again Samnee is able to show how he is able to tell a story simply through his artwork, making the dialogue stand-out even more. The art was particularly strong in the last fight Black Widow has with Samnee drawing shattered glass that featured various parts of Black Widow’s history. This was a great reminder of how far Natasha has come in making the Black Widow identity into a superhero. It also effectively add weight to the predicament that we saw Black Widow in as Recluse had her assassins turn on the self-destruct device.

The Bad: Nothing.

Overall: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee did not waste any time in establishing what is on the line for the final issue. Black Widow #11 effectively set the stage for the final issue of this series to go out with a bang.  The conflict between Black Widow and Recluse cannot be any higher as the latter has raised the stakes in a way that puts the world into danger. Samnee’s phenomenal artwork throughout this issue only helps to amplify the tension created by the story as it progresses towards its inevitable end.