There are very few Marvel ongoing comics still standing in the wake of Secret Wars. One title that is still going on for at least for a little while longer is Black Widow. Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow series has done a great job at adding layers to Natasha Romanoff’s character. Hopefully that is a trend that continues as we enter the final Black Widow story set before the end of the Marvel Multiverse. Let’s find out if that is the case with Black Widow #19.
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Phil Noto
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: With how long characters like Black Widow have been around it is easy to dismiss issues like Black Widow #19 as rehash of what we’ve read in the past. But to do that would be a disservice not only to this issues and yourself as a reader. Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto are able to take Natasha’s early history with the Red Room and shine a different light on who Natasha was during her pre-Avengers history.
In starting the flashback off with Natasha receiving a mission briefing to one her first assignments coming out of her Red Room training we are able to get a glimpse at a colder Black Widow. During this short scene we see how she has become someone that does not question authority when given an assignment. This is very different from the other flashback scenes we’ve seen from Natasha’s time in the Red Room in this series.
What made the mission briefing scene standout even more was how Natasha slowly began changing and started to question her own mission once she found out what she had to do. Seeing how Edmondson was able to show us Natasha’s brief signs of question was subtle but effective. It made you realize that Natasha wasn’t just a cold hearted Black Widow right after “graduating” from the Red Room.
Having Marina involved in this case gave Natasha another look at what life could be like if she wasn’t part of the Red Room. Even though Marina spent time in the Red Room she has clearly gotten comfortable in a “normal” life outside her training, even if she does not want to admit that. Seeing how Natasha reacted to her friends denial of being part of a normal society was interesting. Instead of judgement there was hints of jealousy from Natasha that made the additional mission objective she received heartbreaking for her.
These hints of jealousy also made the moments where we did see Natasha in full Black Widow mode even more effective. While there weren’t any actual action scenes for Natasha to kick ass in there were plenty of moments that remind you of how cold she can be. Seeing how she broke the Cuban informants gave us another look at how Natasha can successfully accomplish a mission without physical violence.
Making Natasha’s whole mission more effective was the great artwork Phil Noto provided us throughout this issue. Noto effectively got across the conflict going on inside Natasha’s head during her interactions with Marina. He was then able to turn that around with how he made subtle changes when we saw Natasha go into Black Widow mode when she had to. It’s these types of changes that make it so the artwork works together with the writing to elevate the entire story.
The Bad: The one fault this issue had was the opening scene. It was an unnecessary tie-in to Secret Wars that didn’t do much to elevate the story. It was just odd because the story that Edmondson was telling did not need a the scene to frame the story. It would’ve been more effective if the flashback was triggered during the solo boat trip Natasha was seeing going on at the end of the last issue.
Overall: What’s made Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow standout from the pack is how they are able merge Natasha’s backstory into their overarching story. With Black Widow #19 we were able to finally get an issue dedicated to the backstory we have been treated in glimpses throughout this run. In exploring Natasha’s backstory we were able to further dive into the core of who she really is. With how this story was framed Black Widow #19 is an easy jumping on point for anyone looking for a good Black Widow story.