Kelly Thompson has started her run on Black Widow by giving Natasha Romanoff a brand new life as she is now engaged with a kid. This new happy life isn’t all that it seems as Arcade has been shown to be responsible for this sudden change for Natasha. While both Bucky Barnes and Clint Barton are suspicious of what is going on with Natasha they haven’t been able to prove that their friend is in danger. With all this going on can Natasha figure out how her life is being manipulated? Or is she doomed to fall prey to whatever larger plan the people who hired Arcade have created for her? Let’s find out with Black Widow #3.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At their home in Sausalito, California, Natasha Romanoff is woken up by James, her fiancé, who is getting in late after his flight was delayed from a business trip. Natasha’s kid, Stevie, suddenly shows up in their bedroom looking to play.
As they play with Stevie, Natasha mentions to James that she needs to go do her wedding dress fitting.
Outside, in the woods, Clint Barton talks with Bucky Barnes about what they should do to help Natasha out of whatever situation she has found herself in. Yelena Belova suddenly appears and immediately tells Clint and Bucky that they will not be doing anything as whatever is going is obviously a trap. Yelena goes on to say that this whole thing could possibly a trap Natasha created especially as she found, after running a DNA test, that Stevie is in fact Natasha’s kid. Clint is stunned by this revelation. Yelena tells the two to leave while she keeps watch over Natasha and will call them if she needs their help.
In San Franscico, while getting her wedding dress fitted Natasha starts crying. Helen, who is watching over Natasha, asks what is wrong. Natasha admits that while her life is perfect she feels as though there is something missing, almost like someone else is trapped in her body. Helen mentions that it sounds like Natasha may not be happy. Natasha suddenly realizes that what she is saying is nonsense and says she does plans on making the most of her life.
In Arcade’s Control Room, Viper, Weeping Lion, Red Guardian, and Snapdragon are arguing that the plan to kill Natasha isn’t working as planned as Weeping Lion suddenly wants to kill Black Widow. Viper is especially against Weeping Lion suddenly wanting to kill Black Widow since the entire point of them working together was to only get Natasha off the board. Red Guardian agrees with Viper but Weeping Lion says he already set things in motion. Viper is stunned when she is shown footage of Natasha heading home as she believes Weeping Lion doomed them all.
Outside her home, Natasha parks her bike and notices something is off as Stevie’s toys are on the ground in a weird way. Natasha enters her home and calls out for James to check if he is home.
Noticing blood on the wall Natasha carefully walks into the kitchen and immediately starts fighting several assassins. As she deals with all the assassins easily Natasha hears a Russian voice from one of the communicators. She is surprised that she can understand Russian but can’t dwell on that fact as she learns from what she hears that James and Stevie are still alive.
Thinking quickly Natasha gets a smoke detector bomb she created just in case anything happened. She then sneaks her way into the living room and sets off the bomb to kill the remaining assassins.
Natasha then finds where James and Stevie are. Just as they happily reunite a device on Natasha’s neck suddenly knocks her out.
While unconscious Natasha has visions of her history as Black Widow in the Red Room and her time as an Avenger.
Both James and Stevie try to wake Natasha up.
In Arcade’s Control Room, Viper tells Weeping Lion that he better hope that whatever he did kills Black Widow or else she will kill him. End of issue.
The Good: As has been the case with the previous two issues, Black Widow #3 moves at a steady pace to bring you into the new life that has been built for Natasha Romanoff. In the process, Kelly Thompson is able to get you comfortable in this setting that you are left anticipating the various turns that this storyline can take.
What made Black Widow #3 work so well was the inclusion of Yelena Belova into the story. Thompson used Yelena as a way to throw a curve ball into the new life we have been seeing unfold for Natasha. Specifically, bringing up that she already did a DNA test on Stevie that revealed that he is Natasha’s kid was an unexpected twist. This brings up many more questions about what is really going on. Because as Yelena mentions to both Bucky Barnes and Clint Barton, this new life Natasha is in may actually be a trap that Natasha herself created and not Arcade.
That twist does put into question if Natasha expect whatever Arcade and the cabal of villains did to her. We are given further hints to this all being fabricated by Natasha with how we see her breakdown during her wedding dress fitting. Something about this scene in particular seems to be against the plan that Weeping Lion was setting up with Arcade and the others.
Adding that new angle to the mystery of what is going on made the whole fight scene where Natasha natural brought out her Black Widow skills to take down the assassins even cooler to see. Because while Natasha easily beat all the assassins without missing a beat you are once again left wondering what exactly is going on. The reaction from Viper and Weeping Lion in particular leads us to believe Natasha’s Black Widow training was not supposed to come out in this way.
This also creates even more intrigue into why Viper, Weeping Lion, Red Guardian, Snapdragon, and Arcade teamed up to take Natasha out of commission. While they all have their reasons to go after Natasha them coming together to deal with only Black Widow raises more questions for what is going on. Viper in particular brought up how she only wanted Black Widow off the table rather than killed. The reason behind that and the others joining forces can potential be a foundation for future stories to be told in this series.
Going back to Yelena, Bucky, and Clint, it was interesting to see how their whole conversation ended up breaking down. While Bucky and Clint were still just trying to figure out what they should do Yelena seemed to be more in control of what is going on. Which could mean Yelena knows even more than she revealed about Natasha’s possible plan. The way Yelena spoke to Bucky and Clint certainly indicated that as she spoke with a confidence that made both Bucky and Clint back down and let her take over the stake out of Natasha.
Elena Casagrande’s artwork continues to get better with each passing issue of Black Widow. Her style works so well with Black Widow’s world. She is able to shift quickly from the bright setting of Natasha’s new domestic life to going right into badass Black Widow action without missing a beat. Everything just flowed well to fit in the world that was created.
Jordie Bellaire deserves just as much credit as the color palette she uses throughout Black Widow #3 helps makes Casagrande’s artwork stronger. Casagrande pencils and Bellaire’s coloring for the action sequence at the end of this issue gave a John Wick feel to how Natasha took out all the assassins.
The Bad: The one minor gripe that I have for this story is that the fiancé character, James, has not been developed at all. There is something about the way the character acts so perfectly as Natasha’s fiancé that makes him appear robotic. It breaks the reality of the domestic life Natasha is in whenever they are interacting with each other.
Overall: As “The Ties That Bind” arc progresses Kelly Thompson and Elena Casgrande continue to add layers to the story. Black Widow #3 keeps that trend going as there are new elements added that will build on the mystery around Natasha Romanoff suddenly waking up to a new domestic life. Both the villains and heroes that have been brought in added to the questions you have as a reader. It all gets you excited to find out what is really going on with this story.
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