The new Black Widow series started in an unexpected spot as Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande provided Natasha Romanoff one experience she has not gone through yet: what it is like to have a family. After being brainwashed and made to believe she had a fiancé and a kid, who was created using Natasha and he fiancé’s DNA, the villains behind all of this took that away in one big explosion. With Natasha now going through with what it is like to have and lose a family what will she do next? Let’s find out with Black Widow #5.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Elena Casagrande and Rafael De Latorre
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
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: Sometime ago Natasha Romanoff and her fiancé (James) take Stevie (their baby boy) to the zoo.
In the present Natasha is completely broken having just seen James and Stevie die in an explosion caused by Weeping Lion. Yelena Belova gets Natasha to come to her senses so they can all escape the fire that is growing inside the safehouse. Winter Soldier and Hawkeye help take all the things they need out of the safehouse and leave with Natasha and Yelena.
As she closes the door to the room Natasha realizes that the click of the door closing is the sound of a dream dying and never knew how much she could love. Hawkeye checks on Natasha but she just says to get in position.
On a rooftop nearby Weeping Lion confirms Natasha, Yelena, and Hawkeye’s positions, with Winter Soldier the only one missing. Viper is uneasy about this as she knows that they just gave Natasha great motivation to kill them all. Blocking that out Viper calls on Snapdragon and Red Guardian to enter the safehouse.
As soon as Snapdraon and Red Guardian are inside the safehouse Hawkeye fires an explosive arrow to get them separated. Hawkeye then spots Weeping Lion on a nearby rooftop and shots him in the eye with an arrow.
Back in the warehouse Natasha quickly takes out Snapdragon. Viper enters and shoots at Natasha but Red Guardian gets in the middle to take the shot. As Yelena starts fighting Viper and Hydra soldiers Red Guardian apologizes as he only joined the other villains to keep an eye on them for Natasha. Natasha tells Red Guardian to disappear as they’ll talk about this later.
After Red Guardian leaves Natasha and Yelena fight off all the Hydra soldiers with Hawkeye providing covering fire whenever they need it. Eventually Natasha tells Yelena and Hawkeye it is time to leave. As soon as they leave an explosion destroys the safehouse.
They get to a rooftop where Yelena decides to take off first. Clint admits that he did feel hurt that the villains used the names Steve, James, and Logan for the family they gave Natasha. Natasha reminds Clint that she did not name them. Clint asks if she want him to stay with her. Natasha turns the offer down as she needs to be alone.
In another safehouse in San Franchisco, Bucky Barnes finds Natasha resting. Natasha asks if he finished the job. Bucky says he did and that Natasha’s ex-fiancé and baby boy are in a safe location. Natasha thanks Bucky as she knows he is the one person she could trust to provide her ex-fiancé and Stevie a safe place and sticking to his word to not tell her where they are.
Bucky was happy to do it but admits that he does feel guilty for now feeling that Natasha’s family will be what keeps them from ever rekindling their relationship. Natasha admits that Bucky is not wrong because while she asked him to do this that part of her blames Bucky for hiding her family from her.
Natasha than admits the pain she is going through knowing that she lost her family and isn’t sure if the emptiness she is feeling will ever be filled. Bucky tells Natasha that it is okay to allow herself time to mourn. Natasha knows Bucky is right and collapses as she breaks down in tears. Bucky hugs Natasha as he allows her to get out her emotions.
Later, Natasha visits the home she had with her ex-fiancé James. She finds her cat Logan inside and decides to take him with her. As she stares off at the sunset Natasha wonders if James and Stevie are watching the same sunset she is.
Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest James is shown telling Stevie things will be okay as they watch the sunset.
A few weeks later, Natasha is ready to get back to action and is now sporting an upgraded Black Widow costume. Yelena gives Natasha an update on Snapdraon, Viper, and Weeping Lion as they all survived. Natasha is not concerned with dealing with them right away as this last encountered created fear in them that she is now out to kill them at any moment.
Yelena wonders what Natasha plans to do next if she isn’t out for revenge. Natasha says she is going to do things differently in a way James and Stevie can be proud of her. She asks Yelena to join her. Yelena accepts the offer. Natasha then sets off believing she has remade herself into something new. End of issue.
The Good: Black Widow #5 is a kick ass comic book that brings a tone of weight with the story that is told. Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, and Rafael De LaTorre bring a new, exciting energy to Black Widow’s character as the first arc for this series comes to a close. By the end you have a good sense of how what she went through will impact the way Natasha Romanoff will go about being a superhero moving forward.
Opening Black Widow #5 with a flashback to a time Natasha and her fiancé James spent the day at the zoo was a good tone setter. It immediately makes you realize how much Natasha really lost as she did indeed get the family life she never thought of ever having but now holds dearly to. Going from that to the present you understand why Natasha would be so broken up over seeing their deaths right in front of her.
The swerve of Natasha’s family not dying but instead it was all a trick to give Bucky Barnes the chance to hide them away gave a new layer to why Natasha was so convincing when she broke. Rather than mourning their deaths what the fire represented was the last real time she thinks of James and Stevie as part of her life. So even though they did not die the fire was more a visual representation of Natasha having to fully give this family life she loved so much away.
Bucky being the one that Natasha trusted to get her family to a safe location and to not ever tell her where that is was a nice touch. While she has great trust in Clint Barton and Yelena Belova she knows that their could be a point where Natasha can convince them to tell her where James and Stevie are. Bucky is different as he knows better than anyone the importance of keeping secrets and things in hiding no matter what. Both Bucky and Natasha have had to live in that life and even if they are now more in the superhero realm that part of their characters still exists.
Thompson also did a good job in using this thread to spotlight Natasha and Bucky’s relationship. Natasha being honest with Bucky that while she is the one who request Bucky be the one to hide her family there is a part of her that blames him for doing it. That creating a wedge between them shows that Bucky is willing to take that burden while still hoping that someday they can be together. And while there is that wedge between them now Thompson does a good job showing the Natasha and Bucky still have a strong relationship as Natasha only breaks down in Bucky presence.
While that was a heavy scene to watch Thompson did a great job showcasing the badass that Natasha is as Black Widow. Even before the action breaks down between the heroes and villains Thompson emphasizes how dangerous Natasha with the reaction to her returning to being Black Widow. Viper specifically pointing out how Weeping Lion gave an even greater motivator for Natasha to kill her, Weeping Lion, Snapdragon, and Red Guardian was a cool character moment. It shows how much respect Naasha commands even with the villains of the Marvel Universe.
That respect is proven correct with how Natasha along with Yelena and Hawkeye effortlessly take out Weeping Lion, Viper, and Snapdragon. The teamwork that was shown is a great example of how there is no one more dangerous in the world than Natasha when she sets up a plan to take someone down. Throughout the action sequence you see how Natasha is extra motivated with how she wases no time in taking out Snapdragon by shooting the villain in her knee.
The interaction between Natasha and Red Guardian set-up an intriguing sub-plot to follow up on in the future. Even though Red Guardian joined the villains to watch out for Natasha it is clear that he is just as much to blame for what went down. How Thompson develops the relationship between Natasha and Red Guardian after this event will be interesting to see play out.
The interaction with Hawkeye after this big action sequence was a smart way to settle things down. At the same time, it does start to form Natasha’s new headspace that she does need time to get over what she just went through. Even though she trusts Clint to be there for her she first needs time to herself. Clint understanding this shows that these characters can be treated as mature adults without breaking who they are as we get some sarcastic banter between them that speaks to how well they know each other before they split off.
All of this built nicely into the final few pages of Black Widow #5 where we see Natasha sporting an upgraded costume. Getting a new costume that still keeps the same general design of the Black Widow costume gets over how Natasha is ready for a new phase in her life. She is clearly more driven to be better than before. Even as she does not know what this new path will lead to she is still confident in herself.
Bringing Yelena along for what Natasha plans to do next is a good way to change things up from the past Black Widow comics. As we’ve seen throughout these last few issues Natasha and Yelena do share a unique bond as two Black Widows. Pairing them up opens the opportunity to further build on their dynamic and explore what a partnership between two people who have been Black Widow before is like.
From beginning to end Elena Casagrande artwork in Black Widow #5 is stunning. Casagrande is the perfect artist to be drawing Natasha Romanoff’s adventures. She does such a great job presenting Natasha as a badass with the new Black Widow costume designed in a way that looks like an evolution for the character. All of the action in this issue is just smooth that got over the specific styles of fighting for the two Black Widows and Hawkeye. What was even more impressive than the action was how Casagrande put over the way Natasha felt throughout this issue. We get a bit of everything from the character, from focused fighter to the feelings of someone who just lost her family, Casagrande put over the wide emotional spectrum that was on display by Natasha in Black Widow #5.
Rafael De LaTorre did a great job further complimenting Casagrande’s artwork with his own pages in this issue. Latorre’s art was similar enough to Casagrande that you don’t really notice when the switch in artists happen. The way he draws Viper and Weeping Lion in particular put over how each one felt after what they did to Natasha’s family.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Black Widow #5 solidifies this series as one of the best Marvel series the company is publishing right now. Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, and Rafael De Latorre work perfectly in sync to challenge Natasha Romanoff in ways that create a compelling narrative around her character. Where that narrative ultimately ends up at creates a lot of excitement for the unknown future of this Black Widow series moving forward. If you have not picked up this Black Widow series up yet I highly recommend changing that fact as this is a can’t miss Marvel comic book.
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