Opening up the latest volume of Black Widow with a deeper exploration of her past created a strong core for Mark Waid and Chris Samnee to expand on. The focus on Black Widow’s relationship with the Headmistress of the Red Room showed us how much Natasha has grown as a hero. Now with the Headmistress dead I’m very interested to see what Waid and Samnee do next with this series. Let’s find out with Black Widow #8.
Writers: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Mathew Wilson
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At a suburban house an unknown girl puts on her school uniform. When she goes downstairs to leave the house two adults are show tied up in the living room.
The girl soon gets into the St. Joseph’s Academy school bus. While she looks for seat some of the students wonder if she is an exchange student. The girl quietly finds an open seat.
The bus soon arrives at the White House where the students are going to be getting a tour.
When the students get inside the White House tour guide, named Nat, gives them all special commemorative pins.
As Nat gives the students a tour it is revealed that she is actually Black Widow working undercover with Weeping Lion giving her instructions. Unfortunately for Black Widow the Weeping Lion doesn’t know the White House layout as well as he said he did. Black Widow decides to improvise the the tour and tells Weeping Lion to focus on finding the hidden Dark Room assassin within the group of students.
As Black Widow continues the tour one of the students’ points out that the family dining room Nat pointed to is actually the State dining room. The young girl states that it is President Reagan held a reception for Soviet Union General Secretary Gorbachev. This triggers Black Widow to believe that the girl is the hidden assassin.
Black Widow heavily questions the young girl on what she just said and if Dark Room has any meaning to her. The girl becomes so intimidated by Black Widow that she starts tearing up.
The quiet girl from earlier suddenly interrupts Black Widow’s interrogation to ask her when they are going to meet the Vice President. Black Widow suddenly realizes that she is the girl they are looking for.
Black Widow continues the tour by showing the students the Lincoln Bedroom. As the students enter the bedroom Black Widow stops the mysterious girl from earlier from entering.
Black Widow tries to grab her but the mysterious girl evades the attack and stabs Black Widow’s hand with her commemorative pin. The girl suddenly jumps on a nearby security guard and quickly takes his gun. With her cover blown, Black Widow tells everyone to get down but is too late as the girl fires multiple shots at people in the room.
Black Widow gives chase to the girl who is after the Vice President. As she does this she contacts Weeping Lion about the situation. Weeping Lion, injured by a gun shot, reveals that there are two other Dark Room assassins in the group of students, including the girl Black Widow initially interrogated.
These two girls hold several people hostage. Black Widow is able to make it to where the two girls are and knock them out while she continues to chase the girl from earlier.
The mysterious girl is able to outrun Black Widow and dodge all of the special agents in the White House. The chase ends with the girl being cornered by Black Widow and several agents. Black Widow convinces the agents to let her talk to the girl.
Black Widow asks the girl for her name. The girl responds by saying her name is Death. Black Widow tells Death she understands what the girl is going through as she was formerly under the Headmistress thumb and created as weapon.
When Black Widow reveals that the Headmistress is dead Death does not believe her. Black Widow says that she is telling the truth and asks Death if she wants to try living a happy life.
Before Death can answer Black Widow notices rope hanging outside the window.
Just above the White House several SHIELD agents slide down some rope. The SHIELD agents surround the area to get a clear shot at Death.
Just before things get worse Black Widow grabs Death, ties her up and leaves her outside for the SHIELD agents to arrest Death peacefully. Black Widow ends up leaving the area before the SHIELD agents have time to chase her.
Sometime later, the police and SHIELD attend to the wounded including Weeping Lion. He tells the police that he is fine and that dramatic endings run in the family.
As Weeping Lion says this we see his brother watching over several Dark Room assassins locked in a cage.
While SHIELD takes the Dark Room assassin girls away Black Widow tells Weeping Lion that the girls will actually have a chance at new, peaceful lives soon. She then says that they still have a lot of work to do to find all of the Dark Room assassins still left in the world.
Out on the Moon a person with a glowing eye is shown watching over Earth. End of issue.
The Good: Whenever we see the leader of an organization get taken down we usually have to wait to see how that affects the members of that organization. Sometimes we don’t get even get that resolution as the organization crumbles and the nameless grunts disappear. In that way Black Widow #8 goes against the grain by showing us the reach of the Dark Room even after the Headmistress’ death.
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee cleverly use the fact that the Dark Room has numerous of child agents in the wild to drive this next story. This brings to light the fact that the Headmistress of the Red and Dark Room left a legacy that goes beyond her death. Because while her death leaves a void in that organization her training of various children to be cold hearted killers still exists. In that way it makes Headmistress and her actions throughout her life even more dangerous than when she was alive.
That factor makes Black Widow #8 an even more intense reading experience. Adding in that it wasn’t just the girl that we saw at the beginning of the issue as a member of the Dark Room was nicely done. Because it shows us that it is not just one or two kids that went through the Dark Room’s training. Seeing how Natasha’s initial judgement call was actually correct on which girl was part of the Dark Room is a good twist to keep the reader guessing.
It was also great to see that this entire situation with Dark Room agents still rooming the world has forced Natasha to use all of her spy skills. Natasha going undercover as a White House tour guide was a great change of pace. It’s something we don’t see other heroes have to do and makes you remember the skills that set her apart from other Avengers.
This led to an interesting point at the end of the mission that reminds us that Natasha is a hero working against SHIELD right now. Waid and Samnee highlighted this with how Natasha was able to capture the Dark Room trained girl while also evading the SHIELD agents. It was all a sly use of her skills that continues to show us how dangerous Natasha can be when she wants and that everyone is lucky she is now a hero rather than a villain.
The back-and-forth between Natasha and Weeping Lion during the undercover mission early on added a nice sense of levity to the seriousness of the story. The dialogue between the two was lighthearted enough to keep the issue from just being dramatic and also continued their sub-plot together. The brief look at Weeping Lion’s brother reminds us that Waid and Samnee have a bigger story they are developing.
That said, out of everything that happened in Black Widow #8 the thing that has me most excited for future issues is the tease of Winter Soldier’s involvement at the end of the issue. I have been a big fan of the relationship that Natasha shares with Bucky Barnes since Ed Brubaker established it during his Captain America run. Since then, anytime Bucky and Natasha have shared the screen at the same time there is always something exciting that follows. And with both characters now being at different points in their lives I’ll be interested to see what role Bucky has to play with what Natasha has become involved in.
While the story of Black Widow #8 was good the thing that takes the entire issue great is the artwork. No matter how many comic books I buy with Chris Samnee’s art in it I continue to be amazed with his work. Having worked with Waid for so long Samnee is an artist that is always given the chance to tell the story through his art alone. Black Widow #8 is a great example of this as we several pages without dialogue or minimal dialogue. It’s in these instances the magic of Samnee’s style really shines as he is able to tell the story through the characters facial reactions.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Black Widow #8 is another strong entry in one of Marvel’s best ongoing comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee did a fantastic job giving us a scope of the fallout from Natasha Romanoff’s clash with the Dark Room’s Headmistress. The balance between strong character development and engaging action sequences was on point throughout the issue to tell a complete story. With the ending teasing the appearance of the Winter Soldier there is plenty to be excited about for Black Widows continuing adventures.