After years of being apart Black Widow and Winter Soldier are reuniting once again. With how things have been going in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Black Widow this may not be the happy reunion Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanoff shippers are looking for. However this team-up turns out it should further the greater story Waid and Samnee are building with Natasha’s history coming back to haunt her. Now let’s see how Winter Soldier factors into all of this with Black Widow #9.
Writers: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Matthew 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: While walking back from a mission Black Widow hears a gun shot. She runs through the woods to check on the gunshot and finds a blood trail.
She soon gets to Iosef’s cabin and sees him bleeding out on the snow. Natasha tells Iosef that she’ll get a first aid kit and help him recover. Iosef knows that this is the end of the line for him. Natasha does not believe that as he helped lead her back to the cabin. Iosef says he didn’t do that. Natasha quickly figures out that it was Recluse and apologizes.
Iosef tells Natasha to stay strong and close the door on the Dark Room business. He then passes away and she has a moment of silence for him.
The moment is broken after Natasha hears someone step on a twig nearby. She yells for the person to show themselves.
Someone inside the cabin suddenly yells out “Natasha, Run.”
Natasha goes inside and Recluse has captured Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) and has tied him up to a chair.
Natasha asks Recluse what she is after. Recluse says she is there for the one thing she was denied during their time in the Red Room: true love. She goes on to say she isn’t after her true love and then reveals that Bucky cares for someone else.
Natasha tells Bucky to get up. Bucky apologizes and says he is off-mission now.
Recluse hits Bucky with her gun to keep him quiet. She then says that Bucky has been acting as Natasha’s guardian angel for a while now, something Natasha seems disappointed with.
Recluse is able to tell that from Natasha’s reaction that she has no idea what her history with Bucky is. She then says that she’ll be the only one to walk away alive tonight.
Natasha tells Recluse she made a mistake leading her to Iosef’s cabin since she knows all of its secrets. Natasha tells Bucky to duck and she shoots a bird statue. The statue opens a door to secret room that Natasha takes Bucky in.
Natasha is able to use this time to help Bucky break free from the seat he was tied to.
Recluse suddenly attacks Natasha from behind. Natasha and Recluse begin fighting, with Bucky soon joining in. Natasha and Bucky team-up to fight Recluse and they end up fighting in the dark. As the fight keeps going Bucky is able to hit Recluse hard enough to drive her through the cabin and into the outside.
Recluse recovers and starts running back to the cabin. Natasha and Bucky decide to do a high and low attack, which Bucky says they did back in the day.
Natasha and Bucky meet Recluse outside and execute their plan of attack. They are initially successful but Recluse is able to pin Natasha to the ground.
Bucky runs up to them and clotheslines Recluse. As Bucky holds Recluse he tells Natasha to use her Widow Sting. Recluse is able to break free from Bucky’s grasp just in time, leading to Natasha using her Widow Sting on Bucky’s metal arm.
Recluse makes a run for it. Bucky goes after her but Recluse ends up jumping off a nearby cliff into a river.
Natasha catches up to Bucky and thanks him for his help with Recluse, who has clearly improved since last they fought. Bucky states that they are a good team, if she remembers that.
Natasha then asks if it’s true that Bucky has been watching her for a while now. Bucky is slow to answer. Natasha tells Bucky that she does not need to be protected.
She then asks if there is more to Bucky is up to. Bucky reveals that Nick Fury needs to talk to Natasha.
At Weeping Lion’s lair, Lion thanks his cousin for his patience. He goes on to say that now that they have Black Widow’s trust they can move on to the final stage of their plan.
Lion says they will work with her on one last mission to distract her. Lion’s cousin silently hears this and Lion says his cousin will have the chance to put his chess pieces into play.
Lion then asks the girls they have imprisoned if they would like to get some fresh air. End of issue.
The Good: From the very first panel Mark Waid and Chris Samnee throw Black Widow into the latest problem facing her life without giving her a chance to catch her breath. In doing so they are able to create a sense of momentum in which readers don’t have to worry about what mission Black Widow is coming back from.
Even without knowing that Recluse was responsible Waid and Samnee have made Natasha and Iosef’s so strong that we instantly knew this was a personal attack. As soon as we see Recluse inside the cabin with Bucky Barnes beat up and tied to a chair you instantly know this is personal, whether you’ve read this series before or not. This only makes the dialogue even stronger as there is a clear backstory that continues to move forward with each passing issue.
Bucky’s involvement in this issue added to the conflict between Black Widow and Recluse as it was clear he is close to Natasha, even if she doesn’t know. The fact that Recluse used this weak spot Bucky has for Natasha to her advantage to capture him makes her a much more dangerous foe. And the fact that Natasha came in not understand how Recluse captured Buck made the scenes between the three have more weight to them.
This idea of Recluse being even more dangerous now that she is on her own was verified with how she was able to fend off both Natasha and Bucky at the same time. Even though she was in control the whole time, it’s clear that now that Recluse does not have anyone to answer to she is a bit unhinged. And instead of being a character weakness Recluse uses this to her advantage as a driving force to defeat Natasha.
As a fan of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Winter Soldier comics it was great to see Natasha and Bucky team-up once again. And I’m glad that Waid and Samnee used their history together add depth to the interaction between the two. Because the last time we saw them together Bucky made the tough decision that to in order to save Natasha he had to erase her memory of their time together. Since then we have not seen Bucky and Natasha interact very often.
Having this history that only Bucky knows about made it hard to see Natasha address him as “Barnes” every time she said her name. Waid and Samnee did an excellent job in highlighting Bucky’s face whenever Natasha called him by his last name as it was clear it hurt him emotionally. Given how hard it is for Bucky to see Natasha it’s going to be interesting to see what is so important that Nick Fury must see her right now.
Through all of the emotions packed into Black Widow #9 it was great to see Natasha not let herself become guilt ridden. There were several points in this issue that it would’ve been understandable for Natasha to take in. Instead she pushed forward and did not hesitate to fight Recluse in order to stop her. This once again shows how focused and harden of a character Natasha has become. It made the ending when Recluse escaped and Bucky revealed why he was looking for even better.
With everything going on with Recluse it was good to see Weeping Lion and his cousin’s plot is still in play. These two have been interesting additions to Black Widow’s cast. There short scene helps to elevate what Black Widow does next as they clearly are the ones in control at the moment. The question now is how Recluse factors into their plans with their ties to the former Dark Room.
Chris Samnee continues to show off why he is one of the best artists Marvel has. Just like previous issues, we get to see how Samnee is able to tell a story with his own artwork alone in sequences where there is no dialogue or thought boxes. In allowing Samnee to draw a silent three-way fight sequence we got to see how skilled of Black Widow, Winter Soldier and Recluse are. No one seemed to have the advantage and there were multiple times either fighter could’ve been killed. This phenomenal sequence is elevated by the emotions Samnee is able to pack into characters facial expression.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Black Widow #9 delivered an action-packed issue with plenty of emotion to back it up. The reunion between Black Widow and Winter Soldier was elevated by the presence of Recluse, who is quickly becoming the biggest threat to Natasha’s life. Now with Winter Soldier revealing that Nick Fury needs to speak with Black Widow while Recluse is still on the loose things should only get more exciting.