Comic Book Review: Black Widow: Deadly Origins #1

With Iron Man 2 out next year and Natasha Romanoff appearing in the movie it was inevitable that everyone’s favorite Russian super spy would get her own mini-series. I am not too familiar with Natasha’s character outside of Ed Brubaker’s writing her in Captain America.

This mini-series is penned by Paul Cornell who has done some fantastic work for Marvel. I especially liked his work on Captain Britain and MI: 13 so I am expecting to enjoy his interpretation of Black Widow. Now on to the review for Black Widow: Deadly Origins #1.

Creative Team
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Tom Raney and John Paul Leon
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Matt Milla

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins in the sky over Nevada were one of the guys flying a space ship reveals to the other pilot he is not his partner. The other pilot begins to dismantle the control panel to revel himself to actually be the Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff). Natasha and the spy begin to fight in the cockpit with Natasha dominating the fight. The guy tries opens the door to the outside trying to make Natasha fall out of the ship but it doesn’t work and knocks the guy out. She then escapes with the spy right before the space ship blows up.

The two parachute right by a hotel and Natasha tells the two bell boys that the CIA will come get the other guy later and she goes into the hotel to get a room.

In Russian Army Support Services Command two guys talk about how far behind Russia is with their technology when one of the computers initiates the Icepick Protocol.

Somewhere else in Russia a guy is running through the streets and calls Natasha, who is back in New York City. We find out the guy’s name is Ivan and is a friend of Natasha’s. He informs Natasha that the Icepick Protocol has been activated. Before he can say more half of his body is blown to pieces.

We flashback to Talinfard, USSA in 1928 were Ivan and other soldiers are making a run for it but before Ivan leaves the area he hears a woman. The woman is under a pile of rubble and hands Ivan a baby Natasha.

Ten years later Ivan and some other military soldiers are talking about Natalia and how the name Romanoff is an important name. Ivan is looking to drop young Natasha of in a good home. General Secretary Stalin enters the scene to recommend Natasha go to a school that will fill her needs

Two years later Natasha is being trained and watch by Logan. During one of their training sessions Natasha asks Logan who he really is but Logan say he has no idea. Natasha is able to get an elbow shot in during the training session.

Sometime later we see that Logan killed the man, Taras, that Natasha called father. Ivan finds Natasha alone in the snow and she tells him that Logan killed Taras. Natasha and Ivan share a nice moment were Ivan tells young Natasha is there for her.

We then see a bunch of images of WWII.

In 1956 Natasha is by the side of a dying Ivan when a man comes up to her and tells her she can save Ivan if she and Ivan would take the drug he has in his hand. Ivan tells Natasha not to take it but she agrees.

Back in the present Natasha arrives in Volgorgrad Morgue to see that someone has trashed Ivan’s body leaving a message written in blood on the walls. Natasha is alone in a some building looking like she is crying when Bucky comes on to the scene to see if Natasha is okay.

She tells Bucky that they are hunting her and everyone she loves down. She says that she is going to get her revenge but has to make sure everyone she cares about is safe first. She walks away saying “Could be tricky.” End of issue.

The Good: Black Widow: Deadly Origins #1 was a very thin read. As someone not familiar with Natasha Romanoff origin outside of the basic stuff I was coming into this issue expecting to learn more about her character that I didn’t know. But Paul Cornell just provided the basics of her origin with only one new thing I did not know about the character.

Still with that disappointment there were a few positives in this issue. I did like the opening scene that showed Natasha as a tough super spy that was ahead of the game with how she took out the guy who thought he had the upper hand.

The best thing about the issue was the flashback scene that took up the bulk of the middle part of the issue. Cornell provided plenty of backstory to Natasha’s relationship with Ivan. Cornell effectively showed how important Ivan was to Natasha through this flashback scene in order to give a little more weight to Ivan’s death earlier in the issue.

The flashback allows new readers to get a brief glimpse of the hard life that Natasha has had to deal with since she was a baby. Natasha is a character that is easy to sympathize with as she has live a long life since the early 1900s. And even though she is a harden soldier because of what she has had to deal with in her 80 years of life she still holds those close to her as very important people and they are really the family she never had as a kid.

I also enjoyed the short scene with a young Natasha and Logan. It was a fun little scene between the two as right when Natasha started trusting Logan he killed the person she saw as a father figure. It would be interesting to see if these two interact at some point and this is brought up again.

John Paul Leon’s artwork for the flashback scenes to Natasha’s past was great. It makes me wish that he was the one drawing the whole issue as his artwork is a great fit for the spy story this is supposed to be.

Leon gave the all of the flashback scenes a lot of weight by showing the emotions on the characters faces and I especially loved the scene he drew with Natasha and Ivan in the snow. It was a very effectively drawn scene with a lot of emotional weight to it.

The Bad: With that said this was a disappointing issue. The biggest disappointment for me in this issue was how Cornell choose to frame the story. Though the opening scene was a nice start it was scene that was not really needed. I would have much rather have preferred it if the bulk of the beginning of the issue was dedicated to the flashback of Natasha’s origin story.

Plus I am not really sure I want to read another basic story about a character getting revenge on someone or something for killing a family member, or close to one anyways. Revenge stories have been done to death especially when involving some character with an espionage background. It is just an uncreative story idea to center a mini around.

And though I did like the flashback scenes I didn’t really learn much about Natasha’s past that I did not know before. If anything it sort of shows Natasha had a similar background to orphan characters set in Depression and WWII eras. And that is really what I get from her origin story as it is just a “typical” origin story.

The only thing I really learned about the character is how deep her father-daughter relationship was with Ivan. Coming into this issue I was expecting to learn much more about her origin about a character I did not know much about but that was not the case. Cornell did not add anything new or original to her origin story.

For fans who already knew the basics of the character this was not much of a required reading which hurts the whole origin story that this mini-series was marketed as. And even if you are not familiar with the character there isn’t much here you will learn about her or what she has been through separates herself from other espionage-type characters

Tom Raney’s artwork for the story set in the present was very inconsistent. Going from panel to panel there was a lot inconsistency in his artwork that is very noticeable throughout the story set in the present making the issue look rushed. And his artwork just doesn’t feel like a good fit with an espionage character like Natasha and I wish that Leon did the whole issue as his art suits this mini much more than Raney’s.

Overall: Black Widow: Deadly Origins #1 was a disappointing read. This isn’t really a required read in order to understand the character. Unless you are a fan of Natasha this is hard mini-series to recommend to. There is just not much to the story and nothing new to learn about the character. So unless you have the extra $3.99 and are a fan of Black Widow then pick up this issue.   Otherwise, save your money as this issue is not worth the cover price.  Maybe give this story a try in trade format instead.

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