One of the biggest things that happened during the course of Secret Empire was the death of Black Widow. As one of the key members of the Avengers since the her rise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe her death changed how Secret Empire ended up going. But as big of a moment it was in Secret Empire the death of Black Widow did not have much, if any, on the greater Marvel Universe. Instead Marvel has largely forgotten Black Widow and the key role she has played in the last few years. That is going to be changing now as Hawkeye and Winter Soldier, two of the people who know Black Widow best, have found clues that may lead to the reveal that proclaiming Black Widow dead was premature. Will that be the case? Let’s find out with Tales of Suspense #100.
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: During a funeral Clint Barton tries his best to blend in but ends up standing out when asked how he knew the deceased. Clint stumbles over his words until he reveals he is there to take out everyone that is a Hydra member.
A fight quickly breaks out. While Clint holds his own he ends up causing a fire and punching the funeral director in the face when he tries to put out the fire.
A little later Clint apologizes to the funeral director as firefighters put out the fire. Clint keeps himself from being arrested by showing his Avengers membership card and saying he is on a secret mission for the team.
Sometime later Clint lands in Chernaya and has to navigate himself through student protesters while at the airport. Afterwards he walks around the city as he looks for more clues on Natasha Romanoff’s possible whereabouts at the US Embassy.
Clint decides the best way to make it to the embassy is to blend in with marching protesters. Clint ends up fighting some of the the police riot squad when the protesters get violent. Clint ends up getting arrested but quickly fights off the two officers who were escorting him away. He then hops the embassy wall.
Inside the embassy Clint confronts a guy named Antone, who was in Hydra’s High Command, who he expects is Natasha’s next target. Antone mentions he was at the funeral that Clint was in.
As they talk a shooter fires at them. Clint saves the guy by throwing him behind the desk for cover. Clint goes to confront the shooter. It turns out to be Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes), who quickly gets the upper hand on Clint.
Clint tells Bucky that he wasn’t there to kill Antone, which Bucky wasn’t either. Clint says he is there because he followed the clues may mean that Natasha is alive and believes that Bucky is following similar clues.
Bucky ends up finding Natasha’s calling card on a wall which Clint takes as meaning she was there.
Antone takes out a box of his stuff but ends up setting off an explosion that destroys the top level of the embassy. End of issue.
The Good: From a concept standpoint Tales of Suspense #100 delivers. Unfortunately it’s concept is brought down by lack of connection with the star of this particular issue, Clint Barton. That massive miss makes the concept of this series fall flat as soon as Matthew Rosenberg opens its door.
The one good thing that Rosenberg does with Tales of Suspense #100 is using the events of Secret Empire to have Natasha Romanoff work from the shadows as Black Widow. This concept is a fascinating move for the character, who has been moving more towards that direction with her recent ongoings. Now that she seems to have used her “death” in Secret Empire to fully work from the shadows Rosenberg opens the potential to build Black Widow to be a legend everyone talks about.
That is something that Rosenberg furthers with Winter Soldier mentioning that Black Widow did in fact leave a calling card before causing an explosion at the US Embassy. Having such a calling card makes paying attention to the small details within the art something the reader should watch out for. That creates a sense of suspense to when Black Widow will end up striking her next target with her plot.
The Bad: Unfortunately as compelling as it was to see the concept of Black Widow working from the shadows was it failed because the rest of the issue was dragged down by Clint Barton’s involvement. Though Clint may have a deeper reason for chasing after Natasha you would never be able to tell by the way Rosenberg writes the character. Instead Rosenberg was unable to move passed Clint being a lovesick puppy searching for his ex-girlfriend. This motivation makes it harder to connect with how far Clint goes to find Natasha possibly alive.
It does not help that everything that Clint does makes the every situation he gets involved with worse. First we see him burn down a funeral home in a failed attempt to get information from Hydra members. Then we see him blow Winter Soldier’s cover and forces Bucky to come out of the shadows where he could’ve tracked down Natasha’s whereabouts. These failures on Clint’s part just make the character look weak in comparison to Bucky.
It all makes the reader wonder if Clint is even competent superhero since nothing he does is particularly “heroic.” These actions make reading Tales of Suspense #100 over again even harder because Clint looks like a bigger asshole for using the Avengers membership card he has to keep himself from being arrested. It is so bad when looking at it from afar all Clint actually succeeds in is damaging the Avengers reputation for all his mistakes.
This hurts the overall tone that Rosenberg was looking to achieve in having Natasha return to her old spy ways of working from the shadows. If Rosenberg really wanted to make Natasha’s new status quo work he wouldn’t even need Clint’s involved at all. Instead the focus could’ve been on Natasha’s targets and what they are doing in their daily lives. This would’ve allowed Rosenberg to build some connection to the target and even show why Natasha would target them. But unfortunately that is a position that Tales of Suspense #100 never takes and it makes the concept Rosenberg constructs fall flat on its face.
It doesn’t help that Rosenberg treats the Hydra part of Black Widow’s hunt as something that is a throwaway element of his story. After how much Hydra was built up leading up to and by the end of Secret Empire to be treated in such a way felt like a slap in the face to how much time Marvel spent on them for their fans. A bigger spotlight on them by highlighting the remnants of Hydra’s daily lives before Black Widow killed them would’ve added weight to a story that was much needed.
Things aren’t helped by the sub-par artwork by Travel Foreman. From beginning to end, the artwork throughout Tales of Suspense #100 seemed to be stuck on neutral. It was almost as if Foreman was unable to decide if he wanted to go with a dark and gritty design or the typical Marvel comic style. That indecision further hurts the concept that this series was unable to deliver on.
Overall: Tales of Suspense #100 had two routes that it could’ve taken. Unfortunately Matthew Rosenberg decided to take the least interesting route. Things are made even worse by having Clint Barton and his failures to execute his plans be the main driving force around the first chapter of the story. This all ends up making the potential of Natasha Romanoff’s possible survival and status quo of working from from the shadows a complete missed opportunity.