Web of Black Widow had a very good start with the first issue Natasha Romanoff working off the grid to hunt down people from her past during her Red Room spy days. The Red Room period of Natasha’s past is rich with infinite storytelling potential. Jody Houser showed that in the first issue with Natasha’s new mission involving her past putting her against her allies in the superhero community, including the Avengers. With Black Widow now having to deal with keeping ahead of her superhero allies search for what she is doing things should only get more intriguing from here. Let’s find out if that is the case by checking out Web of Black Widow #2.
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Stephen Mooney
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While stealth swimming in the ocean Black Widow sees a vision of someone dying in the water. That turns out not to be real and she continues to swim underwater.
Black Widow eventually makes it the Collins Financial’s BindBucks Launch Party on a cruiseliner sailing through international waters. Natasha quickly changes into a swimsuit and blends in with all the attendees.
Flashing back to her Red Room days years ago, Ivan Vanko and Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) oversee Natasha’s combat training. Ivan speaks to Natasha and Winter Soldier about how there are secrets that money cannot buy or bury. He goes on to speak about how they will continue to use “paying” off the possibility of death as a tool for them to claim what they need.
Back in the present, on the top deck of the cruiseliner Ms. Collins is being interviewed about Collins Financial’s BindBucks being an investment into cryptocurrency. Ms. Collins says her company is proud to invest in the future from the ground floor. The interviewer asks about Collins Financial’s tragic chapter. Ms. Collins says while the loss in her family is tragic her company must move on into the future to honor those losses.
Elsewhere Natasha is scoping out the entire cruiseliner taking note of all the floors, hallways and where the security guards are located. After doing this Natasha takes finds an opportunity to sneak into one of the cabin rooms without being noticed.
As soon as she enters the cabin room she is met by Bucky Barnes, who was waiting for her to show up. Bucky says he just wants to talk. Natasha wonders what the Avengers actually wanted him to do. Bucky says that after what he heard from Tony Stark that he got worried and wanted to find out what she is doing.
Natasha reminds Bucky of when he trained her with Ivan. She mentions the “game” where she killed an heir apparent years ago.
Bucky wonders if Natasha is now just righting old wrongs. Natasha says she is doing that and exorcising old ghosts. Bucky then asks if what they’ve done together counted for anything. Natasha doesn’t answer and just tells Bucky to stay back.
Bucky still wants to continue talking but Natasha reminds him that when its just between the two of them it has never been “just talking.” They then remember all the training, missions, romantic moments and Avengers adventures they had together.
Bucky reveals that Ms. Collins relocated the computer setup somewhere else. Natasha smiles and comments how Bucky doesn’t know how cryptocurrency works, which Bucky confirms.
Natasha then nails Bucky with her bag. This starts a fight between Natasha and Bucky. Neither is able to get the upper hand.
At the security room of the cruiseliner, a person using a Black Widow disguise enters and immediately kills the IT guy monitoring the computers. The Black Widow impersonator then hacks into the computers and downloads information.
Elsewhere the fight between Bucky and Natasha spills out into the hallway right in front of two security guards. The guards immediately start shooting at Bucky and Natasha. Natasha uses this as an example to Bucky that Ms. Collins knows exactly what her family did to get the money and power her company has. Natasha then quickly subdues the two guards.
Bucky thinks there has to be a better way for Natasha to handle the situation she is in. Natasha reminds Bucky he doesn’t know what is actually going on. Bucky gets angry and hits a wall. He then asks Natasha to tell him the truth so he can help her.
Suddenly the security sirens start going off. Bucky wonders if this is Natasha’s doing. Natasha says it is not. Bucky believes Natasha and lets her keep going on her investigation. Natasha smiles in appreciation but wonders if the other Avengers will let her. Bucky stays silent on this.
Natasha then quickly runs back to the cabin room she broke into and dives into the ocean. After coming back above water Natasha spots the Black Widow impersonator.
The impersonator shows that they are using some sort of tech to create the Black Widow disguise. They wave at Natasha and drive away on a speedboat. Natasha watches her impersonator speed off with great intensity in her eyes. End of issue.
The Good: Web of Black Widow #2 takes what was established in the first issue and pushes the story forward. This issue is driven by the chemistry between Natasha Romanoff and Bucky Barnes. Jody Houser writing for these two characters are spot on. That chemistry shining helps the main plotline that Natasha is involved continue progressing.
The most impressive thing about Houser’s writing in Web of Black Widow is how Natasha and Bucky show a strong understanding of one another through the words they speak. The entire time they have their back-and-forth there is clear trust being shown by both characters. Even when Bucky tries to push Natasha to tell him what is going on he stops himself just before he escalates the conversation into an argument. The same goes for Natasha, who understands how to keep Bucky calm and reminds him of how much they trust each other.
This is very different from the more antagonistic conversations Natasha had with Tony Stark in Web of Black Widow #1. It shows how Natasha and Bucky’s relationship is more about trust than anything else. Everything, from their Red Room training days to romantic relationship to their superhero partnership, it all plays into how deep Natasha and Bucky’s relationship is.
Houser plays into all that with the dialogue both of them have. There is enough said between them to remind them of where they are at in their lives. At the same time, Natasha showing that part of the memories she has regained were most of the time she and Bucky shared. Her specifically pointing out that she only has half her memories at the moment showed that the history they share is an important part of her character history. It elevated their relationship and set-up possible future stories for the two together.
All of this works well to show how Natasha and Bucky are equals. At no point in their fight are either one able to get the upper hand. Even when they are both clearly holding back, Natasha and Bucky know each other so well that they could end up fighting for hours and pass out do to exhaustion rather than one of them winning.
The security guards getting mixed into their fight was a great way to play into the fact they were both holding back. As soon as Natasha sees them we see how her fighting style changes to be much more about taking them out. Those shifts in fighting style made this entire sequence even more impressive.
Natasha and Bucky’s interaction helps build the greater story of Natasha hunting for the ghosts of her past. The Red Room has always been one of the things Marvel has that is filled with potential. Even with how many stories have been told about the Red Room there is still a feeling that we don’t know everything that went on there for Natasha and other people involved in it.
Houser goes into that fact with the combat training and “game” that Natasha was made. There is so much darkness involved in the Red Room. Ivan Vanko’s role in these flashback scenes helped push how those in the Red Room believe themselves to be playing in the large grey area of the spy world. Ivan and the other main figureheads believe that there is always a way for them to manipulate the world for their advantage.
Which all plays into we still don’t know what is going with the imposter Black Widow and how Collins Financial plays a role in Natasha’s current journey. All we know is there is a deep connection between the two that goes back to when Natasha was the Black Widow of the Red Room. Still keeping us in the dark about this is working into building interest for when the dots are all finally connected.
For now, we see how dangerous things are as the imposter Black Widow is shown to not care for others lives. All that person sees that they must get the job done. Whatever the body count may be is just a number because those people just happen to be in the right place at the wrong time. Building the imposter in this way creates anticipation for how the fight between Natasha and her fake will turn out when they finally clash.
Houser also did a good job building Ms. Collins up to be a potential supporting character for the rest of Web of Black Widow. There is enough character work done for Ms. Collins introduction that we are left wondering what her intentions are. Does she fall more on her father or uncle’s path in running Collins Financial? That is something that we will hopefully learn as Natasha digs in deeper into these ghosts from her past in the Red Room.
Stephen Mooney does a solid job complimenting Houser’s character work with consistent artwork throughout Web of Black Widow #2. Mooney gets across how Bucky and Natasha are speaking to each other in a way that plays into their rich history together with their respective expressions. Mooney’s artwork is at his best when it comes to the action sequences. Hopefully we will see a Houser give Mooney a long battle for Natasha to be involved in.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Web of Black Widow #2 was a strong follow-up on what the first issue of this series established. Jody Houser’s writing for Natasha Romanoff and Bucky Barnes is the star of this comic book. The rich history between the two is clear with the approach Houser takes to writing when these two are on screen together. Natasha and Bucky’s chemistry helps drive up the interest in the greater story involving the past events involving the Red Room coming back to haunt Black Widow.
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