The Web of Black Widow has been a great surprise thus far. Jody Houser has done a good job using the history that Natasha Romanoff has along with her current status quo of only having some of her memories. The combination of her history and memory loss has made for a ghost from Natasha’s past coming back to haunt her. What exactly this ghost from Natasha’s past in the Red Room wants is still not clear. Will Web of Black Widow #3 clear that up for Natasha and us as the reader? Let’s find out with Web of Black Widow #3.
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Stephen Mooney
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Hiding her appearance,Yelena Belova walks through the streets of Symkaria back to her home. Once she gets home she is surprised to find Natasha Romanoff waiting for her. Natasha quickly cuts to the chase and asks Yelena that if she is still the Black Widow she knew then she needs her help.
Flashing back to Natasha’s time in the Red Room, Natasha is training someone named Toma. Toma is frustrated that she is unable to land a blow on Natasha. Toma grows more frustrated with how Natasha keeps treating her like a child. Toma demands to go on a mission with Natasha like the Headmistress said she was ready to go on.
In the present a car bomb goes off outside Schmatlock Security headquarters in Bovbrotel, Chernaya. With the guards distracted by the explosion Natasha and Yelena are able to easily sneak through the vents undetected.
As they sneak through the vents Yelena comments that it would have been easier to kill everyone and wonders if Natasha is losing her touch in her old age. Natasha says she is just becoming more efficient.
Natasha and Yelena eventually make it to break room filled with office workers. They quickly take everyone out in the room.
Flashing back to years earlier, Natasha talks with Alexi Shostakov about the difficulty with training Toma. Alexi reminds Natasha she is the best at what she does and can guide Toma to meet her potential. Alexi then reminds Natasha how headstrong she was at one time. Natasha hopes Alexi is right.
In the present, Natasha and Yelena steal the office workers clothes and identification. Using these disguises Natasha and Yelena get to a secure room. When they show the identification they stole the guards recognize that is not them on the ID cards. Natasha and Yelena immediately go into action and start taking out all the guards.
Flashing back to the past again. Natasha leads Toma on a theft mission. Toma hears someone nearby and believes that the Headmistress intends them to kill those people. Natasha tries to stop her but Toma rushes off to fight the people she heard.
Back in the present, Natasha and Yelena get into the server room. While downloading some codes Natasha reveals she stole some keys from Schmatlocks a long time ago. Yelena wonders what the purposes of these codes they are stealing are for. As Natasha is about to reveal that reason they both hear a loud noise from a nearby room.
Natasha and Yelena quickly get to where the noise was coming from. They find several guards killed and blood splattered on the walls and ground. They notice a door slightly open and ruse over to check out who is inside.
When they arrive Natasha and Yelena find the imposter Black Widow holding a person they already killed. The imposter Black Widow sarcastically asks Natasha what she has done.
The imposter Black Widow then starts fighting Natasha and Yelena. While outnumbered the imposter Black Widow is able to knock Yelena out a window. Natasha quickly catches Yelena, giving the imposter Black Widow the chance to escate.
Natasha and Yelena investigate the guy that was killed. Yelena understands that Natasha needed her to prove she isn’t the Black Widow committing all the crimes. Natasha reveals she also wanted Yelena as a partner to confirm that Yelena wasn’t the imposter Black Widow either. Yelena says they should leave before they are blamed for what happened.
Flashing back to the past, Natasha informs the Headmistress that Toma was killed during the mission. The Headmistress is not surprised and says they must move on from the weak holding them back. As they talk someone watches them from around the corner of the hallway.
A little while later, Yelena asks Natasha if she is going after old targets because of this imposter Black Widow. Natasha says it is for something else. She then asks Yelena how she has adjusted to her new body. Yelena goes over how they aren’t supposed to feel fine in their clone bodies.
Yelena wonders why Natasha is asking. Natasha just goes on to talk about how identical their clone bodies are.
Seeing that Natasha isn’t going to be completely honest with her Yelena walks away.
Left alone, Natasha wonders that if their clone bodies are physically identical then what about the parts of their minds and memories still being intact and which are ghosts left behind. End of issue.
The Good: Web of Black Widow #3 follows the pacing of previous issues and continues to build on the solid mystery of what exactly is going on with Natasha Romanoff. Jody Houser uses this issue to expand on that mystery by including a previous Black Widow in Yelena Belova to take things to the logical next step.
The interaction between Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova is where Web of Black Widow #3 excels at. The interaction between them shines not only because of the back-and-forth dialogue between them but also how Natasha and Yelena are reading each other’s body language. Given their background Natasha and Yelena show that they are always on their guard in case one of them backstabs the other. That sense of unease is carried well from the moment they first meet in Symkaria to when Yelena walks away from Natasha at the end of Web of Black Widow #3.
Even with the unease with each other Houser is careful to keep both characters as enjoyable as they should be. At no point do either of them come across as unlikable. Both characters are given time to shine even though Natasha is the star of the show. Striking that balance also allows Natasha and Yelena’s interaction to standout from the former’s previous interactions with Iron Man and Winter Soldier.
Having Natasha and Yelena out on a mission together also helps separate their interaction from those in previous issues seen in Web of Black Widow. Even with them each watching out for what the other will do Natasha and Yelena work extremely well together. There is no wasted motion in how they discreetly enter Schmatlock and fight together. The effectiveness in how they work with each other shows how they are able to put aside their differences when it matters.
Showing them working well together helped their back-and-forth, such as Yelena calling Natasha out for not working like she normally does, work throughout Web of Black Widow. Houser used that back-and-forth to further develop the current arc that Natasha is on. We are again seeing a more seasoned veteran Natasha at work. The efficiency in her style compared to previous adventures is noticeable. While Natasha jokes that with her age comes efficiency it is clearly more about her current unease with the memories she does not have.
Houser clearing up how Natasha is revisiting all her old missions that have some connection to the Red Room was a nice touch. Especially for Yelena to be the one to force Natasha to reveal the truth about why she has been hitting the specific targets she has was a good choice. Like Bucky Barnes before her, Yelena understands Natasha better than just about anyone because of their similar backgrounds as Black Widow. Natasha can’t bullshit her way out of a serious conversation with Yelena like she did with Tony Stark in Web of Black Widow #1. That made the reason Yelena walked away from Natasha an even stronger moment to end Web of Black Widow #3 on.
Going further into how Natasha doesn’t feel complete because of her clone body and gaps in her memories made things even more interesting. This feeling of being incomplete is a good way to put over how the clone process does not mean the character is back to being themselves. There is a feeling that you aren’t yourself that we see Natasha go through. Having this quiet, honest moment from Natasha opens things up much more for the rest of Web of Black Widow to explore in greater detail.
The flashbacks to Natasha’s time in the Red Room continue to be a good look into who she was before becoming the superhero Black Widow. These scenes work to make Web of Black Widow more friendly towards fans who only heard of Natasha’s time in the Red Room. Having each issue of this series dive into various periods of this time in Natasha’s childhood to young adult also compliment the incomplete feeling Natasha has in the present.
Stephen Mooney’s artwork was solid for the most part of Web of Black Widow #3. Mooney’s artwork in the present works best when Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova are doing their secret spy thing. The swiftness of their action when in combat situations speaks to the training they both went through to be Black Widow.
The Bad: The choice to feature Alexi Shostakov as a past love interest for Natasha did not hit the way it intended. Being only in one page made his connection with Natasha not feel as meaningful as if it was someone fans are more familiar with like Bucky Barnes. Alexi and Natasha’s relationship would’ve meant more to the readers if we saw it develop in earlier issues. Without that, unless you are a hardcore fan of the comic book version of Black Widow, Alexi is just a random dude that Natasha hooked up with.
The artwork for the flashback scenes also did not work. The design of Natasha and the other characters felt off the entire time. Natasha especially looked like she was much older than the dialogue implied she was.
Overall: Web of Black Widow #3 successfully pairs up Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova on a mission that plays to each character’s strength. This pairing of former Black Widows made the greater story involving Natasha’s current predicament with her clone body even more intriguing. Jody Houser and Stephen Mooney have created enough of a hook to keep the reader’s attention on what revelations will occur next in Web of Black Widow.
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