So not only does Black Widow finally have a solo series again, but we have two issues in the first month, and the third issue is only two weeks away. That’s one way to kick off a title for the Avengers’ greatest spy.
The first issue did a great job exploring Natasha’s mindset. It set the premise that she’d be taking a bunch of odd jobs on the side, mostly to atone for her sins. There was some great spy action with some very clever tactics, along with solid writing. This issue is all about one mission, and explores how no matter how good she is, she’ll still make mistakes here and there. It’s also about taking a mission from the wrong client. Throughout the issue, she has to correct her mistakes as well as fight an opponent, Scorpion, who is dangerously close to her level. I hope to see this guy again.
While this isn’t a problem yet, this series doesn’t seem to have any direction so far. There isn’t an overall story, nor is there an evident character direction. That can be fine for the first two issues if they’re well done, and these two issues are. But there needs to be some sort of greater arc soon or Black Widow could get stale fast.
I can’t remember Phil Noto ever having drawn two comics in one month before, but it doesn’t suffer here. Noto has a great sense of visual storytelling, somehow using backgrounds and foregrounds to help tell the story. He’s great at subtle facial expressions. Some of the page layouts in this issue are very creative, with divided panels made up of a larger drawings interrupted by flashbacks. The action also flows nicely, showing tactics from both Black Widow and Scorpion without any need of narration. His art can take a while to get used to though, and the colouring can feel a bit washed out sometimes.
While there isn’t an evident direction for the character or story yet, the first two issues have expertly established both the character and the book’s premise. They work in different ways and complement each other well. With Rick Remender’s Captain America going the sci-fi route, this may be Marvel’s only ongoing espionage series. If this is the level of quality in store for Black Widow’s new series, sign me up.