For a while, Black Widow has been struggling against the mysterious organization only known as Chaos. They have a very deep pocket, very secretive methods and a lot of influence. Yet until now, we’ve known very little about them. In the last few issues, Natasha’s been on a rampage, interrogating tons of Chaos’s contacts and organizing meetings for their top leaders. In the last issue however, she was defeated, sort of rescued by the Winter Soldier and then disappeared. Nathan Edmondson’s Black Widow series has been very good from the start, and this issue is no exception.
Black Widow 16 brings several reveals for Chaos, yet they still remain a very mysterious organization. All we know is that they might not be the evil organization we believed them to be, but nothing is confirmed. What makes this issue interesting is that it’s mostly a flashback into Black Widow’s Russian childhood. She’s escaped from the Red Room and is wandering the streets with a friend, trying to hide from Red Room’s staff. This glimpse into her past shows that, even though she was raised to be a deadly Russian agent, she still had a heroic side. To say much more would be to spoil the natural progression of the comic, and it works too well to spoil. The flashback does tie into the Chaos reveals, giving Natasha a very strong motivation for at least giving them a chance.
The art by Phil Noto is fantastic. Among Noto’s talent is his visual storytelling, using foregrounds and backgrounds to bring an extra dimension of character. While young Natasha is spying on the dance studio, there’s a dreamlike quality while she watches their star. It might be partially caused by the fog on the window, but it enhances the theme of her desires to be the best she can be. Facial expressions perfectly capture people’s emotions, whether it’s young Natasha’s shock or anger when she sees something that angers her, or adult Natasha’s confusion while talking to the self-proclaimed head of Chaos. Noto’s art is usually great, but this is better than his usual.
This issue marks a potentially huge direction change for the series, yet it remains a great espionage comic. We’re 16 issues in and we’re still delving more into Natasha’s head and exploring her complexities. The backstory is where this issue truly shines. If you’re interested in an espionage series taking place in the Marvel Universe, look no further.