Splash Page: BLACK WIDOW #1 Review
Originally set to be released in April, coinciding with the movie, Black Widow #1 is now available from the team of Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel (2019), West Coast Avengers (2018), Elena Casagrande (Catwoman (2017)) and Jordie Bellaire (Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man, Moon Knight (2016)). It was worth the wait.
Black Widow #1 finds Widow be attacked after a mission before jumping forward 3 months to find Natasha Romanova working as an architect in San Francisco with a lavish home and boyfriend, all under the watchful eye of the playful trickster, Arcade.
Widow #1’s greatest strength is the trust Thompson has in Casagrande to help tell the story with most pages containing close to no dialogue. Not even an obligatory monologue of the character explaining the events clearly depicted on the page. It’s a relief to just sit and admire the work that Casagrande and Bellaire create without having it smothered in text. Not to say that the writing is not also great, with Thompson’s Black Widow feeling like a female James Bond; deadly and flirtatious.
This feels like a spiritual follow-on from Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s fantastic 12-issue run on Black Widow. Both are a spy-focused story, with Widow even calling out "old-school spy nonsense". Both runs are action-focused and deliver cinematic scope, with art to match. The 2nd page is a slick hallway fight that feels reminiscent of the signature hallway fights in Netflix’s Daredevil series as Widow fluidly moves through a red-soaked room and brutally clears the hallway.
Fitting that this issue comes out in time for the movie as this story is not inundated with comic book backstory, that might deter new readers, and has some familiar faces that even casual audiences will recognise and set-up a fun team-up. One such appearance is Hawkeye, who helps Widow with her opening mission, and Winter Soldier who Hawkeye calls upon to help track down Widow. There is also a nice nod to David Aja's work on his and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye character-defining series, with the icons that detail Hawkeye's actions.
One critic to be made is that the side story of Hawkeye and Winter Soldier teaming-up to find Black Widow feels repetitive. Especially since that story type was already told in Matthew Rosenberg’s Tales of Suspense mini-series, back in 2018. Hopefully, Thompson can bring a new angle to their relationship and involvement in the story.
Black Widow #1 is a fun, fast, spy story which is a great jumping-on point for new readers who want to see more of the superhero-spy before the movie. This action-orientated opening showcases Casagrande’s gorgeous art and sets up an interesting mystery with Arcade’s cliffhanger reveal and the questioning behind Natasha Romanova’s supposed retirement.