Comic BooksReview

Review: Marvel's Black Widow #1

Will Rosenthal ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Black Widow #1 by writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto comes as part of the next phase of Marvel Now! and follows her road to redemption while hinting at her guarded past.

It would have been easy for Edmondson to write this comic as a femme fatale/noir spy story. In fact, this genre is currently dominated by indie series like Velvet and Zero, meaning Black Widow has to establish itself among fresh competition. Imagine the surprise to find this issue reads a lot like an indie comic, but with mainstream sensibilities, which is appropriate, seeing as Edmondson’s resume is mostly with Image Comics.

Edmondson succeeds in switching up the formula to keep it interesting. A few misdirections and humanizing narration by Black Widow keep the writing from feeling contrived or forced. Instead, parts where this issue shines are in its dialogue. Black Widow, who can seem like a more enigmatic member of the Avengers, gets a lot of breathing room and easily falls into the leading role.

The art in this issue is a standout as well. Noto handles all levels of art and his attention to detail is noticeable. Every panel uses these soft pallets of reds or blues that smoothly flow from shade to shade. Meanwhile, sharp, black outlines on the characters draw the eye to the actions. Together, they make movement seamless across the page.

Noto’s colors never stray from blue or red. Because of this, scenes take place either at night or sunrise/sunset and interiors match the time of day. It’s a style that’s been plaguing comics fairly recently and detracts from the unique art. In one scene set out doors midday the colors Noto used on the characters and environment could have been mistaken for dawn or dusk. It was like an Instagram filter had been layered over the panels for a vintage look.

Black Widow herself is particularly eye catching. Noto draws her hair as if she’s glowing. Sometimes it’s interesting, but it can come off as distracting at times. It’s odd seeing her in an outdoor scene and her hair surrounded by a red cloud. Besides that, Noto handles the character exceptionally well. Natasha is not exploited or dramatized for her looks and never depicted in any anatomically impossible poses. It’s refreshing to see a mainstream female comic protagonist handled in this way.

Edmondson and Noto complement each other very well in this issue and leave plenty of interest for future issues.

Emertainment Monthly gives Black Widow #1 a 9/10.

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