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The Chase Is On In Waid, Samnee & Wilson’s ‘Black Widow’ #1 [Review]

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Last year, Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson wrapped up their defining run on Daredevil, a run that stands proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with the runs of Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev and Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark. Now, they’ve teamed up again to deliver a brand new Black Widow ongoing that explodes at you right from the first page and keeps you hooked every step of the way until the end.

Black Widow’s most recent series by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto was a more contemplative affair that dug into the heart of who Natasha Romanoff is, and what drives her in the days she isn’t being an Avenger. While there’s no doubt that this new series will provide us with plenty of the excellent character analysis we saw from Daredevil, this #1 issue is action-packed and intense right from the first page.

This may not be a Black Widow you’re instantly familiar with from the movies or recent series, because this Natasha Romanoff doesn’t have time to think about the ethics of her spywork, or contemplate the red in her ledger. It does, however, feel like classic Black Widow, the same character that betrayed the KGB to do the right thing, once again turning on her spymasters despite the consequences, or chance of failure.

 

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Black Widow #1 is a chase comic, which is something you rarely see in this medium and it’s even rarer to see it done as well as this. Waid, Samnee & Wilson keep Natasha moving in pretty much every panel, and the pace of the comic does not let up, even during the final pages of the book where she’s forced into a fight, the comic moves briskly without ever feeling short or rushed.

During their Daredevil run, Waid & Samnee ditched the writer/artist credit in favor for a single storyteller credit, but Black Widow credits Chris Samnee as a co-writer with Waid along with his art duties. Samnee’s increased role in all aspects of the book only make for a better comic, as he’s quickly become one of the best sequential storytellers of his generation, and whether it’s expansive double-page spreads or splitting the page into a sixteen panel grid, the story and art flows perfectly.

 

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Matthew Wilson’s colors capture Natasha’s mood perfectly. At the start of Natasha’s escape, everything is quite bright as she effortlessly avoids her enemies, but the tone of the book gets darker until the final fight of the book, which is saturated in various shades of red as Black Widow fights for her life.

Perhaps the unsung hero of the team is letterer Joe Caramagna, who also proved how innovative he can be during the team’s Daredevil run. Whether it’s the way he depicts swearing, the variety of the sound effects during the fight, or the softness of Natasha’s sigh, great lettering can often go unnoticed, but without Caramagna’s efforts, this would be a lesser comic.

Some might be turned off by what they see as a lack of story in Black Widow #1, but there’s plenty going on here for fans of high-action and classic sequential storytelling. Team Black Widow are building something far bigger than a single issue, but with this first salvo, they’re off to a great start.

 

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