Black Widow #12
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Ellie Pyle
Review by Joey Braccino
Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow reaches its 12th issue this week (though not quite one year anniversary just yet! Double-shipping ftw!) and it’s quite a doozy for our eponymous heroine. Just as things are starting to look up for Natasha, more things go terribly, terribly wrong.
Edmondson alternates between two concurrent storylines in this issue: one follows Black Widow on a team-up rescue Black Op in Somalia that goes perfectly according to plan; the other deals with the fall-out from an Anderson Cooper expose entitled “The ‘Black Widow’: Is she a TERROR THREAT?” [Aside: Sure, it’s one of those “hero or menace” stories, but it’s pretty cool to see Anderson Cooper actually depicted in a comic book.] Cooper’s evidence is compiled from all of the crazy escapades Black Widow has been on over the last dozen issues (continuity!). So while Black Widow has a jolly good time roughing it out in Somalia, her Avenger friends back home have to scramble and come up with a plan to respond to the report. The ultimate resolution is fairly terrifying—there is no cover up or Captain American interview or anything like that—and really speaks to just how the rest of the Marvel Universe views Natasha. From all other perspectives, she’s this Black Ops agent who will do what needs to be done; from Edmondson’s characterization, however, we get Natasha’s own view of her newfound commitment to “good.” It’s wonderfully nuanced and spectacular writing, and it really builds upon the narrative constructed thus far.
The best thing about Black Widow has been the consistency in the creative team. Edmondson and Noto have been able to work together for every single issue thus far, creating an aesthetic that transcends writing or art; Black Widow has a legitimate style. Similar to Fraction and Aja’s run on Hawkeye, Black Widow has a distinctive tone and tenor that Edmondson and Noto have perfected over the last dozen issues. Black Widow #12 is no different; the sequencing of the issue builds to the climactic final scene, which is both brutal and shocking. The final panel, however, reverts back into a reflective epilogue punctuated by the most subtle detail (bloody cat pawprints), which is both quiet and foreboding. Noto is on fire with this series, and I would pay the price of admission to look at his artwork on its own.
Buy. At 12 issues, Black Widow has consistently delivered on its promise of character-driven, espionage-heavy storytelling. Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have a distinct narrative style and synergy, and Marvel has wisely let them play with one of their (now) marquee characters. Black Widow #12 capitalizes on nearly a year of storytelling and looks ahead to an even bigger, more challenging run ahead.