Black Widow Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread
Written by: Nathan Edmonson
Art by: Phil Noto
16 July 2014
Marvel/137 pages/digital copy/$10.99
We’ve seen a glimpse of Black Widow’s origin in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The anti-heroine holds so many personalities that it’s hard to keep up with who she really is. So if she told you her story, would you trust her? Why would you? She doesn’t even trust herself to take care of a cat.
This time Back Widow goes solo and she kicks ass. Stealth is the name of her game and in the first three issues she quickly brings herself up to be a spy that could easily rival the likes of 007. Cold and calculated, Black aWidow is not out there to save the world as much as she’s seeking some semblance of atonement. She’s made a lot of mistakes in the past playing for the wrong team and she’s determined to do good by collecting money to give away to those who need it.
The life of a hired gun, however, isn’t easy as the Widow makes it look. It often involves killing or rescuing notorious figures that could question right from wrong. Events also remind that our super heroine doesn’t have any superpowers but that she gains the upper hand through her cunning. Although she excels in hand to hand combat, she doesn’t have an iron suit or iron hammer to fall back on. This sense of vulnerability only lend to the appeal of her conflicts.
We get to know the Widow through her many soliloquys. After all, it’s not as if the life of a spy is a chatty one. She does seem to have one confidant apart from the occasional Maria Hill cameo. He manages her finances and is just as shrouded in mystery as the Widow. The Widow still comes out likeable despite not allowing anyone near her because it’s not about her safety as much as it is theirs, hinting that she isn’t as cold as she carries herself to be.
It’s not until the latter half that we get to see Molot the Mad Monk aka The Hammer of God. He is a huge, brutish monster of a man that likes to talk about doing god’s work. A cross dangles around his neck among straps with grenades and other explosive arsenals. He first terrorises with a minigun while being bulletproof himself. He’s the perfect foil for Black Widow, preferring to go out in a bang. Molot succeeds as a villain with a schtick that’s both workable and believable and is all too welcome in the horde of failed Marvel evil-doers. And like any good villain, he manages to make any hero, or in this case heroine, look good for having the balls to take him on.
Black Widow’s monologues are encased in red. Panels are clearly laid out. A splash in page six beautifully zooms out on a city cleansed by rain and a small Black Widow standing in it. A page can have ten panels only for the remaining space to be used as a borderless panel. The high number of panels can allow for the fast pace of a stealthy sequence. It’s a good balance from the dialogue and can quickly lay out how a plan comes together.
Noto (Thunderbolts, Batgirl) captures Black Widow’s lonesome world in light-toned illustrations reminiscent of watercolour. The art is driven by its monotone shades which accentuate bright colours like the Widow’s hair. The result is stunning. It often flirts with looking cartoonish but maintains an impression that evokes a solitary nature.
The Finely Woven Thread is a spy comic book story done right. It manages to colour the Avenger spy in and out of her element, capable of unravelling a mystery that continues to spin.
Reviewed by Stephen Suminguit