Written by: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Art by: Chris Samnee
I’m not going to lie, I’ve never really been a big fan of Black Widow. I enjoyed the previous run by Edmunson and Noto due to it’s fun tone and Noto’s gorgeous art, though never found Natasha that interesting or unique a character. Given that this new run however comes from Samnee and Waid, the outstanding team behind the recent Daredevil series, there was no way I wasn’t picking this up. Much like the previous run, this is a book much more focused on art and action than complex character or plot, except this time the action is take up to 13 (11 just isn’t exciting enough).
From the very opening page, the comic hits you with a sucker punch that completely flips the script, and from that point on grabs you by the scruff of the collar and pulls you along for the violent ride, flipping the script so many times it’ll make your head spin. The plot is paper thin, Natasha finds herself against S.H.I.E.L.D. with the following issue being one large chase scene, it’s reminiscent of Fraction and Aya’s Hawkeye #3 chase scene, except with much more explosions, jet packs and flying cars. What makes the script work so well is that Waid doesn’t feel the need to overload it with unnecessary details or backstory, from page 1 the action never lets up, with all the relevant details told through short bursts of dialogue that barely distract from the art. There’s seriously only around 20 word balloons in the whole comic (I counted) and it works super well.
While the lack of dialogue was a bit disappointing given how well Waid usually handles characters, it does allow for Samnee to show the creative genius he is and just go wild for the comic’s entire length. Samnee’s art doesn’t miss a beat, it’s some of the most fluid and kinetic art I’ve ever witnessed. It’s so hard to convey motion and excitement in a stationary medium, but I swear Marvel laced the pages with some kind of hallucinogen as this art 100% moves and flows beautifully panel to panel. Even more impressive, Samnee manages both the widescreen blockbuster stuff as well as the intimate, street level action. A CQC fight at the end is handled beautifully, with every punch thrown viciously realized in glorious detail. The old saying “I’d buy this book even without words” is thrown around a lot when critiquing a book with strong art, in the case of Samnee and Waid, they’ve pretty much released one, and it’s absolutely worth every penny.
Overall, I wasn’t expecting to love Black Widow as much as I did. Coming off such a successful run, I was honestly expecting the two to stumble a bit or not live up to the hype, Waid and Samnee however take a sledgehammer to the hype wall and keep on sprinting past (on jet packs). While I was a little thrown off to not see Waid’s usual character work on display, I realized while reading that he shows a defter approach to the character by stripping out unnecessary monologues and plot complexities and focusing on pure visual spectacle. It’s like The Revenant but for comics (that’s my current references quota met). The comic shows exactly what the Black Widow is capable of and exactly the sort of thrills that are in store for the series, something that should make readers very excited. Do yourself a favorite and pick this up, it’s the truest form of a pure action comic and I’m super pumped to see what comes next.