Edmondson and Noto offer up a cool, new look at Marvel Comics’ Black Widow

Black Widow 2 cover Noto

If you’re still waiting to see who is going to pick up the reins and turn Gentle Giant’s Honey Trap Army into a comic book series, the next best thing may be at your local comic book store right now.  It’s Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s new Black Widow biweekly series from Marvel Comics.  What does it have to do with the Honey Trap Army?  Nothing really, except that Natasha Romanoff as realized by the 1960s style art of Phil Noto would fit right in with the mod-inspired team of high-end assassin action figures.

You’ll get the feeling you’re reading something with plenty of potential, storytelling on par with Jason Aaron’s Thor, God of Thunder.  In a similar way as Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye created a story of a second-level Avenger apart from the world of the Avengers, Edmondson’s Black Widow is on her own and carving out her own life in this new series.  She’s still working with the Avengers, but this story is about how she spends the rest of her time.  And like Hawkeye has his pal Lucky Dog, Natasha almost has her own pet cat.  Almost.

Black Widow Honey Trap Army look

She’s an assassin turned paid killer, a distinction that has real meaning for Natasha, who is taking on her own mercenary projects for good pay but not for personal gain.  It’s all part of her atonement for past sins, a process she is both forging ahead and wrestling with.  She has an able if not seemingly foppish aide in this endeavor, a buttoned-shirt lawyer named Mr. Ross, who selects assignments to take any subjective influences away from what projects are selected for Natasha to pursue.  At her request.  And we learn even he is full of surprises.

The result is a new book about one formidable anti-hero.  If you didn’t know her to be one of the good guys, aligned with the grand pantheon of major Marvel superheroes, you’d easily mistake her for one of the bad guys.  Except she only takes jobs where she kills the bad guys.

Black Widow Phil Noto

With great pacing and plotting, the careful development of a character intentionally holding back her past and all her secrets from the reader may make Edmondson’s story a required addition to your reading list.  She’s a bit Michael Westen from Burn Notice or Nate Ford from Leverage, but without the support team.  Since this is also a series that is being published every two weeks instead of monthly, it means that Phil Noto’s unique retro interior art gets into your hands that much quicker.

If you are a fan of Noto’s past work with cool cars and cool women, like his equally superb and gritty Trigger Girl 6, you’ll quickly take to the characteristic Noto pencils, inks and colors in the new Black Widow.

Ask you local comic book shop to get you caught up on Black Widow Issues #1 and #2, and look for Issue #3 out Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

C.J. Bunce

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