REVIEW: ‘Black Widow,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Black Widow #3
Black Widow #3 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Kelly Thompson, art by Elena Casagrande, with colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Cory Petit. As Hawkeye and The Winter Soldier grapple with how to approach Natasha’s current situation, there are others in play who may not be as willing to show as much patience as Nat’s old friends. What will this mean for Natasha’s new family? And will there be anything left of her perfect life when the dust settles?

One of the constant thematic struggles of heroic storytelling is how they project the power of their stars. The need to establish how potent their strengths and abilities are is often shown through having the chosen hero regale the audience with ever-greater feats of heroism. But there is another way. A way that I’ve always found much more effective. And one I’m glad to learn Black Widow #3 writer Thompson is willing to utilize. What is this approach you ask? Show how intimidating the hero is to their enemies. One might do this by say, finding one of the most recognizable, stone-cold killers in the hero’s world, and show how scared to death of the hero they are.

Black Widow #3’s strongest virtue is how it uses thematic balance to elevate the emotional impact of its tale. As the story opens, Natasha is waking in her bed next to her husband. Playful smiles and light kisses great her this morning. She is happy beyond the level I’ve ever seen her. No shred of the emotional scars of the Red Room can be seen. She is quite literally living the dream.

She is doing so good, that Clint and Bucky are still unsure of what to do. Natasha has clearly been brainwashed. Do they approach her with the truth, and shatter this dream she’s getting to live? Eventually, their choice is made with the help of an unexpected ally. Even with the decision made, you can tell doubts linger.

Meanwhile, we are given our first look at who is behind Natasha’s current situation. And as it turns out, one of them has gotten antsy. With a feeling of revulsion fueling their decisions, the individual has come to the conclusion that they cannot allow Natasha to live in this dream. And, over the protests of their more sensible peers, has enacted a plan to take it from her.

While Thompson’s writing in Black Widow #3 is as strong as ever, it is Casagrande’s art that truly steals this show. Her pitch-perfect portrayal of Nat’s happiness takes what, in lesser hands, would’ve been an all too impressive combat sequence and turns it into something heartbreaking.

Just as with her earlier confrontation in the alley, when Natasha again comes under fire she automatically reverts into her true self. Casagrande’s art imparts a terrible elegance to Natasha’s every move. It is spectacular. It’s graceful. And it is terrifying. The warmth and kindness that permeates this opening half of the book has vanished. Leaving in its wake the coldness of an assassin of the Red Room.

While Casagrande’s lines set the stage for Natasha’s grim performance, they receive a huge boost from Bellaire’s masterful color work. From color choices to lighting, the colors never fail to build upon the emotions of the scenes.

Finally, we have Petit’s well laid out lettering. The placement of dialogue and thought boxes flows wonderfully, even through some of the more complex panel arrangements the book has within it’s pages.

When all is said and done, Black Widow #3 delivers an emotionally impactful, and visually stunning entry into the series. I cannot wait to see what this creative team has in store for Marvel’s best femme fatale.

Black Widow #3 is available November 4th wherever comics are sold.

Black Widow #3
5

TL;DR

Black Widow #3 delivers an emotionally impactful, and visually stunning entry into the series. I cannot wait to see what this creative team has in store for Marvel’s best femme fatale.