Black Widow was killed by alternate reality Hydra Captain America in Secret Empire. Yes, that may be a spoiler but it formed the basis of this story. Before this issue, Black Widow had died, been cloned by the Red Room with that clone being implanted with all her memories. She then dismantled the Red Room and killed all of her clones and is now back at square one, except officially dead.
With all that backstory out of the way, there’s two stories here more or less. The first is Black Widow teaming up with Captain America to stop a fake Cap from blowing up Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The second is Natasha going to Madripoor and mixing it up in the sex trade world.
To start, this cover really betrays the internals of this series. While it has a nice Dirty Pair manga aesthetic, there is just something about it that feels more DeviantArt than comic shelf. The interior art by Flaviano looks nothing like it, though the now-standard light manga influence is there. It is big, bold and striking, but I think that cover does hurt the book. Veronica Gandini’s colors also pop that animated feel, as well as accurately making Madripoor as dingy and grimy as it should feel.
The real treat here is Jen and Sylvia Soska’s writing. The first half is explicitly about Captain America’s role as public figure in the wake of Secret Empire which is actually refreshing to see a long-term ramification for that. It also acts a fun romp with Black Widow before things transition from the heroic Avengers side of Natasha Romanoff and down into the gutters and shadows of society. There’s just something refreshing about taking her away from the official organizations and teams she’s been affiliated with to strip away the high-profile nature of the character.
It is by no means perfect, but for being a surprisingly great book from newcomers following the last Black Widow series, this book earned four stars!
Learning to read from his parents' old comic book collection, ink has flowed through his blood since he was born! And now, the self-proclaimed Comic Archivist (at least on Youtube) brings his talents for comic book history and obscurity to WhatCulture! Be warned: he's a Cyclops fanboy and a Nightwing groupie!