Welcome to “Off The Shelf”, our comic book reviews of recent titles. These are designed to be brief reviews of current books and series that we think you should check out.
Today, Brian reviews Black Widow #6-- Story by Kelly Thompson, art by Rafael de Latorre and colors by Jordie Bellaire.
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Hello and welcome to Off The Shelf, Church of the Geek’s weekly review of a recent comic. I am Brian Bennett, campus pastor in Pittsburgh, and co-host of Church of the Geek.
Fine. I can admit it. I am a Kelly Thompson fan boy. I didn’t realize it until recently. I mean, I don’t know how many issues of Captain Marvel I had read, and loved the writing by the way, until I realized she had written the entire run. Then in the process of organizing my collection, I realized that she had written the recent run of West Coast Avengers. I am a terrible comic fan. I am more likely to remember or at the very least pay attention to the artist more than the writer. Until I recognize the excellent writing.
And so it was that my friendly local comic shop had all five issues of Black Widow on the shelf on a week that my pull list was super thin. So I picked them all up. Only upon getting home and starting to read them did something seem familiar. Sure enough, when I looked at the cover there was Kelly Thompson’s name. So here it is, an admission of being a fan of Kelly Thompson.
The self-contained arc in issues one through five is really brilliant. Even when she employed a plot device I should have seen coming… I didn’t. That was good. Nonetheless that arc got me hooked on this title. I won’t go into the details because you should go out and read it yourself. It is brilliant. Thompson excels at pulling out relationship details. Her back and forth between characters is tight and quick. This happens whether it is Natasha and Yelena, or Carol Danvers and her gal pals in Captain Marvel.
But this review is about Black Widow #6, written by the aforementioned Kelly Thompson, art by Rafael de Latorre and colors by Jordie Bellaire. After the devastating events of the first arc, Natasha Romanoff is the self-appointed protector of San Francisco. The issue opens with Black Widow fighting off a giant of a man who has been imbued with super powers. This super thug, a man with “frying pan hands,” makes it clear that someone named Apogee wants her dead. Most of the rest of the issue is her working her way through more super powered goons to get to Apogee. But that action is broken up with a flashback. After the first thug, we are treated to a scene of a young woman trying to pickpocket Natasha at the San Francisco Flower Mart. This young woman, gives the amusing moniker “Marigold,” an obvious lie, but clever since they were at the flower market. Yelena Belova, the White Widow, now allied with Natasha in their work in San Francisco, wonders at the aid Natasha gives Marigold. But Natasha believes she might be in need of some help.
What makes Natasha a great character, and what we continue to see is that it is not her physical prowess that defines her. She is immensely skilled in that realm, no doubt. But as we continue to see, it is the way she is able to assess a situation in an instant, formulating a plan, and requiring her adversaries to continually react to, often a great disadvantage. I found the constant internal monologue in the dialogue boxes to help us understand her thought processes and decisions. But continuing themes from the first arc, we see this also is made manifest in an almost maternal way. For marigold and for San Francisco.
However, it would not be Black Widow without some great action scenes to showcase her skills and intellect. And this is where both de Latorre and Bellair shine. The art in this issue continues excellent art thus far in the series. The art details an economy of action. Her actions are ever precise, highlighting her mental acumen. The art manages to keep focus on her in every panel, whether she is fighting or maneuvering. The two-page battle spread in her anticipated boss fight is an excellent example. Natasha is always in control.
There are also hints that the enemies she is facing don't just have super powers, but have been engineered to have superpowers, most likely by Apogee. They don’t just have super strength. One goon has wings. Another has acid breath. While her previous enemies teamed up to destroy her in the previous five issues, here Apogee seems to be working alone to bring her down. The one thing that left me curious about Apogee was that in the first fight with the man with frying pan hands is that Apogee seems to be communicating with Natasha. How he accomplished that remains a mystery. It is the one minor thing that didn’t seem to make sense.
Nonetheless, Black Widow #6 is an excellent start to a new story. If you have not had a chance to pick up the first five, the synopsis on the first page gives enough to bring you up to speed, but you will definitely want to get those first five at some point. But why not start here. Get in on this now… bask in the glory that is Kelly Thompson’s writing… and as always… Geek be with you.