You know how frustrating it is that Black Widow has never received her own solo movie? It's even more frustrating after reading this comic.
After a solid, "Done in One" debut two weeks ago, the second issue of the new Black Widow series continues the exploration of Natasha Romanov in her dangerous and often deadly personal crusade for atonement. Writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto keep peeling back layers, ever so slowly, to one of Marvel's finest espionage characters and make her more intriguing by the issue.
In "Shanghaied," Edmondson opens with a bang -- or rather, a car crash -- that immediately puts Natasha at the wrong end of a gun and hooks the reader in the process. It turns out to be an effective tease, as we quickly jump back fourteen hours, feeling like we're watching an episode of the ABC TV series Alias. We learn that she's been hired by an old acquaintance named Mr. Lin to find his kindapped son that, of course, results in an encounter with a new adversary named the Iron Scorpion.
Meanwhile, the mystery of Natasha's lawyer/manager/central supporting character Isaiah Ross deepens, with an office meeting involving a man called Aames, a representative seeking restitution for his client's "significant loss of property." Apparently more than just an empty suit, Isaiah takes it upon himself to find out more, discovering a plan to blackmail Black Widow and also kill Isaiah in order to encourage Natasha to pay up. To our surprise, Isaiah's response to this isn't simply warning his superspy employer, but instead taking upon himself to shoot Aames and his two cohorts dead inside their limousine. Obviously, there's more to Isaiah than meets the eye and he's definitely of interest in the future.
And once again, Noto produces some exquisite artwork filled with bold coloring and exciting action sequences. He gives Natasha's red hair considerable emphasis, with the color popping off the page against her dark bodysuit and more subdued backgrounds. It makes sense, immediately drawing your eye to the character and giving his take its own distinctive style. This is, quite simply, one of the most gorgeous and cinematic books Marvel's currently producing.
All in all, if you're not already sold on this newest run of Black Widow, I highly recommend jumping on board now instead of waiting for the trade. Like Hawkeye, this could turn out to be an unexpected hit, one that builds through positive word-of-mouth over the next few months, then has slackers and latecomers scrambling to track down early issues.