BlackWidow1CoverNatasha Romanov was once a KGB operative, but today she is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and an Avenger—what she was in between is nobody’s business but her own. Suffice it to say, Natasha was not a good person, and despite being counted among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the Black Widow, she doesn’t believe she can be considered one now. When Natasha isn’t saving the world, she freelances for those who can afford her unique skills, donating the funds to those whose loved ones she killed before her reformation. Be it protection or assassination, the Black Widow can help you if the money is good and the cause is just.

Natasha’s latest assignment may prove to be her most challenging one. When an undercover mission immediately goes south, the Black Widow finds herself the target of another assassin from her homeland: a former Russian Orthodox monk known as the Hammer of God. Even he is but one finger of a deadly new terrorist group that seems to have set its sights on her. The adventure that follows will push the Black Widow to her limits, and if she doesn’t survive, the world may die with her!

This new Black Widow series surely owes its existence to the character’s increasing popularity in the wake of her appearance in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Thankfully, this Marvel NOW! series is no mere movie tie-in, though it will prove easily accessible to fans of the movies who have never read a comic before, much less a Black Widow comic. There’s no cumbersome backstory or continuity to worry about in this volume, and beyond her attempts to atone for her crimes, any details of the Black Widow’s past are deliberately avoided. In any case, such details are unimportant to the action at hand in this riveting story by Nathan Edmondson. Yet the plotline does have a few character-defining moments for Natasha and her supporting cast—ironic given the effort Natasha devotes to her insistence that there is no real her for people to know.

The artwork by Phil Noto is breathtaking. Noto’s pencils are light and his sparsely utilized inks seem even lighter. Were it not for the occasional clear pencil line, one might think that he had free-painted every single panel of this graphic novel. There is a vibrancy to Noto’s color choices; even night scenes and dark rooms have a certain unique clarity that seems at odds with the heavily-shaded artwork one usually expects in this sort of genre piece.

This volume is rated T+ for audiences ages 13 and up. I believe that to be a reasonable rating as the volume contains a fair bit of action and bloodshed, but nothing inappropriate for a teen audience. Religious readers may take offense at the idea of the Hammer of God, though it is made clear that despite his fervor, his faith is misplaced and not supported by any honest religious organization.

Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread, vol. 1
by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Phil Noto
ISBN: 9780785188193
Marvel Comics, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: T+ (13+)

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

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