Scarlett Johansson is reason enough for me to see a movie. So is Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the stellar cast of “THE AVENGERS.” And what if you’re new to comics and would like to dip your toe into the Marvel universe? Well, there are quite a number of titles to choose from. Lucky for you, I have a suggestion for a fine place to start.
Marvel Comics delivers a credible movie tie-in with their three-part limited series, “BLACK WIDOW STRIKES.” The first issue finds our title character, Natasha Romanoff, undercover at a gentleman’s club in Moscow as she seeks out a bootlegger dealing in Starktech. This is written by Fred Van Lente, with pencils by Neil Edwards, inks by Rick Magyar and colors by Nick Filardi. It is basically a solid little piece of noir with a nice hard edge drawing style mixed in with the right set of garish color contrast and moody monochromes.
What’s cool about Black Widow is that she’s a babe with no regrets. We see a lot of sexy assertiveness, not just cheesecake. Black Widow is intended to be a sexual and powerful character. From what I’ve read, she never comes across has someone hobbled by her sexuality in the way, for instance, Catwoman seems to usually be. And that’s what we get in this opening issue. Natasha gets in over her head momentarily with the bunch of mobsters but soon sets things right again. She pulls off her enormous beehive wig to unleash a huge gun that knocks the bad boys out of the game. She kicks. She struts. She kicks again. And, before her life is yet again in danger, S.H.I.E.L.D. finally comes through and supplies her with a flying contraption for her big escape.
But she’s safe only for a few moments. Scantily clad, she must do battle with a bunch of ninja commandos. One close call after another, and she’s safe again, for the moment. There are few words to exchange during these passages. The art and the attitude are energetic. We believe in Natasha. Once all the damage has been done to her penthouse suite, she regains order and bribes the bellman to keep quiet.
The only mistake that Natasha makes is one and it is huge. She engages in conversation with the very person responsible for trying to get her killed. “Sofia” assures her that it was only business and that, well, given a chance, she’d like to explain herself. She also claims to be a fan, the sort of fan who would like to take her place. For some reason, this is too much for Natasha to resist and she agrees to meet with Sofia. This does not look good for Natasha but it sounds like the start of a pretty good little tale. The next issue is out May 16. Visit Marvel Comics.