Black Widow #1 // Review

“Twisted Twin” horror filmmakers Jen & Sylvia Soska adopt an iconic Marvel super-spy for a limited time as they script a new Black Widow mini-series featuring art by Flaviano Armentaro with color by Veronica Gandini. The Soskas’ treatment of the character bursts across the page with a springy darkness in the opening chapter of a five-part story sharply drawn with vivid color.

Back from the dead, Black Widow aids Captain America in thwarting a bit of New Year’s Eve mayhem instigated by a look-alike imposter of the iconic hero. Having dealt with that, she decides to take a new year’s trip to slimy, seedy, scenic Madripoor. Drawing a facial fashion accessory from an old nattily be-clawed mutant ally in HIS adventures in the nation, Black Widow is clearly enjoying her trip into the dripping darkness of society. She inevitably gets entangled in the sinister criminal element running rampant in the tiny nation.

In the Soskas’ hands, the Russian super-spy assassin has a respectably brutal humanity about her. She’s been reanimated into a clone of her own body. This would be enough to make ANYONE feel more than a little displaced, but as she is driven by intense training, it’s only natural that she’s going to look for the scummiest place on earth to find some kind of humanity. The Soskas definitely deliver an attitude to the page that lends the character a very specific and appealing voice. The Soskas have an excellent grasp of Black Widow’s motivations. They cunningly pull the heroine into the adventure which will cover the remainder of the series. She’s shown an online video of abuse only visible on the page in her reaction to it. Black Widow may be a vicious, displaced killing machine but there are some things that are universally repellent. The dark heroine has seen what she needs to see. She has a swig of liquor and gets on with it.

Flaviano’s typically cuddly action art is smartly muted in a tale of darkness. At moments the irresistible cuteness of Flaviano’s visuals make the title feel a bit like My Little Black Widow: Espionage is Magic™. Flaviano knows how to properly mute things, though deftly bending the cutesy cartoony-ness of his art style around the brutality of the story that the Soskas are developing. It’s an interesting mix between story and art in the sinister world that Black Widow inhabits.
Madripoor may look a bit cute around the edges under Flaviano’s pen, but there’s an unmistakable ugliness that is carried through with style and poise. Gandini’s vibrantly dark purples and reds and blues aid in bringing the art into the the filth of Madripoor for just the perfect mood.

The Soskas and company have a really resonant dynamic that feels quite unlike anything else being brought to the racks so far this year. The Soskas’ vision for Black Widow feels uniquely fresh while remaining true to the type of story that works best for Marvel’s redheaded Russian spy. An opening as satisfying as this shows great potential for the remaining four issues in the series.