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on 15 August 2014
Black Widow’s inevitable series has arrived and thank Thor it’s good!

Actually, I’m not surprised – a female spy story seems highly likely to succeed. Look at Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Velvet for a series that could easily be Black Widow in her 40s/50s – that comic RULES! The TV show Archer, the Bourne/Mission Impossible movies, and of course Bond - replace the dudes with a hot redhead? Come on. A Black Widow espionage comic in the Marvel Universe was always going to be a surefire hit.

Natasha’s atoning for her villainous past by accepting mercenary missions, in between avenging the world, and wiring her fees to the families of her former victims. It’s all part of Marvel’s weird but wonderful experiment in turning all of their characters into heroes! Loki, Magneto, Black Widow – even Thanos will probably get re-cast as a loveable rogue soon!

The format for the first half of the book is short, done-in-one missions set in colourful parts of the globe – Shanghai, Dubai, Argentina – before writer Nathan Edmondson switches to a longer story arc. A mad Russian monk (are there any other kind?) is doing naughty things with a bazooka and Natasha’s gotta stop him! Like a lot of solitary, brooding characters with dark pasts (Batman for instance), Natasha learns to trust others and make friends – aww, see what I mean about the villain makeover? Love her yet? No?! Quick, give her an adorable cat!!

Edmondson seems to be the go-to guy for non-powered superheroes. He wrote the New 52 Grifter series (terrible), and is now doing this and the re-launched Punisher series at Marvel (both much better), and he does good work in this book. Natasha may be cold but the action is interesting and fast-paced enough to overlook her minimal character-development. I do wish he’d stop mentioning “webs” and “threads” all the time though – I get it, black widow is a type of spider, stop alluding to it all the time!

Phil Noto’s art is gorgeous! It’s really hard to describe because it’s kind of impressionistic and watercolour-y from a distance but look closer and you’ll see sharp lines that hold all of the images together. It’s so pretty and unique - I’ve read a lot of Marvel comics and haven’t seen another art style quite like it. Edmondson’s writing is decent, rarely rising above average, but Noto’s art is way up there in quality.

Do you love the Mission Impossible movies but hate the alien-loving midget with the scary teeth and wish the lead were someone else, like a redheaded former Russian spy? Black Widow is for you!
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The story running through issues #1-6 of Marvel's latest Black Widow series is collected, along with an 8-page short story from `All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1', as Black Widow Volume 1: The Finely Woven Thread. This story shows us what the Black Widow gets up to on her day off from being an Avenger or an Agent of SHIELD, and picks up on the film character's comments about having "red" in her ledger, as she has a business agent who takes commissions on her behalf to carry out `mercenary' operations. The operations naturally involve taking down bad guys, and the money earned goes to financing her `web' of safe houses as well as financing various charitable trusts.

This particular story sees the Widow hired to take out a bad guy, but it turns into a trap as an old opponent tries to take revenge for past acts; there is the obligatory mad Russian monk on steroids who is a heavily-armed killer, and a new secret conspiracy organisation who are able to penetrate the highest SHIELD security. Yes, we have seen all this sort of stuff before, but it is still an interesting and entertaining story, with plenty of character / background story to flesh it out. It may not be the most original story, but I enjoyed it. There was even a cameo of Hawkeye, on his day off from being an Avenger.

For a different take on the story, see Black Widow and The Marvel Girls GN-TPB.
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on 6 October 2014
I read a library copy of the paperback.
There has been quite a buzz about this new Black Widow series and I have read many good things about it so snapped up this first collection when I first saw it in my library, strongly considering actually buying it myself.
There is a surprising lack of warmth towards or connection with the Natasha in this series even though the issues are actually narrated by her in the first person.
We are told how she tries hard to remain detached and uninvolved and whilst we should feel her angst, strangely we feel nothing.
We have to have Natasha adopt a cute cat by the end of this trade to understand that she’s growing into emotion.
The artwork is clever and interestingly painted with great feeling but the actions feel disjointed and static, there is no flow to it.
The raison d’etre of atoning for her past is a good hook but the missions are very ‘this-week’s-TV-episode’ and whilst there is the promise of an interesting uber-villain behind the scenes, it comes to nothing.
New readers or those fairly new to the Widow – perhaps coming in from the movies – may see nothing they dislike here, but this is not really ‘my’ Black widow, she’s far too dull and …grey.
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on 26 September 2014
This book really let me down, I was hoping to love it but it just left me feeling meh.
There is barely any dialogue so you read it very fast and there is also very little character interaction or characterisation I felt.
Also the book does very little to endear you to the character of Black Widow, somewhat as another result of the aforementioned point above.
For the first three issues there is no sense of story whatsoever it is just her going on one dimensional same same missions and it is dull.
And my final point of criticism is that I found the art work made the storytelling feel very arduous and hard to follow.
So all in all I would only bother picking up this book if you are a hardcore Black Widow fan!
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on 29 September 2014
This is one of the best Marvel Now volumes I've read, and the art work is just gorgeous. It's not traditional, but it is very beautifully drawn, and the colouring is positively stunning. The storyline is also very compelling. As a previous reviewer noted, the style is a bit sparse -- much of it takes place within Natasha's head -- so if you try and devour this super quickly, I think you'd miss a lot, and it wouldn't have the same impact. But it's nice to see a slightly more vulnerable -- but still independent and tough-as-nails -- Black Widow. Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of Natasha or the slightly less comic-booky narrative style prevalent in Marvel Now.
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on 4 August 2014
Gorgeous art and well-written stories. Binding is up to standards and it's a wonderful book overall
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on 14 December 2015
Amazing comic book. If you love black widow and action, I suggest you buy it.
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on 3 October 2014
Flawless art, interesting and quick-paced writing, overall really wonderful.
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on 25 September 2014
This is a good book, not amazing by any measure, but good enough, some parts aren't thrilling, and reading it did feel like a chore, but I'm satisfied enough.
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on 1 June 2015
Gift for my teenage daughter :) Obssessed with these Marvel books!
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