Black Widow #1 Review: A High Concept from Thompson & Casagrande

Black Widow #1
7.5/10
Black Widow #1 kicks off the new Thompson & Casagrade run with a high concept that sees Natasha leave the mantle for a unique reason.

Kelly Thompson, the writer, currently killing it on Deadpool with a high concept series that pits Wade Wilson as the King of a Staten Island populated by monsters, is now the ongoing Black Widow writer. With this relaunched series, Thompson is bringing another high concept to a Marvel icon. In this new Black Widow #1, after a life-changing incident, Natasha Romanoff doesn't seem to remember anything about her life as Black Widow.

Black Widow #1 cover. Credit: Marvel
Black Widow #1 cover. Credit: Marvel

Thompson's take on Black Widow is a gutsy one, as it kicks off with a somewhat standard Widow caper with the Avengers before knocking Natasha off of a building. Yeah, with Endgame and now this, Widow seems to have a recent penchant for taking nasty falls. Now, the rest of the issue follows a Natasha that seems to have built a new life, as certain scenes suggest that she has amnesia. However, it's only been three months since the fall, and this isn't a lost and confused person trying to assemble a puzzle of scattered memories. Natasha is confident, and very much like the Widow we know… and the one that she, it seems, doesn't anymore.

For a first issue, Black Widow #1 sets up this story well enough, and it's impressive to see Thompson pull off another high concept. This one, however, does have a few corny moments, with the overused "Superhero disappears while someone is talking to them, and the person says I hate when they do that" moments. It's odd that that exact scene has become such a consistent trope, much in the way that every film between 2000 and 2010 had the obligatory "I just threw up in my mouth a little" line. It's an oddly cliche moment in such an original take on Widow and that, and a few other moments seem like they're leaning a little hard into the "Black Widow is cool, and she really knows it" of it all. Constant reminders to the reader make her feel a little try-hard because here's the thing… we already know Black Widow is cool.

The art by Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire, two graduates from IDW Publishing's Angel line, is fantastic. Moody and stylized, Natasha, as realized by these two, is a visual force of nature in Black Widow #1. The highlight of the issue is the opening double-page spread that is washed in red with overlayed, small square panels of color to highlight certain major moments. Complete with VC's Cory Petit on letters and Adam Hughes on covers, the Black Widow art team is top-notch.

Overall, Black Widow is a good start with what feels like the potential for an even better next few issues.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.