The current Black Widow run by writer Kelly Thompson, artist Elena Casagrade, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer VC's Cory Petit puts Natasha in a situation that she's never been in before. This is something that a bunch of superhero comics will boast to hype up a new run, but in this case, it's true. The Black Widow is gone because Natasha, thanks to a group of folks who hate her a ton, has been placed into the perfect life. She is about to marry the man of her dreams, with whom she has a kid that she loves, and she's content. Her friends, namely Hawkeye and the Bucky, know about her situation but aren't sure if pulling her out is the right thing. She's clearly in a trap, but she's also happy. Is it right to shatter that happiness or let Natasha work her own way out of this maze if she ever even wants to? Black Widow #3, the best issue of the series yet, explores all that and more.
Black Widow gets better and better under Thompson and Casagrande, and this third issue is the most compelling yet. Everything that made the second issue such a great read is here again, including the terrific banter between Hawkey and Bucky, as well as the bursts of thrilling action as Black Widow shines through the cracks of Natasha's otherwise "perfect" life. What works so well in making readers conflicted about this life Natasha is living is that it's not overly sappy or false. It doesn't read as if she suddenly is going to create a "smash that like button and subscribe"-style family vlog for YouTube. Her life as Natalie feels like… well, a life. Her relationships feel natural and nuanced. Thompson and Casagrade craft this aspect of Black Widow so well that, even though we know there's something wrong here, the sense of dread is intense when we believe, in the issue's climax, that "Natalie's" family life is about to come crashing down.
Emotionally complex and gripping, Thompson, Casagrade, Bellaire, and Petit are creating what may be a character-defining Black Widow saga.