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Nathan Edmondson And Phil Noto's Black Widow #1, From The Point Of View Of An Ex-Marvel Intern


By Dylan Gonzalez

Prior to writing for Bleeding Cool, I had another pretty cool comic book related gig. I was an intern at Marvel Comics. Twice. During my second tenure there, I was working in the Spidey Office, home of Steve Wacker and my supervisor, editor Ellie Pyle. One day,   Ellie and I were chatting about female lead comic books, prompting me to say that I had always wanted to read a Black Widow on-going.

Ellie, with a smirk, revealed that a Black Widow book was indeed in the works (this was around March or April of last year) and that she had received the script. She asked me if I wanted to read it and I quickly said yes. After getting it from the printer, I saw (much to my pleasure) that Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto were the team working on it. I sat back down in the office and gave the script a read.

Before I delve into looking at the final copy, the initial script I read was great. I distinctly remember Edmondson's script read very fluidly and I could literally picture Noto's artwork in my head. I knew that this was team well suited for this title.

Now with the final book in my hands, I can safely say that this is the Black Widow comic book that I have always wanted. Natasha's life as a super spy has always been one that grabbed my attention. Amid the ranks of the super heroes of the Marvel Universe, she stood out to me. While I find her to be a great addition to the Avengers, the Black Widow battling against cosmic threats and such never seemed like the ideal setting for her. Making her a member of the Secret Avengers was a smart move, but there was always something missing from her characterization.

Natasha is a very human character and this book captures that tone pretty well. With the backdrop of her life as an agent, Avenger and assassin, Edmondson is laying the groundwork for what I assume is going to be an exploration of the Black Widow's character. At this point in her life, Natasha has been at this game for many years. She excels at what she does. And yet, maybe she is not so keen on it.

The book is divided into two parts: an introductory scene of Natasha releasing a suicide bomber to the police in Berlin followed by a more involved hit. The beginning is a great, James Bond style intro. It gives the reader all the right points as who Natasha is and what she is capable of. Still, Edmondson manages to put in a spin on it by having Natasha tell a bogus story of her past life to the would-be bomber in order to gain his trust. Just seconds before hurling him out a window, she tells him that nobody will really know the truth, a message meant for the reader as well.

This Black Widow book is about identity, atonement and how Natasha perceives herself. She is not just a gun-for-hire. She does not do this for the money. No pleasure is gleaned from killing. There is a weight on the back of Natasha. She has obligated herself take these bad people out of the world as a punishment. What exactly she is carrying with her is something I hope that Edmondson intends on exploring. No doubt there is the chance that Natasha's previous dealings with the criminal underworld could come back to haunt her.

The final sequence with the cat also strongly hints at Natasha's character. She seems to have become more jaded at this point in her life. It does not seem that she distrusts people, but rather she does not feel comfortable around them. Even the presence of a kindly kitty cannot pierce Natasha's shell.

The last two pages suggest she is searching for a way to end this. Natasha wants to be free of her punishment, yet cannot come to terms with her past life, so it goes on. At what point will this make her cave in and her inner demons get the better of her?

Edmondson seems to be the perfect fit for the Black Widow. His script never feels jumbled or dominated by dialogue. He knows exactly what needs to be said and how much of it. He has the voice for Natasha down. You can sense the emotions from her in a way I never have when reading this character.

The other thing about Edmondson is that he knows when to let an artist do the storytelling. Noto shines in a number of pages and panels here. Natasha's arrival in Dubai is presented with no dialogue, but Noto's artwork is so natural that it plays like a movie scene. Another great series of panels is Black Widow taking down her target's bodyguards. Consisting of three panels with her falling from the ceiling, breaking one man's arm and then kicking the other in the face, it shows Noto's ability to work with motion. Even though the panels are broken up and even drawn from different angles, they all flow together perfectly.

A last comment on Noto's artwork: his inclusion of hand drawn sound effects adds a nice touch to the art. It makes it seem like everything is connected on the page.

I am excited to see Edmondson spin the tale of the Black Widow and where her path will take her. I hope that Noto will remain on this book as long as possible. His ability to express emotions is such a help to Edmondson's already on point script. I am sticking around for more.

Dylan Gonzalez happens to love beer and comic books and luckily found a place to write about both because he has no idea how to actually make money in the real world. He lives in a cave in New Jersey.

Tweet him at @BeardedPickle, follow his own beer blog or e-mail him at

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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