Review: BLACK WIDOW #5

BLACK WIDOW #5
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Phil Noto
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 2, 2014

BWIDOW2014005_DC112Natasha continues her race against time to stop the “Hammer of God” in the newest issue of Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s spy-thriller Black Widow.

Black Widow has been a spy book from the beginning, but Edmondson takes it up a notch in issue #5, discussing the worth of information in the world of the spies. Intel is king and the difference between success and failure, the latter of which Natasha does not handle well. Edmondson does a good job with this script of advancing the story but keeping the mystery intact. We know more about this “Hammer of God”, a man seemingly one step ahead of Natasha and dangerous to say the least, but the cat has yet to be let out of the bag. As with any good spy story there are more questions than answers, and Black Widow #5 fits that bill perfectly. Edmondson gives readers a Widow who is off her game, perhaps over thinking things, and therefore getting into trouble. Readers used to the “always has all the answers” Natasha will not find her here, which is part of the fun of the comic. The ominous threat must be great to be one step ahead of one of the Marvel U’s greatest spies, and Edmondson plays off that looming threat well. Natasha’s banter with Maria Hill is strong, and Edmondson does an excellent job of lacing Natasha’s dialogue with frustration. She’s not coping with this situation well, and it is interesting to read such a calculated character start to lose it a bit under pressure. The pacing of this issue feels rushed compared to the past 4, and while some of that is the chaos of the events of the comic, it is also a very dense issue. There is a lot of information to soak up in this one, compared to the slow burn pacing of prior issues. It is still written well, don’t get me wrong, but some of the twists aren’t quite as shocking as in prior issues due to a lack of time for buildup.

Phil Noto’s art, as always, is brilliant. His work on Black Widow is career defining and these 5 issues are forming what will be a run spoken of for many years. His storytelling in issue #5 is fantastic, giving Natasha subtle details that give the appearance that she is on edge from the first panel to the last of this issue. The action sequences with Natasha and the Hammer of God are fantastic, and Noto’s layouts in general are so easy on the eyes. His work is fluid and stylish, telling so much with, at times, what looks like so little. There are no hyper-rich backgrounds, but they aren’t needed. This is a character based story and his work on these characters is fantastic. His style suits the story being told so very well, and he and Edmondson seem to be in perfect sync. His colour work makes specific details leap from the page, and gives the book a lot of energy. Backgrounds don’t matter when your focal characters stand out this much, and Noto is delivering one of the best looking books in comics today.

Black Widow #5 is another strong issue in what has been an excellent series so far. It isn’t the strongest issue yet, but that certainly doesn’t mean it should be overlooked by anyone. This story gets more gripping the deeper Natasha is dragged into this web of intrigue, and I can’t wait to see what these talented storytellers have lined up for us next month.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

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