BLACK WIDOW #12
Writers: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee
Penciller: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 3/29/17
All good things come to an end. But not before a bang. The stunning conclusion of Black Widow unfolds in issue #12.
Plot: In the conclusion to this Black Widow run we see the final showdown between Natasha and Recluse. This issue provides the resolution to this long game of cat and mouse as well as exploring the deep emotional rivalry behind it. We also learn the fate of the Dark Room Girls.
Story: This series has done an excellent job looking at Black Widow the spy, which is something I hope we don’t lose in her future appearances.
While #11 relied heavily on adrenaline and action scenes, this issue dials it down a bit to focus more on the psychology of Recluse, Natasha and their shared experiences with Recluse’s mother.
With characters like Black Widow, who often are the ones expected to play it cool, it’s even more powerful to see them express their emotions. Waid and Samnee do a great job of exploring Recluse’s motivations for why she hates Natasha so much. She’s not just a regular enemy, but there is an element of jealousy because of her mother.
The same goes for Natasha, who despite distancing herself from her past, chooses instead to embrace it. As she says in the comic, she cares about the Dark Room Girls. It would be easy to write them off as more villains for her to defeat, but she sees them as family instead. This is more of the superhero Natasha we know than superspy coming through.
Art: One of the best parts of this run has been how Matthew Wilson takes the colors of the Black Widow’s suit and uses them to lead the coloring of the book, with strong red and black contrast which adds a noir vibe reminding you Natasha is a spy.
Instead of relying on fight sequences like the last issue, Samnee plays around with the movement of water, which features heavily in the action scenes of this issue. Exploring a different kind of movement, that’s not one of human violence, lends well to the narrative of her being a great fighter but a terrible assassin because she still has a heart. Natasha is fighting the elements like she fights herself.
The water scenes also allow for Wilson to temporarily pop out of the black and red scheme, adding in some shades of blue.
There are also some terrific facial expressions from Natasha that relay her ferocity does not come only from her strength but her emotions.
Verdict: It’s always better to close the story on a good point than to drag it out too far, which is what Samnee and Waid have done with Black Widow #12. However, with Marvel staff’s recent comments about how diversity is bad for sales, it’s difficult to see another title led by a woman character ending. While the story is technically resolved, I would have loved to see this element of Natasha’s life explored further rather than wrapped up in 12 issues.
It’s already been teased that Black Widow will lead the resistance in Secret Empire, so at least we know this isn’t the last of her for a while. Too bad we won’t have this team along the way.