“Part 4: No Place Like Home”
Writer: Richard K. Morgan
Artists: Goran Parlov and Bill Sienkiewicz
Publisher: Marvel Knights
Plot: Natasha is being drawn to the desolate killing field we’ve already encountered in Russia, but she’s taking her own time, mostly chasing ghosts in a grim and corrupt Moscow.
Comments: Morgan continues his themes of female empowerment and exploitation in this installment, and Land supports him on the cover with an incongruous mismatch between the pistol-packing Widow and her unlikely memories of a ballerina past.
Inside, the art team (basically, Parlov’s clear-storytelling enlivened by Sienkiewicz’s expressive inks) aids and abets Morgan by depicting a troubled Natasha in a haunted, dark world. Capitalism has corrupted an already fallen Russia, and the literal prostitutes Natasha encounters (real whores whom she’s been mimicking at key points in the story) are just the most evident of the many victims.
Phil and Sally Anne have been left behind making house in America, and Max and Kestrel are now on his trail rather than Natasha’s. These plot points take a back seat, however, to the Widow’s journey. This is actually a rather typical outing for a super-spy, confronting false memories and old manipulations, like a post-traumatic stress sufferer seeking release. Standard as it may be, though, Morgan invests Natasha’s journey with real feeling. Though in pain, she maintains her game when she comes across yet another faded old mentor, another symbol of a fallen regime.
Through him, Morgan gets in a passing jab at the second Black Widow, Yelena, all part of placing the attention squarely back on Natasha as the one and only. (Well, our one and only, as we’re just now learning of her twenty-six sister Black Widows from the original project, which may be a big retcon but not necessarily a disastrous one). This is turning into a distinctive Black Widow adventure.
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