"Part 5: A Field in the East"
Writer: Richard K. Morgan
Art: Bill Sienkiewicz and Goran Parlov
Colors: Dan Brown
Letters: VC's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
As Natasha arrives in the seemingly empty field where another Black Widow agent searching for answers was taken down by a sniper, we see her get the drop on the gunman, and she's able to get some answers from him after leaving him at the mercy of several wild dogs. As Natasha makes her way to a secret facility where she questions one of the scientists who was involved in her conditioning, we see her make an unsettling discovery.
I actually enjoyed this issue quite a bit, as it manages to show us that this miniseries does have a point it wants to make, and that it has some pretty major contributions to make to Black Widow's back-story. I mean I love the notion that Natasha's entire past was a lie crafted to make her a better agent, and this issue adds the extra twist of the knife in that in addition to their mental tampering her creators also tampered with her genetic material so that she won't be able to bear children, as her heightened immune system would automatically end the pregnancy. This also makes the death of another Black Widow operative who found a way around this problem all the more tragic, as it clearly establishes that this woman was trying to create a normal life for herself, and that her previous life refused to grant her attempt at the brass ring. This also impacts Natasha as while I can't see her looking to become a mother any time soon, it doesn't lessen the sting that she had been denied the opportunity to become one. This issue also continues to play up the idea that Natasha is willing to play dirty as she leaves a man to be ripped apart by wild dogs in order to get him to talk. This chapter also manages to heighten the danger that Natasha is facing, as we see the two agents who are gunning for her manage to locate her supporting cast, and the issue ends with a pretty harrowing scene where we see they have no problem killing these characters if it'll get them closer to their intended target. A very enjoyable chapter, that gives readers quite a bit to mull over.
On one hand I'm glad to see Bill Sienkiewicz's work in any form, and part of me is convinced that it's probably for the best that the more visually dramatic elements of his work have been toned down, as it does result in an easier to follow story. On the other hand one of the reasons while I'm a big fan of Bill Sienkiewicz's art is because it stood apart from the crowd, and even his more fantastic visuals managed to impress if one took the time to study the image. Still, the art on this miniseries manages to tell the story in a visually exciting manner, as how can one not be impressed by the sheer intensity of the scene where the wild dogs close in on the injured man, or the raw emotion when Natasha is demanding answers from one of her creators. Plus, the flashback material during this scene is probably the closest we come to seeing Bill Sienkiewicz's true art. The sense of urgency in the final moments of the issue is also well handled, and the final panel is a great image to carry readers into the last issue.
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