“The Things They Say About Her … “
Writer: Richard K. Morgan
Artists: Sean Phillips and Bill Sienkiewicz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: The shhhh has already hit the fan, and Black Widow seeks asylum in Havana as the heat from her recent actions pops the thermometer in America. Or, as former foe Yelena Belova aptly and wryly comments: “You must the only human being on the planet trying to smuggle herself out of Miami and into Cuba.”
Comments: Morgan doesn’t drop a thread from his previous series. Natasha is still exactly where we last left her, if not past her prime then past her usefulness to both her former creators and employers and pursuing an issue of import mostly to herself. Last issue she stopped a military-industrial plot to off her fellow agents embroiled in some sort of drug/cosmetics scheme. She took out the major agent arrayed against her, his boss, and any boys foolish enough to get in her way.
This issue, the survivors and surviving family of those she executed are ready for round two, and the only allies in her corner are Yelena Belova, happily out of the game and content to work her feminine wiles in Cuba, and an on-his-way-out Nick Fury, no longer the favored agent of the current American regime.
Phillips and Sienkiewicz capture her realization of this perfectly on page 9. She’s scarred, weary, but still beautiful and deadly. It’s interesting that Morgan makes no reference at all to Bendis’ current approaches to these characters; no SHIELD Director Hill (Fury’s replacement after his still-unidentified disgrace), no scarred Yelena back in corrupt covert action (she’s a lovely, wise vamp in this issue, a destiny she actually deserved after her travails), not even much on Daredevil’s legal predicament (he says all of three sentences in a brief appearance). This mini seems to be happening in some alternative bubble of Marvel continuity.
And since Morgan’s version is preferable in each of the above cases, that’s just fine. Widow’s dilemma as a woman capable and willing to use deadly force against men with no sense of fair play continues to be foregrounded. The story promises impending help from Matt. In fact, it seems to be offering grimmer and grittier versions of how they were not last week in his magazine, but instead how they were when the two shared star billing back in the seventies.
The Way She Looks: Not worth it to distinguish inks and pencils here, as Phillips looks to be providing breakdowns to anchor Sienkiewicz’s emotionally expressive inks. Sean’s figures are a bit squatter, but that’s about it; it’s a good formula, avoiding Bill’s sometimes obscure layouts while taking full advantage of his moody drama.
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