In the recently launched All-New Marvel NOW! "Black Widow" ongoing series, writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto detail the mercenary jobs Natasha Romanov engages in when she's not saving the world as a member of the Avengers. The Widow undertakes these jobs as a way of atoning for the carnage she caused during her days as a KGB spy and assassin, which means her employers vary from job to job, and one of her most frequent is the global espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. The Widow's S.H.I.E.L.D. missions are often low paying, straight forward affairs, but occasionally she becomes embroiled in scenarios that offer complex webs of international intrigue in lieu of a massive payday.
That's certainly case in the current arc of the Marvel Comics series, which finds the Black Widow up against the Hammer of God, a hitman targeting European ambassadors at the behest of a mysterious mastermind. CBR News spoke with Edmondson about the storyline and his larger plans for the series.
CBR News: Nathan, at the end of "Black Widow" #3 you kicked off a multi-part storyline by giving the Widow an assignment from S.H.I.E.L.D. In issue #4 that assignment brought her up against a mysterious and imposing hitman named Molot Boga AKA the Hammer of God. Like Natasha, Boga is a Russian interested in atonement but in many ways he appears to be her opposite number. Is that what you were going for with the character? What inspired his creation?
Nathan Edmondson: Phil came up with Molot Boga; I took what he sketched and described and ran with it. You're right on the money about the disparity between their apparently similar motives; Molot Boga, we will find, is someone whose motives have been exploited. He's nothing if not loyal. He will keep killing until the end.
Boga is working for a mysterious mastermind who appears to have a grudge against Eastern European ambassadors and does not share his assassin's religious fervor. Is that correct? Are there any other hints can you offer up about who this mastermind is?
You'll find out who the "master" is in short order, but I'll point out that he's not just after Eastern Europeans...
The mysterious mastermind and Boga have gotten the best of Natasha twice now. So how would you describe her physical and mental state going into "Black Widow" #5?
She's up against it. She's hurting, certainly handicapped both physically and mentally. Exhausted in body and mind, and she has no ideas who she's up against. These are trying times, and there's not much promise that they'll get easier.
At the end of issue #4 Natasha mentions that she's going to be contacting a "Raven" for help. What can you tell us about this character? Are they at all connected to the Marvel UK character known as Night Raven who Natasha crossed paths with in the "Death Duty" graphic novel? Or are they a new character?
No connection to the Night Raven. In the next issue we'll meet someone new who will continue to pop up in the "Black Widow" series moving forward; someone who, like Molot, seems to be a twisted version of Black Widow.
Who are some of the other supporting players in the remaining chapters of this story? Will we see more of Isaiah Ross? Or Maria Hill? What's it like writing Hill and how would you describe her dynamic with Natasha?
Isaiah is never far away -- nor Maria now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is involved with what's going on. Though this might be a bit too much for S.H.I.E.L.D., we'll learn; politically, and in other ways.
Maria trusts Natasha, Natasha trusts Maria, but how far does that trust extend? That's an important question for both of them when the skies go dark.
Can you offer up any more teases about the action in the remaining chapters of this arc? What's this story about from a thematic perspective?
All that I can say is I doubt most people can anticipate what's coming; and it doesn't end at issue #6, but there will be some major, kick butt action.
What can readers expect from artist Phil Noto on the remaining chapters of this story? Are there any scenes that he's done that you're especially pleased with that won't spoil too much of what you have in store for readers?
You're asking me to give away a lot of what's coming in a mystery story; for the most part I can't divulge what's next. I can say Phil's art has just gotten sharper and more perfect with every issue, and his Black Widow more awesome, attractive and real.
Fair Enough. The current arc wraps up in "Black Widow" #6, and then in June's #7 you send Natasha to San Francisco, a locale she has some history with. What can you tell us about Natasha's thoughts on the City by the Bay? How do you think she views her time there with Daredevil? And is there a chance that she'll come face to face with Matt Murdock, who recently made S.F. his home?
There's a chance. Issues #7-12 will explore another side of Natasha's world, one in which we might see some more of her old friends and foes, and see how her current job -- and what she continues to be up against -- has done to or for those relationships.
From what I hear, sales keep rising and the reviews get better and better, so thank you to our fan-tas-tic readers, and hells-yes to a female-led book rocking the shelves like that! Onward!
"Black Widow" #4 is available now, with issue #5 on sale April 2.