The rumor of Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov's demise was greatly exaggerated. Turns out Ivan killed himself in order to realize his dream of returning glory to Russia, or at least his perception of glory for his perception of Russia. Cornell gives this issue an over-the-top, late Cold War-era B movie feel in that it borders on cheesy moreso than threatening. Even though Ivan's new form is hulking and massive, it has an Achilles heel that Widow spots early and uses to her advantage. Also like a B movie, the story wraps up just a little too neatly.
As with previous issues, there are flips between the present day and days past. In these transitions, Cornell continues to give us definition for Widow's place and connection in the Marvel Universe. We get glimpses of Widow's argument with the Steve Rogers Captain America over "Civil War," peeks into the "Marvel Knights" era, and more recent developments.
As much as I liked Tom Raney's work, I found myself really wanting more of John Paul Leon's art in this book. Leon seems to have a style that is better suited to the cloak and dagger lifestyle of the Black Widow. The two styles were nice compliments to one another, with Leon rendering the flashbacks to Raney's present day adventures. The transitions between the two were at times harsh, partially due to the disparate styles of the figures, but also due to the coloring. Leon's colors were flatter than what Matt Milla was putting down. The combination of Raney, Hanna, and Milla is solid, but jarring after being immersed in Leon's deceptively understated pages.
I'd like to see Leon and Raney each get a shot at a pair of issues in the upcoming "Black Widow" series. I think they've earned with their work here, and the fans have earned it after paying $3.99 per issue of this mini. At that price, this series has seemed rather thin.
Cornell and crew cleared the deck nicely for the upcoming series' creative team, so from here it's forward motion for Black Widow. Hopefully the next chapter in Black Widow's story has a little more bang for the buck -- or three bucks.