Duane Swierczynski has been given varied chances at Marvel over the years. I constantly want his latest comic to be the one that makes him big time, but it never is. He writes good comics, passable fare, but nothing that’s lasting. Until now. Swierczynski’s first issue on “Black Widow” is some special crime and spy-fu that works right into his wheelhouse. This story feels more like his novels than it does his comic work, and that’s a very good thing.
The issue opens on smooth, young Nick Crane caught between two people who say someone else is going to kill him, and asking for his trust. It’s a confusing situation and made only the more so when one of the secretive players is revealed to be not what they appear. It’s a fast and kinetic opening that delivers a great bathroom fight that moves straight into a very cinematic car chase.
Due to an in media res introduction, pieces of the back story are given to us economically through varied flashbacks. The short punches of extra information work effectively to keep us as disoriented as Nick Crane is. We slowly piece together what is happening and maybe even why. Crane’s father was a politician who died shortly after being seen with a mysterious lady who looked like our Widow. Nick’s out to expose the truth and get a slice of vengeance in the process. This link makes everything more dangerous for the Widow as she fights over Crane with the mysterious counter-agent named Fatale.
The introduction of a sexy and apparently evil counter-agent is a great move because it shows us how easily a female spy can work the other side, much as the Widow did at the start of her career. It also gives us two ladies to watch on the page but mostly it gives the story a balance and flow that is energetic and even. The fights are brutal and raw and yet still hold a superior element within them. It’s entertaining as well as serving the story.
I was unsure of the first Garcia preview pages I saw, but this entire issue eases any fears. Garcia makes this comic look and feel like a mixture between a dime store pulp cover and a new school noir comic. I’m not sure which side the massive breasts come from, but the ladies in question still work through smooth action and emote well. The artistic pacing helps the script race towards the conclusion that shocks. Any flaws that are present are nothing that takes you completely out of the story.
This new arc of “Black Widow” is only three issues long. With the amount of twists and punches packed into this one installment, I can see why there’s no need to drag it out. This comic is a bomb of energy and violence that straps you down and turns the pages itself. If you’re a fan of well-written spy-fu that wants to stab small blades into your eye while it wears tight leather jumpsuits then this comic is perfect for you. And the brilliant cliffhanger ending is a pretty good indication the next one might be as well.