Swierczynski’s tale of intrigue and danger paused last month with Black Widow seemingly getting shot in the head. Here we see that’s not the case (which you had to know already, right?) but, instead, she has turned the tables on young journalist Nick Crane and now they’re going to work together. This issue takes them around the globe as they dance around the truth and work through twists that continually spiral around them, much like a boa constrictor would.
There are plenty of spy tropes on display as Black Widow has to call in favors for special interrogation pits and identity changes (complete with short black hair wigs). There’s a double cross, a special connection formed, and while she’s thinking two to three steps ahead she really needs to be five more leaps down the path to stay completely safe. The tale is a winding path and there is no time for skipping.
The integral part of the plot is that Nick must see Black Widow in a different light. He initially thought she killed his father, but he is starting to have doubts. It is while going through much danger that Nick comes to trust our female lead. Interesting. Then. that he starts to fall for her, or even just lust for her, I guess. Strangely, this comes off as playing rather true. If you were stuck in these situations with a sexy spy who always wore her bodysuit zipper at half-mast you’d end up looking and wanting too. It’s relatively well played in this issue.
There are some good gags on display; a Hawkeye box to signal the impending crossover and an inverted "Flashdance" reference. While the issue is enjoyable, it still only really offers up one aspect: Nick and Natasha move a little closer towards each other. It’s not a plot point you want to merely scrape over in a page, so it’s nice for Swierczynski to devote time to it, but it makes the issue feel like only one thing happened. Nonetheless, that one thing is enjoyably brought to us.
Garcia’s artwork handles the action quite adeptly. He knows how to make a scene feel dynamic and he chooses great angles for his panels. It’s then such a shame that his faces are often awkwardly handled or inconsistent.
“Black Widow” may feel like it’s spun the wheels when actually it’s been moving along quicker than you think. A spy trick perhaps. The reveal at the end promises for a feisty conclusion next issue. It’s fun to read a Marvel comic that plays like an old paperback pulp, but with more costumes involved. This three issue arc has built up quite well, and I hope it can stick the landing. It’s grim spy noir and it keeps the pages turning fast enough to keep your seat warm on this roller coaster of intrigue and delights.