The Soska Twins (American Mary, See No Evil 2) are well known to horror fans worldwide. And now they bring their boundless imagination to the world of Marvel Comics, in the form of a brand new Black Widow miniseries. The first issue of which just hit stores this week at the time of this writing.
Now, if you’re only familiar with Black Widow from the movies where she’s played by Scarlett Johansson, you can still pick this issue up and go along for the ride, and in that case, a little primer on the character’s recent history.
Natasha a.k.a. Black Widow was killed under orders of the evil Captain America, who ran Hydra and had taken over the world during 2017’s Secret Empire event. But after that event wrapped up, it seemed that she may still be alive somehow. Hawkeye and Bucky, who had both dated her in the past, went to go solve that mystery in the buddy comedy, noir thriller miniseries Tales of Suspense which also came out in 2017.
I won’t spoil the circumstances of her return as you really should read Tales of Suspense, for its awesome buddy movie banter between Hawkeye and Bucky. It reads like if Shane Black came back to Marvel and made a good movie this time.
But onto the subject at hand, The Soska Twins’ Black Widow’s first issue is out, now just what’s going on here? The setup is its New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Captain America and Black Widow team up to stop another evil Cap. His goons detonate a Madbomb (amazing old school Cap reference, to the classic Jack Kirby Cap issue 193 story) in the middle of Times Square.
Widow herself says she has to take these guys out quickly, as it’s not common knowledge that she’s alive yet. (Even though she could be clearly seen with the other Avengers fighting an alien invasion in the recent Amazing Spider-Man issue 1, but we can go with that no civilians were on the streets at the time, so she could get away with that)
Afterwards, she laments that she can’t cut loose and vent some steam by killing bad guys, so she takes a trip to Madripoor, the infamous Asian crime den/noir story set up, made famous in the old Claremont Wolverine series. Complete with an eye patch disguise in honor of her friend, Logan, and soon finds herself in the midst of a plot straight out of one of the Soska horror films. People are being kidnapped by a group called NRP (No Restraints Play) and users on this website vote on what happens to these people, how they die, etc. So, now we have the setup, Black Widow going to cut loose and kill some psychopaths for the next few months or so, and we are in for a fantastic treat.
This is one fantastically fun first issue for the twins. I’ve communicated with them on Twitter leading up to this issue’s release, and they’ve said, and in interviews that they are long time Marvel fans, have been reading the comics since they were 9 years old, and it shows. While you can come into this story completely fresh, and they give you the background info you need in the footnotes and have fun with it, if you are a hardcore Marvel fan like me, and like they are, then you’re in for some real treats here.
We get some classically hammy comic book villain dialogue, such as “Destroy him, my Ameri-bots!” Classic locations like Madripoor, and it’s crime boss leader Tyger Tyger, and more. I also appreciate how they use what happened to her character in those previous events, Secret Empire, Tales of Suspense, and build on that. That’s when comics work best in my opinion, when one writer tells a part of the characters history, and it’s built on by those who come next. That’s how comics stay alive for decades.
For a little bit there it felt like we were moving out of that era, and an era where each writer does whatever they want, to whichever character, regardless of canon and continuity, and it was up to the reader to put together how the stories fit.
One minor gripe with the issue, they reference Wolverine as being dead, which he isn’t by this point in comics, he showed up and left Black Widow herself an Infinity Stone not too long ago, during Infinity Countdown, so she knows he’s not dead. Unless of course, she was just protecting his secrets from the shady people of Madripoor, then it fits. I'll just retcon that in my head canon for the issue.
All in all, though, the writing is superb, the art by Flaviano is fun, fresh, and exciting and we are all strapped in for this thrill ride of a comic book.