BLACK WIDOW #2 / Writers: Jen & Sylvia Soska / Artist: Flaviano / Color Artist: Veronica Gandini / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Published February 20th, 2019
Black Widow is in Madripoor. The nation of criminals is a great place for Natasha to get out some aggression. She finds the perfect outlet, an online torture program called No Restraints Play. Natasha plans to take them down and make an example of anyone who promotes or profits from their torture shows.
When we last left Natasha in Black Widow #1, she had attracted the attention of a gangster calling himself the Pirate King. He’s threatening some local girls to get back at Natasha for what she did to some of his men. She takes down the King and his men and then cuts a bloody path through the streets and clubs of Madripoor looking for a lead on No Restraints Play. Her actions attract a woman whose daughter was pulled in and tortured, giving Widow a lead on those responsible. However, there is more going on in Madripoor, as some of the worst villains of the Marvel universe show up.
Jen and Sylvia Soska have written quite the bloody tale. I’m surprised they didn’t push the content a little further and make it a Marvel Max title, not just because of the violence in the fights, but the subject matter as well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Marvel title go this dark. Black Widow is still definitely a hero, but she’s much closer to what we would expect from the Punisher than one of the Avengers. Natasha enjoys what she’s doing, her inner monologue commenting:
“Tearing through these men I feel more alive than I have in years. What would Cap say? I can’t say I care.”
Flaviano’s art pushes the violence over the top, making it more comical and less realistically brutal. He’s also economical with his layouts – most of the Pirate King’s thugs are taken down in a single panel each, showcasing Natasha’s skill and making us feel each hit that much harder. A victim of No Restraints Play’s story is told visually in flashbacks as opposed to dialogue. We see what she went through, and it’s an emotional moment. Veronica Gandini’s colors help sell every bloody splatter and strike. The colors really make us feel like we are in the dingy, neon world of Madripoor. It seems like Joe Caramanga had some fun with the lettering and balloon placement. Several of Natasha’s more brutal strikes are covered by a word balloon or box.
Black Widow #2 is a great, bloody, cinematic book. I could easily see this translating directly onto the big screen. Natasha is great as an anti-hero, and the story twists and turns enough to keep us guessing on what the next page will bring.
VERDICT: 4 out of 5