Graphic Novel Review: Black Widow: No More Secrets

Black Widow: No More Secrets.

Black Widow: No More Secrets. - Credit: Archant

The Widow must confront her past to save her future...

(Panini Books)

On the run from every law-enforcement agency on the planet, reluctantly allied with telepathic psychopath the Weeping Lion, and fast running out of time, the Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanova, must track down and stop the recruits of the new Dark Room programme before they trigger World War III…

The fact that Scarlett Johansson’s interpretation of the Widow hasn’t enjoyed a solo big screen outing is a criminal oversight by Marvel’s moviemakers, especially given her standout sequences in the likes of the Avengers and Captain America.

But while we’re waiting for Hollywood to wake up to the character’s full potential, this is a template for doing it right. Scribe Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee present a perfect fusion of explosions and espionage which certainly give James Bond a run for his money.

Tapping into the dark secrets of Natasha’s past as a Soviet assassin is something that’s been done elsewhere, yet here it seems fresh and alive, using this history to push the character forwards rather than reducing her to a Cold War anachronism in much the same way OO7 was once regarded.

Just as Daniel Craig’s Bond is now a contemporary secret agent fighting threats no longer restricted by national borders, so too is the Widow given a fresh impetus in this dangerous new world, cleaning up the legacy of her past paymasters.

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Along for at least part of the ride is the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes, once Natasha’s lover until details of their relationship were wiped from her memory, which gives a bitter-sweet edge to their team-up.

The main thrust of this chapter is her efforts to take down the deadly Recluse, daughter of the headmistress of the Red Room, the programme which created the Black Widow and other Soviet assassins. She has been training the next generation of young killers in secret, and now these schoolgirls are being launched at targets in the West…

With the visuals carrying the narrative more than any words, the storytelling skills of the artist are paramount, and Samnee certainly doesn’t disappoint, giving a cinematic flair to action sequences and a subtle grace to the Widow’s movements.

Unfortunately this volume concludes the latest Black Widow series. If this was due to low sales, as has been rumoured, then the majority of the comics-buying public missed out on a true gem.