Web of Black Widow #2 // Review
Natasha Romanoff has a strange relationship with her own past. She’s been on a mission to track down people who might have profited off her at her expense, but it’s all a bit scattered in her memory as she encounters a figure from her past who might be able to help in Web of Black Widow #2. Writer Jody Houser navigates intriguing new histories for an old character in a story brought to the page by the murky ink of artist Stephen Mooney tempered by the color of Triona Farrell. It’s difficult keeping dark secrets in a spy who has been around before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Still, Houser does an admirable job of preserving the mystery in the second issue of her latest mini-series.
Romanoff opens the issue casually, boarding a boat in a rather unorthodox way. It’s not exactly in the harbor when she climbs aboard, but no one seems to notice. It IS a rather large boat, and everyone on board seems to be busy socializing and discussing matters of business. The purpose of the cruise is to launch a new cryptocurrency called Bindbucks. Romanoff is there looking for clues to her past. Little does she expect to find herself face-to-face with a man she has a great deal of scattered past with: the Winter Soldier. Romanoff’s history is about to get a splash of life from unexpected angles.
Houser allows Romanoff to slink around in the corners of her own story. Yes, there ARE flashbacks to training in the Red Room, but those are a response to things spoken about by others as she passes by. And then when she IS in the center of the panel, the reader doesn’t get a whole lot of what’s going on inside her head. It’s not a terribly intimate walk with the Black Widow, but it’s nice that she’s letting the readers tag along with as she scouts around the perimeter of her own history with a man from her own past. Houser’s story is only slowly beginning to settle in, but it’s far from an uninteresting journey so far.
The atmosphere that Mooney brings to the page is draped in black expanses of shadow. This makes sense as Natasha is slinking around in stealth, but the heavy shadow feels pretty weird in broad daylight of a lavish cruise for the very, very rich. Colorist Triona Farrell provides some depth and radiance to the visuals, but it’s all pretty murky. The Black Widow’s action gives a substantial amount of impact, but it feels a bit lost in heavy splotches of ink. The visuals seem to place a remarkably, very high premium on the mystery as everything slides around in heavy shadow.
The larger picture of what Huser is trying to convey won’t be apparent until the end of the series, but what she’s delivering here seems interesting enough for now. The big revelations awaiting in the next several issues may well prove that the first couple of chapters have been worth the wait, but for now, it’s all a bit of a slide of uncertainty through twenty pages or more.