Black Widow #2 // Review
Red-headed super-spy Natasha Romanoff is back from the dead with some time off. Where does she decide to go? The most totally evil place on Earth: Madripoor. A vacation into darkness finds codename Black Widow hauled further into the sinister underworld of the tiny nation in the second chapter of a mini-series written by Jen & Sylvia Soska with art by Flaviano and color by Veronica Gandini.
The second issue opens with a vicious attack by the sinister Pirate King of Madripoor. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of lead-into the attack at the end of the previous issue. A bloody combat is really just a casual welcome in the shadowy island in Southeast Asia. Natasha makes her statement and proceeds to investigate rumors of a gruesome child porn ring operating out of the tine nation. Natasha’s vicious investigation eventually turns up a lead which brings her face-to-face with a yacht-based get-together for villains Baron Zemo, the Taskmaster and Sabertooth.
The Soska sisters open and close the issue with action. There are some particularly violent moments of interrogation in the pages in between. All in all it’s a really solid three act structure for the issue which plays out a bit like a video game. The warm-up with the pirate king at the beginning of the issue eventually leads to a brief glimpse of everyone Natasha is going to have to deal with over the course of the rest of the series. Before she can get to them, though, there’s a mini-boss in the form of the lady with the golden mask from Iron Man’s past. The Soskas have a great sense of movement from one scene to the next which feels every bit as cinematic as one would expect from a couple of filmmakers.
Flaviano infuses the second issue with a stylish sense of movement. Flaviano’s strangely misplaced cuteness in the rendering of the first issue is toned-down substantially here in an issue with a respectable body count. Flaviano brings the darkness in a visceral impromptu interrogation of a guy over a billiards table involving the rather graphic misuse of a pool cue. The darkest moments in the issue involve the memories of a victim of the child porn ring. The psychological horror is sharply framed without getting into graphic detail. It’s a very effective moment and one of the more powerful sequences in the series thus far. Gandini is given space between the shadows to deliver rich, dark colors that assert themselves vividly without clashing against the rest of the darkness.
The Soska sisters bring on the brutality in a second issue that allows Black Widow to be extremely vicious to low-level villain who clearly deserve it in a surreal amplification of the street-level criminal darkness that’s actually lurking out there in the real world. The villains have been revealed in this second issue. Now the Soskas have the rest of the series to navigate Black Widow through them in pursuit of justice for young victims like the one she encounters this issue.