Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

BLACK WIDOW #1 by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna

I pay attention whenever a novelist steps into the comics arena, or when a comic book writer pens a novel. As a writer myself, I love learning the craft. Often, when a writer changes mediums, you can study their transition and learn a lot about how they pursue story in both forms, and get a sense of how story comes together in that writer’s head.

I know Marjorie Liu from her paranormal romance books, and from the X-Men book she wrote. So she’s no stranger to superheroes the way some writers are. When I found out she was going to do a run on the new Black Widow comic, I was immediately interested.

I felt certain that Liu could deliver a splendid story and really sink into the character. She’s a good writer. And in the opening issue of the series, Liu is definitely setting herself up to deliver. To be honest, the issue started more slowly than I wanted it to. I wanted to see Natasha doing her Widow thing on page one. That didn’t happen.

However, Liu has filled this issue with lots of questions, seeded the ground for lots of twists and turns that I know are coming. And I’m totally comfortable with how she’s progressing.

Marvel Comics has brought a new edginess to the Black Widow, no doubt because of the cameo in the latest Iron Man movie (and I’m really hoping that Scarlet Johansson gets green-lit for a standalone movie soon, she can’t have learned all that martial arts madness just to be a flash in the pan). I was intrigued by the way the decision was made to give Natasha all of her history, to make her a woman out of time the way Steve Rogers (Captain America) was. That seems to be one of the chief reasons Bucky is now wearing the Captain America identity.

The past definitely haunts Natasha in this issue, though I’m not sure which part of her career the threat comes from. Whoever these people are that are stalking her, they’re definitely bloodthirsty and won’t stop at anything. Lui writes action well, and she gives artist Daniel Acuna plenty to work with in this issue.

Acuna is incredibly impressive. I don’t know what medium he’s using on this book, but it almost looks like watercolors. I love the brightness and variation of hues. He’s also good at boiling a panel down to simplicity or working one that has a lot of intricacy. The eye just travels smoothly through the visual side of the story while Liu’s dialogue keeps the ear entertained.

I also loved the way Wolverine, Tony Stark, and James “Bucky” Buchanan are on hand in this story. They’re looking out for her, and it makes sense because they’ve all been part of her story at one time or another. This story is going to be fun, and I’m looking forward to it.


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