Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

BLACK WIDOW: THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Marjorie Liu & Daniel Acuna

Black Widow Rose Cover

I read the first issue of this graphic novel collection when it came out and was impressed. The story is pretty emotional and there’s lots of action along the way.

Marjorie Liu is a novelist by trade, and the layered plot shows off those skills. She also does a really good job building up all the Marvel characters that are in Black Widow’s life. Captain America (Winter Soldier version), Wolverine, and Tony Stark all ring true.

Black Widow Rose page 01

The initial impetus of the story is well-done, cycling quickly up into the action regarding the attack on our heroine. However, I had to ask myself, if the eventual baddie really wanted her dead, why not kill her then? It’s a complaint I (and several other readers/watchers) haven whenever a hero ends up totally in the villain’s clutches. I have a hard time understanding why a villain wouldn’t take care of business at that moment.

The “bug” the Black Widow carried bothered me too. Sure, she’s a spy and not from America, and she has a checkered past, but she’s resolved all of that, right? At least, I’d thought so. And I seemed to be more put off by that revelation that the heroes. You can’t just dismiss that as “that’s what she does.” Tony Stark at least would have known with all the tech he deals with. And I think Wolverine might have smelled the bug on her.

Black Widow Rose page 02

After the initial action, things kind of slow down and take a step back. Black Widow pursues her villain, and along the way we get to know more about her, but I’m not sure that her loss really deepens the story enough. It would be enough for another character, but I just can’t see it with the Black Widow because there has been so much history there. The emotional scars would have shown up somewhere along the way. Especially with the way she’s confronted about her reluctance to hold a child.

Although I was a little jarred by the subject matter, Liu is an excellent storyteller. There’s enough interaction between the characters, the back and forth between the Widow and Bucky – especially with them being lovers, that I bought into that particular emotional journey.

Black Widow Rose page 03

Daniel Acuna’s art is fantastic. I don’t know what the medium was that he used, but it almost looks like watercolors, bright and liquid. His panel breakdowns are very well done, and I ended up going back through the book just to look at the art after I’d finished reading.

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