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Black Widow: Homecoming
Review by James W. Powell

Story
Black Widow Review: cover image
Black Widow: Homecoming

Story
Richard K. Morgan
 
Art
Bill Sienkiewicz and
Gorlan Parlov
 
Colors
Dan Brown
 
Letters
Corey Petit

Publisher
Marvel Comics
 
Format
Softcover Collection
 
Publish Date
April 21, 2005
 
Cover Price
$14.95
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
You can stack this one in the “reads better as a collection” pile. I read the 6-issue mini-series Black Widow: Homecoming in its monthly, serialized version, but there was just something missing. Sure, Morgan may be new to comics, but he managed to create break up the story very well into 6 well-paced sections, and he even managed to work in some decent cliffhangers. But this story is somewhat intricate and involved, so it definitely flows better when you read it in on sitting.

I’m not familiar with the Black Widow character outside of the Daredevil story arcs she happened to be in. I mention this only because Morgan manages to make the character accessible to new readers. He does so by giving us hints into Natasha Romanova’s life. He doesn’t force it into one scene, either. Instead, he weaves these details in and out of the story effortlessly so we’re learning about the character while being caught up in the plot.

Romanova, once a Russian super-spy, is now a retired American spy. Yet when an assassin is sent to kill her, she’s drawn into a plot involving secret Russian and American agencies and the killing of former female soldiers. She doesn’t go at it alone, however. Instead, she gets Phil, a friend from S.H.I.E.L.D to help her out. As it turns out, it’s her interaction with Phil that brings this story to life. The two share witty banter along their journey, an element that counter balances the action and deeply involved story.

I wouldn’t say what Romanova uncovers about her history is anything new, but the way Morgan handles the characters definitely elevates what could’ve come across as something typical. Perhaps the only shortcoming is the lack of attention to the villains. I felt I had an understanding of Romanova and the pain she felt with each new clue, but I never really got a grasp on the motivation for the bad guys. Sure, I understand their base wants and desires, but they weren’t developed quite as much as I would’ve liked.

Regardless, Black Widow: Homecoming tells me that Morgan has a long career ahead of him in comics if he chooses to run with it. And based on the final panel of this collection, I think I already know his choice.

Art
Even after reading this book in the serialized form and again as a collected volume, I’m still a bit torn on what I think about the art. Bill Sienkiewicz provides the art in the first chapter, and it’s definitely the best of the bunch. The art is consistent in its style and the scratchy, “imperfect” lines give the story its edge. This isn’t the clean-cut, bright Black Widow super hero comic. This is darker. More adult. And it’s better because of it.

With that said, however, I must admit that some of Natasha’s sex appeal is lost due to the sketchy line work. In several scenes, the Black Widow’s curves come into play, but while the art certainly portrays her as having a sexy persona, the images are never really sexy in their own right.

In chapters 2-6, Gorlan Parlov provides the layouts while Sienkiewicz takes on the finishes. I wouldn’t say the differences between these chapters and the first are outright obvious, I did notice that the quality standard of the art in the first chapter wasn’t maintained throughout. That’s not to say I didn’t like the art, it’s just that some panels seemed rushed or not as detailed.

Bonus Features
While an intro by author Richard K. Morgan or an in-depth look at how the artists teamed up on the book artists would’ve been nice, that might also be asking a bit much. Instead, you get to see the gorgeous Greg Land covers from the six issue mini-series and one character study sketch by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Final Words

This is a smart, sexy thriller that should be easily accessible for even those readers not familiar with the Black Widow character. I’m afraid that coming from Marvel, many would-be fans will miss this title because of Marvel’s super-hero heritage. But if you’re into espionage thrillers, I suggest you pick up this one.

Recommended


James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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