Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread (2014) & Black Widow: The Tightly Tangled Web (2015)
By Nathan Edmonson. Art by Phil Noto.
I have always known Black Widow as an Avenger. I was first introduced to her through the cartoons as a strong female character that would fight alongside Captain America and the rest of the primarily male team. In 2014, I heard Black Widow would be featured in her own solo series with Edmonson as the writer and Noto as the artist. I finally got around to reading her story. I have completed the first two collected volumes, available from my local library. The story from Black Widow issues 1-12 and Punisher issue 9 was solid. Edmonson showed us who Natasha is as a character, human, and spy. Though the story was good, I think the best part of the books was the artwork.
The art and coloring took me a while to get used to, yet it was quite striking and I eventually fell in love with it. The characters look sketched. The outlines of the characters appear to be almost unfinished with the lines not connecting in almost a randomized fashion, yet it almost seems more natural that way. In addition to the outlining, each panel seems to have been water colored. I don’t know if this is done via the computer or by hand. I assume it is colored through a computer but made to look hand colored with watercolor (if someone knows please let me know in the comments, thanks). As much as I praise the drawings and coloring of these collected comics, I do have a complaint. The dark panels were nearly impossible for me to distinguish the drawings. It is like in a movie where everything goes pitch black except a small outline where the lead character is standing. However, when I moved from the corner couch to the other one more directly under the overhead light, I could see all the details in the dark panels as clear as if it were day. I would say it was my room lighting, but I read comics in the “dark” spot all the time and never have trouble. Therefore, I suggest if you read this book, make sure you are sitting in a place with plenty of overhead light. The art is worth it.
My favorite part of the series is getting to know Natasha’s soft side, primarily though her interactions with a stray cat. This cat is always there waiting for her whenever she returns from her solo or group adventures. Her main problem with adopting the devoted kitty is that she does not want to make a single location home. She claims on one of her missions that home is wherever she is at that moment. She delves deep into her projects and makes sure that the mission is complete to the satisfaction of the client, given that the client isn’t evil. Her constant travels are contrasted by her neighbor lady who is stuck in the same place with an abusive husband. Natasha asks her why she stays. Ana, the neighbor, says it is home. When Natasha returns from her mission, she beats up Ana’s husband and threatens him if he ever lays a hand on Ana again and then tells Ana she should leave anyway. I do not know the conclusion to that story. Though, shortly after, the reader sees that Natasha has formally adopted the kitty, Liho, and she is even having Isaiah, her lawyer and manager, take care of Liho while she is out of town. Apparently, even someone who tries to find a home anywhere, realized she needed a place to return. A place to come back to care for someone—in this case, a cat.