Archive for Black Widow

The New Heroic Age – As it stands Part 2

Posted in Atlas, Black Widow, Comics, Iron Man, Marvel, Thunderbolts, War Machine with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by pieman70

In part 1 I dealt with the Avengers titles.  Here’s a look at some non-avengers titles which have me interested.

Thunderbolts.

A new Status quo and a new line-up for Thunderbolts, it’s practically tradition that the T-bolts get re-organised after every big event.  This one is pretty interesting, gone is the covert wetworks squad of Dark Reign and back is the idea of Villains possibly seeking redemption.  The Thunderbolts programme is now run as an official scheme from the Raft.  Luke Cage is leader with ex-thunderbolts Fixer, Mach V and Songbird all acting as handlers to what amounts to a super powered chain gang.  The nanite restrained convicts looking for time off their sentence or merely a chance to see the outside of a prison for 5 minutes are Ex-thunderbolts Moonstone and Ghost plus Juggernaut and Crossbones with Man Thing used as a form of transport.  While issue #1 was mostly set up we get an idea of how things will work by #2 and it is interesting to see who genuinely wants rehabilitation and release and who, like Crossbones still has no chance of release.  As a sub-plot we also have the Rafts director, John Walker aka US Agent, who we last saw loosing a couple of limbs in Siege.  The limbs are still gone which is good continuity if nothing else.  What I like is Walker’s reasoning in not accepting advanced prosthetics from Pym or fixer.  He saw a potential side of himself in Nuke/Scourge, The thunderbolt who removed said limbs, and Walker still fears becoming something like Nuke.  It was unexpected and some good progression on a character who hasn’t seen growth since Force Works.  Thunderbolts has also weathered its first crossover, well I say crossover, events in 2 comics happened in the same place at the same time.  Scared Straight featured the events of an Avengers Academy story from the Thunderbolts PoV.  It is what I would class as a good crossover, in that you didn’t have to be reading both books in order to understand the plot, but hopefully it will encourage some crossover reading.  Overall while I’m not hugely enamoured with the art Thunderbolts has had a strong first arc.

Atlas

Marvel and I have something in common, we both really like the Agents of Atlas, or at least Marvel’s commitment in the face of poor sales seems to show a certain amount of love from the team formed from the 1950s avengers concept.  Atlas sees 3D man join the agents to uncover a mysterious group who appear to be pursuing him.  Its interesting stuff and good work to cover some of the discrepancies between the 1950s Avengers and the Agents of Atlas.  Marvel seems very keen for Atlas to have its own title regardless.  The backup stories featuring origins of the 1950s Avengers are a nice touch as well and I like the retro art style in these flashbacks.  In the end, its Atlas, it’s worked for me since the Agents of Atlas mini and continues to work.  I am enjoying the progression of 3D man, formerly Triathlon.  I missed the Skrull Kill crew mini, but it’s a nice touch that after killing Crusader, a Skrull who changed sides during Secret invasion, everyone hates 3D man and his life is basically in the toilet.  They’re building up further mythology of his powers making this a very interesting title.  The enemy is also interesting, creatures from the space between dimensions with the power to temporarily take control of hosts, it’s had some interesting side effects meaning Atlas has had to battle its own.

Black Widow

Another title finished its first arc sees Natasha pursued by friend and foe alike after it is revealed she had a recording chip implanted in her body to record secrets of the Avengers.  This took a good few of the elements of Widows retconned WWII past and her general extreme age and ran with it.  The real power to this and most of the good Black Widow stories in my opinion focus on her abilities as a Spy and indeed the chequered history of that career.  For all her foe eventually revealed himself as old Avengers punch bag Imus Champion so essentially it was still her vs. supervillain the use of her past and the feel and pace of the story really made this more of an action/espionage read than standard super hero fare.  Two things stood out as things I particularly liked.  The first was how dangerous Black Widow is.  She bests various spies but also stands toe to toe with Elektra and her defeat of Lady bullseye is classic.  Second is how they focus on how many good friends she has in the MU.  We see Stark, Logan and Bucky all worried for her health at one point and she receives assistance from Wolverine and Cap on several occasions.  My only real problem is that it felt a lot like a mini, but for trade purposes thats no bad thing.  Overall a strong start for the Black Widow Solo.

Iron Man

Reilly 2040 has written a pretty good piece on the new Iron Man title and I don’t feel too much need to expand on it.  I agree, its overall good, but the two main niggles for me are the ignoring of Stark’s past (Never having to rebuild his company from scratch, unless you count the two other times he rebuilt his company from scratch) and the fact that until the end of the most recent issue all we see Iron Man do is open a box.  Still there is a lot to like.  My personal favourite is the feeling of an extended family, with Iron Man, War Machine and Rescue making up the armoured contingent and people like Maria Hill and Bambina Abrograst along with the new staff of Stark Badly Named making pretty good supporting characters.  If we can get a little more Iron man action this will be a very good title indeed.

So, overall impressions on the new Heroic Age.  What I really like is the amount of crossing over characters are doing, not as official crossovers, just as an idea of an extended community of super-heroes who help each other out.  It’s actually how I thought the MU should have been post Civil War.  We see Valkerie turn up in both Thunderbolts and Avengers academy which is the first to come to mind.  There have been references to asking Steve for clarification, so we also know that everyone accepts Steve Rogers as head arbiter.  It gives a feeling that if Iron Man has a problem you get the feeling he could call up 3 squads of avengers plus extra heroes if needed and it really lends itself to a greater “Community” feeling.  Thankfully the MU is still an interesting place.

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Black Widow: Deadly Origin/And the Marvel Girls

Posted in Black Widow, Comics, Marvel with tags , , on March 9, 2010 by pieman70

Marvel recently hit us with not one but two Black widow minis, initially I thought this foolhardy, surely they should save this stuff for the release of Iron man 2 which will feature Black Widow, however I now think I know the reasoning.  There will probably be more black widow minis in the pipeline (or in fact a ongoing i believe) so it will be handy to have a couple of 4 part stories in Trade form for IM2’s release.

Anyway, the two stories were pretty different, and arguably varied in quality.  I’ll start with the better one first.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin

Paul Cornell writes this adventure where Natalia investigates the death of her old mentor and combats the mysterious Icepick protocols which seem to be killing off all the men in her life.

This met with mixed reviews but i really  liked it.  For the most part its primary job was to clean up Black Widow’s sometimes contradictory continuity.  They do this with a rather nice retcon, first Natalia has taken a similar serum to the Infinity formulae that has allowed SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Dum-Dum Duggan to live on long past their WWII origins without looking like men in their 80s.  This has also set her past right back into WWII and expands upon her initial meetings with the Winter Soldier.  Due to her long life, plus many deep cover missions and brainwashing she is now as confused about her pasta s the average reader of her entry in the official handbook of the marvel universe.  The comic itself tells of Black Widow’s past using flashbacks and the neat technique of using different artists for the flashbacks to differentiate them form the main story.  Overall I thought it was pretty good, entertaining and useful for setting up her character for a more involved future in the MU.  Cornell writes her as a super-agent, using stealth and skill to best opponents in a far superior power class.  A nice touch was also building on her reputation, when facing an Imperial Dynamo (Probably a match for Iron Man) the dynamo already knows he is beaten before the fight starts and tells widow how honoured he is to be beaten by the legendary black widow.  Similarly Cornell writes her with a sense of humour, always good as other authors occasionally play up the “Hard Bitten agent” grimness too much.

Yes it was a cleaning up excercise, but a very readable one.

Second we have Black Widow and the Marvel girls, this was a series of standalone stories where Black Widow teams up with another woman of the Marvel Universe.  I could see the idea, accessible adventures which allow you to see widow’s place within the MU.  My problem was that the accessibility made it pretty insubstantial stuff, not always a bad thing but it just lead to forgettable stories in my opinion.  Its lack of continuity focus was also a niggling point to me, but presumably not so much an issue to the new readers it seems to be aimed at.  That may be its point, basically a sales pitch to new readers, Hey you liked black widow in Iron Man 2?  How about these other females, any of them interest you?  In the end that didn’t do to much for me.

Overall I think Deadly Origin is the better of the two, and what I’d recommend to anyone who had been interested from teh movie, as it gives background on her comic counterpart, effectively its a pilot for the ongoing, and in teh end getting someone on an ongoing is a worthy goal.