Monday, June 22, 2015

Black Widow Vol. 2: The Tightly Tangled Meh

Either I'm feeling more generous, or this actually was slightly better than the first trade volume of Black Widow.  But it certainly wasn't great, and I'm not sure that it was even good.

However, Phil Noto's artwork is absolutely marvelous.  It's what kept me reading.  First and foremost, he gives us a Natasha who is strong but not objectified.  Her body is solid with muscle.  She is no wasp-waisted, tee-hee-look-at-me-in-my-sexy-army-gear comic girl.  Natasha will kill you.  Make no mistake.

I also learned that when you go to a casino (I've never been--gambling doesn't appeal at all) you should wear disco-era clothing because then you will look awesome.  Okay, fine, that only works if you're Black Widow and X-23.  But dang.

So the bad news is that the rest of the graphic novel, you know, the writing bit with words and such, has the heft of onionskin and the pizzazz of my grandmother's chicken noodle soup (my Grandma was a great cook, but her blood pressure was astronomical so she never salted anything that she ate.  Ever.  Think water with noodles).  You know what would seriously kick so much butt that the entire world would be icing their gluteus maximus muscles?  Gail Simone writing this with Noto's artwork.  Boom.  Actual writer with actual storytelling capabilities and a proven track record of writing strong female characters.

But Gail Simone doesn't write these.  Edmonson does.  And, you know, I feel for comics writers sometimes.  You have to come up with a story that's captivating and funny (or dark and gritty, if you're doing Batman, because I'm sure that's in the contract somewhere) on a regular basis.  And comics readers can be pretty ruthless.  However, that does not in any way, shape, or form excuse a comic that is solely built on:

  • Natasha does mission
  • Natasha screws up
  • Natasha gets saved
  • Natasha gets paid
Rinse, lather, repeat with a new superhero or anti-hero buddy as the fancy strikes you.  

In this volume Natasha runs into: The Winter Soldier (who seems to have a serious crush on our redheaded spy and it is kind of adorable), Punisher, Hawkeye, and X-23, with the occasional non sequitur from Tony Stark.  I think the plot is that Natasha's slave--er, manager?--gets kidnapped and she has to rescue him but also bust this Afgani dude out of a Central American prison.  Edmondson can't seem to bear making her the capable, kick-butt woman that she is, so he constantly has people swooping in and saving Natasha.  I mean, she even calls in X-23 to help rescue Isaiah instead of going it alone (which is her bloody M.O.).  

The Anderson Cooper thing at the end was just tacky as all get-out, and I thought it was sort of understood that the Avengers aren't all squeaky clean (except for Steve.  Steve ... oh yeah).  

Black Widow deserves so much better than this.  She was completely omitted from all the merch for Ultron.  She's got a crappily-written (but beautifully drawn and inked!) comic that people read just because they think Black Widow is awesome, not because it is actually a good comic.  This is one of those days that I am just so done with the patriarchy that I can't even express myself properly.


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