From glancing at the shelves in the comic book stores, to the pages in Previews, it seems like Marvel (minimally) has plans for 2010 that involve pushing female culture. Either its an attempt to draw more female customers or to entice the male customer base. Regardless, there seems to be a big focus on churning out the female characters in the Marvel Universe. Some will have larger roles in the main titles, some characters will get their own miniseries, etc. For example, Black Widow already has two current miniseries running. Black Widow: Deadly Origin and Black Widow & The Marvel Girls.
Usually when things like this are done – sudden emphasis on one style/type of character – its done haphazard and ends up being quite clownish. As if its nothing more than obvious pandering to fill some quota or something. I hate when companies do things just to “seem” like they are doing them. Things like this usually have that condescending/patronizing scent to them, as if its all too obvious. Personally, I am guilty of not caring a whole lot about the female characters in comics. Pepper Potts? Whatever. Spider-Woman? Blah. The only one I enjoy and care about is She-Hulk. Mainly, I have to admit it, because she’s crazy in the same vein as Deadpool. (Just less skeevy!)
Nevertheless, I am a comics junkie. So, when Black Widow & The Marvel Girls #1 (of 4) went on sale because it was a back issue, I picked it up. For the last year, BW has been somewhat important in both the Iron Man storylines and the Captain America storylines. For $1, I can pick up this issue.
I don’t really like the cover. It looks very “kiddie.” And BW’s boobs are ridiculously odd in this drawing. Sure, in comics, the dudes get shoulders that not even steroids could build and the chicks get boobs that make Dolly Parton seem tiny. Its par for the course, I guess. But this shot is just… wrong. Anyway, thankfully, the cover doesn’t really have anything to do with the interior story – I suspect it represents the miniseries as a whole, instead. The cover was done by Salva Espin and Elizabeth Breitweiser.
The story begins in media res – Black Widow has clearly infiltrated somewhere. She is communicating somehow with her “employer” via some comm link. He’s named Ivan. She is moving through this facility – killing guards in her way and blowing things up. She is after a dude named Gregor. The issue also contains flashback sequences of Natasha’s training in Siberia. This introduces Enchantress into the mix. The Enchantress stuff is okay, not extremely unique, but it works fine.
There are a number of great quotes in this issue. One of them: “I am not AMONG the best agents. I AM the best. Yours or otherwise. Please talk less.” This is Natasha sounding completely confident and bad-ass. This is cool. This is good stuff. This is the kind of line that would probably not have been said by a female character a couple of decades ago. And suddenly, I am liking Black Widow a little more.
Gregor has a panic room. Ivan tells Natasha to abort the mission. Natasha calmly says: “I do not wait for assignments before beginning the planning. Life has taught me the foolishness of patience.” Another cool quote. BW is shown as a proactive, forward-thinking, self-motivated person. These are good ways to increase the love for your minor characters. The writer, Paul Tobin, deserves two-thumbs up for this issue. Well done. The art is fine, but the writing is what makes this a worthy purchase. Even though… I only bought it… because it was on the back issue sale rack. Because, honestly, its a miniseries about a female character………………………….