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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 236

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at a classic Roy Thomas/Gene Colan Black Widow Christmas tale…

In late 1970′s Amazing Adventures #5, Black Widow has a bit of a holiday tale.

Widow’s friend, Ivan, saves a young teen from killing himself and contacts Widow for help…

He tells about how he fell out with his “raps” (was that ever seriously a slang term for “friends”?) due to their pursuing a life of MURDER, so now they’re coming to silence him before he can spill about their nefarious deeds – Widow is there to protect him, but it doesn’t go down like that…

Pretty sweet little tale, and it’s been reprinted a few times over the years.

“The” moment, naturally, is Widow in the shower.

Classic Colan “Good Girl” art.

37 Comments

Personally, the shower scene was going to be my choice, too. But I honestly thought it was going to be Natasha saying that she never knew the kid’s name but that he had been her friend. A short and sad Christmas tale, some really great Gene Colan work, and the Widow at her sexiest. Colan makes her look beautiful in every panel she graces here.

Roy Thomas and Gene Colan sure knew what they were doing.

Man, good moment. I have to say I love the composition of the fight scene. Very realistic and brutal.

As a random aside, I have the unsupportable impression that the “candid shot” approach was the classic Marvel style of “Good Girl Art”. The reader is getting an image of a private moment with Black Widow. DC, on the other hand, tends to use point-of-view (POV) shots of male characters for the same situation. At DC, the same scene of … say … Black Canary would have her male confederate already in the apartment. There would be a quick humorous exchange about the proper uses of a key, while the kid waited in the hall.

Also very different would have been the ending. Black Canary would have caught the kid. Maybe she would have gotten tugged off the building behind him, thereby setting up a desperate clinging to the ledge scene. However, there is no way that he dies in a DC comic of a similar vintage. None.

Frankly, I miss the days when the major publishers had their own styles.

Roquefort Raider

August 25, 2009 at 6:15 am

You got to love the inexplicable bits of dialogue from that era…

Why say “a sparkling case of champagne, vintage 52″ instead of “a teenage male in need of help”? Would it be bad for Hydra or the KGB to know that there is at least one troubled teenager in New Yok?

Why even have a code for “a teenage male needs help”? Is there also a code, then, for “we’re out of milk”, “the cat’s litter need to be changed” and “Miss Oklahoma’s tiara is missing a few rhinestones”?

(Of course, that’s hardly as cringe-inducing as “it’s only a female”. Ouch).

Roy Thomas wrote it, Roquefort, of course there’s a line in there dismissing a woman as “a female.” It’s one of his trademarks.

How… contrived.

Amazing how times change…here she’s not a cold blooded killer, and seems vulnerable from a bunch of thugs…now, she wouldn’t need IVAN, would dispatch of all of these criminals effortlessly, and I REALLY doubt she would shed a tear for this kid.

Roy wasn’t perfect — note the oh-so-subtle name Mammon Towers for the abode of “fatcats.” Or the dialogue where Ivan announces what he’s about to do to his attackers. Now, while you’re waiting to see if your slugs hit paydirt”

But it is fast-moving and brief, somewhat of a lost art these days.

Great artwork in this issue.

Ah, a whole story with a Gene Colan nekkid woman. Oh, just draw a few fabric wrinkles and color her body blue for most of the story, but we ain’t missin’ nothin’.

What if Ivan said, “Face it, Tiger, your slugs hit PAYDIRT!”

What, exactly, does Widow mean by “You should try it sometime?”

the shower scene may be a moment worthy of the list but i would also go where the young guy winds up sacrificing himself to save natisha and the look on her face is also worthy of being on the list

window means as joke the thug should try being a woman sometime

If the “female” really cared, she’d have told the police,
“But I guess you can say, he was a RAP of mine.”

Any word on how Gene Colan is doing? Has he recovered at all? I read this at the Hero Initiative site:

http://heroinitiative.blogspot.com/2009/08/send-gene-colan-your-cards-and-letters.html

Gene Colan’s wife Adrienne informs us that Gene was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York early in the morning on Monday, Aug. 10 by ambulance.

I read something saying he’d gotten out of the hospital last week.

Wow, the Black Widow failed pretty badly there. We don’t see superheroes failing that completely very often.

Great artwork, though.

I love how Roy slips in that line about a “one-way wrist radio”, apparently trying to deflect what the art clearly shows — that it’s a *video* communicator, and Ivan is getting an eye-full of his naked boss.

Pardon my ignorance, but why is Black Widow in the shower “the moment?”

Wow! I hadn’t read or thought about that story in decades. I think the first time I saw it was in an oversized “Treasury Edition” reprinting a bunch of Christmas stories. Nice job.

Who inked that? Was it Giacoia? Colan’s stuff was notoriously tough for inkers to do justice and this is one of the better jobs I’ve seen.

I’m with you RM. Maybe it’s because I’m a younger generation of fan that reads most of his old comics on Marvel’s digital comic database, but the shower scene was nothing special to me- the ending was much more powerful.

Whatever happened to Ivan? The last I recall seeing him was towards the end of the Champions series (although I’ve been out of the Marvel orbit for a while now).

I don’t think the shower scene was important in the context of the story. But it was important in a meta sense as a sign Marvel was finally starting to grow up. For many of us lads, the Widow may have been the first sexual being we ever saw in the comics.

@RM, For the time this was a pretty overt image. For better or worse the 70′s really started to amp up the titilation factor, from Widow in the shower, to Huntress walking around her apartment in a loose fitting robe, to Spider-Woman’s continuously torn costume. Sure, it’s tame compared to today’s suggestive outfits, porn-star poses and in your face imagery, but at the time this was as risque as super-hero fare got. (Now Tomb of Dracula on the other hand….)

Michael P. asked:
What, exactly, does Widow mean by “You should try it sometime?”

There are some things Man was not meant to know!

This was inked by the legendary Bill Everett, wasn’t it?

You are correct, Mike!

Can anyone explain why Black Widow is having suicidal young teenagers brought to her penthouse apartment?

Black Widow loves her yellow apartment.

I miss that classic style of lettering!

I only got one issue of this series – think it was #2 – and all I have to say about it is that Gene Colan taught my 7 yr old self what a woman was supposed to look like. Just gorgeous.

Harry, regarding how you said “times change,” I actually like this Widow better than the current one — and not only because of Gene Colan’s gorgeous portrayal of her. At the same time, I find the idea that she became both better at her craft and more callous in her personality completely credible, given her line of work.

I love this story, and I suppose it may be an accident of history, or coincidence that the Natasha shower page is a pivotal comics moment for me, that actually has influenced the rest of my life! I had this comic as a child of six or seven, and the shower page warped my malleable young brain into favoring redheads. Almost forty years later, with a redheaded wife and daughter, I’ve been seeking the original art for the shower page (the holy grail) for years, and collect as many of the Colan/Everett original pages from their three Black Widow stories as I can find (Amazing Adventures #’s 3, 4 and 5). The pages in original art form are quite beautiful, if you’d like to check some out:

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=3702

Sell/trade me your pages! LOL
Thanks for posting this story, I can read it a zillion times and enjoy it every time!

[...] Second opinion: “Pretty sweet little tale …” — Brian Cronin, talking about the Black Widow story for Comic Book Resources. [...]

Hi Brian. I actually reprinted the original art from page nine of this story in my Sep ’10 book on Bill Everett – “Fire & Water”. What was neat about the original art as I had received it was that a collector had gone to the trouble of removing the white out over the Black Widow’s nipples, so there was Natasha in all her glory, poking out eyes all over the page. Amazing that either Gene or Bill (probably Bill) that he could get away with that.

Ha!

That’s hilarious, Blake. It’s amazing the ways like that that guys found to amuse themselves!

Gene Colan was amazing, we all agree on that. But let’s spare a thought for Roy Thomas here. It was the 70′s, a decade whose pulp dialogue hasn’t aged very well, and Thomas has some nice moments. I think that moment in the elevator is nice.

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