I mentioned a couple weeks ago, before I felt compelled to go on a massive rant, that I was working on a Black Widow “Required Reading” post…and as promised here we are!
I’ve been reading a bunch of Black Widow stuff in preparation for this, along with the material that I’ve already read and so these are the books that rose to the top for me. I’m sure I’ve missed some things (and I’m sure you’ll tell me) but I’ll just let you know right now I did NOT miss Black Widow: Deadly Origins, Black Widow & The Marvel Girls, and the current Black Widow Strikes mini-series, all of which I found to be quite terrible. Feel free to disagree in the comments, but please don’t assume I didn’t consider them. I did consider them and I found them disturbingly lacking. If you want something really great that Natasha is guest starring in that’s more current than the list below, I’d recommend the very good Winter Soldier ongoing by Ed Brubaker. It’s a great book with a really well written (and drawn) Natasha.
I read in the Marvel Solicits for August that apparently “Hawkeye is the breakout star of The Avengers” which I guess means he gets a shot at an ongoing title while Black Widow is relegated to that truly abysmal mini-series that’s almost over now. So Hawkeye gets Matt Fraction and the brilliant David Aja and Black Widow still gets the equivalent of bupkis. Now, I don’t know what movie the people responsible for these things saw but I have no idea how anyone would walk away with “Hawkeyes as breakout star” from the movie I saw. I like Renner very much as an actor and I have no problems with Hawkeye as a character, but there is just no damn way he outshined Natasha/Scarlett Johansson.
Black Widow #1 – 5. Marjorie Liu (writer). Daniel Acuna (art and covers). Blambot’s Nate Piekus (letters). Marvel. 22-pages, full color. $2.99.
I’m not sure I know how to write about the first five issues of the new Black Widow series without talking about my concern, frustration, and puzzlement as to why the creative team of Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna is changing just as this great series gets started. But I’m definitely having some mild deja vu flashback to how I felt when I learned Greg Rucka would not be writing Batwoman.
Let’s be clear – there is very little information out there, and what is out there (from Liu’s blog) says that it was her choice to leave and it was always intended to happen that way, so I’m not trying to blame Marvel. However, as Greg said in his What I Bought post this past week…WHAT THE HELL? Okay, Greg said it much more eloquently than that, but I’ve whittled it down to its core. It’s REALLY hard to launch a new comic series these days, especially one with a female lead, so I just don’t know why you’d let the creative team and entire look and feel of a book that’s looking great and getting a good critical response, shift focus.
I certainly understand that Liu can only do what she can do (although why Acuna is leaving at the same time is still a mystery to me since the visuals are such a major part of this book’s identity) and since she’s adding a new X-23 ongoing to her schedule I guess she simply can’t do both. Liu is also a novelist and I’m sure has many commitments beyond the comic book world (there is a world outside of comics, or so I’ve been told), so she may not have unlimited time for comics. But I have trouble understanding why anyone (regardless of affection for a character) would abandon Black Widow for X-23. I suppose it doesn’t help that as a reader I intensely disliked the X-23 one shot that came out from Liu this past spring, and I intensely liked this opening arc on Black Widow…so there’s frustration there for me. I look DESPERATELY for good books with strong female leads…and they don’t come around every day and it’s even more rare that they’re actually good – so this is a blow for me.