Weekly Comic 100s: Black Widow, Batman, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Black Widow #1
AUTHOR: Kelly Thompson
ARTISTS: Elena Casagrande, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Adam Hughes
RELEASED: September 2, 2020

This one’s fairly low on action considering it’s the debut of a Black Widow series. The issue tries to make up for it with intrigue, but there isn’t quite enough to wet my appetite for more.

This, despite some awesome art from Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire. I found it had a slightly similar vibe to the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye stuff. And of course, yet another breathtaking Adam Hughes cover.

TITLE: Batman #98
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by David Finch.
RELEASED: September 1, 2020

As the cover suggests, there’s a big fight between Harley Quinn and Punchline in this issue. As obvious as her inclusion is given the nature of the story, “Joker War” has been a little too Harley-heavy for my taste. It feels like yet another case of DC shoehorning her into a story that’s not necessarily about her.

On the plus side, Jimenez and Morey are on their game here. So is Tynion, as as get a pretty powerful exchange between Batman and…Alfred’s memory? It’s not Alfred’s ghost, I know that for sure.

TITLE: We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1
AUTHOR:
Al Ewing
ARTISTS:
Simone Di Meo, Mariasara Miotti (Color Assistant), Andworld Design (Letterer)
RELEASED:
 September 2, 2020

Spaceships that carve up space gods to mine humanity’s new resources? Alright book, you’ve got my attention…

This first issue is a little hard to follow, as we’re getting adjusted to how the book works and what’s going on. But by the end we get a decent hook to bring us back for next issue. Take into account how gorgeous this issue is, particularly from a coloring standpoint, and they’ve got me signed up for next time.

TITLE: Shazam #14
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
ARTISTS: Dale Eaglesham, Scott Kolins, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Dale Keown.
RELEASED: September 1, 2020

Ugh. What an awful final issue. It feels like they tried to cram in about two years worth of content. The resolution of the plot threads with Mr. Mind, Billy’s dad, and Black Adam. A pathetically condensed fight with Superboy-Prime. Then of course, they have to end the series on a happy note, though it’s hard to imagine this issue making anyone happy.

It’s not the creators’ fault, mind you. The book got cancelled. But still, the characters, the creators, and the series itself deserved better.

TITLE: Lonely Receiver #1
AUTHOR: Zac Thompson
ARTISTS: Jen Hickman, Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 2, 2020

I’m not sure what I expected from Lonely Receiver, but it wasn’t what I got. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This strikes me as a story with a lot of layers to it. It’s a story about a woman falling in love with a robot designed specifically to be her partner. But we’ve got undertones dealing with our needs as human beings that are really interesting. Thus far, this books is a little like I, Robot meets an old fashioned romance comic, with some more, shall we say, mature elements mixed in.

TITLE: Star Trek: Hell’s Mirror
AUTHOR: J.M. DeMatteis
ARTISTS: Matthew Dow Smith, Candice Han (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 2, 2020

What we have here is a look at the Khan Noonien Singh of the Mirror Universe. And with that in mind, the story and the characters are about what you’d think they’d be. In that sense, this one-shot almost writes itself.

The solicitation heralded the return of J.M. DeMatteis to Star Trek after almost 40 years. For what it’s worth, I can see why. This issue feels just like an episode of the original series. Definitely worth a look for fans.

TITLE: Young Justice #18
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker
ARTISTS: Scott Godlewski, Michael Avon Oeming, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by John Timms & Eltaeb.
RELEASED: September 1, 2020

Had a nice Powers flashback looking at Michael Avon Oeming’s work. Seeing him work on the Spoiler is a little surreal.

This wasn’t quite the “Tim and Stephanie go on a date” issue that I was hoping for. That makes this one a disappointment for yours truly.

By the end of this issue Drake is back to being Robin. But is he actually Robin, or is he Red Robin? Just when we thought Tim had his identity crisis solved…

TITLE: Justice League #52
AUTHOR: Jeff Loveness
ARTISTS: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques (Inker), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer). Cover by Cully Hamner.
RELEASED: September 1, 2020

Way too much Batman to cap off a two-part filler story before the book starts to tie in with…*sigh*…Dark Nights: Death Metal.

We’ve seen all kinds of stories that dive into the psyches of various League members. It always seems like five or six issues is too long. But I’d have been happy to see “The Garden of Mercy” go another issue or two. What Loveness, Rocha, and Henriques turn in here is perfectly fine.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Black Widow #3 Review – We Don’t Need Words

Black Widow #3 (2016)TITLE: Black Widow #3
AUTHOR: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee.
PENCILLER: Chris Samnee
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: May 4, 2016

***Need to catch up? Go back to issue #1!

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

What has really stood out about Maid Waid and Chris Samnee’s work on Black Widow thus far is how little they’ve needed to use dialogue. The other day I had praise for The Punisher #1 for this same trait. But Waid, Samnee, and their crew have made it a continuing trend. Thus far, it has effectively set this series apart.

Natasha Romanoff is being blackmailed by a man calling himself “Weeping Lion,” who is in possession of her “darkest secret.” Needless to say, she doesn’t want it getting into the public eye. Thus, Natasha has been doing his bidding, including stealing from a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, which we saw in issue #1. In this issue Black Widow returns to what remains of the Red Room, the Russian facility in which she was trained as an assassin. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is by no means done with Natasha, and she must continue to stay one step ahead of them.

Black Widow #3, 2016, page 5, Chris SamneeChris Samnee excels at conveying Natasha’s intensity strictly through his art. As present-day Natasha doesn’t say much in this issue, that’s pretty much a necessity. When she does something as simple as shifting her gaze in a different direction with a slight furrow of her brow, it’s a moment to note. She’s not big, loud, or talkative. But she’s still an Avenger, and a lethal weapon. So when she’s in a potential combat situation, there’s weight and importance to virtually every move she makes. That’s a hell of a dynamic for a main character to have.

Last issue we met Agent Elder, whose protege was killed during the events of issue #1. He’s got a damn good reason to be angry with Black Widow, though it doesn’t seem like he’s much of a threat to her. In the opening sequence she foils his pursuit of her with a simple trip wire. Perhaps that’ll make it all the more interesting down the road if he somehow ends up catching her.

Much of this issue consists of flashbacks to Natasha’s childhood as she walks through her former home. We see how it has deteriorated over time, and what few relics of the past remain. We get a sense of how Natasha was taught. There were strict rules, obviously. But there were also instances of care and compassion when necessary. Samnee, and colorist Matthew Wilson tint these scenes under a pinkish hue, which creates an interesting vibe. I would suggest it’s almost one of innocence. Obviously red implies a certain intensity, and of course Widow’s hair is red. And it is the Red Room after all. The implication seems to be that things are violent, but not nearly as violent as they will be.

Black Widow #3, 2016, Chris Samnee, poseThus far, Black Widow has been a visually commanding and intriguing series that might just give us new insight into one of Marvel’s longest-running female heroes. At the very least, we’ll get to see her kick a lot of ass. It’s tough to complain about that.

Images from readcomiconline.com.

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A Black Widow #1 Review – The Thrill of the Chase

Black Widow #1, 2016, Chris SamneeTITLE: Black Widow #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Chris Samnee
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 2, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Now here’s your case for a larger role for Black Widow in mainstream media, right here. This is about as balls-to-the-wall as it gets.

Natasha Romanoff is a woman of few words in this issue, as she’s somehow become an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a chase that takes our heroine from the dizzying heights of a Helicarrier to the lows of a fist fight on the side of the road. While it’s not clear what exactly she’s done to be exiled (she’s apparently taken something from them), one thing’s for certain: Natasha Romanoff won’t surrender without one hell of a fight.

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee rightfully gained a lot of acclaim for their Daredevil run. But Black Widow is not Daredevil, at least not in this first issue. The entire issue is one big chase scene, as Natasha flees from S.H.I.E.L.D. With only one line of dialogue, our heroine is a woman of few words, letting her actions do the talking. This issue makes a hell of a statement. This is Black Widow, an ass kicker as she was meant to be.

Black Widow #1, 2016, Chris Samnee, explosionAs the issue is relatively low on dialogue, it’s up to Chris Samnee and colorist Matthew Wilson to convey that statement. And damn, do they deliver. I’ve always been high on Samnee’s style, which is an interesting blend of Alex Toth and David Mazzuchelli, with a some Steve Rude thrown in. It works beautifully here. Black Widow looks as iconic as she’s ever looked, in my view. But then our team delivers on some really great moments, including Natasha leaping from an explosion inside the Helicarrier (shown left). I love the shading across her face, and that glint from the flames in her eyes. We then turn the page and get a two-page spread of the Helicarrier in the sky, with Natasha’s relatively tiny frame freefalling beside it.

But the very best is saved for last. After an issue filled with explosions, flying cars, and a nice little moment where BW feigns becoming a damsel in distress, we get to a fight between Natasha and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent at a muddy cliffside. With much of their tech stripped away from them, it’s simply Natasha and her opponent in the dirt, with a rock as her only weapon. It’s a fantastic sequence, including one page that goes rapid-fire with 14 panels. And it ends on a delightfully somber note.

Waid doesn’t give us much in terms of information, here. Not only is it unclear what Natasha has done, but we’re not given any exposition about who this character is. Granted, I would assume the majority of the readership for this book already know who she is. But typically, one would usually present at least a little exposition here. In this issue we get none. In this case, it doesn’t do the issue any harm. Given the story they told, it’s not like they had time to slow down for an info dump. Plus, considering the quality of this issue, I’d say it was worth it to delay any backstory we might need.

Black Widow is off to one hell of a start. Considering what Waid and Samnee have given us in the recent past, this series is definitely one to watch.

Images from author’s collection. 

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