My expectations were pretty high when I saw that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee were taking on a Black Widow series. I love their work on Daredevil and had no reason to think their take on Black Widow would be anything less than great. My high expectations were proven valid in the first issue of Black Widow, which was sparse yet impactful. It was a perfect example of a writer and art team working in unison to create a story.
That creative harmony continues in Black Widow #2 as Waid and Samnee develop Natasha Romanov as a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D agent, putting Natasha in a situation where she’s on the run. The first issue established that aspect with scant dialogue and stirring imagery, but this issue slowly changes the focus from Samnee’s imagery to the dialogue in order to develop the reason why Black Widow has gone rogue.
While the creative focus changes, every word shares importance with the artwork. As Maria Hill consoles a fellow agent, her trust in superheroes is challenged by the grieving Agent Elder. Hill gives her argument for employing agents like Black Widow as of their field training/experience being unmatched. And looking back on the collective history of Black Widow, it’s hard to argue that she’s not one of–if not the best field operative in the Marvel Universe. However, Waid and Samnee bring this into question as the next panel shows Natasha lining up the sights of a long-range sniper rifle on Agent Elder. In doing this, Waid and Samnee, if only for a single panel, force the reader to question Black Widow’s motivations and role in the story. It’s not often an issue can inspire such suspenseful emotions in a reader so early in a run, but Waid and Samnee do that consistently.
Samnee’s artwork is absolutely perfect for Black Widow. He employs a perfect mix of deep shadow, intricate detail, and minimal character design to convey the action and emotion of the story. Everything from the way Natasha holds her rifle with confidence to the way she charges headlong into a fight captures her character perfectly. Every image builds Waid and Samnee’s characterization of Black Widow to a point where the issue’s climax and revelation are so poignant that you need more of it.
It is very clear in this issue that the creative harmony that is shared between Mark Waid and Chris Samnee is not just reserved for their run on Daredevil. They have seamlessly transitioned to Black Widow to continue their creative excellence.