Last Days of Black Widow #20

   One of my favorite comic books of late has been the Black Widow series from Marvel. Thanks to the Marvel Unlimited app, I’ve been able to follow the adventures of Natasha Romanov as she deals with the consequences of her actions as a Soviet spy, an Avenger, and an Agent of SHIELD. It really is some of the best art work alone for a comic I have read in a long while. One issue I, like others, have with comics today is how they draw women. It seems that you can’t have a successful female character in a story unless she is showing next to nothing in a skimpy uniform. I am not a prude. There are times where scantily clad women are a ok to look at and enjoy but when you’re dealing with characters that should be on the level of their male counterparts, having them dress like strippers from a cosplay themed strip club just seems to negate any advances they are giving the female characters.   Natasha Romanov in this comic is different. She’s strong as hell but looks like a beautiful, average woman. She deals with problems in a realistic way, apart from the times where she has to kick ass and man does she know how to kick ass. Nathan Edmondson, the writer, and Phil Noto, the artist, have made one hell of a great comic that empowers Natasha without having to resort to cheap visual tactics to try and entice males to read the comic.

   Issue 20 is the end of the run for this comic and that is a shame. It’s a shame for two reasons. One, it’s sad the story is ending. (From what I understand Black Widow will of course be back but with different artists and writers involved.) Two, the story ends on a sour note because they’re not trying to give this story proper closure, they’re trying to kick start the Secret Wars story.

   Marvel Unlimited is six months behind everyone else so this is old news for some. Their main comic lines are all tied into the Secret Wars storyline which has led to a confusing mess. The main Secret Wars story is all right. I have no real complaints of it but it is not my favorite comic ever by any means. The tie in stories are something else all together.

   Comic book events in and of themselves are not bad things. I don’t dislike a good comic book event. What I have an issue with, and this goes for DC as well, both companies want to bring in absolutely every title under their umbrella into a massive story but end up finding ways to complicate things to such a point that you as the reader have no clue what the hell is going on. The Secret Wars event is meant to do one thing for Marvel and that’s remove the wheat from the chaff. They get a chance to make their world a little less complicated by removing aspects of their world that could confuse the hell out of the casual reader. You have your main characters that everyone knows about but other minor characters may not end up getting the love and attention they deserve because the creators at Marvel have to please so many masters.

   The problem I have with this is that they spend so much time trying to wrap things up for absolutely everyone that I have no real clue what is going on. I don’t read all new Marvel Comics titles. Apart from Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, The Punisher, and a couple Howard the Duck issues, everything else I have managed to skip. So getting this far into the Black Widow story to suddenly find that everything I have read before means nothing because she is suddenly apart of this new story that popped up out of nowhere is disconcerting. There were no seeds in previous issues that the world as it was established in the story was ending in any way, shape, or form. They just seemed to decide one day that whoops, the world is ending. Nice knowing you.

   The story itself is Natasha’s last bit of redemption for her past. It tells the story of how she, as a KGB agent, ended up killing a family in Cuba that wanted to defect to Russia. As an agent, she was just following orders but it was something she did not care to do. The story ends with her rescuing a family that looked just like the family she had killed. A nice ending but one that I wish was given a little more detail.

   The art work is great. Phil Noto is one hell of an artist, finding ways to show both power and weakness in characters that others would probably miss. His work on Natasha alone is amazing. Again, I love the fact that she is not drawn like the stereotypical ways women are drawn in comics. She’s not showing excessive skin. She doesn’t have boobs that could knock over a tank. She looks like a normal woman. Beautiful but normal. More artists need to use this as a model for female characters in their stories.

Bottom Line:

   I am so disappointed in this issue. All good things come to an end as they say but this ending is more like an after thought than anything else. Marvel has been so focused on setting up Secret Wars that they have disregarded the important work that is going on in comics like Black Widow.

   Having said that, despite the obstacles put in their way Edmondson and Noto have ended the series in style. It deserved much more of a proper ending that what it received but it’s still not bad. I hope these two meet up again to explore more of Natasha’s adventures in the Marvel Universe.

   One of my favorite comic books of late has been the Black Widow series from Marvel. Thanks to the Marvel Unlimited app, I’ve been able to follow the adventures of Natasha Romanov as she deals with the consequences of her actions as a Soviet spy, an Avenger, and an Agent of SHIELD. It really is some of the best art work alone for a comic I have read in a long while. One issue I, like others, have with comics today is how they draw women. It seems that you can’t have a successful female character in a story unless she is showing next to nothing in a skimpy uniform. I am not a prude. There are times where scantily clad women are a ok to look at and enjoy but when you’re dealing with characters that should be on the level of their male counterparts, having them dress like strippers from a cosplay themed strip club just seems to negate any advances they are giving the female characters.

   Natasha Romanov in this comic is different. She’s strong as hell but looks like a beautiful, average woman. She deals with problems in a realistic way, apart from the times where she has to kick ass and man does she know how to kick ass. Nathan Edmondson, the writer, and Phil Noto, the artist, have made one hell of a great comic that empowers Natasha without having to resort to cheap visual tactics to try and entice males to read the comic.

   Issue 20 is the end of the run for this comic and that is a shame. It’s a shame for two reasons. One, it’s sad the story is ending. (From what I understand Black Widow will of course be back but with different artists and writers involved.) Two, the story ends on a sour note because they’re not trying to give this story proper closure, they’re trying to kick start the Secret Wars story.

   Marvel Unlimited is six months behind everyone else so this is old news for some. Their main comic lines are all tied into the Secret Wars storyline which has led to a confusing mess. The main Secret Wars story is all right. I have no real complaints of it but it is not my favorite comic ever by any means. The tie in stories are something else all together.

   Comic book events in and of themselves are not bad things. I don’t dislike a good comic book event. What I have an issue with, and this goes for DC as well, both companies want to bring in absolutely every title under their umbrella into a massive story but end up finding ways to complicate things to such a point that you as the reader have no clue what the hell is going on. The Secret Wars event is meant to do one thing for Marvel and that’s remove the wheat from the chaff. They get a chance to make their world a little less complicated by removing aspects of their world that could confuse the hell out of the casual reader. You have your main characters that everyone knows about but other minor characters may not end up getting the love and attention they deserve because the creators at Marvel have to please so many masters.

   The problem I have with this is that they spend so much time trying to wrap things up for absolutely everyone that I have no real clue what is going on. I don’t read all new Marvel Comics titles. Apart from Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, The Punisher, and a couple Howard the Duck issues, everything else I have managed to skip. So getting this far into the Black Widow story to suddenly find that everything I have read before means nothing because she is suddenly apart of this new story that popped up out of nowhere is disconcerting. There were no seeds in previous issues that the world as it was established in the story was ending in any way, shape, or form. They just seemed to decide one day that whoops, the world is ending. Nice knowing you.

   The story itself is Natasha’s last bit of redemption for her past. It tells the story of how she, as a KGB agent, ended up killing a family in Cuba that wanted to defect to Russia. As an agent, she was just following orders but it was something she did not care to do. The story ends with her rescuing a family that looked just like the family she had killed. A nice ending but one that I wish was given a little more detail.

   The art work is great. Phil Noto is one hell of an artist, finding ways to show both power and weakness in characters that others would probably miss. His work on Natasha alone is amazing. Again, I love the fact that she is not drawn like the stereotypical ways women are drawn in comics. She’s not showing excessive skin. She doesn’t have boobs that could knock over a tank. She looks like a normal woman. Beautiful but normal. More artists need to use this as a model for female characters in their stories.

Bottom Line:

   I am so disappointed in this issue. All good things come to an end as they say but this ending is more like an after thought than anything else. Marvel has been so focused on setting up Secret Wars that they have disregarded the important work that is going on in comics like Black Widow.

   Having said that, despite the obstacles put in their way Edmondson and Noto have ended the series in style. It deserved much more of a proper ending that what it received but it’s still not bad. I hope these two meet up again to explore more of Natasha’s adventures in the Marvel Universe.

Chaos: Bad Kitty One Shot

bad kitty

I’m a sucker for women with guns. For too long women have been made to be the damsel in distress. While sometimes it can be used to good effect, it really pigeon holes women as always needing to be saved which I can tell you after twelve years of marriage is not the case. Women can be just as strong as men if not more so.

Female characters in action movies are slowly becoming more dominant. In the past you had someone like Sigorney Weaver who in the Alien movies was probably one of the first mainstream actresses to tackle a role that men would normally have. My complain about those films though is that I could just as easily see a man doing everything she does. Sigorney Weaver is an amazing actress do not get me wrong and her contribution to that series is immeasurable. Her gender had nothing to bring to the role she played as Ripley.

On the flip side you have some filmmakers and comic book creators go the opposite direction. They will have a female lead who kicks ass but is also either overly sexualized in how they make her appear or they make her flightly and talk in stereotypical female talk that has no basis in reality like Marvel does with The Wasp. So when you come across a character who is able to kick ass, is very much what you expect from a living, breathing female, as well as not being forced to be a stereotype of some sort, you have to appreciate the results.

Bad Kitty is about a cop who has a split personality. She’s been able to keep her issue a secret until a bad guy she is tailing throws a grenade at a car she is sitting in and she ends up in the hospital.

I really likes how the writer went out of his way to present Katherine, the main characters real name, as a normal woman. She wasn’t oversexualized. She didn’t wear skimpy outfits she bought from an S&M shop that caters to size 0 women. She’s just a woman. I love that. Too often, even with Black Widow, women are drawn in unrealistic poses just to show off their curves and boobs. I think of this funny image I saw where someone redrew The Avengers movie poster and made the guys pose the way they had Black Widow pose.

superheroes_posed

To see a woman as presented as just that, a woman, someone you could potentially meet during your daily life (hopefully without a grenade) is refreshing to see. Even when her split personality issue comes back and she’s Kitty the characters is not over done. She wears a little skimpier outfit than she initially wore but it is still something you would see a woman wear.

I also liked how the writer was able to differentiate between the two characters. Katherine was smart, intelligent, and could outwit someone like a chess master knowing they will put you in checkmate in twelve moves. Kitty on the other hand is as subtle as a brick to the head. She knows what she wants and if you get in her way, she’ll put your ass in the hospital. A nice twist on the Jekyll and Hyde story.

The art was a little sloppy but I liked how the artist went to the effort to show the split in Katherine’s mind. Near the end of her story her partner has her at gun point while she is Kitty. Kitty is aiming her gun at him. They are standing in front of a mirror and you can see the image of Katherine aiming a gun at Kitty as well. Visually we could see the split in her mind and that her dominant side, Katherine, was trying to fight its way back out. The art beautifully shows that the old adage show, don’t tell will make your story so much better.

Bottom Line:

This is a good start. Apparently this character was obtained via a bankruptcy hearing from Dynamite Comics from another company. This one shot is a chance for the company to make people aware of her while whetting their appetite for more potential stories.

I am conflicted though. While I loved this issue, I don’t know how far they can really draw out the story without Kitty and Katherine finally running afoul of the law. Katherine would eventually lose her job when it is discovered she is Kitty. Does she become a vigilante? Does she just say fuck it and become a criminal? Does she learn to tone down the violence? All interesting questions that could be explored but for the life of me I don’t see how this could be a regular on going series and continue to keep the split personality dynamic. Something would have to come to a head causing her to choose one or the other then the main thrust of the story so far would be gone. It would be a Katherine or Kitty story from that point on. Maybe they could keep any potential new series as just a limited run. Then you could explore the split more without having to find ways to keep it going. I give the story a 7 with the caveat that I don’t think it could make a successful continuing series.

The art again is pretty sloppy but don’t let that fool you. The artist does a great job of visually exploring the split in the character’s mind. It does more to bring out the craziness of what is going on than a two page long monologue would. I give the art an 8 as well. It’s a good story that could be dragged out for a few more issues but if they tried to make it a regular series, what makes this story special would quickly fade away.