Review by Ian Keogh
There’s an ironic subtext to this volume in which super spy Black Widow keeps insisting she works best alone, yet chapter after chapter features superhero guest stars, albeit those who slot well into her world. With the exception of the Punisher it’s a tour of Natasha’s former boyfriends, with Daredevil, Winter Soldier and Hawkeye all playing a part. That changes for the penultimate chapter when X-23, female Wolverine clone, accompanies her on a mission.
While not unwelcome, and certainly not responsible for any deteriorating quality, these guest stars come at the price of the shifting the tone, and moving the attention away from what should be a Black Widow solo series. Does Spider-Man have a new guest star every issue? No, it’s occasional, so why the need here?
Phil Noto’s art is impressive as it was in the first volume. He’s responsible for the colouring as well as the pencils and inks (or digital equivalent), and he saturates his pages in light rather than the darkness that’s traditional for spy culture. It’s an intoxicating effect to see Natasha encased in white as she glides onto a moving train, or jumping from one skyscraper roof to another.
Running in the background throughout the book is an organisation named Chaos, uncovered in The Finely Woven Thread, and they appear to have their own game to play with the Widow. It’s an odd one. In Nathan Edmondson’s plots she’s repeatedly lured somewhere, there’s a connection with Chaos, they seemingly attempt to kill her in complicated fashion, yet she escapes. It provides for exciting snippets with well designed action set pieces, but drawing back to consider the bigger picture it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Chaos is finally dragged into the light in Last Days.
There’s also the shoehorning in of what was originally a Punisher story, also written by Edmondson, that segues into the Black Widow’s continuity. It’s nicely drawn by Mitch Gerads, but shares much of the content with what’s being illustrated by Noto, adds little to the plot, and it’s an awkward mix seeing the same events repeated with only slight variations of viewpoints.