Previously in BLACK WIDOW, Natasha Romanoff was on a vicious manhunt, searching for the individuals behind the website, No Restraints Play. However, in the midst of her quest, she encountered an obstacle in the form of Madam Masque. So, before Natasha can take down No Restraints Play for good, she must take down yet another person trying to kill her in BLACK WIDOW #3.

The Soska Sisters’ run on BLACK WIDOW has undoubtedly provided readers with an unapologetic perception of our titular character. As a result, their writing has resulted in a refreshing, raw depiction of a Natasha without restrictions. Though, one question that has arisen since the two’s introductory issue has been, is there a deeper presence to this run?

BLACK WIDOW #3 addresses that very question.

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BLACK WIDOW #3 page 1. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A Killer Party

BLACK WIDOW #3 commences with the launch of a spontaneous show via No Restraints Play. Tyger Tiger instructs her right-hand man, Tech Ed, to log into the show to acquire as much information as possible. Meanwhile, Black Widow and Madam Masque are battling it out. Unsurprisingly, Black Widow wins the fight and disguises herself as Madam Masque as she prepares to attend the No Restraints Play show in an effort to find the man in charge.

When Tyger Tiger joins Natasha at the party, they locate their target: Vlad Dorchik. Natasha finally gets him alone, but she gets caught in a trap.

When Natasha finally becomes aware of this trap, she realizes that she is the new star of the No Restraints Play show, going live at that very moment.

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BLACK WIDOW #3 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Widow’s Kiss

So, BLACK WIDOW #3 has various highs and lows. Firstly, the terrifying twist upon the conclusion of the issue is certainly a high. The Soska Sisters truly raise the stakes for Natasha in a way that gives the series much-needed dynamic energy. However, the issue does struggle to get to that intensity. The party sequence moves slowly and is particularly dominated by cameos from Taskmaster, Sabertooth, etc. that ultimately feel shoehorned into the story.

With this, I would like to see more characterization in regards to Tyger Tiger’s character. She is obviously an important player in this series thus far. So, it would be beneficial to see her engage with the plot, and Natasha, more than she has.

Finally, another high point of this issue lies in the depiction of Natasha’s undercover operation. It is always exciting to see how effortlessly she pulls off being a covert operative. Thus, being able to witness her assume that role in this issue really elevates the issue.

So, ultimately, there is still room to deepen the narrative of this series. Though, BLACK WIDOW #3 certainly broadens the magnitude of it.

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BLACK WIDOW #3 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

BLACK WIDOW #3 in Motion

Unfortunately, the artwork of BLACK WIDOW #3 is a mixed bag. On one hand, Veronica Gandini’s colors are fantastic. The battle sequence between Black Widow and Madam Masque stands out in particular. Gandini implements variations of purple throughout the sequence that juxtapose the overarching dark tones beautifully.

I also love the shadows she incorporates into Madam Masque’s mask. Those shadows certainly provide that persona with a layer of mystery and intrigue.

However, I find the pencilling throughout BLACK WIDOW #3 to be quite inconsistent. The artwork throughout the party sequences also feels overwhelming from time to time. From the scope of the setting to the action within that scope to the lettering, a lot of panels appear chaotic.

Thus, at times, it is difficult to get a concrete notion of the images across the page.

So, though the artwork has its highs, there are plenty of lows that can be improved upon in upcoming installments.

What Lies Beyond

BLACK WIDOW #3 is a slow burn that pays off in its final pages.

Now, though that final page picks up the pace of the series, there is still work ahead to really build on those significant developments.

Hopefully, these new first-hand insights into No Restraints Play broaden the overall scope of the series to really make this series pack that punch.

BLACK WIDOW #3 by Jen & Sylvia Soska, Flaviano, Veronica Gandini, & Joe Caramagna
BLACK WIDOW #3 is a slow build with some faults, but its final pages bring much-needed energy to the current arc.
77 %
the star of the show
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