Previously in BLACK WIDOW, Natasha Romanoff took a trip to Madripoor to cut loose and kill some bad guys. That quest ultimately led to the discovery of a sinister website known as No Restraints Play, a site that livestreams torture. In the midst of her investigation, Natasha encountered a man named Vlad who maintained an association with NRP. Determined to take Vlad down, Natasha confronted him at a party. Unfortunately for Natasha, her encounter with Vlad resulted in her own capture. Now in BLACK WIDOW #4, Natasha is the subject of a live session of No Restraints Play. Now, the Black Widow must find a way out before she meets her death in front of the eyes of an audience.

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BLACK WIDOW #4 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Not Your Average Live Television

BLACK WIDOW #4 commences with No Restraints Play going live with Natasha as its main star. Meanwhile, Tyger Tiger calls her right-hand man, Tech Ed, who informs her of Natasha’s perilous predicament. Tech Ed informs Natasha via her earpiece that he is hacking into NRP’s security, but he needs her to buy him time. Thus, as Vlad, her torturer, begins the torment, Natasha reminds herself that she has survived far worse than this. Though, the survival she speaks of is not necessarily the physical kind because even death could not take her agency away from her.

Natasha Romanoff is the Black Widow, and she has a job to do. Natasha breaks free from her bounds and retaliates against her torturer, going as far as cutting off his arms with a chainsaw. Tyger Tiger then infiltrated the NRP’s facility, freeing a multitude of kids NRP had held hostage for the site’s livestreams.

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BLACK WIDOW #4 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Killer and the Sound

As Tyger Tiger brings these children to safety, there is an intriguing moment in which Natasha transitions from a bloodthirsty state of being to a sympathetic one where she becomes a confidant to these children. Consequently, The Soska Sisters provide us with an alluring juxtaposition within Natasha’s character.

In BLACK WIDOW #4, we witness Natasha committing some brutal actions upon those she believes to be barbaric. Though, her reactions to seeing those children freed remind us why her rage is capable of being so great. Natasha strives to defend the innocent and those upon which bad people do bad things. Of course, there are those who do not agree with her methods at all, as seen in BLACK WIDOW #1. However, this rage and this need to bring pain to those capable of doing terrible things is a part of Natasha, but that is certainly not all she is.

It is easy to become absorbed in those moments Natasha becomes extremely violent. It is easy to perceive her character as one that is driven entirely by violence. Though, when you witness a moment such as the one where Natasha cares for a frightened child, you realize there is so much more than what meets the eye. Perhaps Natasha does not mean the orthodox standards for heroism, but there is a reason why many consider her to be one nonetheless.

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BLACK WIDOW #4 page 4. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BLACK WIDOW #4

Holistically, BLACK WIDOW #4 is a solid issue. Unfortunately, though, the issue’s artwork detracts from the overall installment. I find the penciling to be particularly inconsistent. Additionally, multiple panels come across as crowded and chaotic. For example, in the sequence in which Natasha is fighting her way out of NRP, there are a couple of panels that showcase her fighting over a black background as the lettering depicts the sounds of gunfire.

The combination of all of these aspects at this moment come together to convey a noisy sequence. It is hard to get an understanding of the intricate details of a sequence such as this and others since there is simply so much happening in the fray of it all. I fervently hope that future issues in this series do not share the setbacks BLACK WIDOW #4 held in its imagery. The art of this series has an intense story to tell, and it is certainly a shame to see the exemplification of that story falter in this work.

What Lies Beyond

BLACK WIDOW #4 is a step up from its predecessor as it improves upon its pacing and character development obstacles. Hopefully, the series can maintain that streak and go even further with it. In the series’ upcoming installment, Natasha will continue her investigation into No Restraints Play. Though due to her recent experiences, one cannot help but wonder what will become of Natasha. Has she gone too far in acting on her rage through brutal methods? Will she continue to satisfy her bloodlust? There is always more than meets the eye when it comes to Black Widow, which is why I’m sticking around to see where her quest leads her next.

BLACK WIDOW #4 by Jen & Sylvia Soska, Flaviano, Veronica Gandini, & Joe Caramagna
BLACK WIDOW #4 has its weak points, but, overall, it is a jam-packed issue full of brutal action sequences, complex characterization, and enticing twists.
78 %
a bloody good time
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