Back in the first issue of this run from The Soska Sisters, Natasha Romanoff traveled to Madripoor with the intent of satiating a bloodlust she had buried deep within. As she embarked on this personal quest, Natasha discovered the existence of No Restraints Play, a sickening website that livestreams torture. Thus, this discovery pushed her down a rabbit hole of violence, death, and betrayal. Now, in BLACK WIDOW #5, this series’ finale, Natasha must put an end to this quest and somehow move on.

This 2019 run on Black Widow has been noted for its gritty tone and grim narrative. Because of these aspects, The Soska Sisters have been able to depict some of the more haunting facets of Black Widow herself. Of course, this run has not been perfect. At times, the plot has dragged on and Natasha’s characterization stagnates. But overall, this series has been enjoyable, and, to be honest, it is a shame that it only comprises five issues because it would have been nice to see how far The Soska Sisters could take this run.

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BLACK WIDOW #5 page 1. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Judgement Day

Previously in BLACK WIDOW, Tyger Tiger’s seemingly loyal partner, Tech Ed, was revealed to be the man in charge of No Restraints Play. Thus, to top off his betrayal, Tech Ed launched a missile aimed at Tyger Tiger and Natasha Romanoff to cover his tracks. Thankfully, the missile did not kill the two. However, the Prince of Madripoor dies as a result of the attack. Consequently, in a state of rage and fear, Natasha rushes to save the children she had rescued in the last issue, knowing Tech Ed will target them to further cover his tracks.

She manages to do so, then proceeds to confront Tech Ed, who tries to justify his actions to her. Unsurprisingly, Natasha is not here to make his excuses and shoots him in the head. Following this, Natasha comes to discover that the children she had saved are training to become Widow Warriors, a name designed in her honor. Feeling as though her mission is complete here, Natasha heads back to New York to meet with Steve Rogers. Natasha tells him to forgive himself for his past wrongdoings and, ultimately, move on.

She also informs him that she wishes she could stay in New York, but her work is not yet finished.

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BLACK WIDOW #5 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Rise of the Widow Warriors

Surprisingly, BLACK WIDOW #5 invests most of its energy into Natasha’s own personal resolution rather than the run’s plot resolution. That investment works.

Yes, the overarching narrative wraps up nicely. However, there could have been more nuanced in regards to Tech Ed and his role in No Restraints Play. Despite this though, the series has excelled in its depiction of a Natasha who is grappling with her identity. I like how upon the end of this issue, she is still coming to terms with who she is. That uncertainty is human, and I find The Soska Sisters’ depiction of that uncertainty totally raw and authentic.

Natasha had reasons to go to Madripoor in BLACK WIDOW #1. Though, it is safe to say that she was not exactly sure what she was going to get out of the experience. Natasha understands that she has taken lives and that there is no way to take those actions back. However, she has learned to forgive herself. Natasha has learned that all she can do now is work to be a hero she can be proud of. Her journey as Black Widow is far from over. Consequently, a hero’s work never takes a day off.

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BLACK WIDOW #5 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Many Hues of BLACK WIDOW #5

Though the artwork of BLACK WIDOW #5 maintains some of the gripes I held in preceding issues, there are a few panels within the issue that are worth noting. Firstly, I love the tone within the sequence between Steve and Natasha. Colorist Veronica Gandini does an excellent job in establishing a dim atmosphere that emphasizes the intimacy of the conversation between the two characters. I also love the way Natasha’s red hair stands out against every other aspect of that sequence. That last page, depicting Natasha screaming on a rooftop, is an incredibly satisfying image.

Artist Flaviano seems to make it appear as though Natasha has found release through her experiences in Madripoor. One can also interpret that outcry as one of the frustrations derived from the idea that people like Natasha will never stop being needed by innocents. Either way, this final page is a powerful one. Gandini’s juxtaposition between Natasha and the colorful backdrop of New York City is captivating to say the least. Thus, there are no words in this final page, it is an image that lingers in your mind, leaving one pondering the future of Natasha Romanoff.

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BLACK WIDOW #5 page 4. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

What Lies Beyond BLACK WIDOW #5

Goodbyes are always hard, particularly when the future is uncertain. I fervently hope that future depictions of Natasha continue The Soska Sisters’ unapologetic and authentic look at the character even if that depiction brings darkness to the surface. We all know the work of the Black Widow is far from over. We all know that her road to self-discovery has only just begun, but where does Natasha go from here?

The paths are infinite.

BLACK WIDOW #5 by The Soska Sisters, Flaviano, Veronica Gandini, & Joe Caramagna
BLACK WIDOW #5 may miss a few beats, but the consistency and characterization of our titular character come together to serve a satisfying conclusion.
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