Love them, or hate them, I don’t think there is anyone alive on this planet that will deny the succes that Marvel superheroes are having in the movie theatres. A whopping 23 movies have been released so far, and it seems there is just simply no stopping them. Well, almost no stopping them. With the year 2020 bringing the movie industry to a virtual standstill, a lot of movies that were scheduled to be released have been put on an indefinite hold. Including a movie that I myself and a lot of other Marvel fans were looking forward to immensely: The Black Widow. The film was originally slated to be released in April this year, but is now stuck in limbo, with no firm release date on the horizon. There are some rumours that Disney will release the movie on their streaming channel Disney+, but so far that hasn’t been confirmed. And honestly it would be a real shame if they were to go down that path, as this is one of those films that you simply want to see in theatres. The first solo outing for the female Avenger portrayed by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, it would act as a prequel to the Avengers movies, diving into the past of the Widow. The trailers that have been released for it so far, certainly promise a very cool movie, and I have included the final one here for your viewing pleasure.
As is usually the case when I’m interested in something, I try to find out as much as I can about it. I did that once with Deadpool , buying a few omnibus edition comic books as I knew very little about his past. With a character as popular as The Black Widow, it will come as no surprise that there is lots of material out there to find. And of course with the anticipation of the movie around the corner, Marvel played it smart, and released a collection of the Widow’s earliest comic book adventures. And lo and behold that is what I will be talking about in this review. One of the things that I really like about this heroine is the fact that she is just an ordinary woman with no real superpowers to speak of. Yes, she is a master fighter, and skilled in all kinds of martial arts, but that’s really just about it. No super strength, flying powers, x-ray vision or whatever else you might think of. Just plain old simple girlpower. The first volume of this so called Epic Collection, dives into the earliest adventures of the woman clad in black. You might not know it, but the first time that Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanova (her full name really is quite the mouthfull) appears she is not what one would exactly call hero material.
Introduced way back in 1964 in the Marvel comic Tales of Suspense number 52, she is sent by Russia as an assassin to kill the man named Tony Stark. Who we of course all know as Iron Man. She isn’t even wearing a superhero costume at that time, but just appears as a kind of femme fatale, and an evil one at that. Back in those days, there was a little thing going on called the Cold War, and Russia frequently appeared as a nemesis in all kinds of media. Comic books were of course no exception to this. Iron Man is not an easy target, and not that there was ever any doubt of the outcome, but her assassination attempt failed. Not one to give up easily though, she makes several more attempts, eventually donning her first costume which looks totally different from the one she is best known for. As time moves on, Natasha’s allegiance eventually shifts, especially since Russia also doesn’t take too kindly to her continued failures. She ends up falling in love with the Avenger Hawkeye, and also joins up with the superhero group The Avengers. That romance doesn’t last though, and Natasja leaves to go forge her own destiny. It is in the roaring 70’s where The Black Widow is reintroduced in Spiderman issue 86. This also sees her in her new skintight body suit, the look that would eventually become one of her trademarks.
It was very nice to see the evolution of this character throughout the years. The classic comic book style is definitely something that I really love, although I can also imagine that many modern comic book lovers might find the look a bit dated. I for one truly enjoyed it, and some of the art, especially in the comics from the 70’s was really detailed and gorgeous to look at. This 400 page book serves as a sort of chronicle of the life of the Black Widow, and contains full issues of comics, but also excerpts from a few that contained some crucial elements that were important to her background. Honestly that last part I wasn’t too fond of. Sometimes you get dropped into the middle of a story, just because there was a reference made to her, and after 1 or 2 pages of that, you move on to another story. Sometimes even in the middle of a cliffhanger. I had rather they would have included the full comic instead of just a couple of pages, as I often had no clue what was going on. It’s like watching an episode of a tv series and dropping right in the middle of it, only to drop out of it again 5 minutes later. Be that as it may, it’s still a collection that’s definitely worth owning if you are a fan. It offers a cool glimpse into the life of the former Russian agent, and if you love classic Marvel comics, and female superheroes, this is certainly worth the purchase.
I give Black Widow Epic Collection Volume 1, a 8 out of 10 score.