"The Widow, Part Four of Four"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Alex Maleev
Colors: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Marvel Comics
In a bid to protect his secret identity Matt decides the best way to deal with the home invasion by Jigsaw is to call the police, but he discovers this is not as simple as it sounds. Meanwhile the Black Widow learns that efforts are being made to expose the conspiracy against her, and with a bit of help from Nick Fury the sinister plot is overturned, and Natasha is welcomed back into the spy organization. Meanwhile Matt makes an attempt to repair his shattered marriage.
After reading this issue I have to say I was slightly depressed that Brian Michael Bendis' new Avengers line-up didn't have a spot open for the Black Widow as this has to be one of the best portrayals of the character in quite some time. I mean the Black Widow is the ultimate femme fatale of the Marvel Universe, as she's one of the few characters who manages to pull off the balancing act where she's trusted as a hero, but there's always the sense that there's always more going on than she's letting you see, and if they knew the whole truth than even her most trusted allies would be casting a wary eye in her direction. I mean there's a great little scene where Natasha confronts Jigsaw and his goons, and she presents herself off as a non-threat, but the minute she has the opportunity to strike out Jigsaw is lying in a heap on the floor. There's also a great little moment where she sends a message to the hired gun who has been called upon to take her out, that stands up as a classic example of her understanding of how the game is played. She also gets a great final line to Matt as she makes her goodbyes that nicely dances around the edges of her relationship with Daredevil. Now the opening gag where Matt finds his bid to call for help are being stymied felt a bit too much like an attempt at humour, and as a result it didn't quite work for me. However, I did smile at the secret code that Nick Fury employs to let the Black Widow she's being asked to play the role of bait, and the assassin that was hired to take out the Black Widow was a fun character that I hope to see again.
Alex Maleev is a fantastic artist when it comes to capturing the dark mood of this book, as the art manages to perfectly present the hidden dangers that our characters face in this issue, from the wonderfully bit of deception as Natasha toys with Jigsaw's underlings, to the equally impressive scene where we watch the sniper target our heroes. There's also a nice little scene where Natasha confronts her ex-husband, and the encounter manages to deftly project the sense that Natasha is well in control of the situation. There's also a couple solid little moments like the murderous fury that we see in Jigsaw's eyes as Matt agrees to press charges against him, or Natasha's sudden shift from a formidable fighter into a distraught victim when the police arrive. The rain soaked final page meeting between Matt and his soon to be ex-wife was also well done, as Matt's reluctance to let go is nicely complemented by the weather.
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