"Part 6: Now That's What I Call A Woman (Reprise)"
Writer: Richard K. Morgan
Artists: Goran Parlov (p), Bill Sienkiewicz (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As Natasha arrives at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, she makes yet another unsettling discovery about her past, as she learns that even her defection to the United States was the result of an external influence. However, after learning about the attack upon Phil Dexter and the young woman she saved in the first issue, Natasha decides to invest her energies in tracking down the attackers, and then use the information she gains from them to take out the head of this organized attack on the Black Widow program.
Comments: It's always nice when a story comes together in such a neat and tidy fashion. Richard K. Morgan manages to pull together all the various threads of his plot, and in the end the story is resolved with a pretty exciting battle where one is left openly questioning whether the Black Widow is going to win this fight. Now there's are still some unanswered questions that the writing leaves dangling, such as the fallout from the discovery that Natasha makes about her defection, but I suspect this will be a central element of the next miniseries. I'm prepared to wait if only for the simple fact that this is an idea that is deserving of more attention than this issue could have afforded it. In the end, I was impressed by how well this issue managed to resolve the mystery of why the Black Widow program has been targeted, as the motivation behind the attack was revealed to be simple greed. As I mentioned above the issue also wraps up with a pretty impressive final battle, as Natasha finds herself locked in combat against an opponent who has taken advantage of her internal programing so that she's unable to attack him, while he's operating under no such restriction. Now the solution to this problem was rather easy to see coming, but it still made for an effective little moment, and I love the fact that the Black Widow doesn't show the slightest bit of hesitation when it comes to employing lethal attacks. This issue also provides a lovely little revelation, as Natasha's defection to the United States was the result of her programing rather than independent choice on her part. In fact, this miniseries is actually quite impressive in the changes that it has made to the character.
There are moments in this issue where Bill Sienkiewicz's artistic influence does make itself quite apparent, as there's a lovely bit of imagery where Natasha discovers her defection was the result of outside influence, and the sequence where she is getting her head handed to her thanks to this same programming is also a fine display of the visual excitement that he brings to the book. However, there are also moments where the art takes on a decidedly conventional appearance, and I found myself wishing that Bill Sienkiewicz had imposed more on the work, if only to give it a little more impact. Still, there are some fine little moments in this issue, as there is a great little foreshadowing moment where Nick Fury reacts to the aftershave comment, and I loved the sense of frustration that the art is able to convey when Natasha is on the phone with Nick Fury. There's also a lovely little Nick Fury moment he reacts to the news report of Natasha's handiwork. Greg Land's cover is also lovely as always, though I did find myself wishing it had conveyed a little more intensity in its facial expressions, as I found them to be a little soft.
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