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Black Widow: Deadly Origin #4

Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By: Dave Wallace

Paul Cornell
Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i), Matt Milla (colours), John Paul Leon
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Black Widow: Deadly Origin #4 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 17.

The final issue of Deadly Origin is less concerned with recounting the origin story of the Black Widow than it is with explaining the previous issue's cliffhanger revelation: that the person who has been behind the recent attacks on Natasha is none other than her old friend and mentor Ivan (who had previously appeared to be the first victim of the "Icepick Protocol").

That said, the issue does find some time to explore the Black Widow's recent history, putting forward a compelling argument that her apparently flighty nature and ever-changing alliances can be attributed to a strong moral compass that compels her to do the right thing, regardless of personal cost.

That idea also manifests in the present-day segments of the story, in which Natasha has a difficult conversation with her former friend, and eventually finds a way to bring his plan to an end, regardless of her own feelings for him. The conception of the Black Widow as a principled, honourable super-spy is an interesting take on the character, and it's credit to Paul Cornell's skill as a writer that he manages to make it feel plausible despite the character's chequered past.

Artist Tom Raney provides his best work of the series so far in this issue, with some dynamic, bold visuals to match the out-and-out superhero tone of the story. His design for the new form adopted by Ivan is a striking and unsettling one, and he also does a good job in capturing Natasha's facial expressions during the more emotionally-charged scenes. We don't see quite as much of John Paul Leon's art as we have in previous issues, but when the flashbacks come they're illustrated with just as much style and individuality as in previous chapters.

This is probably the most straightforward issue of the series so far: the present-day segment of the story progresses in a fairly predictable fashion, and the occasional flashbacks are used more to illustrate character than to provide information that's crucial to the plot. However, it provides a nice cap for the story, and one that leaves the character of the Black Widow in an interesting place for her upcoming solo ongoing series.







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