If the prisoner believes he is a free man… who’s to say he’s not? By the same token… if the free man serves the whim of hidden overseers… is he anything more than an unwitting captive?
In the previous issue, Magneto surrendered to S.H.I.E.L.D. As he is taken into custody, he muses about the reality of freedom and whether people are truly free. I have contemplated this myself on numerous occasions. Living in a country that prides itself as a “free country” and places value on individual freedoms, I can’t help but wondering just how free we really are. Americans like to believe they are free, but is it real freedom, or the illusion of freedom? Are we the “unwitting captives” serving the whims of corporations and governments? It’s a legitimate question and I don’t claim to have the answer, but I think it is something that each individual should ask himself or herself honestly.
Anyway, as I suspected, when Magneto allowed himself to be captured, he had a plan and this was part of it. I won’t tell you what happens, because I hate to spoil it for anyone. I will say that it is an excellent issue, the writing and artwork are impeccable as always, and it is definitely worth reading.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this issue, except that I find it intriguing that Magneto has surrendered to S.H.I.E.L.D. This is definitely a set-up issue, beginning a new chapter in the saga. I have no idea what the writers are planning, but something inside me tells me that it is going to be interesting. I generally trust my gut instincts—they are usually correct. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Magneto is planning something and allowing himself to be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of that plan. I guess we will find out more as the story unfolds. Stay tuned.
In issue #5, Natasha is captured by Damon Dran. In this issue, she escapes and captures Dran, handing him over to S.H.I.E.L.D. While in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Dran is assassinated by a Chaos operative. As he is carrying out the assassination, the operative says “Chaos rains, Mr. Dran.” I found this to be a clever double-entendre, implying that chaos reigns. I personally ascribe to the theory that order is constantly striving to move toward the chaotic state. Because it requires so much energy to maintain order, it just seems logical based upon the idea of entropy that order would tend toward disorder. Anyway, let me back away from that rabbit hole.
The theme of this issue, and the subtitle, is “Paranoia.” Throughout the issue, the idea of how paranoia affects covert operatives is explored. Natasha accurately acknowledges that the state of being alone fuels paranoid thoughts. This ultimately leads to the fear of trusting another person. Trust can be scary under ordinary circumstances, but in the clandestine world of spies it becomes dangerous, too.
But who can I trust? Because I don’t know if I can do this by myself… It takes so much effort to get close to someone. To navigate those finely woven threads of doubt and trust. But sometimes… sometimes you need someone else.
I’ve found that the ability to trust comes after one gains a sense of self-confidence. We need relationships with others in order to share what is going on inside. Isolation is not a healthy state of being.
Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading!
This issue begins with Magneto hiding out in a small town in New York. As he walks back from purchasing items from the store, he contemplates what it is like to be ordinary, to spend your days engaged in ordinary and mundane activities.
I can see how “ordinary people” fall so easily into ruts. There’s comfort in the mundane. Catching a quick breakfast at the local diner. Although the eggs were a little too runny for my taste. Buying groceries. Apple, crackers, granola bars—staples that weather the road. Razors too. I’ve found I now dislike the feeling of stubble upon my head. If I were someone else… if I were ordinary… I might find security in the day-to-day grind. But I am not ordinary.
He then has an encounter with a woman named Briar Raleigh who wears a leg brace. Briar convinces Magneto that she can help him in his quest to defend mutants. She offers him information on S.H.I.E.L.D. task force agents, as well as information on the Marauders, a group “responsible for one of the most vicious mutant hate crimes ever.” Magneto appears interested and accepts her offer; at least, that is how it seems.
The issue ends with uncertainty, though. It is revealed that Briar’s leg was crushed during one of Magneto’s assaults. We are left unsure what the motives of each person are. The story is to be continued. Expect my review of the subsequent installment soon.
Ha ha! Well, I spoke too soon. In my review of Issue #3, I mentioned a pattern that each issue was a stand-alone assignment. Not the case anymore. This is the first of what I suspect will be several issues all tied in to the same assignment.
Natasha is called in by S.H.I.E.L.D. to track someone capture someone named Molot Boga, or “Hammer of God.” Reminds me of a Led Zeppelin song, and the Malleus Maleficarum. Anyway, this guy is a psycho monk who is killing “sinners” under the direction of an unseen person. There is a lot of mystery and unanswered questions, so this is going to be a short post. I will say that I liked it and I am intrigued about what will unfold in the subsequent installments.
There is a cool quote in the comic that is worth including here:
But the truth about intelligence gathering? The devil is in the details. So you can’t miss a single detail or—you might miss the devil himself…
Details are important. I know this from my years working as a technical writer. But even more important is balance. If you focus only on details, you fail to see the big picture; and if you only look at the big picture, you miss the important details. As with most things in life, balance is the key.
I’m beginning to notice a pattern. So far, each comic in this series has been an assignment, but along with the assignment, there is the building of a larger story. I love this formula and it works very well. This allows readers who follow the series to become invested, while at the same time making the comics accessible and enjoyable to readers who do not read each issue.
In this issue, Natasha’s assignment is to free a prisoner from an Argentinean prison. Natasha and the prisoner make their way through the South American jungle, and then there is a nice plot twist (sorry—you know I do my best to omit any spoilers from my posts).
The bigger theme is the concept of home, of belonging to a particular place. Because of her line of work, Natasha makes it a point to not “belong” to any particular place, but instead to treat wherever she is as her temporary home, allowing her to fully connect with her surroundings. There is something noble about this idea, about being detached from things that tie you down, thereby allowing you to move freely through life. But as Natasha points out, there is a down side to this philosophy.
The other edge of that is the unfortunate truth: you must first belong nowhere.
Near the end of the issue, there is a dark twist in the comic’s exploration of the idea of home.
Unfortunately, I admit, I do have a home. I have always had a home. Even if it is not apparent to me or anyone else. Home is where the hurt is.
Reading this made me consider the people who suffer and remain in abusive relationships. People will sacrifice their comfort and even their safety in order to feel the sense of belonging. Our need to be a part of a community and a home runs deep, and this sometimes results in people allowing themselves to be abused in order to satisfy this need.
This issue worked for me on several levels. First, it focuses on a single “assignment” making it work well as a stand-alone comic. Secondly, it builds on some of the larger themes that the writer seeks to establish regarding the Black Widow. Finally, the story is written in a non-linear manner, almost like the weaving of a web, where the strands of the story connect and cross each other until it all comes together at the end.
Early in the tale, Natasha muses about ethics.
Finding your own jobs means you get to exercise your own ethics. But ethics isn’t a science. Which is to say… you do your best… but that doesn’t make you right.
This got me thinking. As a society, we like to think of ethics as some ideal which should guide us. But when you think about it, ethics is a very grey area. It’s open for interpretation. What is considered ethical in one country may be abhorrent in another. Ethics is defined as the “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior.” Those principles often mean different things to disparate groups and individuals.
Throughout her assignment, Natasha makes a series of mistakes. When she finally returns to her apartment, a stray cat she has been feeding is pawing at her window seeking entrance. Natasha says aloud, both to the cat and to herself:
I can’t let you in. I’m sorry! That’s one mistake I won’t make twice.
I sense here that at one point in her past, Natasha let a person into her life and that there were consequences for doing so. There is something that haunts her memory, a mistake for which she must atone. But whatever it is shrouded in the web of secrecy that she has spun about her.
So far, this series is holding my interest. Expect a post on Issue #3 soon.
So my daughter began following the Black Widow comic series. She likes it and suggested I read them, so I sat down and read the first issue. I have to say, I liked it.
The “Black Widow” is Natasha Romanov. She’s an ex-KGB agent who now works with S.H.I.E.L.D. She has a past which haunts her and it appears that she is trying to atone for something, but it is not clear what. Combined together, along with her ability to kick butt and her sense of fashion, I would consider her to be the consummate femme fatale. It’s almost impossible not to like her.
As far as the artwork goes, it’s quite impressive indeed. There is one panel where Natasha is rinsing a wine glass. The way that Phil Noto captures the curvature of the glass, the running water, and the various reflections and bending of the fingers is outstanding. Details such as this are what makes a comic book a work of art. I am impressed.
At the end of the issue, Natasha muses to herself as she watches a spider weaving a web.
How many more jobs… How long will it take… I don’t know if I can do it… Even if I could forgive myself… THIS is what I am now. And you’ll never know who I was before.
It’s like the web has become a symbol of her present state, where strands of memory connect her past to the present. Woven together, the events of her life have created the complex web which is her individual psyche.
I have the next several issues—correction, my daughter has them. But I will borrow them and read them soon. I’ll post my thoughts once I am done. Cheers!