Natasha Romanova is The Black Widow, a covert operative for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. Or maybe it’s the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate. Either way, it’s S.H.I.E.L.D. for short. And Nataha’s role within it, like her work as an Avenger, is only part of the story. The rest is…complicated.

Working freelance, Natasha takes out the bad guys. Literally. She doesn’t play by any rules we would recognize. As she tells someone trying to take revenge for his brother, “Your brother was a murderer. I’m a killer.” She doesn’t do it for the money, but to balance the scales.  How many will it take? Not even the Black Widow herself knows the answer to that question.

When it comes to Marvel Comic superspies, I was always a Silver-Sable fan myself. Probably because she crossed over with Spider-Man so much. Even when I heavily collected The Avengers, I never saw the appeal of Black Widow. Today, thanks to the movies and now this book, I’ve changed my mind. She is a very layered and dynamic character, and this book is a damned fine spy thriller.

In the opening pages of Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Phil Noto, we get a quick backstory—if we want to believe it. Even Natasha herself says it’s all a lie. Or is it? We learn she is building a web, paying debts in blood, and running all over the world to do it. She only takes the missions that meet her strict guidelines; what they are, we don’t know. Except that she goes against some of the worst of the worst, and occasionally does the odd job for S.H.I.E.L.D.

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On one such mission, an assassin takes out an entire embassy to kill one person. This leads to a confrontation with Molot, a Russian killer who considers himself the Hand of God. Who he is working for, and why he’s been tasked with taking these people out, is the mystery Natasha has to solve before anyone else gets hurt. Including her.

Okay, it’s at this point in the review I would like to write an open letter to Marvel Comics.Black Widow spread

Dear Marvel,

Please, please, please, make Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread, into a movie. It’s better than James Bond. More intense than The Bourne Identity films. Has all the intrigue of Three Days of the Condor or The Hunt for Red October. And all the action of Mission Impossible or Taken movies.

In short, it’s awesome, and I want to see it on the big screen. In 2015 if you don’t mind.

Sincerely,

~P
@atfmb

(Big fan)

As for you, gentle reader, please go buy the book. Read it. The story is compelling, the characters rich and well drawn. I’m a total convert, and I went in liking the on-screen version of Black Widow, but remembering a comic book version that never really appealed to me. 

And then there’s Natasha herself.  I think she explains it best when she says: “So what kind of predator am I?…a complicated one. A deadly one. One alone. And you can’t change my nature.”

The art is light and beautiful. What are you waiting for?

Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal), and 2014 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fancast. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.