NYCC 2013: Black Widow Atones For Evil Past In New Series

Black Widow #1 cover by Phil Noto.
Credit: Marvel
Black Widow #1 cover by Phil Noto.
Black Widow #1 cover by Phil Noto.
Credit: Marvel

Black Widow is one of the big stars of Marvel’s Avengers franchise, and this January she’s going solo.

Who Is Jake Ellis’ Nathan Edmondson and Uncanny X-Force’s Phil Noto are taking the deadly S.H.I.E.L.D. agent out on her own in a new ongoing series titled Black Widow. Teased earlier this month with an image of the word “Atonement,” this new Black Widow series follows the former KGB assassin as she looks to even the scales against all the evil deeds she’s done earlier in her life. Edmondson describes Natasha Romanoff as “haunted,” taking the initiative to track down threats across the world – while doing all outside the auspices of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers. Mirroring the statement made by the character recently in the Avengers movie, Black Widow is looking to wipe out the red from her ledger.

Newsarama: So Nathan, what can you tell us about this new Black Widow series?

Nathan Edmondson: It's not your momma's Black Widow! We've really approached the Black Widow series in a fresh and vibrant way. It's cutthroat, sexy and full of secrets.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Marvel teased this title earlier this month with the word “Atonement;” What does that word mean for this series?

Edmondson: Black Widow is an Avenger, but that's really her side job. She's the Black Widow, a mercenary spy and assassin. But because of her past as a KGB agent, a killer, a villain, she is haunted and will spend her entire life trying to make up for what she's done. We'll learn quickly exactly how she's doing that, bit by bit, every day.

Nrama: Black Widow’s faced everyone from her ex-KGB colleagues to aliens and extra-dimensional beings – but what kind of threats will she face in this series?

Edmondson: You'll find Black Widow is a very pro-active character in this series. She's often on the hunt. She goes up against jungle militia, ninja assassins, arms dealers, secret organizations and a mysterious villain in the first six issues…and then some.

Nrama: Black Widow has a deep past with her days as a KGB assassin and how she turned to join the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Will you be delving much into her early days for this series?

Edmondson: Not all that much, certainly not at first. We're diving right in and moving full steam ahead.

Nrama: When you got the chance to do this series, how’d you go about appraising Natasha as a character?

Edmondson: We spent a while mentally getting to know her, understanding her balance. She is attractive, fun, and engaging while still being the complex mystery that she is; she can't be too dark or morose. We found the balance, but honestly at the end of the day we just point at Phil he draws a Black Widow you can't tear your eyes from.

Phil Noto's cover to the 2011 Widowmaker #4.
Phil Noto's cover to the 2011 Widowmaker #4.

Nrama: And after that research, what would you say she boils down to be?

Edmondson: She's a ruthless and capable spy with a past to atone for.

Nrama: What are the most interesting aspects of Black Widow that you aim to focus on in this series?

Edmondson: She's a businesswoman, we'll learn. And while she's a loner, she manages certain relationships carefully, and keeps a handful of key people close to her. She's decisive and driven but psychologically tortured. And she's very hard on herself. This is not a one-dimensional character; she's a true pleasure to write, a real challenge to bring to life.

Nrama: When I spoke with Kelly Sue DeConnick about Black Widow in Avengers Assemble, she described Natasha as someone who keeps everyone at arm’s length. Will anyone be appearing with Black Widow on a regular basis in this series?

Edmondson: As I mention above, she has a few relationships that she must maintain, but the inestimable Kelly Sue is right on the money, of course. On one hand Natasha can't afford to keep too many people close. Her iPhone contact list is pretty sad, and she doesn't throw cocktail parties or even date, really. And on the other hand, she's so focused on her own issues, her own missions--to a fault--that she has no room to let anyone else in.

Black Widow commission by Phil Noto.
Black Widow commission by Phil Noto.

Nrama: You and Phil Noto -- sounds like a great pairing. What are you hoping for with Phil on the art side here, given his abilities?

Edmondson: Phil was part of the pitch when Marvel approached me. Working with him is a bit like winning the lottery. He's unbelievably talented and he was born to illustrate Black Widow. I'm partial, of course, but I think this is some of the--if not the--best work he's ever done.

Nrama: Lastly, how do her colleagues at Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. feel about her outside actions on her own? Or do they even know?

Edmondson: It's been fun so far to explore her complicated relationship with both groups. She's Black Widow, mercenary first, though, and Avenger/ S.H.I.E.L.D. agent second. She loans her time to them. As Black Widow, she's able to do things that S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers cannot, she can get close and get intel and take out bad guys in ways that the full brute of the other heroes and operations couldn't, and she can do it with a level of secrecy they couldn't hope to. There's power in being alone, when you can slip in to a hotel or prison or embassy unnoticed, in disguise, and slip back out.

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