Marvel's 'Avengers: Black Widow' #1 Review: A second chance for Romanoff and her connection to the Taskmaster

Some may find the comic to cram a lot of information, but that could probably be to give in as much detail about her dreaded foe and outline Widow's psyche


                            Marvel's 'Avengers: Black Widow' #1 Review: A second chance for Romanoff and her connection to the Taskmaster
(Christos Gage and Michele Bandini/ Marvel Comics)

Spoilers for Marvel's 'Avengers: Black Widow' Issue #1

The upcoming MCU flick 'Black Widow' and the comic 'Black Widow' #1 have one thing in common — the Taskmaster as the foe. The 22-page comic by Christos Gage shows the origin of the famed Marvel villain after revealing he was a mole during his time with SHIELD before pledging his alliance to Hydra. 

The majority of the issue is an action-packed affair that starts with Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow being recruited by Nick Fury and the cold shoulder she receives from fellow SHIELD agents.

It is evident her intense training in the Red Room since her childhood sets her apart from the rest of the team as she proves to be a highly skilled agent adept in combat. 

Tony Masters gets an introduction as a Combat Cohesion Officer at SHIELD who is supposed to teach Romanoff how the agency operates on the field. Masters, who would eventually go on to become Taskmaster was originally introduced in 'The Avengers' #195 (May 1980), created by writer David Michelinie and artist George Pérez.

It should be noted that 'Black Widow' #1 is a prelude to the video game and not part of the regular continuity. However, it does dish out some important talking points. 

Taskmaster's history with 'Black Widow' gets an explanation as the duo are shown to be training together before he goes rogue.

His ability to expertly mimic combat moves is highlighted even before he takes the villain's avatar and a minor fault in one of the moves that he frames Widow leads to the reveal of his secret as a double agent.

A snippet from 'Black Widow #1' (Christos Gage and Michele Bandini/ Marvel Comics)

As for Romanoff, a chunk of her past gets explained in the form of Iosif Stepanov, a 70-year-old prisoner at SHIELD. The agency picks him up as part of a diamond smuggling ring, but unknown to them, he was a Red Room ballet trainer instrumental in teaching Romanoff some of the best moves and was the only close person whom she considered a friend.

This storyline is explained when Fury figures out she and Masters were on the same mission during their time at SHIELD — free Hydra prisoners. Except, Romanoff agreed to do it for Stepanov to break free.

Her loyalty to the US is significant as she tells Fury, she's "loyal to the ideals of America".  It is not known if Marvel Studios would have borrowed any of these elements for the movie to explain the origin of the Taskmaster, but it does establish a connection of sorts between the two characters.

Michele Bandini's art brings out the emotions in the characters perfectly well as this issue sees agents not afraid to hold back their thoughts and opinions to Fury, irrespective of his position at the agency.

As far as the final verdict goes, the comic that primarily looks at Fury as a man who believes in giving second chances is a fun read.

There aren't any convoluted plotlines to this issue that continues into the Avengers video game set to release later this year. Some may find the comic to cram a lot of information, but that could probably be to give in as much detail about her dreaded foe and outline Widow's psyche. In conclusion, this one's worth the read. 

Written by: Christos Gage

Artist: Michele Bandini 
 
Cover: STONEHOUSE

Variant Cover: Greg Land

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