By Tim O’Shea
Writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto give Natasha Romanova the 2014 she deserves with the launch of a new BLACK WIDOW series. The creators intend to explore the peaks and valleys of the super hero spy’s complicated life with their own distinct storytelling style.
Just what they have in store for this one-of-a-kind spy proves to be quite different than what anyone likely expects, as we quickly learned.
Marvel.com: What kind of tone are you two aiming to set with this series and are there any influences in particular that inspire what you intend to attain on BLACK WIDOW?
Nathan Edmondson: Overall this is a super hero spy thriller. Natasha's past is dark, her intentions are noble, and her villains are ruthless. Beyond that, though, what's so exciting about this series is the tone will shift issue to issue depending upon her mission or adventure, depending on her location and the challenge. On the whole, though, this book is in Natasha's head, and that's a place full of twists and turns and shadows, as we quickly discover. We are so freakin' proud of this book, and it's got a bit of everything, and plenty you won't expect.
Phil Noto: When [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel [Alonso] first talked to me about this book, he said that he wanted me to just do my "thing" and not have it look like a regular comic book. I've always been influenced by the old illustration style of the 50's and 60's and some of my favorite comics are the painted ones by Simon Bisley, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams, George Pratt and Dave McKean. A lot of my cover work has been in that same vein and I've always kept a bit of that in my interior work but with a comfortable schedule and great editorial support this is my chance to really let loose and do something unique.
Marvel.com: What is it about Black Widow/Natasha’s rich history that attracted you both to this series?
Nathan Edmondson: She's the coolest. No kidding. A sexy, serious, lethal agent trying to atone for her bloody past. What Phil and I are bringing to her history, though, is something very fresh, very hot. This is not a book—well, perhaps until HAWKEYE—most readers [would] expect to find in the Marvel “main canon”—which is to say we were given some very cool liberties to make something special here.
Phil Noto: I've been a Black Widow fan for quite a while. I love the fact that she's a bit of an antihero with a dark past. After working on Beautiful Killer and Danger Girl this was my chance to draw the "Queen of the Spy-Girls."
Marvel.com: Nathan, what does it mean to you that Natasha’s hope is to atone for her dark past by becoming a mercenary with a moral code?
|Black Widow by Phil Noto|
Nathan Edmondson: Despite the array of gadgets and a skill set that would make Bond blush, Natasha is kind of a monk. She's reserved, private, and isolated and every decision she makes she makes to either distance herself from or to pay for her past life of very dark deeds. Atonement isn't a single mission; it's a self-imposed life sentence.
Marvel.com: Phil, what kind of weaponry and tech gadgets will we get to see Black Widow wield in the first few issues?
Phil Noto: She's got her wristbands of course! Also she'll be using some state-of-art S.H.I.E.L.D. equipment and weapons. All of it rooted in real world tech, though. No Asgardian super-weapons here. Nathan and I are trying to make the situations and her use of them interesting rather than just focusing on the weapons/gadgets themselves.
Marvel.com: The key to great spy stories are exotic or otherwise unique locales—where will Natasha’s quest for atonement take her?
Nathan Edmondson: In the first three issues we're on at least four continents. BLACK WIDOW will go wherever the job is; and wherever S.H.I.E.L.D. sends her, if she's in a mood to work with them.
Marvel.com: Nathan, am I right in thinking some of the families of her past victims may not be happy to see her? Will her new mission lead to conflicts with her former KGB bosses?
Nathan Edmondson: The story theme and Natasha's motives are both rooted in her past, but how it manifests in her present the reader all have to discover. This isn't a Black Widow book like anyone's ever seen before, which is a constant thrill for Phil and [me].
Marvel.com: What kind of supporting cast do you two have planned for BLACK WIDOW?
Nathan Edmondson: Some familiar faces, some not so much. Many characters, if not most, will be unique to Natasha's world. This is her book, her universe, and while we'll see how she reacts to, relates with, fights beside Marvel heroes and villains we know, this is a book about her exploits, secrets, missions, duties, fears. We will see a good bit of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we come to understand Natasha's sideways relationship with the organization. Oh, and Isaac. We'll get to meet Isaac; because no expert spy-for-hire contract-killer hero of the old world is anything without a great attorney.
Phil Noto: In developing the initial pitch for the book, we came up with some great original villains and allies. It was like getting to create our own James Bond-type universe of characters. In addition to the new faces there will also be a lot of interaction with S.H.I.E.L.D. and some other Marvel characters because Natasha is learning to play well with others.
Marvel.com: Nathan, can you hint at some of the foes that Black Widow will face in the first arc?
Nathan Edmondson: The first few issues see Black Widow facing off against new, interesting and diabolical characters. We have weapons moguls, South American troops, expert martial art assassins and one bad ass, pissed off Russian with an Iron Fist. And then there's something bigger and more powerful and more sinister going on—but we'll get to that later.
Marvel.com: Given that she is a hero haunted by her past, do you two have plans to work some flashbacks into the series?
Nathan Edmondson: Not many at first, as we keep the book pumping full-steam-ahead from the get-go, but absolutely, we'll get glimpses of who she was, and what she did, and those who suffered at her hand.
Phil Noto: We'll get some glimpses for sure. With the various styles I'm using for the book, it'll be fun to create a unique look for her past.
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