Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Right to a Life
Written by: Richard K. Morgan
Art by: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colored by: Dan Brown
Lettered by: Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jennifer Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics/ Marvel Knights
You know how it is when you see someone for the first time in a while and it is at that moment, for the first time, you realized how much you missed them? That’s how I felt when I looked over Sienkiewicz’s art this issue. Man, did I miss it.
His angular, scratchy, and often kinetic style is a perfect match for the dirty, back stabbing world of espionage that Black Widow has been drifting back towards in the past few years. That, of course, can be said of many artists. However, what always impresses about Sienkiewicz is that despite his decidedly atypical approach, he never fails to convey the humanity of the characters. Facial expressions convey the emotions that are discussed and betray those bubbling below the surface. Here his effort, perhaps a bit cleaner than I have seen his work in awhile (although those have been predominantly inking gigs), does not fail to impress. I can nearly recommend the book on the strength of his art alone, and I never, ever say that.
The writing, while not as noteworthy as the art, is strong. As mentioned above, previous miniseries have been featuring a Natasha that is far more spy than superhero and this effort is no exception. Between those minis and her recent Daredevil appearances, it appears that that has become the accepted portrayal of Natasha in the current Marvel Universe. It is a move I applaud as the MU is (obviously) filled with superheroes and this casts Natasha in a role that allows her to traverse that world, when the story calls for it, without becoming a generic super heroine.
As with her return to her spy roots, Natasha has become quite a bit more brutal. Nothing conveys this better than a fight at a truck stop in which she “keeps her word,” and changes the entire lifestyle of an unconscious man with a simple press of her nails. It is effectively chilling and brings home that this is not Black Widow, Daredevil’s partner or Black Widow, Avengers’ teammate and leader, as she was in the ’70s and ’90s respectively.
The criticism I would offer lies in the story; it is fairly conventional. Essentially, former (and so far, female) KGB agents are being offed around the world, despite having carved out entirely new lives for themselves. The attempt on Natasha has failed and it has sent her running with only an alcoholic, former SHIELD agent as an ally and nearly no resources. Meanwhile, the motivation of the puppet masters’ behind the whole thing remains a mystery. It is a oft-traveled path of spy novels and movies and while it is well told so far, it has yet to strike a unique cord.
Still, that is some beautiful art to look at and Natasha is just stone cold dangerous.