Archive for 01/21/2011

Marvel’s Widow Maker

I was really looking forward to this a few months ago, and while I’m not entirely let down, I’m not blown away either.  Here’s what’s up.

Marvel created two new titles last year in Black Widow and Hawkeye & Mockingbird, hailed as “ongoings.”  Frankly, I thought both were great, enjoyable reads.  But then Marvel did what they always do, which is to say “Omg, these books aren’t selling to our absurd standards … WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO MESS WITH THEM!”  So Black Widow got a new writer in Duane Swierczynski after merely one story arc, which was a big mistake, as Swierczynski’s script was nowhere near the level of his predecessor’s, Marjorie Liu.  Nor, for that matter, is Manuel Garcia’s art any better than Daniel Acuna’s, who I thought was a perfect fit for the tone of the book.  Hawkeye & Mockingbird, on the other hand,  simply goes on “hiatus” … after this genius crossover concludes, that is.

Yes, here we have Hawkeye & Mockingbird meeting up with Black Widow, and the creative teams on each book are taking turns writing and illustrating each issue.  And therein lies my problem.  While the story as a whole isn’t bad, I have to say outright that the issues seem to go up and down.  Issue one, done by Hawk & Mock’s creative team of Jim McCann and David Lopez was stellar enough as far as setting up the book.  Issue two sunk a little under Swierczynski’s pen, and the artwork was incredibly hard to follow.  Last week’s issue three picked things back up, although I worry about the conclusion.

If you read the solicitation for this story and/or seen the preview images, you should know you’ve been misled.  This book is almost not at all about what they said it would be about.  I mean, take a look at this:

Widow Maker Solicit

What’s going on here?  Mockingbird and Black Widow fighting?  Surely it must be a cat fight over Clint.  Shock!  Well, no—not even close.  In fact, Bobbi and Natasha have gotten along uninterestingly well so far.  There is absolutely no drama in this department—which is fine by me.  There’s a general misconception that you can’t put two women in the same room who have dated the same man without the claws coming out, so it was refreshing to see that NOT happen here.  There’s a reason these two ladies are strong characters, and it has nothing to do with the men in their lives.  But I digress.

The main point of the story is that there is a new character running around using the “Ronin” name and costume, and causing all sorts of problems.  Bent on setting off a war utilizing both Japanese and Russian forces, it’s up to Clint, Bobbi, Natasha, and Dominic Fortune (still the most entertaining piece of this) to set things straight.  That’s the basic gist.  Is it the most inspired piece of work out there right now?  Not really, but it does have things to offer that some other books don’t.  It’s fun, the character dynamics are pretty interesting, and overall it’s just kind of a nice read—but it probably would have been even nicer if Jim McCann was just left to do the work himself.  You should see the stuff that guy’s putting together over at Archaia.

Ultimately, Marvel shoots themselves in the foot yet again, tampering with two recipes that were working just fine for the readers.  I’ll stick through this crossover, because I’m curious as to what happens to the Clint and Bobbi team once it ends.  I’m kind of nostalgic about those two.  I’ll be sad to see Hawk & Mock go; sad that I have to read a subpar Black Widow when it was once so great with Liu behind the helm; and sad that when Marvel comes back in a few months to hype up a different “ongoing,” I’ll probably still fall for the bait.

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