It's been a globetrotting pulp thriller so far, and the Black Widow has taken Nick Crane along with her to figure out a mystery. It's taken them into some pretty nasty places and here they have been ambushed on a train by Crimson Dynamo and Fantasma. It's an action packed set up and Swierczynski makes sure there's plenty of explosions and action in this issue that concludes his three part introduction to the title.
It has been satisfying to see Black Widow use her brain to solve situations she finds herself in. She outsmarts her opponents instead of blasting them with infinite muscle. Swierczynski is writing her as a superspy and not superheroine, which suits her perfectly. It's also much more fun and grounded to read. This is let down as this ruse dissipates towards the end of this issue.
A shame, then, that the espionage plot Swierczynski began so well in the first issue is so thinly resolved here. Nick Crane, a man pushed to the edge by his father's death and willing to kill to get at the truth, is too easily led. It feels like he's lost all conviction and by the end you don't even care if he has found any resolution. He's become a mild shadow of the dominant character we first met. Even the reintroduction of Fatale, the opposite spy to the Black Widow, falls flat and holds little impact.
However, it's the final set piece that quickly implodes so as to mean little. Where life matters and there should be gravity to the situation, instead we are given an easy out and a convenient fix to everyone's woes. It isn't even slightly hinted at and so the payoff comes across as very weak.
Garcia's art is extremely sketchy and doesn't feel anywhere near as sexy as a title like this should. The big moments don't pop and it all feels like a mismatch to the content of this title. I also would have preferred to see a splash page of his very effective representation of Fantasma's abilities on the train rather than the generic building explosion we are served later on.
This story arc began so strongly but the end cannot match up to the premise sold to us on entry. Reveals are rushed and resolutions are forced and far too easy. There isn't a sense that our intrepid lead has set her mind to winning this situation. Instead, she ambles through a few convenient motions and easily walks away with far too much trust and only a sliver of a thread into the next tale. It's a shame that tale is the over-priced "Widowmaker" crossover with "Hawkeye & Mockingbird" because it might have had room to breathe in more issues of this title.