Black Widow and the Marvel Girls #1

Story by
Art by
Salva Espin
Colors by
Veronica Gandini
Letters by
Dave Sharpe
Cover by
Marvel Comics

There are some books that I don't entirely understand the purpose of. "Black Widow and the Marvel Girls" is essentially a "Black Widow Team-Up" mini-series, letting her meet different female characters in the Marvel stable of characters. But when you consider that this is showing up at the same time as a "Black Widow: Deadly Origin" mini-series is also shipping, it makes me wonder what the point of this really is.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that Black Widow will be in "Iron Man 2" next year and the more Black Widow comics available to meet interest when that hits, the better. But "Black Widow and the Marvel Girls" goes about it entirely the wrong way, in that it seems to be trying to make a cute comic about a ruthless assassin. Unless an attempt along those lines is a biting satire, it's a mixture that is almost automatically doomed for failure.

The more one thinks about the strange disconnect between script and art, the odder this book becomes. "Black Widow & the Marvel Girls" #1 has Black Widow killing all sorts of bad guys, paired up with scenes from her past where she's being beaten and electrocuted in the name of turning her into a trained killer. Even when she thinks she's found an ally, she gets beaten down again. Fun, huh? All the while, she cutely shoots down bad guys left and right. As for the team-up with the Enchantress, it's a nasty piece of business; I appreciate that Paul Tobin came up with it, but at the same time there's something that doesn't sit quite right in my mouth reading about a young Black Widow getting broken and tossed into a corner on every other page.

Salva Espin's art is a clean, crisp style that doesn't match up with Tobin's script in the slightest. It's cute, it's sweet, and it feels wildly inappropriate for this bloodbath. Picture an episode of "Muppet Babies" where Scooter and Fozzie get waterboarded and you begin to understand. The thing is? I like Espin's art, I think he's good. But this isn't the kind of comic that his art is suited for.

I'll admit I picked up this comic because the title made my head slightly explode. The Marvel Girls? Really? Glimpses of future issues make it seem like Black Widow and company will be adults there, so even the name of the comic leaves me cold. This seems like an idea that just didn't go where it was initially planned.

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