Spies fight organizations by gathering intelligence and using that knowledge to determine their foes' strengths and weaknesses, but what happens when a spy is pitted against a sinister organization that's cloaked in seemingly impenetrable shadows? How do you destroy an organization that is so secretive that you can't discover who its agents are, where they're located, or even their ultimate goals?
These are the questions Natasha Romanov, the title character of Marvel Comics' "Black Widow" ongoing series by writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto, is currently wrestling with. Chaos, the shadowy and secretive organization she's pursuing on behalf of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. has been able to disrupt her world and attack her friends, and prior to "Black Widow" #13 Natasha was unable to gain any intel that would allow her to take the fight to them. Now that she finally has the advantage, CBR News spoke with Edmondson about how Natasha will employ her new intel on Chaos, the toll battling the organization has taken on her psyche, and what roles her confidants like Hawkeye and her lawyer Isaiah Ross will play in upcoming issues.
CBR News: Nathan, Natasha has been hunting the elusive and mysterious organization known as Chaos for several issues and the process has really unnerved her. Why is that? Is it sort of a fear of the unknown? Or something else?
Nathan Edmondson: Fear of the unknown is part of it, but mainly she's frustrated that there is this threat that's been antagonizing her organization, her friends, and her job security for sometime and no matter how hard she's tried she hasn't been able to get close to them.
Natasha thrives on accomplishment. Rather than internalize her problems and write some cathartic novel or join a convent, she sees the world's problems and solves those. Now she's come up against a wall.
In issue #13, Tori Raven gives Natasha the names of several people affiliated with Chaos she can visit. How does the Widow feel now that she has some verified targets in her battle against Chaos? Is she back to fighting a type of war that she excels at or is Natasha still sort of feeling unnerved and on the back foot?
Natasha has intel, but she hasn't seen what it's done for her yet, if it will do anything. Even with the best intel right now, though, Nat's still in rage mode, she's still burning with a kind of dark fire that's been smoldering since her past life as a villain...
Raven's information also included how Chaos works and the fact that they're primarily a financial organization. So what can you tell us about what inspired the creation of Chaos and what made you want to pit such an organization against the Black Widow? Or is it too early to talk about your inspiration for Chaos?
All of that will be revealed in issues to come, and I really don't want to ruin thesurprise! All that I can say is that Chaos has truly lived up to its name in Natasha's life -- but a group as powerful as they are must have far more specific goals in mind; they aren't just out to give some hard working gal a bad day, in other words, The revelation of Chaos will leave Natasha with a choice.
Let's move to some of Natasha's associates including Hawkeye, who made his third appearance in your "Black Widow" run in issue #13. What's it like writing Clint Barton in a book like this and what do you like most about the character in general?
The Fraction/Aja/Wu "Hawkeye" is a near-criminally fun character to toy around with, but my fear of my writing being compared to any on that book is part of what's kept us from doing too much with Clint in "Black Widow." We're happy to have him drop by as a guest on occasion.
Most interesting to me about Hawkeye is that beneath the veneer of nonchalance and goofiness is a guy who is really good at his job and really cares for those around him and that's what we see a sliver of in issue #13.
Hawkeye's scenes in issue #13 found him interacting with Natasha's lawyer Isaiah. How does Isaiah feel about Nat and her world heading into issue #14? It seems like he believes in her and what she does, but he's worried about what confronting Chaos head on will do to her. Is that a fair assumption?
Well, you said it right there; he believes in her, but he's worried -- except I don't think he's worried about what Chaos may do to her; he's worried about what she might do to them -- and anyone that gets in her way. Isaiah knows what Natasha is capable of, what she's really capable of. Beyond her tactical ability and spy prowess there's a beast and Isaiah is afraid it and Natasha will grow friendly once again.
The solicits for "Black Widow" #14-16 suggest Natasha's war with Chaos will heat up and we'll start to get even more answers about the group, its goals and its agents. Is that a fair description? How important are these issues in the long term story you and Phil Noto are telling?
That's pretty fair, yes. These are vitally important issues to our long-form story. Most questions we've been asking for a while shall be answered and my oh my just wait until you see what Phil Freaking Noto is doing on his end. Just some beautiful storytelling that makes the issues worth the cover price for that alone. Even more so than Chaos, though, we're going to learn a great deal about Natasha, which is risky business in this book.
Let's wrap up by talking about Phil's artwork. In the past we've discussed his brilliant pencils. So let's chat a little bit about his equally phenomenal work on colors. Do you give Phil any instructions when it comes to the color palette for the series or a particular issue? Or is the coloring work all him? And what's it like seeing Phil's work at the pencils stage and then colored?
Phil and I occasionally talk and say "what about this kind of approach" or "What visuals haven't we explored yet? How about some autumnal settings, fiery colors?" and once in a while we'll talk design on a character but for the most part, I offer a brief description and Phil counters with an explosion of color, movement, personality, excitement and mystery. I'm just along for the ride.
Phil sends his pencils and colors in single batches and that's such a fun ride. I get Christmas twice a month in that regard.
And the coloring work is really all Phil. We only occasionally consult and it's usually more in the planning stage. On rare occasions if the story needs a specific color element or palette I'll indicate but even then those are just suggestions, as if discussing empire building at Caesar's feet. Phil is the Caesar of comic coloring and art empire expanding or some such thing.
I'm so grateful to our readers for making this a hit book, but again, I'm just like, there, man, riding sidecar while Phil drives. Happy New Year, everyone!
"Black Widow" #14 is scheduled for release Jan. 21 from Marvel Comics.