Friday, October 14, 2016

Nobody Bats A Thousand

I've stopped picking up Black Widow. The skill of the people involved was obvious, but it didn't interest me. The Black Widow is a character I can sometimes appreciate, but isn't one I seem to have any innate affection for. I picked up the Marjorie Liu-written Black Widow series from several years ago in a back issue search, and it was much the same: Well-done, but nothing I regretted not buying when it came out.

Of course, you could say the same for my feelings on several characters, including Daredevil, but I loved Waid and Samnee's (plus plenty of other talented artists and colorists) work with old Hornhead. The difference is, there it felt like they were going against the routine. All those years of Murdock's life being an unending string of misery and woe, and they opted to instead have him fight against that. Which didn't always work, but he made the effort. Let his friends in, leaned on them when he needed to, kept smiling in the face of hardship, refusing as much as possible to let it drag him down. I've already read a run where Matt was shattered and flew from the wreckage he made with his tail between his legs - it was Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.'s run on the title. Didn't really need to see it again, because I wasn't likely to enjoy a sequel more.

And Waid/Samnee mostly avoided falling into the same old "fights ninjas/the Hand" deal most writers since Frank Miller seem compelled to do (Nocenti being one exception). Ikari is close, but unique enough to be interesting. Instead he's fighting bizarre echoes of Klaw, or the Spot. Teaming up with the Silver Surfer, or going after the Book of the Darkhold with Satanna and Werewolf by Night. Even when he does go to the well of Kingpin or Bullseye, he uses Fisk as someone Murdock turns to out of desperation as a savior, and Bullseye as someone trying to use his gift for hitting any target to strike at Daredevil from the shadows. It's at least somewhat an inversion of the norm (although Fisk and DD have had this co-dependent do-si-do going on for years).

Black Widow felt pretty much like every Black Widow story I can remember reading. Natasha's past comes back to haunt her in some way. It's always the Red Room striking at her, or another of their products trying to exceed her, or some awful misdeed coming home to roost. Doesn't make it a bad approach to take, but it isn't one that's struck a chord with me yet, despite a number of writers and artists trying.

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