After reviewing Marvel’s Point One last week (find the review here), I’m sticking to Marvel comics this week. Here are my reviews of Avengers prequel Black Widow Strikes, and Scarlet Spider #1-6, which was introduced in Point One.
Black Widow Strikes
The Avengers has made Black Widow quite popular, so it comes as no surprise that Black Widow has recently received her own three issue story arc, titled Black Widow Strikes. The events in Black Widow Strikes take place between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, when Black Widow returns home to Moscow on an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. mission to retrieve stolen Stark technology.
While the story of Black Widow Strikes is definitely a good read, it doesn’t do much with Black Widow’s character beyond what the film had already established. That just isn’t enough for me. In my opinion, one of the biggest (and only) shortcomings of The Avengers was the way Black Widow was presented—it felt like she was there for her looks, and was hardly given any personality or backstory.
The same is true for Black Widow Strikes: too many shots of Black Widow in her underwear, and hardly any focus on her personality. In fact, the only thing Black Widow Strikes establishes is that she feels very sorry for herself.
Don’t get me wrong; Black Widow Strikes is still highly entertaining, especially for fans of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Coulson or those who want to see more of the organization behind The Avengers. The art is wonderful and the story is enjoyable. Just don’t expect to be wowed by Black Widow’s amazing personality.
Scarlet Spider, #1-6
“With great power comes great responsibility.” The Spider-Man films turned that line into a cliché. Marvel’s new comic series, Scarlet Spider, gives a twist to the infamous line: “All the power, none of the responsibility.” It’s the best way to describe Kaine Parker and his alter ego, Scarlet Spider.
Scarlet Spider’s recent backstory was told in the Spider Island event. He was a flawed clone of Peter Parker, created by one of his enemies to kill Spider-Man. Parker fixed him, however, and now he’s been given a second chance. True to his tagline, Scarlet Spider feels little of Spider-Man’s responsibility. Yet, the Peter Parker is strong in him and, despite his attempts at pretending not to care, he soon becomes Houston’s very first superhero. This struggle between seeking for personal gain and helping those in need forms the core of Scarlet Spider and is intriguing to witness.
An interesting series with beautiful artwork, Scarlet Spider more than lives up to the expectations created in Marvel’s Point One. This captivating story combines all the good things of Spider-Man—breathtaking action, likeable characters, humor, and creative villains—with an intriguing, no-nonsense, morally ambiguous main character. I’ll definitely continue buying these issues, and I can very much recommend Scarlet Spider to all fans of Spider-Man.