by Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matt Wilson, and Joe Caramagna; Marvel Comics
Black Widow #1 was one of the most satisfying single issues of comics I've ever read. It made tremendous use of mystery and silent-running comics to drive an engrossing, amazing action sequence that perfectly establishes the stakes and tone of the series. Black Widow #2 has the unenviable job of providing the context and underlying details to make the series work. Fortunately, Team Widow is up to the task and created a compelling comic filled with atmosphere, style, and fantastic storytelling. One page of which I want to take a closer look at, because it pulls off a really cool trick.
There will be *SPOILERS* for Black Widow #2
One of the aspects of comics storytelling that I find really interesting is the interplay between artwork and the readers path through a page. And this page is a fantastic example of why I find this stuff so compelling. The story here is that Black Widow is quietly dispatching a group of soldier/assassins set to attack a secret SHIELD funeral. The reader enters the page in the top panel, reads some dialogue, and then carriage returns across the page to meet the silhouette of a running Black Widow in the second panel. This primes an action where Widow tackles the goon in the foreground of the second panel, through the third panel, and leaving him sprawled in the fourth. This action feels heavy and significant as it carries through multiple panels. It also feels quick and fluid since the motion carries along a tangent line created by an underlying triangle formed by the standing-goon, motion blur, and sprawled goon. This provides a clear reading path for the reader and increases the speed of the reader. This triangle/reading path also deposits the reader in the bottom right corner of the fourth panel, which means the reader looks back at the next-goon and sees Black Widow swinging around his neck. This means the reader moves along the path of Widow jumping onto next-goon in a quick, kinetic way. The position of Widow on next-goon also provides a shape that pulls the reader up and around the pair and then down along the cross page carriage return to the final panel where Widow has broken next-goons neck. When you put this entire sequence together the reader follows Widow's motion as she carries out the entire takedown: jumping onto the goon, swinging around him, and then throwing him down to a violent neck-snapping crash. This is the reading path that is established and provides the reader with an evocative sequence that animates the static artwork into a kinetic experience. And given the sheer complexity of the motion this effortless seeming reading path is a remarkable and bonkers bit of comics magic.
Black Widow continues to be a really, really great comic.
Black Widow #1