Mind Capsules – Black Widow #1 and Uncanny X-Men #4

Black Widow #1
Black Widow #1

Writer – Mark Waid
Artist – Chris Samnee
Colours – Matthew Wilson
Letters – VC’s Joe Caramagna

Unlike the first issue of Mark Waid’s All New, All Different Avengers, Black Widow does it right and starts things off with a bang. He and his long-time partner in crime, Chris Samnee who had a monumental run on Daredevil, team up once again to tell new tales featuring everyone’s favourite Soviet super-spy, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow. Using very minimal dialogue, the book is essentially one long chase sequence that finds our heroine on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D., now named an enemy and in possession of some sort of intelligence that Maria Hill does not want let loose in the world. It is utterly thrilling and Samnee shines maybe more so than he ever has before on these very electric pages. Waid and Samnee set a frantic pace with the story, one that breezes by extremely quickly and some might say too quick, yet for as fast as it goes, it is still packed with great characterization and is a perfect introductory issue to the character for those who are both new and long-time readers. Waid paints Natasha as a determined, resourceful and extremely strong woman who will stop at nothing to accomplish her mission. She may not have powers like many of her cohorts, but she is tougher than any two of them and proves it continually which is good to see that unchanged here. This first issue also begins on a mystery, one that immediately captures your attention and makes you wonder just what it is that the Black Widow has stolen and why Maria Hill continues to dabble in affairs that maybe she should best leave alone. As far as first issues go, this one had it all and everything worked – perhaps even better than any of the first issues that Marvel has released since the end of Secret Wars happened. Black Widow is definitely a book that everyone should be reading, especially now at the beginning of a new story-arc.

5 out of 5

Uncanny X-Men #4
Uncanny X-Men #4

Writer – Cullen Bunn
Artist – Greg Land
Inker – Jay Leisten
Colours – Nolan Woodward
Letters – VC’s Joe Caramagna

Slowly but surely, Cullen Bunn has been introducing the mystery of the Someday Corporation alongside the threat of the Dark Riders who are hunting down all mutant healers, to which there are only a few left. To that effect, the X-Men are now going on the offensive with Psylocke and her team heading to Egypt to put a stop to them. Of course, as it has been the case up until this point, the X-Men are just a step behind and have walked straight into a trap. While the team is off doing their thing, Magneto has remained behind in Genosha to protect Triage, if he is able that is. While most books would consider two plotlines enough, Bunn additionally weaves in Xorn who fends off an attack from the Dark Riders and another plot which ties into the Uncanny X-Men’s first issue featuring Fantomex and Mystique. The latter plot finds our two heroes/anti-heroes investigating the previously mentioned Someday Corporation and their supposed business of saving mutants through cryogenics. While the title started off a little slowly, it has found its footing by packing the book full of action, some good characterization and a mystery that compels a little more with each issue, especially now that Fantomex and Mystique of all people are involved. You have to wonder if Bunn has it in mind for the two to join the team or if they will come into conflict with them. Whatever the case might be, the book is stronger for them.  Greg Land continues to provide some solid pencils and if there is one thing you can say about the man is that he has only gotten better with time. With a very interesting mix of characters including the mindless, yet you-know-something-is-going-to-happen-with-him Archangel, the book could literally go in any direction and Bunn makes you want to return to find out.

3.5 out of 5

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