Worlds Black is the new red Nathan Edmondson
As the Black Widow steals the spotlight in a new series, Nathan Edmondson talks about her murky past and why sometimes even the Avengers need the softly, softly approach
born augusta, georgia high olympus now black widow more www.nathan-e.com
Natalia “Natasha” Romanova first sashayed into the Marvel Universe in the pages of Tales Of Suspense #52 in 1964. In her debut, Natasha took the form of a glamorous Soviet spy, codenamed Black Widow, who was sent to the United States by her KGB masters to seduce Tony Stark and gain access to his industrial secrets.
After teaming up with Hawkeye (then a villain himself) and the Crimson Dynamo during several run-ins with Iron Man, Natasha turned against her Soviet overlords, abandoned Mother Russia and joined the stars and stripes team. She became an Avenger, went on to lead the short-lived superteam The Champions, and in the process became one of Marvel’s most enduring superheroines.
As she approaches her 50th anniversary, the catsuit-clad secret agent has never enjoyed a higher profile both in comics and in the movies, where Scarlett Johansson brought her to life in Iron Man 2 and the box office record-breaking smash The Avengers. Now she takes centre stage in her new solo series by artist Phil Noto and writer Nathan Edmondson, who checks in to reveal his plans for the deadly Widow. Comic Heroes: When a character has as much history (and as complicated a history) as Natasha, is that baggage weighing her down or does it give you a lot to work with?
“What’s great about Natasha is her past is, on the one hand, known to everyone but on the other fairly murky and not well defined. That’s our advantage as storytellers; we now know her intimately and we will slowly introduce her to those who don’t, and tantalise those who do with very new slices of her past and present.”
How much have the Iron Man and The Avengers movies driven a resurgence of interest in Natasha? NE: “So far, a significant amount and I think Black Widow’s fame will take another giant leap this year between the comic and the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film, in which she will play a major role. Joss Whedon has also discussed how she will be a main player in next year’s The Avengers 2 so her star, I believe, is going to keep rising for quite some time.” CH: What tone are you going for with the series? Spy thriller? Superhero adventure? Grim and gritty?
“I think Phil and I have struck a very fun balance. Our approach to Black Widow has all the bombast of a badass superhero comic with the tooth and nail of Natasha’s villainous past and ruthless methods and capabilities. She’s uncompromising, and sometimes the pages are too. And ultimately it is a spy thriller; Natasha is the espionage arm of the Avengers and she is a mercenary spy-assassin herself. She is the quiet and precise approach to the world’s big bad problems, even if ‘quiet’ involves some big explosions. She’s thoughtful and she doesn’t move without the right information, which she often gathers herself; thus she is a spy first and foremost.” CH: Natasha is tough but she’s not superpowered. Speaking creatively, is that a plus or a drawback?
“Personally it is a major plus to be working on this book where we challenge a ‘regular’ person with incredible odds. I enjoy taking a real-world character and seeing how high I can make them jump. We’re constantly pushing
Natasha’s limits and testing her against various villains and sticky situations. In the Marvel Universe, Natasha’s humanness is, in fact, a plus. There are situations where Captain America, Iron Man or Thor can’t break their way through and crush an enemy, when more finesse and spy work is required. There are countries that SHIELD can’t infiltrate, but she, a onewoman army, can. Mostly, though, our Black Widow series focuses on Natasha when she isn’t standing with any team or agency. We will witness her home life, her solo missions, her ongoing and laborious journey of atonement.” CH: Have you had to do much research into Russia and the history of the Soviet Union?
“I certainly came to this book with a working knowledge, especially Cold War-period history. In addition to being a fairly well-read student of history, my previous spy work filled my shelves with books on the area and I’ll explore more as necessary. There are some nods to Russian legends and the KGB, and perhaps a villain or two born in the glory of St Petersburg or the rubble of Leningrad.” CH: Can you give us any hints about who and what Natasha is up against in the opening plot line? NE: “Warlords, vicious criminals, deadly assassins, one pissed off religious nut and a paranoid supervillain.” CH: What about a Rogue’s Gallery? NE: “We will pull this curtain back slowly, in some subtle and some overt ways. Ultimately, this is Natasha’s book but her journey will inevitably lead her across the paths of others.”
Any love interests on the horizon? Or old flames?
“On the horizon, yes. We don’t jump into any soap operas right away. Natasha’s a busy girl; love isn’t a priority with deadly ninja assassins at her throat. We want to make it clear that part of her atonement for her past is a present loneliness – very much like a single parent may put dating on the backburner, she has a higher priority that drives her. Loneliness can creep up though and we all, once in a while, need someone to hold on to. Who Natasha lets in close in those colder moments is a very difficult question. Who can she trust, really?” CH: In her earliest appearances, Natasha was a femme fatale. Over the years, she has grown to become stronger, more dynamic and to lead other heroes into battle. How do you want to see her character grow going forward?
“I see her drawing from the strengths of both while ultimately climbing toward a superheroic status where she fundamentally changes the state of global warfare; this, though, will come only through monumentally difficult struggles and a long, lonely, dedicated journey.”