Monday, May 03, 2010

Funny how that works

I'm finding the resurgence of the Black Widow in recent Marvel comics (predating her introduction now in Iron Man 2) to be rather interesting. After all, she's been around almost five decades now, and she's never really had an established niche. Heck, it wasn't even that long ago they were trying to phase her out for that blond Black Widow that Rucka came up with (that was Greg Rucka, right)? And yes, while "Hot redhead in a black leather catsuit" should be an easy sell to fanboys, she's only recently started to build a place for herself in the Marvel Universe, and I think there's a few things about that.

First, her character arc probably has greater relevance now than any time in her history since the Cold War. We live in a era of constantly nebulous and shifting allegiances, and a time where espionage and the moral grey areas of international policy are being highlighted more and more in the public arena. Natasha, who as a character, is defined by her own shifting allegiances and her difficulties in gaining and accepting trust, strike a natural chord that probably hasn't been present in a while.

Then there is the fact that unlike a lot of modern superhero tales, hers are relatively easy to depict. There aren't a lot of calls for exotic powers, technology or mysticism attached to the types of stories she'd appear in (barring her work with the Avengers), so it's relatively easy for most artists to give her simple but dynamic and catching action sequences simply using references from existing spy-action tropes. It also helps that even a new reader can come in and understand the action plainly enough.

Finally, there is the fact that with her establishment within the Marvel Universe as a member of the Avengers, and working with SHIELD/Nick Fury, she's got an easy go-to-excuse to fit into any story. Need to have Natasha in Ghost Rider? She's investigating what happened to her old Champions teammate. Punisher? Checking up on him for Nick Fury. Nova? On a mission with the Avengers. Very simple explanations that easily get her into the story and doesn't drag down the action.

Of course, the catsuit probably doesn't hurt.

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