To Russia with Guns: The Black Widow Strikes

By Chris Arrant

Beginning Friday, May 4, moviegoers worldwide will get to see the first ever big screen team-up between the House of Ideas’ top heroes in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” 

Although fans have already seen each of them in five movies that led up to this, the Black Widow remains the most enigmatic of the Avengers, and Marvel is out to change that.

 

This summer, Marvel is releasing a three-issue limited series titled MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS: BLACK WIDOW STRIKES, where the red-headed Russian goes to her homeland to stop an international crisis. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity of movies, this espionage thriller promises to give readers their first full view of how lethal Black Widow can be.

 

Marvel’s The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes #1 Cover Art (Not Final)

“This story takes place between ‘Iron Man 2‘ and ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’” writer Fred Van Lente tells Marvel.com.

 

“Black Widow is running down some loose ends from ‘Iron Man 2,’ namely some bootleg Stark technology that Justin Hammer made. It’s her and Agent Coulson going into Russia, but you’ll also probably see Nick Fury and the other heroes as necessary.”

 

However, Natasha’s return to her homeland turns personal, and deadly.

 

“For this series, I’ve given Black Widow a kind of fan/stalker–a freelance espionage operator who has modeled herself on Black Widow,” explains Van Lente. “She’s attempting to usurp the Black Widow title from Natasha, so these two are in competition with one another.”

 

Set in her native Russia, MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS: BLACK WIDOW STRIKES continues the connection by appearing on magazine shelves inside Maxim Russia first. Soon after it will appear as a traditional three-issue comic series beginning in May.

 

“It’s kind of a first to debut a comic in Maxim Russia, and that’s a large part of why I’m excited to be involved in this,” said Van Lente.

 

As the sole female of the Avengers, and one of two without super powers, Black Widow might stand out to some who don’t know her comic past, but Van Lente promises that this comic and the upcoming movie will show how vital she really is to the team.

 

“I took my inspiration for this series from Joss Whedon’s script for ‘Marvel’s the Avengers,’ which I was lucky enough to read,” reveals Van Lente. “He does a good job making her inclusion on the team perfectly believable.”

 

Although this story is told in comics, the storyline and the characters are set square in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Van Lente says that has an effect not only on the story, but also the style and scope of the action.

 

“This is on the same scale as the Marvel movies. We’re working closely with Marvel Studios to have it integrate seamlessly with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Once this is over, they’re welcome to use any of my ideas here for a movie,” Van Lente says with a chuckle. “It was fun to talk to the studio and see what they have in mind for Black Widow, but who knows where she’ll be after ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’; maybe she doesn’t even make it out at the end?”

 

This isn’t the first time Van Lente has written comics that exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Last year, he wrote CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST VENGEANCE, which served as the prequel to “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

When asked about creating comics in this vibrant cinematic world, he was excited about the potential readership.

 

“Its fun, and I think, more importantly, it works to get people who aren’t necessarily comic fans to read comics, and hopefully good comics,” Van Lente points out. “These are here to make a direct connection from the Marvel movies and the medium that inspired them, so in a way we’re proselytizing for the comics medium.”

 

As someone with experience writing these comics connected with the movies, he knows first-hand the new readers these comics can usher in.

 

“I did a signing at Acme Comics in Greensboro, North Carolina when CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST VENGEANCE came out, and a lot of people [there] didn’t know comics but had seen the movie,” the writer explains.

“We had that great Paolo Rivera cover showing Chris Evans as Captain America that really wowed people. It’s always a good feeling when you hook new people into comics, and comics like these are the perfect avenue for that.”