Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed:
Characters Appearing: Black Widow, Ivan Petrovitch, J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man
Amazing Adventures #2-4 (Black Widow)
Issue(s): Amazing Adventures #2, Amazing Adventures #3, Amazing Adventures #4 (Black Widow stories only)
It's confirmed that the Black Widow blew her secret identity last issue when the boy that she helped (who is the son of her housekeeper) shows up asking for additional help.
He's a member of the "Young Warriors", a group of activists who intend to take over a building in Spanish Harlem to convert it into a center for underprivileged children. The Widow is initially not willing to commit to so radical an action, but the Warriors go ahead with the takeover anyway, kicking out Anthony Scarola, the corrupt politician who lives in the building.
The Widow shows up in time to defend the kids from a group of toughs sent by Scarola to force the kids out (this is a dumb contrivance; the toughs say "The boss thought about goin' to court to get ridd'a you creeps" but apparently decided goons armed with guns was the better move. I don't care how corrupt Scarola was, that just doesn't make any sense except as way to make the Black Widow useful to the story).
The Widow's actions are depicted in the media as "Black Widow Aligns With Militants". J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker are briefly seen, with JJ happy to malign a super-hero.
The Widow's history as a former Communist is used against her, which i thought was a great touch.
The Widow does get the support of Paul Hamilton, a columnist for the New York Press. And she's ultimately able to negotiate a peaceful resolution to a stand-off between the Young Warriors and the mayor before the riot squad is sent in.
In the meantime there are plenty of action opportunities with the Scarola's goons.
It's the early 70s and this is the first ongoing series with a female lead (i should throw a bunch of qualifiers on that, since obviously earlier at Marvel there was Venus and Namora, and we're not counting books like Millie the Model, but you get the point), so you can kind of forgive the in-your-face moments where the bad guy dismisses the Widow because she's a woman, only to get his come-uppance...
...and other, similar, comments.
But i really liked this scene, from the Mimi Gold issue...
...where at least one of the bad guys doesn't underestimate the Widow. Don't worry; he still gets a Widow's Bite to the gut.
You'll notice in one of the scans above the Widow is fighting a guy wearing a mask. He turns out to be Anthony Scarola, something that the Widow never learns. She even has the opportunity to unmask him at one point but chooses not to (which was a bit odd). I think we're initially supposed to think he might be Paul Hamilton although they are very different body types (at least when Scarola isn't wearing the mask); it's not helped by the art switch between Buscema and Colan. Regardless, Scarola never appears again.
The Widow's companion Ivan appears in these stories but he continues to be just a chauffeur.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Keeping these roughly with the Inhumans stories from the same issues although there's no story connection. Spider-Man's appearance is context free (i should note that i'm breaking with the Index/MCP on the placement for him and JJ just due to the way my issues fall out).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Black Widow: The Sting of the Widow TPB
It's sometimes complained that superheroes never intervene to solve problems like poverty and racism and this issue is a good example WHY they never intervene. The writers have to resort to ridiculous contrivances to make the heroes useful- otherwise they're just standing around while people go to court.
Posted by: Michael | March 1, 2013 7:36 PM
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