Characters Appearing: Black Widow
Bizarre Adventures #25 (Black Widow)
Issue(s): Bizarre Adventures #25 (Black Widow story only)
But he's attacked and killed by some soldiers (who call him a "lime-suckin' skunk"), so i guess someone was taking him seriously.
Anyway, this is a Black Widow adventure drawn by Paul Gulacy.
She's sent by SHIELD to follow up on information sent by the lime-sucker (a British MI-6 operative named Prescott) before he was killed by the soldiers, who the Widow is told are Soviets that are arming South Africans revolutionaries (although from what we saw, they clearly didn't sound like Soviets). The leader of the Soviets is Irma Klausvichnova, who was one of the Widow's instructors before she defected.
But things continue to look odd to the reader when we see that Klausvichnova had already been killed by Prescott and was replaced by a SHIELD lookalike.
Black Widow's mission gets increasingly suspicious as it continues. We see that she's being observed, and her contact, Raymond Bishop, doesn't meet her at the agreed rendezvous point, instead confronting her later and questioning her loyalties, especially after she refers to the Soviets' actions as providing arms for "wars of liberation".
The train that the Widow and Bishop are on is attacked by British soldiers (another oddity), and they are separated. The Widow fights her way to where "Klausvichnova" is. The British soldiers are quite rude.
The Widow makes it to the fake Klausvichnova (really Stacy Cromwell), who thinks that the fact that the Widow is trying to kill her proves that the Widow is still a Soviet agent, but then Cromwell is killed by Bishop, who has defected to the Soviets. And then Bishop is killed by a guy named
It turns out the whole operation was to see if Bishop really did switch sides. It's said that SHIELD didn't really care about the Soviet's arms supply operation.
The point of the story is to highlight the precarious nature of the spy game. Everyone's expendable, no one is told the truth, and you don't know who to trust.
It's a more twisty story than i'd expect from Ralph Macchio. It's not really a great showing for the Black Widow, who is nothing more than a pawn in this story. And since this isn't part of an ongoing series for her, she won't get a chance to come to grips with the downside of the spy game (at least not in the direct context of this story). Gulacy's art is decent, but, except for a few key panels, surprisingly staid. If anything i would have expected the opposite, given that this is in a black & white comic targeting an older audience and since Macchio's plot could have allowed for a experimental art.
The other interesting thing is that there is no direct commentary on South African apartheid. There is the line about "wars of liberation", and there's one African soldier who says he's only in it for the money (and this is the full extent from which we hear from any Africans)...
...and the defector, Bishop, is also said to just be a mercenary that sells out to the highest bidder. Maybe something could be made of the fact that SHIELD wasn't directly interested in the Soviets' arms supply operation. But you'd think that in a story set in apartheid South Africa, someone would have an explicit opinion on the topic.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'll note that the MCP places this earlier, in between the Black Widow's appearances in Daredevil #161 & 164, but i don't see any reason why it can't go at publication date.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I wonder if Irma Kruhl from Tales of Suspense #97 -- "the most deadly female spy ever to reach these shores" -- could be Irma Klausvichnova using a sort of code name.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | August 2, 2016 8:04 PM
I love Gulacy's art, but he puts in way too many movie stars into his books. The first time was fine, but the joke wears off quickly.
Posted by: Chris | August 2, 2016 9:53 PM
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