Marvel has been trying to put out a successful “Black Widow” ongoing series for years now. I’ve been immune to their efforts because, prior to this, they had yet to give this series to creators I liked. So when it was announced that the “Daredevil” team of writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee were going to chronicle this latest round of Natasha Romanov’s solo adventures, there was no question that I was going to pick it up. As expected, I was onboard with their approach from the very first page which has the title character running through a S.H.I.E.L.D. office while being declared an enemy of the organization. Things only get more intense as her one-woman escape effort succeeds and we find out exactly why she’s now wanted by one of the most powerful organizations in the Marvel Universe. Natasha is being blackmailed by a crime boss known as the Weeping Lion who wants her to find out some information on a new Russian program designed to create more assassins just like her.
For most of its length, “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Most Wanted” is a propulsive action story that takes the Black Widow on a worldwide tour of treachery and betrayal. Samnee, in particular, turns in some utterly thrilling work with the action scenes in this volume. Whether she’s escaping from an in-flight S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier or silently taking out assassins stalking a secret graveyard, seeing Natasha at work is tense and exciting. As good as the action is, even I’ll admit that I had my fill by the end of the volume. Much as I like getting six issues in a collection, Waid and Samnee probably could’ve trimmed this story down to five and not lost all that much. The main story in the volume is also a little light with the Weeping Lion himself coming off as a fairly generic villain even with the final-act twist. While the flashbacks to Natasha’s childhood training are interesting, it’s centered around plot points that will undoubtedly come back into play in a subsequent volume. Which I’ll be picking up. Even with these issues, Waid and Samnee have delivered a “Black Widow” ongoing that I’m actually interested in following.