Black Widow – for Marvel Fans and Professors alike

Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero: Essays on an Avenger with a Very Specific Skill Set 

by Sherry Ginn (editor)

I received an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review

Fascinating! Fun! And educational about the red-headed spy and superhero.

For fans, you will find out things you never knew or considered about Natasha Romanoff, particularly if you are like me and didn’t read comics before the late 70’s. Natasha is special among superheroines in that her skill set is both physical (she can outfight any man using wushu and gymnastics) and mental (she can seduce and/or interrogate anyone while making the victim believe they are in charge.)

The book was published prior to Captain American: Civil War and the May 6, 2016, Kevin Feige announcement that Black Widow will be starring in her own movie. So, the repeated theme of the utter unfairness of her not getting a movie even with fan support and creations may seem a little dated.

But the discussions of those creations through vidding make one of the best discussions of what makes speech and who is in charge of content that I’ve read. Vidding seems to bring out the best in future filmmakers and Widow fans, but many forget that her skill set isn’t just butt-kicking, she also uses the mental skills of seduction, infiltration, and interrogation

Many of the other chapters also deal with the rest of what would best be called the Whedon ‘Verse. For instance, a chapter discussing how widow uses linguistics to control a situation also focuses on Buffy Summers (the Vamper Slayer). Essays on the mind control Widow suffered in the Red Room, brings in the suffering and problems of River Tam of Firefly/Serenity. Even in her own book, Black Widow can’t be the only star!

It was interesting to see speech and linguistics expanded to not only the discussion between vidders and the studio or how Widow manages the people around her but to also include her costume and colors. As a red head, I was particularly fascinated that it means I have a bit of magic.

Chapters on her relationships are often contradictory. One chapter presents her as often no more than a side-kick or a girlfriend. Often her boyfriends in this chapter are abusive, including the Man With No Fear and no sight, Daredevil who both verbally denigrates her even though she is his equal, he often treats her like an object for others to appreciate (even though he can’t see her) and more than one slaps or hits her. A second chapter covering her relationship with Bruce Banner/Hulk presents it, and I believe correctly as a D/S relationship with Natasha being Dominant to whom Bruce willingly submits in order to control his other half. Her strong feminine side allows him to release the anger within him.

Alternating essays also discuss her sterilization – the Graduation Ceremony – at the Red Room. One puts forth that it takes away her feminity and reduces her to the typical woman wanting a baby. A second essay, the same essay that cover the D/S portion of the Widow/Hulk dynamic points out that in the discussion that reveals this topic was brought up by Banner who not only can’t have children, he can’t have sex and therefore the relationship that Natasha wants with him is mathematic impossible.

My absolutely favorite essay is Heather M. Porters “In Search of the Complete Female Character in The Marcel Cinematic Universe. She replaces the overused and misunderstood term “Strong female character” who is often seen as having masculine traits and is incomplete as she had few female traits or friends with the term CFC or Complete Female Character. A CFC is a well-rounded character, with a complete history, a complete future, talents that can come from both her masculine and her feminine side. In other, words, Black Widow and many of Joss Whedon’s other female heroines.

This book is for fans who just want to know more about one of the most interesting Avengers. It is also for intellectuals who are interested in linguistics, literature, film studies or even the meaning of fashion. In fact, I will be referring it to one of the most influential Professors of my college career to add to his linguistics and other studies as alternate reading.

As this is an ARC, I am going to assume the typos, the strange mix of capitalization and the smashing of words together will be fixed.

5 out of 5


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