Natasha Romanoff- aka The Black Widow- is dead. Isn't she? That's the question in this five issue compilation of Tales of Suspense featuring a team-up of Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier). Both of these guys are former lovers of Nat, and they're not super fond of each other (mostly for that very reason) so the sparks fly a little bit as they investigate a bunch of murders- crimes that look suspiciously like the work of a supposedly dead Black Widow.
This was a pretty awesome graphic novel. Why didn't somebody team these two up before? Well I guess technically someone did but here they are hilarious. I highly recommend this for the banter alone but the story also takes a darker turn towards the end. Actually it's pretty dark all the way through- not overly so, but someone is taking out spies and secret agents around the world. Could it be Nat? And if so, why?
I don't pretend to know what's going on at Marvel these days- apparently the Black Widow was killed by a Captain America gone rogue, or something- it doesn't really matter, I just ignored all that. Sounds sketchy. But this shines on its own because of the self- contained story it provides, and also because Clint and Bucky searching for Nat is gold. Clint thinks she's still alive, Bucky thinks she's dead but someone is making it seem like she's around- and it all leads back to the Red Room and Nat's beginnings as a secret agent.
Seriously Marvel needs to take a hint from this series and apply the storytelling techniques here to more of their books. Plus it helps that the author had an idea they really felt, as he makes clear in the afterword. Hawkeye has had something of a renaissance at Marvel lately, with his more hipster-ish personality and trademark humor, and it works. The banter was my favorite part of this story, to be honest- yes the plot is compelling enough but secret spy plots are common enough. This graphic novel collection is a short, fun read and I couldn't wait to find out- if Nat is the killer, is she still the same woman they knew?