Black Widow can’t save them all. The Avengers never stood a chance at that. But some must be saved. The ones who will live on and build a better future for humanity… in exchange for its past. It’s the last thing Natasha will ever do on this Earth. And she’s going to make it something good.
Years earlier, in the Red Room, Natalia Romanova was given her very first mission. Her case officer, Mr. Yulov presented her with pictures of the Comienza family. They live in Cuba, and may have important information for Moscow. The family is not friendly towards Castro, and are bound to flee from the Communist Party soon. The Soviets wish to retrieve the family before the Americans can.
Natalia will not be completing this mission alone. Her classmate Marina is already there undercover and has begun cultivating connections within Cuba. Agent Romnanova accepts the mission and leaves. Her superior is worried about her young age, but her handler is certain that this woman is a killer. She will not disappoint them.
At Cuba, Natalia is greeted by Marina cheerfully, but Romanova is quick to remind her that they are undercover as business associates, not friends. Marina knows, but couldn’t help herself. She missed her old friend. They catch up with one another, and Natalia learns that Marina has a boyfriend as part of her cover.
Later, they meet the Comienza family, introducing Natalia as a businesswoman and establishing her as a friendly and helpful contact. The two spies can tell the couple is scared, and has probably been talking to the Americans. Marina has been unable to catch them, so Natalia feels like she should give the family a little push.
Understanding that a subtle approach would work best, she makes them think they are being watched by planting an American flag on their doorstep. Not long after this, Natalia meets with her case officer on a beach. A black widow nearly lands on her shoulder, but Yulov arrives and throws it away. He remarks how Cuba once experimented on black widow spiders decades ago, but for what purpose he hasn’t the slightest idea. He affirms her decision to spook the Comienzas was a good idea, then asks about Marina. Natalia remarks that she has embraced her cover, but is still sharp, and ready for the next step. Yulov says they need to move up the time line, as they need to move quickly before Castro becomes aware of the Comienzas.
Natalia then goes to the market, where she meets Marina’s boyfriend Luis. They bump into the Comienzas, and though the two spies approach them amicably, they can tell the couple is scared and probably desperate. But Natalia can tell they aren’t nearly frightened enough to turn to two mysterious businesswomen for help.
That night, the Comienzas agree to set up a meeting with the Americans. They signal Western spies, but when they arrive, the Americans are killed in an explosion. Yulov commends Natalia on her work. It may be overly bold and severe, but it is effective. The Comienzas will have no where else to turn but to Marina and Romanova, and the Red Room values results above all else. But there is some concern about Marina. They fear she wears the costume too eagerly… and when this operation is finished… she will need to be removed.
In the present day, the world is one fire. Black Widow picks up some of those who are to be saved.
Back then, the Comienzas finally come to the spies for help. Romanova says she can save the family, but if they don’t have money, they will need something else to prove to Russia that the family is worth the trouble of rescuing. They reluctantly admit they do know some things – information that could be dangerous from Cuba, and the couple agrees to share their knowledge in exchange for save passage out of Cuba. Natalia tells them to write down what kind of information they know, and agrees to help the family.
Later, Yulov confirms it is as the Red Room feared. He reveals that they are actually doing a favour for Castro, who has long suspected that the Comienzas are traitors to the Communist Party. Moscow doesn’t care about the information. They just wanted to know what the Americans were after. Now that they have what they want, they can kill the Comienzas. Publicly, as a statement to those who would turn traitor. When Natalia asks if she should kill the child as well, Yulov is horrified. Castro doesn’t want to be seen as a monster. And as for Marina, well, Romanova has her orders, and the other spy is not to participate in the assassination.
Marina and Natalia then take a bike ride, and Marina expresses doubts concerning her future as a spy. She meets with Luis and says that her boyfriend will be catching fish for them to enjoy tomorrow, and that Natalia won’t want to miss it. Marina then gives the family the details concerning their escape to Cuba, telling them that they must leave tomorrow.
With the meeting in place, Marina offers Natalia a drink, but her friend refuses. She is unsurprised at this, saying that brave Nat never gets nervous. But Romanova says she does. She most certainly does. They hug one another, and agree to meet up tomorrow.
The next day, as the Comienzas are fleeing, Natalia is in place, hidden within a building overlooking a plaza. With two easy shots, the couple is killed, and a boy is orphaned. From a building above, an American flag drops on the corpses.
Save those you can. Do good. Even if it seems impossible. Even if it’s a fool’s mission. It’s something that we choose to do. Because we’re heroes.
Hello and welcome to Comic Island! My name is Arden, and this is the Complete Story of the Last Days of Black Widow.
So Joey and I have done a pretty good job covering some of the Secret Wars tie-ins. We can’t do everything, but I think we found a good balance of different stories featuring some of the Battleworld titles, that take place over multiple domains, as well as many of the Warzones, which usually focus on one type of domain. But one type of Secret Wars tie-in did slip from our coverage, and that’s the Last Days comics, which focus on the final moments of various characters before the last incursion at the beginning of the Secret Wars core series.
So to rectify this, I thought I’d cover one of the tie-ins as a Complete Story, and the one I chose was Black Widow. Why? Well it’s been selling well and seems like a popular choice, but I did it mostly because it closes out a 20 issue run of Black Widow comics that I’ve really enjoyed. I haven’t read all of them, but the ones I have read have featured excellent art and storytelling.
And the Last Days of Black Widow is no exception. The art is gorgeous and works wonders conveying facial expression, action, and even to capture some wonderful landscape drawings of Cuba. And the writing does a really good job at trying Black Widow’s final moments on Earth with her very first mission. And they bring this all together with a cat, amusingly. But it works. We see how Natasha went from a Soviet spy, brutal even by their standards, to an Avenger and a true hero. At no point is this comparison ever hit over the head, so the story works well as an espionage thriller with a really heavy ending that I found quite interesting overall.
They didn’t pull any punches with this one, the writer Nathan Edmondson deliberately paired off one of Natasha’s last acts of heroism with one of the worst things she has ever done. That’s clever, although I’m guessing some of you are disappointed at how little time we actually spend with Black Widow’s final moments, and how much of the focus is on her first mission instead. Personally, it doesn’t bother me, because this story is done well enough that I enjoyed reading it. And I realize that I’ve given stories like Thanos vs. Hulk or Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies a lot of flak for not delivering what was promised, but the big difference between those stories and this one is that this one happens to be good. And in my books, that makes a big difference.
So I suppose if a writer wants to tell a different story than what’s advertised on the cover, they should at the very least do a good job with it. That’s what I’m taking away from this experience. But let me know what you guys think. Do you agree with me? I’m curious what everyone has to say about this, so feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below. And don’t forget to like, subscribe, and keep reading comics.