Writer: Sarah Gailey
Art: Alessandro Miracolo
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: November 1st, 2023
Yelena Belova, Black Widow’s sister and a master assassin, starts a new life in the small town of Idylhaven in White Widow #1. As she tries to find the perfect coffee shop and get information on her neighbors, she comes into conflict with not only her mentee (the deadly Marthe) but with a new organization called Armament, who are trying to take over most of the businesses in Idylhaven for some hidden purpose, even as they keep watch on Yelena.
White Widow #1 is like a much darker version of DC’s series Fire and Ice: Welcome to Smallville. Both series feature characters looking for a new start in a small town as an interesting array of supporting characters enter their lives. But where Fire and Ice’s series (which I love, by the way) is light-hearted and full of comic misadventures, Yelena Belova’s series is more grim. That’s to be expected, because Yelena’s a grim character and assassins usually don’t stumble into misadventures. Yelena does have a cute bulldog named Bint Clarton though, who never met a red bouncy ball she didn’t like, so it’s not THAT grim. If you don’t know enough about Yelena Belova to fill a thimble, no worries. This debut issue wonderfully begins with a summary of who Yelena is, gives a brief flashback into her past, then spends the rest of the issue giving us a tour of her apartment complex and the town of Idylhaven.
In one clever splash page, which shows a cut-out diagram of Yelena’s apartment building, a brief summary of her neighbors is given, showing each person’s face, their apartment letter and what Yelena has learned about them so far. In that one page, you learn lots of detail about her neighbors. It’s a brilliantly efficient way to introduce the characters without having to use pages of narration. One of Yelena’s neighbors and her closest friend is Zelda, an older woman with a hip vibe. Yelena and Zelda’s scenes together are fun, because Zelda is as stubborn and strong-willed as Yelena.
The ominous corporation Armament pops up throughout the issue, becoming more and more malevolent. They seem to be weapon specialists, crafting munitions and bionic appendages. We see some of their handiwork in action this issue and it’s going to be interesting to see how Yelena deals with their encroachment into the town she has grown to love. Another great character introduced here is Marthe, Yelena’s mentee turned nemesis. Marthe’s skills are equal to Yelena’s and she’s even more severe and forbidding than Yelena. I hope she stays a thorn in Yelena’s side for a while, she’s a great arch-enemy for Yelena.
Alessandro Miracolo’s art on White Widow #1 is a loose style that lacks detail in places but the characters are drawn in such a way that their personalities shine. Zelda, Yelena’s friend, is especially visually interesting, with her mass of dark hair (with a streak of grey) and her body dotted in tattoos. Her design screams “rebel” and she’s a great visual complement to Yelena.
White Widow #1 perfectly kicks off Yelena’s new life, efficiently introducing all her supporting characters, giving us some cute scenes with her pooch Bint Clarton and some thrilling action scenes, and setting up Armament as a massive over-arching threat for the series that will push Yelena to her limits.