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Book Review – Black Widow: Forever Red

Before you start this book, know that while it’s got Black Widow in the name, it’s both about her, and not exactly about her.  If it might bother you to discover the story is told mostly through the viewpoint of a teenaged girl that has an…interesting connection to Natasha, as some other reviewers seem to, just be aware.  Black Widow: Forever Red (by Margaret Stohl) tells the story of Ana Orlova, a young girl rescued from the mastermind of the Red Room, the infamous organization that turned Natasha into the perfect assassin.  Nat promptly dumps the girl into SHIELD’s lap and jets, not being the mothering type.  Fast forward 8 years, and Ana is having strange dreams and that evil from the past roars back to put the whole world in danger.

Forever Red doesn’t break a ton of new ground, being a fairly standard YA novel, just in this case, it’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  And yes, it’s the MCU, as they specifically mention events like the Battle of New York, and has Coulson as SHIELD director.  There’s also an extended appearance from Tony Stark.  There’s a good balance between the weirdness of the MCU and the more grounded aspects Natasha typically deals with.  I enjoy the interplay between Ana and Nat as their similarities get the better of the older woman (in a “when you get older I hope you have a daughter just like you!” sort of way).  The action moves at a fair clip most of the time, and the story has just enough twists to make you second guess some things.

Forever Red is a worthwhile read, especially for the MCU fan who isn’t up on the comics and wants to know how a spy/assassin gets the skills to team up with gods and monsters and not die.  Preview below:

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – The Vision #3

What weirds out Tony Stark?  It’s not the sight of a female synthezoid in lingerie, though that DOES happen in The Vision #3.  No, what shocks Tony is the lengths Vision is going to in order to bring back his daughter.  Vizh explains that some of her nerves went incorporeal to dodge the Grim Reaper’s blade, and they have to be shocked back into place.  Sort of like shocking your heart back into beating, if your heart took all the power contained in the US power grid to do it.  And it has to pass through your father’s body into yours.  It’s a powerful scene, like much of the series so far, it sets you on edge.  We are all Tony Stark, who despite knowing the Vision since the time of his creation, was shocked by the sudden changes in his friend.

The Visions are also dealing with being the ‘wrong’ sort of people moving into a neighborhood, as some kids were spray-painting an anti-robot slur on their garage doors.  In a nod to modern kids, they had to Google ‘bad names for robots’ to pick what they painted.  Get their comeuppance, too.  Punks.

Intertwined throughout the issue, however, is the witch Agatha Harkness on Mount Wundagore, using the blossoms of the Everbloom plant to see into the future.  In stark contrast to the family reunion and home life drama, this is where the violence and blood loom again over the Vision’s family.  Agatha has a vision, you see, and it’s of THE Vision…covered in blood, surrounded by the bodies of his friends and fellow heroes, the Avengers, the FF, the X-Men.  My first thought is, something happens in the neighborhood (that bit early on about the neighbors who will die when one of them sets their house on fire), and it’s possible the Vision tries to defend his family, but I suspect it won’t be that simple.  Still, I’m invested, and I’m curious to see if any of the wider Marvel U makes their presence known now that more information is out there.  Will Agatha talk to Wanda?  Tony and SHIELD were looking for the Grim Reaper, do THEY buy Virginia’s story?  Can’t wait.