Marvel Comics is taking a familiar approach with the characters in the Wastelanders series. Each character will get their own one-shot showing their story and how they survived this long in the alternate reality. This is the same approach used by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wastelanders: Black Widow #1 offers us a glimpse into how Yelena made out in this horrible future. Written by Steven S. DeKnight, with pencils by Well-Bee, colors by Mattia Iancono, and letters by Cory Petit, we get another hard look at how bad the Marvel Universe can become.
Steven S. DeKnight has been writing each of these one-shot books to build up the Wastelander universe. Each tale comes with it’s own bit of tragedy and loss, and this issue is no different. DeKnight gives us a Yelena that has been beaten down by too much and has become disconnected from the world. DeKnight makes good use of flashbacks in this issue as well. These are effective in showing us how happy Yelena was before the Wasteland as she used to pal around with her sister and they would go on missions together. When the depression and loss starts to hit, DeKnight takes the time to show us the downward spiral of Yelena. This is evident as she no longer fears death and becomes increasingly violent. The addition of the Lizard in this issue is a pleasant surprise. If there was one villain who would find a way to survive and torment heroes in a time like this, it’s the Lizard. While his panel time isn’t excessive, DeKnight establishes that the Lizard is a violent threat that can take a lot of damage. He is able to withstand Yelena’s electric burst and still keep moving, that says a lot about his toughness.
Well-Bee is the penciler for this issue and he does an excellent job of emphasizing scale for characters. This is made incredibly evident the first time we lay eyes on the Lizard King as he towers over one of his minions. Bee’s pencils bring the look of desperation as we see several establishing shots of how the wastelands look. Long stretches of nothing but dead grass and graves are seen multiple times throughout the issue, which adds depth to just how dire things really are in this universe.
Mattia Iacono does an amazing job using moody colors to make this issue feel dire. Panels use light and bright colors for the happy times in Yelena’s life, but quickly turn to dark and dreary when we get to the Wasteland. Something as simple as a bright red blood spot sticks out on the dark backgrounds of this issue. Iacono does everything right for this issue to come off as depressing, and his colors hit you hard the more you get into the story. By the end of the book, we don’t feel hopeful, but rather worried for what might happen next.
The letters by Cory Petit are just as dark and dreary as the pencils. Black boxes with red lettering work perfectly here, not just because they are Black Widow’s colors, but because they also represent a scheme that isn’t visually appealing, just like the wasteland. Petit is a pro that knows how to make readers feel a word. When Widow gets thrown to the ground by the Lizard King, we see a “Kraka” sound effect when she lands. We feel that as we read the effect.
Wastelanders: Black Widow #1 continues the shared universe from Steven S. DeKnight. Each issue builds up how depressing the world is now, and getting different points of view has been a successful method for readers to enjoy each character. Wastelanders: Black Widow #1 is out now at a comic shop near you.