Kelly Thompson began her Black Widow run with a mission Natasha Romanoff had yet to face – a normal life. To keep her loved ones safe, Black Widow had to let go of the people she grew to care about the most (read our review of that arc, Black Widow: Ties that Bind). Following that devastation, Thompson and Rafael de Latorre are ready to create a fresh slate for the hero with a new city, costume, and mission.
Before Black Widow #6 hits comic book stands April 28, Newsarama had the chance to chat with writer about the book’s next arc. We discuss how Natasha’s new costume relates to her forthcoming mission, the origins of Spider-Girl’s upcoming appearance in the series (hint: it’s a reference from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis’s Avengers Assemble), and what other faces (new and familiar) fans can expect to pop up.
Newsarama: Kelly, you put Black Widow through A LOT in that first arc, how's she dealing with the trauma of losing her family in this new story?
Kelly Thompson: I think considering what she's been through, she's doing great. But she has a lot of very complicated feelings about what happened to her – juggling an emotion as complex as feeling grateful for something you experienced – but feeling purest rage about how that experience came about – i.e. against your will is a lot to carry.
She's doing the best she can, and it's important to her that she's moving on and pushing toward something good, making the world better… but don't expect it to not back up on her from time to time.
Nrama: Speaking of, is the family arc something you'd like to touch upon again, especially with the reveal that they're still alive?
Thompson: Anything is possible given enough time on the book I suppose, but my hope is that they stay on the shelf for a long time. Natasha made a huge sacrifice in faking their deaths and having them hidden from everyone – including herself and I want to respect that sacrifice.
Nrama: Nat has a fancy new suit now... why do you think it was time to introduce a fresh look?
Thompson: It wasn't really about a fresh look… because Natasha's classic looks are pretty much perfect. In fact, we knew we'd have a huge challenge ahead of us to try to change her costume.
But the nature of what Natasha was doing in San Francisco necessitated some new and upgraded toys… which we'll be rolling out slowly (and sometimes not so slowly!) in this new arc.
Nrama: Were you involved at all in the design? If so, how did you come up with some of the new elements?
Thompson: Yeah, I let Elena Casagrande know what Natasha would be up to as we pushed into this new arc – the kind of missions she'd be doing and the toys she'd need. Elena did some incredible designs and then she and editor Sarah Brunstad and I sort of mixed and matched them until we had something we really loved that was as simple as we could keep the design while adding the functionality we needed.
A lot of the surprises of the costume are still to come so I don't want to give anything away, but I'll just say that the jacket/hood, red 'piping,' and lots more secret compartments are certainly not for 'decorative' purposes.
Nrama: What made you want to bring the book to San Francisco?
Thompson: I wanted a whole different world and life for Natasha and so that certainly meant taking her out of New York City… but I liked that today's San Francisco was new to her, but also that she had lived here before, so it wouldn't feel completely foreign to her. A place where she could dig in and make a home for herself…and that she might still feel attached to even after that life came apart at the seems.
It's also just a fantastic city that makes for an incredible backdrop in which to set cool iconic stories.
Nrama: The solicits have revealed that Anya (Spider-Girl) will be showing up in Black Widow #8. What made you want to add her to the series?
Thompson: The original inspiration is from a Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis penned Avengers Assemble story from 2013 where Anya Corazon as Spider-Girl teams up with some Avengers – at one point it's Anya, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), and Black Widow – and Anya makes the joke that they should be "Team Lady Spiders." And that always felt to me like something that should definitely happen.
So, when I realized I needed another character Natasha could work with in Black Widow in an interesting capacity, Anya sprang to mind. She's turned out to be a great fit. Bringing some levity and energy to a book that is typically a bit more brutal and practical and efficient.
Nrama: Are we going to see any more spider-related characters joining the fray?
Thompson: I would love to get Jessica Drew Spider-Woman in there for a minute, but I haven't figured out how or why that would make sense yet. But since she was part of the original 'Spy-Der Ladies' joke, I'd love to make it happen, even if just for an issue. It doesn't hurt that she's got some great ties to San Francisco. So, we'll see!
Nrama: Who are some of the other supporting characters Natasha will be interacting with?
Thompson: I hope we'll have a fun surprise guest in issue 10… and as we head into our third arc, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bucky and/or Clint showing up. They're magical with Natasha and it's hard to resist that chemistry – you just want to lean into it! We've also got an exciting new character – Lucy Nguyen – that first gets introduced in Black Widow #6 - drawn by the excellent Rafael de Latorre.
Nrama: Speaking of Black Widow #6, what can you tease about the new villain here - Apogee?
Thompson: Really great and terrifying design by Elena first of all…just wonderful stuff. I can't say too much specifically about Apogee or who he is as a big part of this arc is Nat and Yelena investigating Apogee and his mysterious Olio… but I think Widow has met a foe she can really take out her internal turmoil on!
Nrama: I almost let you go without asking about Yelena, aka White Widow. What's your thoughts on her?
Thompson: Yelena has always been a fascinating character and I'm excited to see her taking more ownership of her identity here and also really building something with Natasha. I love writing them together, they have flat-out terrific chemistry.
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