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Black Widow comic artist: No one really dies “in those movies”

Elena Casagrande talks about Natasha Romanoff's new comic book adventure and the future of Black Widow.

Black Widow might have met her fate in Avengers: Endgame, but her super spy legacy lives on. With twin gauntlets blazing, a new ongoing Black Widow comic book title leaped into stores earlier this month from Marvel Comics ahead of her May 7, 2021 solo feature film.

Penned by Eisner Award-nominated writer Kelly Thompson (Hawkeye, Captain Marvel) and injected with dynamic artwork by Elena Casagrande (Catwoman) and acclaimed colorist Jordie Bellaire, the series follows Natasha Romanoff as she becomes embroiled in a new mystery set in San Francisco. It also spotlights Russian super-soldier Red Guardian and sister Black Widow Yelena Belova, who'll both make their big-screen debuts this fall in a prequel spinoff set before Nat’s Endgame death.

“I feel sorry for movie-Nat, but super excited for comic-Nat,” Casagrande tells Inverse. “And don't tell me that "to die" is really "to die" in those movies.”

In the pages of this intriguing tale, the deadly Natasha Romanoff has abandoned her familiar moniker to go dark while a torrent of her most treacherous foes try to take her down permanently in the shadow of the City By The Bay’s historic Golden Gate Bridge.

Marvel’s Black Widow #2 drops on October 7 with alluring covers by Adam Hughes, Takashi Okazaki, and J. Scott Campbell. Inverse has a stimulating peek inside the sophomore issue, alongside a chat with Elena Casagrande, the artist who helped deliver Natasha into this life-changing mission.

Three cover variants for 'Black Widow' #2.Marvel Comics

What can readers expect in this new Black Widow series and what fresh facets of her duality did you and Kelly hope to explore?

I think that above all they can expect a new and different point of view, that leads to a fresh story about Nat, a story that I recommend you don't judge from the first issue. This will be literally a chance for her to walk on the edge of two real opposite lifestyles: how will she react? Which one will she choose?

Why does Natasha Romanoff tap into your creative impulses?

Nat is giving me the opportunity to work with a powerless hero but one who is absolutely strong due to her abnormal training; she's different from the most recent characters I worked on (Catwoman and Batgirl), because despite all being trained human women, Nat, due to her past and her education, had a totally different attitude that I'm loving to explore and show. She's super-efficient, fast and able, silent and strong... I like this because I think I'm a person who likes to go right to the point most of the time.

How does your art style reflect the current status of Black Widow and her greater role in pop culture at large?

I love to put on the pages all my visual knowledge from movies and TV shows, to find a kind of fine solution or charming fusion between the potential of the comic language and the modern motion-picture visual. I have a lot of silent pages so I'm having a lot of fun in finding the best way to tell what's happening, and by the "best way" I mean the way where I can keep the reader stuck happily on the pages even if he/she isn't reading.

I would like to let the reader hear the sound of the silence at night or the wind on the Golden Gate. I don't want to imitate or just copy what people see on screens, I would like to realize a different but still super interesting experience with this now-so-beloved character.

Marvel Comics

What's it like drawing a character who famously died on screen in Avengers: Endgame?

I feel sorry for movie-Nat, but super excited for comic-Nat... and don't tell me that "to die" is really "to die" in those movies.

What aspects of her costume, gestures, and attitude did you wish to present in your design work and panel layout?

Grace, deadliness, coldness, efficiency... but also humanity and routine: this is all what I'm mixing. For the costume... you'll see (spoiler!) Panel layouts are inspired by movie frames but always keeping in mind tricks and codes of the comics that bring me to the opportunity to give great vibes with fewer efforts.

Marvel Comics

How did you approach Red Guardian, Yelena Belova, and Taskmaster in your character design?

RG will be "heavy," a version closer to the movie version but not the same; Yelena, who's so similar to Nat, will be instead different, "softer" in the aspect but always lethal; Task is "not available."

How do Jordie Bellaire's striking colors best enhance and illuminate your artwork and the unfolding story?

Jordie is doing an AMAZING job: she's really giving my pages that glint that lets them come to "real life." She's able to hide and show the right things and use a palette that perfectly fits with the mood of the situation... she's fantastic, I love to work with her, in issue #3 she'll blow your minds!

Marvel’s Black Widow #2 drops on October 7.

'Black Widow' #2, page 3.Marvel Comics
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