Black Widow: Bad Blood is a serialized novel released in a new episode/chapter every week on Serial Box. Today I’m recapping and reviewing episodes five and six so beware of mild spoilers for all episodes so far.
At the end of Black Widow: Bad Blood chapter four, Natasha was in Albania on the trail of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. Having discovered the Winter Soldier’s hideout ransacked, the Black Widow had put two and two together and figured out what whoever took her blood had also taken his, leaving him as sick and disorientated as she had been just a few days prior. Now, at the start of chapter five (Flashback City), Nat has tracked Bucky to the outskirts of Novosibirsk and the VECTOR Institute. The biting cold she experiences there, combined with thoughts of Bucky, soon have Nat reminiscing about her years spent training in the Red Room and her gradual discovery of the terrible truth behind the Winter Soldier. This immediately became one of my favorite parts of the story. Natasha is still traumatized by her treatment in the Red Room but here we get to see how she has taken those experiences and used them to make herself a better person, and I’m always curious to learn more about the Red Room and Nat’s past.
It’s not long before Nat’s trip down memory lane is interrupted by the realization that she is being followed. Realizing it is Bucky does nothing to ease her mind when she sees that his body language is that of a recently-wiped Winter Soldier. Never able to best him in combat, this is Nat’s worst nightmare come true but, as is often the case, there is more going on than first meets the eye, allowing her to break through and find Bucky buried beneath the Soldier’s armor. This fight ended up being unexpectedly tender and reminded me of the fight between Nat and Clint in The Avengers with Nat simultaneously fighting for her life while holding back to avoid hurting a friend. As with then, this is a fight that is more difficult mentally than physically, which lends it a far more interesting aspect than just another bog-standard action scene.
In chapter six (A Trap with a View) which is disappointingly short at a mere nine pages, Nat pauses to help Bucky recover and to take stock of her own situation. She knows she has missed something, a possible connection between her current predicament and the case she thought she had recently wrapped up. The knowledge that something is continuing to elude her puts Nat on edge. As a spy, she needs to know and remember everything and this obvious gap needles at her. That’s possibly why, as the chapter title suggests, she fails to notice something which brings her, quite literally, to her knees.
While neither of these chapters advanced the plot massively, I did thoroughly enjoy reading them both. The memories Natasha recollects helped to flesh out both her character and Bucky’s too and the chapters succeeded in bringing the two characters together in a way that felt believable and not contrite. Despite its brevity, chapter six was oddly sweet, reminding me of the classic hurt/comfort genre of fanfiction. It also ended with a great cliff-hanger that had me instantly keen to get started on the next chapter ASAP!
Black Widow: Bad Blood continues to be a great story that is satisfying my need for new Natasha-centric content while I wait for the delayed release of the film. With Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire launching on on Serial Box this week as well (look out for my upcoming review of the first two episodes), this is a great time to dig into some fantastic female-led Marvel content.
GeekMom received a copy of this book for review purposes.