Natasha: The brute ran off. He should be easily run down.
Bullseye: Thank you kindly, Miss…?
Natasha: Missus Barnes.
Bullseye: Now where do I know that name from?
Natasha: I’m sure I don’t know. Good day.
Natasha: I don’t know why I’m helping you.
Red Wolf: Yes, you do. Two are stronger than one. Together we can kill them all.

1872 is a clever callback to Natasha’s original, super-retro origin story: the one where she fought to take her husband’s place, the one where the KGB lied about his death. Then, as here, the ghost of him kept her loyal to a corrupt regime. And then, when she learned the truth, they couldn’t stop her from doing the right thing.

The series really needs to let Red Wolf be the protagonist moving forward to be actually great, but if you need a Natasha fix during Secret Wars, this might be worth picking up.

From 1872 #2, by Gerry Duggan and Nik Virella.

Abnett’s “Korvac Saga” Mashes Medieval Intrigue, Modern Heroics & “Secret Wars” – Comic Book Resources

Abnett’s “Korvac Saga” Mashes Medieval Intrigue, Modern Heroics & “Secret Wars” – Comic Book Resources

Gabriel Clarifies “Secret Wars” Effect on Marvel’s Publishing Line – Comic Book Resources

Gabriel Clarifies “Secret Wars” Effect on Marvel’s Publishing Line – Comic Book Resources

Everything Ends: In Search of a New ‘Reboot’ Pun

Dateline: this week. Marvel’s big announcement was the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Secret Wars, the latest summer status-quo changing Marvel Crossover Event. Crossover this time means the Ultimate Universe and regular old vanilla Marvel are crashing into each other, somehow resulting in a theme park map instead of a coherent continuity. As before and as ever, nothing will ever be the same.

Cue the tapping of a thousand tumblr posts, ranting in unison. Marvel won’t call it a reboot, but they won’t not call it a reboot, wink wink awkward twitch. But this really sounds like a way to end the Ultimate line and keep whatever’s there that’s worth saving. (Miles Morales, I mean Miles Morales.) I don’t think stories will be selectively wiped from continuity arc by arc or that the 616 universe will emerge drastically changed. I do think they want to keep the possibility open to get you to buy this Big Event.

What they are trying to deny is that this is all about making MCU the one canon to rule them all. And I believe them: an overcomplicated patchwork quilt of all realties called “Battleworld” is basically the most comics thing to ever comics. And Marvel hasn’t needed big crossover events to bring elements of the films into the comics. They just give Iron Man an arc reactor or pretend Coulson has always been standing there.

What does this mean for Natasha? Like I said, I’m thinking probably nothing. She hasn’t been featured in any of the Secret Wars promo images so far. But there’s a story for her in this mess: Natasha is a bad guy in 1602, in Mangaverse, in Ultimates. I find her forever evil AU status frustrating, but it could be a cool thing to invoke, here. How does Natasha deal with the revelation that in every universe but her own, she wound up dead and a terrorist?

A stronger question is: what does Secret Wars mean for Black Widow. Will the book be dragged into a tie-in? Cancelled and relaunched in phase 3.1 of Marvel Now? Black Widow is solicited through issue #17, and #18 would be a natural closing point. Alonso says creative teams have been prepared for this, whatever this turns out to be. I don’t know: I doubt everything is going to relaunch because so many Marvel books are just beginning, but then, Marvel lately has been built around issue #1s. What I do know is that one of the strong points of this Black Widow volume is that it doesn’t seem like a place where universes bang together, and that I’ll be sad if the current apocalypse derails it right as it’s gaining momentum.

And then: what does this mean for Ultimate Black Widow, Jessica Drew? Like I said, I think this whole big blow up is a way for Marvel to end Ultimates but keep the pieces they like. But I’m not convinced Jessica is one of those pieces. They’ve killed the previous two Ultimate Black Widows. I hope they won’t make it three.