@’s by PUNISHER & BLACK WIDOW Writer
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): The Black Widow is a character that has had numerous miniseries in the past. What makes this series distinct from the rest of them?
NATHAN EDMONDSON (NE): Phil Noto, first and foremost. Phil was born to illustrate this book and he’s brought to it an aesthetic that’s made our idea into something truly extraordinary. What Marvel set out to do with this series—and the same is true of THE PUNISHER and other titles in the Marvel NOW canon—was allow two creators with great chemistry to create a series. Our editors on both books are collaborative, our storytelling canvas has been very wide.
BUG: While books like SPIDER-GIRL, SHE-HULK, and MS. MARVEL are strong books, the standout titles have always been lead by male characters at Marvel. Why do you think that is and how do you plan on changing all of that and making BLACK WIDOW a hit that'll be around for a while?
NE: When we first put our heads together about this series, Phil and I committed to telling a story about all the strengths of Natasha Romanoff without falling into some of the traps that female led books sometimes fall into. If Black Widow exists in a male-dominated superhero world, no one has told her. If we were supposed to treat her any nicer and not hit her as hard in the pages, no one told us. We’re having tons of fun with this character, exploring the world of her missions and action and intrigue as well as the depths of her psychology. She’s not a pretty face—I mean, not just a pretty face—and she’s a challenge to understand and harness for storytelling. That’s a challenge we the creators enjoy.
BUG: What is your favorite part of writing a book like BLACK WIDOW?
NE: There’s no stale air with this book. Even with the larger story arcs we’re constantly jumping locations and crossing paths with new villains and both the story approach and art style shifts and evolves with every new step in Black Widow’s journey. That makes this series and endless challenge and constant thrill. The fans are great too, and reactions have been full of excitement—in fact while answering this interview our wonderful editor wrote to inform us we’re going back to print on issue 2, after another sellout. Thanks, Widowers!
BUG: Like Punisher, which I'll get to in a minute, Black Widow is one of those characters who is difficult to maintain a consistent villain and back up characters since she is mostly a loner who has no qualms in killing her enemies. How do you develop a supporting cast for a character like that?
NE: The reader will quickly understand the kinetic way that the BLACK WIDOW cast operates; just as quickly as her mission locations and types change so do the villains and support staff. Only a few mainstays—like her attorney, Isaiah—will keep consistent, and while Natasha will dismiss with some bad guys quickly, other villains will rise like mountains she’ll have to spend a long time climbing. SHIELD is part of one of the larger stories we’re exploring in the first arc, so it will be present and relevant.
BUG: How close will this book play alongside what's going on in the AVENGERS titles?
NE: Our BLACK WIDOW series exists mostly outside the borders of Natasha’s work with THE AVENGERS and in in various Avengers' titles.
BUG: Black Widow has quite a lot of exes running around the Marvel Universe; Daredevil, Hawkeye. Are we going to see any of these characters in this series?
NE: We will take opportunities to explore Natasha’s current and past connections. This book, though, doesn’t rely on Natasha being defined by who Natasha is sleeping with or what other characters do to or with her. This is about her; we’re inside her apartment, inside her head, in the barrel of her suppressed pistol in a hotel in Dubai. Once we’re comfortable enough that we’ve gotten uncomfortable in Natasha’s world, we’ll start to expand it.
BUG: Currently Natasha has been hooking up with Bucky Barnes. How is the Winter Soldier factoring into this series?
NE: All I can say at this point is stick around…
BUG: With you writing both PUNISHER and BLACK WIDOW, is it safe to say there's a crossover in the works?
NE: I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not safe to assume anything about either of these series.
BUG: Though it always seemed that his family's death was the main motivator, Garth Ennis' run on the title made it evident that maybe Frank was a little murder-happy even before their deaths. What is your philosophy on why Frank Castle does what he does?
NE: We had to break Frank down before we started the book. We psychoanalyzed him from as many appearances as we knew and what you’ll read in the the opening pages is our diagnosis: Frank’s ongoing mission is his numbing treatment for the one thing all of his training and battle experience hasn’t armed him to be able to deal with...
BUG: Is there a particular PUNISHER run that inspired you for this series?
NE: Most recently we were researching some of Howard Chaykin’s run, but we did our best to set out as fresh as possible.
BUG: Is this a more action oriented series or cerebral one?
NE: We definitely approach THE PUNISHER by diving into the action of his hunt and his being hunted.
BUG: Where does this series take place and where is Frank when the series begins?
NE: For the most part Frank is in Los Angeles, but issue 1 does find him for a moment in Mexico.
BUG: How is it that out of all of the powerful characters in the Marvel U, you end up writing two characters without super powers? Was this intentional?
NE: Not exactly; what appealed to me about both of these characters was the opportunity to create these series from the ground up.
BUG: Roughly what age is Frank in your series and is he functioning in the Marvel Universe or outside of it?
NE: Frank is, I think we’d say, in his late forties or so. Whatever his age is exactly, he looks damn good considering the scarred and calloused skin and many healed wounds.
BUG: The Punisher has been hanging around the THUNDERBOLTS recently. Is he still with the group in this series?
NE: I don’t know at this point what I can say about Punisher’s journey, but we won’t be experiencing Frank’s role in the Thunderbolts in our series.
BUG: Same question as with Black Widow. Frank Castle does not have good luck with supporting cast members. Are there going to be any in this new series?
NE: Starting with Issue 1 we’ll meet a few other folks in Frank’s circle, some he lets in, some that stand at the edge, some he draws in just to drop with wire around the throat.
BUG: I know the PUNISHER films have not been the best, but if you had to cast a PUNISHER film, who would you have play Frank?
NE: Max Martini. But I want a TV series.
BUG: What else can you tell me about PUNISHER and BLACK WIDOW that you haven't told all of the other comic book sites?
NE: My character from Rizzoli & Isles makes an appearance in an upcoming issue. Oh, and everyone’s trying to figure out who “the 131” are. I’ll reveal here that they’re…
BUG: Ahhh, you tease! Any other books in the works at the moment in or outside of Marvel?
NE: I have a one shot at Image called GENESIS that’s out in April. Other than that, none that I can talk about! But…yes. Multiple new titles. Plus some film and television stuff...
BUG: Thanks Nathan! BLACK WIDOW is out now and it’s excellent. And look for the first issue of THE PUNISHER next week from Marvel Comics!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G