Black Widow Review (with Spoilers)

Black Widow movie posterMy son and I went out with a couple of friends last weekend to see Black Widow. First movie in a theater in well over a year.

The short review: I liked it. Fun, fast-paced, with lots of action and some humor. And it’s well past time Black Widow got her own movie.

Longer review will have spoilers…

This felt a little smaller than some of the recent Marvel movies. There are no universe-threatening villains, no collapsing timelines, no magic or spaceships. And that works. It was almost refreshing, to be honest. It’s nice to not feel like we’re constantly trying to top the last spectacle.

We finally get to see more of Black Widow’s past, starting with a deep cover assignment when she was just a kid with her family, living in Ohio. The family dynamics were my favorite part of the movie. I loved that they all have some level of the same “real vs. fake” struggle we’ve seen with Natasha all along, and the actors do a wonderful job with it.

I particularly loved David Harbour’s take on Red Guardian, aka Natasha’s fake father. He dove into his character, growling and chewing scenery and being a clueless super soldier dad. The best parts were when the whole family came together, whether it was over a meal or working to take down (literally) the Red Room.

Then there’s Yelena, the younger sister. She was the most invested in their family, insisting it was real for her even as the others deny it. So it’s fitting that she’s the one who started the whole reunion into motion. And I loved watching her banter with her sister and call out Black Widow’s habit of posing.

Melina didn’t work quite as well for me. I think in part it’s because we didn’t see as much of her. Unlike Red Guardian, who’d been stuck in jail, Melina spent many years doing some Pretty Evil Crap. Despite her redemption bit at the end, it didn’t feel as believable or as earned.

The movie’s set after the events of Civil War, and I wish it had come out back then. The stakes didn’t feel as high, because we knew nothing would really change in the larger Marvel universe. Except maybe for that credits scene, where Yelena and her dog visit Natasha’s grave (which was beautiful), and we discover Yelena has been working for the Countess, who assigns her to go kill Hawkeye.

I know we’re setting up the Hawkeye series with this, but it felt…off. After all the good Yelena’s done, how does she end up working for a villain? And why would she accept an assignment to go after Natasha’s best friend without even asking any questions? Maybe the Hawkeye series will explain that better.

Thematically, I really liked the ending, and having all of the Widows come together to take care of each other–even Taskmaster–and to go after the deep-cover Widows that are still out there.

I know there have been complaints about Taskmaster’s character being 1) untrue to the comics and 2) a woman, but I thought it fit really well into the movie.

All in all, a fun movie. Some fun lines, entertaining (if a bit over-the-top) action, and good characters. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing more of Red Guardian and Yelena.

What did the rest of you think?


Project Updates

Most of this went out in the last newsletter, but I figured I’d share here as well. As most of you know, it’s been a weird and messed-up few years. I lost about a year from writing while my wife was sick. Then COVID came along, and it sounds like my publisher has been dealing with some extra crap lately.

With all that said, here’s what I’ve been working on and what I know about future plans and releases…

TERMINAL PEACE: The third and final book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series was turned in back in September. I’m waiting for revision notes from my editor. If things go as they have with all my previous books, I’ll do one more revision after that, and then the book will go into production.

I don’t have a confirmed publication date yet, but I’ve heard rumors that we’re looking at late summer 2022. I’ll let folks know when/if that changes, or whenever I get confirmation.

SILVER QUEENS: I’ve wanted to break into middle grade for a while now. I started last year with Tamora Carter: Goblin Queen. After talking to my agent, I spent the first part of 2021 writing Silver Queens, a standalone middle-grade fantasy. Like Tamora Carter, this one has goblins and a different take on portal fantasy, but it’s not connected to anything I’ve written before. My agent and I went back and forth on a couple of drafts, and as of this month, it’s on submission.

I have absolutely no idea how long the submission process will take. When and if the book sells, it will take a while before it’s published.

But as soon as I know more, I’ll share it with the world!

PROJECT K: (Not the actual title.) Yet another standalone fantasy. This is one I’d worked on as middle grade a while back, but it never quite worked. So I’ve started going back and reworking the book into an adult fantasy.

We sent a pitch to my publisher in February. I’m hoping to hear something on this sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on the book. I’m about 13,000 words into the current draft.

My goal would be to have this done before the end of 2021. But if the past few years have shown me anything, it’s that plans and goals can be disrupted on a moment’s notice…


What this all means is that I’m unlikely to have anything new out in 2021. My last release from a big publisher was February 2019. I hate having such a big gap, even though I’m so grateful to my agent and my publisher for their patience while I dealt with things here at home.

I’d hoped to see Terminal Peace out this year, but with it being almost June, that’s not going to happen even if my editor got back to me today with revision notes.

So my new hope is that 2022 will get me back on track and putting out at least one new book per year. Maybe more, if this middle grade thing works out. (I’ve got ideas for another MG book, but I’m going to finish Project K first.)