Bucky searches frantically for the Black Widow who has been kidnapped and reprogrammed by Soviet sleeper agent Leo Novokov into her former role as Russian assassin/classically trained ballerina. Of course all this leads to a big fight in the middle of a ballet performance between Bucky and Natasha, much to Novokov’s glee.
I’m not fully on board with the story arc that turns Natasha back into a brainwashed killer simply because it doesn’t go anywhere new and any fallout (such as the predictable bloody twist at the end) can be swept under the rug because Natasha isn’t responsible for any of her actions.
That said, even if I have problems with the concept, Brubaker’s execution is still well done. The comic does have a couple nice moments, my favorite being Bucky’s internal monologue as he squares off against Natasha and realizes how much she’s been holding back during their sparring sessions. Does a brainwashed Black Widow make for a dangerous adversary? Sure, but with the character currently involved in other Marvel titles I don’t see this arc having any immediate impact. For fans.