The Black Widow finally gets to take the fight to Imus Champion, the man who's been ruining her life this whole time, and the experience certainly isn't eye-opening for him.
I've always had a special spot for Imus Champion ever since his appearance during the Squadron Supreme arc of the Busiek/Perez run on the Avengers. So I was glad to see him in full form as a formidable foe here, maintaining some dignity even as he was getting his butt royally handed to him by Natasha. The issues I had about Acuna's rendering of action and heroic poses have been soundly redressed. I can't remember the last time I "felt" a fight scene as viscerally as the one he puts Imus and Natasha through here. Liu also gives her a wonderful slew of snappy lines that are both acerbicly-witty and emotionally cathartic. The part where she gouges Imus' eyes out, only to realize that killing would actually give him what he wants? That part was strong stuff.
Natasha waxes philosophic just a wee too much at the end, but I suppose I really shouldn't expect anything less of a fan of Leo Tolstoy, right?
The Verdict - 4.5/5
I haven't gotten to read the intervening issues, unfortunately, but this has addressed all the problems I had with the more deliberate pacing of first two installments. Liu and Acuna work amazingly well together, crafting a sleek spy-superhero comic that's got real drama and emotion to go with its awesomely-brutal thrills. The trade collection for this ought to be out soon, and you'd do well to pick it up.