Just in time for Women’s History Month, we have the third installment in the Marvel’s Wastelanders audio epic, in which we meet Helen Black, the Black Widow!
“Almost thirty years after The Day the Villains Won (aka V-Day), Helen Black arrives at her new apartment in The Onar, a 161-story apartment complex in what used to be Midtown Manhattan. Owned and operated by S.H.I.E.L.D., The Onar has become the very embodiment of the dystopic wealth and inequality that’s engulfed New York City ever since V-Day.”
Houston, We Have a Spider
A young woman, Lisa Cartwright, starts a new job as a security analyst and clues in that Onar resident Helen Black is acting suspiciously. A co-worker Jordan shares his conspiracy theories that it could be Natasha Romanoff or Yelena Belova, but Lisa seems to have secrets of her own. Who is Lisa’s father and what is his connection?
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Lisa comes on too strong on surveillance with Helen and is found out. Helen, who claims to be Yelena, threatens Lisa and forces her to be a mole. Jordan is also acting suspiciously, so he’s now a wild card as to not knowing where his allegiances are. I have to say, Helen doesn’t seem to be covering her tracks that well, but I’m sure it is just part of a big con.
Helen goes on a date with Stanley, who might be a drug dealer. Lisa learns some fighting skills from Helen, who asks her to dig deep for Yelena’s case file. Jordan catches onto a conspiracy among some of the Onar residents that includes some high-tech nanorobotics. Although set in President Red Skull’s realm, so far this narrative is less cosmic than the previous podcasts about Star-Lord and Hawkeye, with no mention thus far of the Avengers or X-Men besides Iron Man.
By The Way
An enamored Stanley takes Helen out to a swanky nightclub to meet an associate of his, but her information gathering is cut short when she is arrested for brewing alcohol. Lisa had reported her for this small infraction hoping to throw her work supervisors off Helen’s scent fror the bigger issues. But now Helen is under house arrest, so she blackmails Lisa into doing more for her. Jordan is still suspicious of Helen, but his boss seems unconcerned. At this point, I’m not really digging this podcast. Helen is unlikable and it is not tying into the previous two Wastlanders stories yet.
I Thought About Letting Her Know
Lisa and Jordan continue playing different sides of the investigation of Helen, and more double-crosses are hinted at by other characters involved with the nanotech reveal. Judy and Hank, the bosses at Panopticog Solutions, are playing dumb, but I’m sure it’s a ruse. Who is conning who at this stage?
A Very Melancholy Answer
Why is Helen out of the action for so much of this podcast? Her house arrest means she sends Lisa out to do all her dirty work. Stanley’s partner Crispin and his fiance Samantha are now under watch, with suspicious motivations. Stanley finds out the truth about Helen and is devastated, as he claims he loved her. Jordan keeps poking around for answers.
Temet Nosce is a Latin phrase translated as “Know Thyself”. That leads us to Lisa- whose side is she really on? It’s obvious she’s keeping her own secret. An enormous hurricane is on its way to NYC, and the Onar apartment residents scramble to prepare.
We finally get some intel! Helen reveals to Lisa who she really is, and explains how it could be and how she lost her anti-aging properties. But…suspicions remain because would the Black Widow reveal the truth 100%? Another secret identity is revealed, and yawn. Jordan and Samantha face off.
Helen, Lisa and Judy team up, and utilize Jordan, to help them fight Samantha. Now we know who is Natasha and who is Yelena but they are at odds, with Yelena willing to let thousands of people die for her cause.
The Future is Mysterious
The finale did not make any sense! It was a muddled mess and there was no resolution or moving forward for any of the characters. It didn’t connect with the previous Star-Lord or Hawkeye podcasts, so this third in a series was a real disappointment, despite Susan Sarandon voicing Helen. I believe there will be two more- for Doctor Doom and Wolverine, so I hope the final installments will bring it all together in a satisfying manner.
Written by Alex Delyle and directed by Timothy Busfield (who is the voice actor of Star-Lord!)
Susan Sarandon as Black Widow
Chasten Harmon as Lisa
Eva Amurri as Samantha Sugarman
Nate Corddry as Jordan
Amber Gray as Judy
Melissa Gilbert as K.I.M. (Laura Ingalls aka director Busfield’s IRL wife)
Michael Imperioli as Stanley
Justin Kirk as Hank