I was rummaging through old comics the other day and found a Black Widow and Spider-man story. With the Black Widow movie coming soon (hopefully with no more rescheduling) I figured it might be a good idea to talk about the character. Before we get into this, I know there have been other Black Widows in the continuity, but we’re focusing on the one we all know and love.
Black Widow was born Natalia Alianova Romanova, and is now called Natasha Romanoff. Created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck back in 1964. She made her first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 in April that year.
Originally introduced as a Russian spy and Iron Man antagonist, she later defected to S.H.I.E.L.D and started working for them as a super spy. And as we know, later went on to become an Avenger. In the comics, she is officially the 16th member of the Avengers.
In 1970, she got a visual update, her hair become the more recognizable red, got her skintight black costume, and wrist bands that fired spider-threads. Her original costume was very different.
Black Widow has an incredibly rich history that has barely been touched upon in the movies. She is said to be related to the last ruling Russian czars, she spend her youth travelling a war torn Europe, was trained in the Red Room and was brainwashed into becoming essentially a Super Spy. The Red Room also biotechnologically and psycho-technologically enhanced her, effectively making her a super soldier of sorts. That and she had a version of the Super Soldier Serum given to Captain America.
The Red Room program has played a large part in the life of the Black Widow, similar to how Wolverine is followed by the Weapon X program.
She’s appeared in the MCU films portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. Multiple animated appearances, from The Marvel Super Heroes in 1966, to the more current Avengers Assemble (2013). Not to mention, multiple video games like Marvel vs Capcom, Marvel Ultimate Alliance series, and the newest Marvel Avengers game. She’s been voiced most distinctively by Laura Bailey.
But actors like Lena Heady, Ashleigh Ball, Jennifer Carpenter, and Alison Brie have also been the voice of this iconic hero.
So, yeah, she’s badass.
Now, let’s get into some comics you should check out to find out just how rich this character really is.
Black Widow: Deadly Origin
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by John Paul Leon and Tom Raney
Deadly Origins is one of, if not the, definitive Black Widow stories. It’s a tale encompassing her troubled past and her journey to a hero. This story digs into her past, and deals with her adoptive father Ivan. A mysterious conspiracy is afoot, plunging our hero into a high stake tangled web of espionage, treachery, and betrayal. All of which have plagues Natasha Romanoff throughout her life. It features a ton of appearances from other heroes like Daredevil, Captain America, Hercules, Nick Fury, and of course, Hawkeye.
Black Widow: The Name of the Rose
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Daniel Acuna
The Name of the Rose sounds like it’s a mystery novel, and that’s exactly what it feels like. After an assassination attempt that was nearly successful, Natasha puts her considerable skills to the test as she must hunt down the person responsible. Liu and Acuna put together an interesting tale, that both gives readers insight into the Black Widow, as well as delivering a spy thriller with plenty of memorable moments.
Black Widow: S.H.I.E.L.D’s Most Wanted
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson
What do you get when an Eisner award winning duo write a super spy story. A fast paced adventure that doesn’t let you pause for a minute. Black Widow has collected a lifetime of secrets as a spy, but when some of them are revealed to the public, Natasha must go on the lam. S.H.I.E.L.D goes after its once greatest asset, and it’s up to her to figure out the answers. It’s a tale of action and espionage that rivals the best Bond or Bourne movies you’ve seen.