Black Widow (Чёрная вдова, ‘Chyornaya vdova’) (Natalia “Natasha” Alianovna Romanova, also known as Natasha Romanoff) is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics Universe. She was created by editor and plotter Stan Lee, scripter Don Rico and artist Don Heck, and first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964).
Natasha Romanoff is featured in the 2010 motion picture Iron Man 2, where she is played by Scarlett Johansson.
The Black Widow’s first appearances were as a recurring, non-costumed, Soviet-spy antagonist in the feature “Iron Man”, beginning in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964). Five issues later, she recruited the besotted costumed archer and later superhero Hawkeye to her cause. Her government later supplied her with her first Black Widow costume and high-tech weaponry, but she eventually defected to the United States after appearing, temporarily brainwashed against the U.S., in the superhero-team series The Avengers #29 (July 1966). The Widow later became a recurring ally of the team before officially becoming its sixteenth member.
The Black Widow appeared for the first time in her trademark skintight black costume in The Amazing Spider-Man #86 (July 1970). In short order, she starred in her own series in Amazing Adventures #1–8 (Aug. 1970 – Sept. 1971), sharing that split book with the feature Inhumans. Immediately after her initial solo feature ended, the Black Widow co-starred in Daredevil #81–124 (Nov. 1971 – Aug. 1975) and then in the super-team series The Champions, which ran 17 issues (Oct. 1975 – Jan. 1978).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Black Widow appeared frequently as both an Avengers member and a freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She starred in a serialized feature within the omnibus comic-book series Marvel Fanfare #10–13 (Aug. 1983 – March 1984), written by George Pérez and Ralph Macchio, with art by penciller Perez. These stories were collected in the one-shot Black Widow: Web of Intrigue #1 (June 1999).
The Widow guest-starred in issues of Solo Avengers, Force Works, Iron Man, Marvel Team-Up, and other comics. She appeared in several mid-1980s issues of Daredevil, as well as a four-issue arc in issues #368–371 (Oct. 1997 – Jan. 1998) and as a recurring guest in Daredevil vol. 2 (1998–present). She co-starred in two graphic novels—Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty with Nick Fury, Marvel UK’s Night Raven and Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web with the Punisher—as well as a three-issue arc, “The Fire Next Time”, by writer Scott Lobdell and penciller Randy Green, in Journey into Mystery #517–519 (Feb.–April 1998).
A new ongoing Black Widow comic title debuted in April 2010. The first story arc was written by Marjorie Liu with art by Daniel Acuna. Beginning with issue #6 (Sept. 2010), the title began being written by Duane Swierczynski, with artwork by Manuel Garcia and Lorenzo Ruggiero.
Limited series and specials
Aside from the arcs in Marvel Fanfare and Journey into Mystery, the Black Widow has starred in four limited series and four graphic novels.
The three-issue Black Widow (June–Aug. 1999), under the Marvel Knights imprint, starred Romanova and fully introduced her appointed successor, Captain Yelena Belova, who had briefly appeared in an issue of the 1999 series Inhumans. The writer for the story arc, “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” was Devin K. Grayson while J. G. Jones was the artist. The next three-issue, Marvel Knights mini-series, also titled Black Widow (Jan.-March 2001) featured both Black Widows in the story arc “Breakdown”, by writers Devin Grayson and Greg Rucka with painted art by Scott Hampton.
Romanova next starred in another solo miniseries titled Black Widow (Nov. 2004 – April 2005), also under the Marvel Knights imprint and written by science fiction novelist Richard K. Morgan, with art initially by Bill Sienkiewicz and later by Sienkiewicz over Goran Parlov layouts. A six-issue sequel, Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her (Nov. 2005 – April 2006; officially Black Widow 2: The Things They Say About Her in the series’ postal indicia), by writer Morgan, penciller Sean Phillips, and inker Sienkiewicz, picks up immediately where the previous miniseries left off, continuing the story using many of the same characters.
She starred in the solo graphic novel Black Widow: The Coldest War (April 1990), and co-starred in three more: Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web (Dec. 1992); Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir (July 1993); and Nick Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty (June 1995), also co-starring Marvel UK’s Night Raven.
Black Widow is also featured in the short story Love Is Blindness, where she instigates a humorous fight with Elektra over Daredevil’s affections. The comic is stylized to look like Japanese animation and uses images, not words, inside the speech and thought bubbles to convey what the characters are saying/thinking.
In 2010, the year in which the character, called only Natasha Romanova, made her film debut in Iron Man 2, the Black Widow received two separate miniseries. Black Widow and the Marvel Girls was an all-ages, four-issue series that chronicled her adventures with various women of the Marvel Universe, including Storm, She-Hulk, the Enchantress, and Spider-Woman. It was written by Paul Tobin, with art by Salvador Espin and Takeshi Miyazawa. The second four-issue miniseries, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, was written by Paul Cornell, and featured art by Tom Raney and John Paul Leon.