- How many more jobs... How long will it take... I don't know if I can do it... Even if I could forgive myself... This is what I am now. And you'll never know who I was before.
- -- Black Widow src
It was rumored that Natasha Romanova (Russian: Наталья Романова, Наташа Романова, Наталья Романова-Шостакова) was somehow related to the last ruling czars of Russia, but this was never proven. Nothing else was known about her prior to World War II.
There are varying accounts of Romanova's early life. One account states that Nazis set the building Natasha was living in on fire in Stalingrad, and her mother threw her out the window to a Russian soldier before dying in the fire. The soldier's name was Ivan Petrovitch, and he watched over Natasha for her entire life, remaining by her side as her chauffeur.
While under Ivan's protection, many adversaries attempted to attack her. Baron von Stucker abducted Natasha and presented her to the Hand in Madripoor. There, she was to become their Master Assassin until Captain America, Logan, and Ivan saved her. As Natasha grew and matured, she proved to be an amazing athlete and scholar, while gaining distinction in the USSR as a ballerina.
Another account establishes her as being raised from very early childhood by the U.S.S.R.'s "Black Widow Ops" Program, rather than solely by Ivan Petrovitch. Petrovitch had taken her to Department X, with other 28 young female orphans, where she is trained in combat and espionage at the covert "Red Room" facility. There, she is bio-technologically and psycho-technologically enhanced; an accounting that provides a rationale for her unusually long and youthful lifespan. She never really trained in ballet in the Bolshoi Theatre, having instead artificial memories. During her training, Romanova was contacted by the Enchantress, who manipulated her simply for the sake of it suggesting that Romanova may be freed only to prevent her from escaping - however, Romanova's effort attracted attention of the program's organizers, who would had otherwise "discard" Romanova.
Regardless of which account is accurate, she was eventually arranged to marry Alexi Shostakov, a distinguished Soviet test pilot.
The Soviet government intelligence (KGB) decided that the skill set of this couple would make them superb special operatives, and split them up while Alexi was away on a mission. Trained as the Red Guardian, Alexi became the Soviet Union’s answer to the United States’ Captain America.
Natasha was told that her husband died in an experimental rocket crash, and was drafted into the KGB. She became their best operative from being trained in the infamous Red Room Academy, becoming excellent at fighting and information gathering. During this time she had some training under the Winter Soldier. It was there she was first dubbed the “Black Widow.”
The man named Logan resurfaced in America years later without any memory of his past, and in danger from Hydra assassins. She saved him and came upon him again when he stole the Red Storm Project from Russia alongside Carol Danvers and Ben Grimm.
Early Clashes with Iron Man
Black Widow was assigned to assist Boris Turgenov in the assassination of Professor Anton Vanko for defecting from their country by infiltrating Stark Industries in America. Tony Stark, the original Iron Man, continually foiled her schemes against Stark Industries. Romanova later met the novice archer Hawkeye and set him against Iron Man, and later helped Hawkeye battle Iron Man. Unfortunately, Hawkeye's association with Russian spies would label him a criminal in his early career. Black Widow and Hawkeye next clashed against the novice super-hero Spider-Man. They resumed their focus on Tony Stark, clashing with Iron Man twice more - the first being an attempt to raid Tony Stark's munitions plant.
When that mission ended in failure, she was taken back to Russia by her masters and given a new costume that allowed her to scale walls as well as a device that allowed her to fire lines to swing from. She once more attempted to get Hawkeye to help her destroy Iron Man. The pair almost succeeded, but when Black Widow was injured, Hawkeye retreated to get her to safety. During this period, Romanova was attempting to defect from the Soviet Union and began to feel love toward Hawkeye, weakening her loyalty to her country. When her employers learned the truth, they had her gunned down, sending her to a hospital, convincing Hawkeye to go straight and seek membership in the Avengers.
Association with the Avengers
Captured by her masters again and brainwashed, Black Widow was forced to hire the Swordsman and Power Man to destroy the Avengers. This plot eventually failed when the Avengers defeated both of the villains and Natasha shook off the effects of the brainwashing. Attempting to make amends with the group, she assisted them against the racist group known as the Sons of the Serpent.
Having been granted amnesty, Natasha made a bid for membership in the Avengers, aiding them in their battle against the Ultroids. She threatened to kill their leader Ixar if he did not leave the Earth, winning the victory, however Hawkeye covered up this fact so that she could get membership in the group even though she violated their code of ethics regarding killing. However when Nick Fury hired her to spy on her former master on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D., she was be forced to decline membership with the Avengers and publicly broke off her relationship with Hawkeye. As part of her mission, the press branded her as a traitor, breaking Hawkeye's heart.
Arriving in China, the Black Widow was not easily trusted and subjected to the Psychotron device, a machine that could brainwash anyone. She proved to be too strong willed and had to be gassed and kept locked up. Learning that Natasha was now a prisoner of her former Communist masters, the Avengers traveled to China to rescue her, clashing with the Red Guardian, Natasha's ex-husband who was thought to be dead. The Avengers with the help of Natasha defeated the Communists plot to use the Psychotron against the western world. During the course of the battle Natasha was injured and the Red Guardian seemingly perished in the battle.
After time recovering in the hospital, Natasha returned to Avengers mansion and came to the decision to give up her career of costumed adventuring. However this proved to be short lived as she returned to super-heroics shortly thereafter, however her romance with Hawkeye became strained as he was usually too busy with Avengers business to pay attention to her.
Fed up with staying out of action, Black Widow accepted another assignment from S.H.I.E.L.D. to prevent Egghead from using an orbital platform to hold the world ransom. She was captured, prompting Hawkeye (who still loved her) to use Henry Pym's growth formula to become the new Goliath and rescue her. She aided the Avengers in stopping Egghead, although it ended in the seeming death of Egghead and Goliath's brother Barney. After a prolonged absence, the Black Widow eventually ended her relationship with Goliath.
Natasha was not be able to avoid super-heroics for long and, after designing a new sleek black costume and adapting her bracelets with electric "Widows Bites", she sought to prove herself a capable adventurer by besting Spider-Man in battle. Although Spider-Man was ill and not at his full capacity at the time, he was still able to beat the Widow, however she resolved to continue her career as a costumed adventurer.
Partners with Daredevil
The Black Widow soon became a pawn manipulated by the computer known as Baal from the distant future Earth-71778. In that reality, mankind was wiped out and the past history of Daredevil and Black Widow played a crucial role. This ultimately lead to a long relationship and partnership between the two heroes, but it eventually came to an end.
While working with S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow was briefly captured as part of a Hydra plot to infiltrate and brainwash the organization, causing her to regress to an old cover identity of teacher Nancy Rushman. Fortunately, she was discovered and rescued by Spider-Man, subsequently working with him, Nick Fury, and Shang-Chi to defeat their plan; she even admitted that the Nancy identity was attracted to Spider-Man after the crisis was over, even if she preferred to retain her independence.
Champions of Los Angeles
She co-founded the Champions of Los Angeles after they had successfully foiled a plot by Pluto to invade Olympus. The team soon disbanded due to bankruptcy, and Natasha attempted a partnership with Hercules without success.
After these two failures, Natasha decided to stay on her own and freelance as an agent for a while.
It was during this time that an enemy from her time alongside Daredevil kidnapped Ivan to lure her to her death. Damon Dran planned to bring Natasha to his island so a small army of female combat specialists could destroy her. Once she was out of the way, he would send a fake Black Widow back to S.H.I.E.L.D. to assassinate Nick Fury. Unfortunately for Dran, Natasha defeated the army, saved Ivan, and notified Fury (who in turn bombed Dran's island).
On a freelance mission, the Black Widow attempted to prevent the Hand from stealing the long-dead body of their Master Warrior, Kirigi. Utilizing deadly poisons, Natasha was killed by the Hand. She was revived by Stone of the Chaste, and joined forces with Stone and Daredevil to stop the Hand from reviving Elektra. Natasha knew that they failed in this endeavor, but kept the information from Matt for his well-being.
On a mission, Natasha found her husband Alexi Shostakov alive. Little did she know that it was only a Life Model Decoy created by Russian agents to blackmail her back into service of mother Russia. Once she finished the tasks they gave her, the Russians told her the truth and attempted to kill her. With Ivan’s assistance, she defeated the Russians and destroyed the LMD.
Iron Man teamed up with Black Widow to prevent an agent named “Oktober” from attempting to start World War III by launching missiles. The missiles were launched, but Iron Man kept them from detonating. Oktober ended up actually being Natasha under some old KGB reprogramming that had been dormant in her mind. Together, they captured the agent responsible.
In time, Black Widow came back to the Avengers and became a co-leader, managing ops at home base while Black Knight lead in the field. When the majority of the Avengers were killed during the Onslaught saga, she was unable to rebuild the team while fighting off lawsuits from the Maria Stark Foundation. She always felt as if the Avengers dissolution was solely her fault.
The Black Widow then vowed to apprehend all of the Avenger's former foes, and ran into Daredevil while hunting the Grey Gargoyle. Matt feared for her mental state as he noticed how obsessive she became about bringing the Gargoyle down. As he attempted to help her, his girlfriend, Karen Page, became increasingly more angry and jealous. Natasha acknowledged Matt's love for Karen and left them to be together. Later, Natasha would even offer to help Karen clear her name from a murder Mr. Fear framed her for.
Once the Avengers who were thought killed returned, Natasha was more relieved, but decided to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. instead, assisting them in destroying Freedom Light by pretending to be Ebon Flame.
Daredevil came into her life once again when he needed her to take care of Baby Karen, who he believed to be the Antichrist. He eventually came back to attempt to kill the child, and Natasha stood in his way. While they were fighting, Bullseye killed the child and Natasha was badly beaten. Upon the child’s death, Matt realized what he was doing, and he and Natasha reconciled. While she could admit that she still cared for him, they both decided they would never be together.
A short time after, Natasha captured Yelena and had their faces surgically swapped in an effort to find out what General Stalyenko was doing with the Rhapastani Government in the Hudson River Valley. After meeting with whom he thought was Yelena, Stalyenko figured out it was not really she and attempted to kill her. Even though her plan failed, Natasha was able to prevent Stalyenko from selling the Cold War nuclear weapons he was hiding in the valley to Rhapastan.
The government of Bulgaria later captured Madame Hydra and requested an exchange with the United States for the Black Widow. As part of a sting to find out who it was that was going to allow Natasha to be exchanged, Daredevil and S.H.I.E.L.D. teamed up with Natasha and found out that her husband, Alexi had orchestrated the entire exchange. Alongside the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Daredevil, Natasha took Alexi into custody.
The stress of seeing her once-dead once-living once-dead once-robot now alive again husband drove Natasha to retirement. She lived for a short time in Arizona before agents from the Red Room began tracking down ex-Black Widow agents and killing them. Natasha recruited Phil Dexter, an associate from S.H.I.E.L.D., and attempted to track down the killers. In her hunting, she found Sally Anne Carter as well as Antonovna Kudrin, who was the former head of biotech for the Red Room. It turned out that the Black Widows included twenty-seven girls trained to be perfect killers. They were implanted with false memories, psycho-chemically conditioned, and chemically enhanced to be loyal and perform perfectly for the program. Even pheromonal locks and keys were implanted into the Black Widows as a control mechanism to keep them from rebelling. While taking Lyudmila to S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha learned that Nick Fury had used the pheromonal keys to make her defect from her home country and begin working for S.H.I.E.L.D. She also learned that Sally Anne was kidnapped and Phil was killed in the process.
The trail of Black Widow killings lead to Vassily Ilyich Ulyanov from the Red Room and Ian McMasters, CEO of Gynacon. Natasha caught up to them on his yacht and killed them, making her the number one most wanted criminal in the United States.
Natasha sought help from Yelena Belova in Cuba. Yelena was running a lingerie company and soft pornography television channels at the time. In return for a place to stay, Yelena asked Natasha for help in exporting stolen medical supplies from Miami. To her surprise, Natasha found the medical supplies to be from Gynacon and that Sally Anne was actually taken by the mafia. Kestrel and Martin Ferris captured Natasha in Miami and attempted to alter her mind using drugs to find out what she knew. With the help of Yelena, Daredevil rescued Natasha, who then tracked and killed Kestrel and Ferris. In all the madness, Natasha learned that Sally Anne had been experimented on by Gynacon but had escaped.
Black Widow was assigned to track down the Tinkerer in an effort to find the financier behind the super-villains of America. Disguised in a burqa, she tracked the Tinkerer to the castle of Lucia von Bardas, the current prime minister of Latveria. Unfortunately, the President refused Fury's request for a S.H.I.E.L.D.-focused overthrow of von Bardas. Forced to act alone, Fury gathered Widow, Captain America, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Wolverine and Daisy Johnson to overthrow von Bardas. Unfortunately, the heroes disapproved of bringing down Castle Doom down on von Bardas. Afterwards, Fury erased the memories of the non-level 10 participants in his secret war.
When Matt Murdock's identity as Daredevil was leaked to the press, the government came to arrest him along with Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Foggy Nelson. Natasha was able to keep everyone but Matt from going to jail.
During the Superhero Civil War, Natasha becomes a supporter of the Superhuman Registration Act and a member of the task force led by Iron Man. Afterward, Natasha allowed herself to be registered and joins the reconstituted Avengers. When S.H.I.E.L.D. director Tony Stark is presumed killed and deputy director Maria Hill incapacitated, Natasha assumes temporary command of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the highest-ranking agent present.
Natasha, still one of the world’s most sought-after espionage agents alive, was recruited by Iron Man and Ms. Marvel to be on the newest team of Avengers alongside the Sentry, Ares, the Wasp, and Wonder Man. She immediately proved herself in battle against the Mole Man's biological creatures and continued to do so when taking command of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Ultron crisis.
Natasha was among the Avengers infected along with hundreds of other New York citizens by a symbiote virus, but were cured by Iron Man. Natasha became very suspicious of Jessica Drew, who was later discovered to be the Skrull impostor, Veranke.
Natasha assumed the identity of Yelena Belova to infiltrate Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts for Nick Fury. Osborn discovered her breaking into an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, and offered her the position of field lead. On her first mission, she and Ant-Man took control of Air Force One with the Goblin, Doc Samson, and the new President aboard. Osborn began impersonating Fury in messages to set Natasha up in order to strengthen the Thunderbolts and lead him to Fury.
Osborn ordered her to lead the current Thunderbolts to kill former Thunderbolt, Songbird. Fury orders "Yelena" to rescue and retrieve Songbird, for the information she might have possessed about Osborn and his operations. Natasha found Songbird, and revealed to her that she was really Natasha Romanova in disguise. She tried delivering Songbird to Fury, but the Thunderbolts also followed them. The trio was captured as Osborn revealed he had been impersonating Fury in messages all along. He ordered the team to execute Natasha and Songbird, but they managed to escape when Ant-Man, Headsmen and Paladin turned on the rest of the Thunderbolts and let them go. After being rescued by MACH-V and Fixer, they learned that the Fury Osborn shot was actually an LMD.
Again an Avenger
After the Siege of Asgard, Black Widow joined Commander Rogers' new Secret Avengers. Some time later, when the Stark Tower was rebuilt, she joined the Avengers' main team and even had a room there. She played a vital role in helping Spider-Man foil the Sinister Six's latest scheme when she, Spider-Man and Silver Sable were the last heroes left standing after the Six defeated the rest of the Avengers (albeit because she was the Avenger closest to Sable's cloaked plane).
Time Runs Out
Several months later, when S.H.I.E.L.D. took over the Avengers to find the Illuminati and bring them into custody for destroying many alternate universes, Natasha left the team and joined Sunspot's Avengers.
Later on, Captain America gave her a list of people to save and bring aboard the lifeboat and explained it was Natasha's job to assist in the effort to save as many people as possible before Earth as they knew it was destroyed. Black Widow then left to save as many people as she could.
During the final incursion, Natasha piloted a ship holding a handpicked few to restart humanity after the universe ended, co-piloted by Jessica Drew. Her ship was shot down during the battle though, and she was killed in the ensuing explosion.
The Weeping Lion
When Reed Richards restored the universe back to life, so did Natasha and the rest of its inhabitants, with no memory of their temporary demise. Over the course of eight months, she went back to espionage, leaving the Avengers, however a new adversary nicknamed the "Weeping Lion" blackmailed her using her darkest secret, forcing her to betray S.H.I.E.L.D. and making an enemy of Agent Elder, who resolved to bring her to justice for betraying the organization.
|Power Grid |
Artificially Extended Life: Natasha has received a Russian serum that extends her life and youth, resulting in her maintaining the appearance of a woman in her 30's despite being born in 1928. She is classified as a Human. Nick Fury's intel classified her as power level 7.
- Peak Human Strength: Her physical strength is at the peak level of natural physical limits of a woman of her height, weight and build. She is capable of lifting up to 500 lbs. However, she stated that the Punisher was stronger than her.
- Peak Human Speed: Her speed is also enhanced to the peak of human capability. Natasha is as fast as a human can be.
- Peak Human Agility: Natasha's natural agility is at the level of an Olympic gold medalist. She can easily coordinate her body with balance, flexibility, and dexterity.
- Peak Human Reflexes: Her reflexes are at the peak of human ability.
- Peak Human Senses: Her five senses are enhanced and function at the peak of human perfection.
- Peak Mental Resistance: Natasha is extraordinarily capable at withstanding torture. She is often required to go undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. and has been extensively trained to endure long-term inhumane interrogation methods.
- Peak Human Immune System: While she is susceptible to disease, the Black Widow has been enhanced by biotechnology that makes her body resistant to aging and disease and heals at an above human rate.
Master Martial Artist: Natasha is an expert in many fields of martial arts. These include sambo, boxing, karate, judo, aikido, ninjutsu, savate, muay thai and multiple styles of kung fu.
Expert Acrobat: She is an Olympic class athlete, gymnast, acrobat and aerialist capable of numerous complex maneuvers and feats.
Expert Marksman: Natasha is an extremely accurate marksman skilled in sharpshooting and knife throwing.
Gifted Intellect: She possesses the ability to quickly process multiple information streams (e.g., threat assessment) and rapidly respond to changing tactical situations.
Graceful Dancer: Natasha is a profound ballet dancer.
Expert Tactician: She is a very effective strategist, tactician, and field commander. She has lead the Avengers and even S.H.I.E.L.D. on one occasion.
Talented Hacker: Natasha can hack into all computer systems without tripping any firewalls or security with ease.
Master Seductress: She is an expert in the field of seduction. Natasha has been infamously known to bend many different men to her will and sometimes even get them to do her bidding for her. She sometimes continues deceiving certain men through means of acting if she still has a further use for them.
Expert Spy: Natasha is a dangerous secret agent trained in espionage, stealth, disguise, infiltration, and demolitions. She displays an uncanny affinity for psychological manipulation and can mask her real emotions perfectly. She is capable of killing in cold blood when the need arises. Her talents and years of experience have enabled her to reach a high ranking as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While the serum she received extends her life, its effects on her body have made pregnancy impossible.
Costume Specifications: Synthetic stretch fabric which has been augmented to be highly resistant to damage even small arms fire and high temperatures. Microscopic suction cups on her costume allow her to scale walls and cling to ceilings, just as her namesake.
Natasha uses her Widow's Line, a grappling hook with a retractable line, to swing along rooftops for increased mobility. Avenger's Quinjets. Assorted S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft. Used an Avengers Issue Jet-Pack.
Personal Weaponry: The Black Widow's Gauntlets are wrist cartridges containing various tools of the spy trade: tear-gas pellets, a radio transmitter and spring-loaded cable.
Special Weaponry: Various automatic weapons and firearms, combat knives and explosives as needed. She also uses a device often referred to as the Widow's Bite that is capable of emitting highly potent electric shocks with a maximum of about 30,000 volts.
Source of Paraphernalia: Formerly Soviet Union, S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers.
- Despite the Black Widow having been introduced in 1964, it wasn't until 35 years later in 1999 that the first version of her Red Room backstory was established in Black Widow #1.
- She has had romantic relationships with Clint Barton, Matt Murdock, James Barnes, and Alexi Shostakov.
- She was a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Level Ten, or "Level 10 Operative".
- Romanova occasionally cared for a cat that hung around her apartment until she eventually named it Liho and unofficially adopted it.
- 1,161 Appearances of Natalia Romanova (Earth-616)
- Media Natalia Romanova (Earth-616) was Mentioned in
- 446 Images featuring Natalia Romanova (Earth-616)
- 70 Quotations by or about Natalia Romanova (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: Natalia Romanova (Earth-616)
Discover and Discuss
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- ↑ ("Natasha" is the informal version of the name "Natalia", and is used by her close associates. Sometimes she has chosen to Anglicize her last name as "Romanoff." She has dropped her married name of "Shostakova.")All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Hardcover, Volume 2
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 2 #2
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Iron Man #277
- ↑ Champions #7
- ↑ Journey into Mystery #519
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Shadows and Light #1
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Black Widow Vol 4 #4
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men #268
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Black Widow Vol 2 #4-6
- ↑ Black Widow and the Marvel Girls #1
- ↑ Captain America Vol 5 #27
- ↑ Before the Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm and Logan #1
- ↑ Tales of Suspense #52
- ↑ Tales of Suspense #52-53
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Tales of Suspense #57
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Tales of Suspense #60
- ↑ Untold Tales of Spider-Man #17
- ↑ Tales of Suspense #64
- ↑ Avengers #12
- ↑ Avengers #29
- ↑ Avengers #30
- ↑ Avengers #32-33
- ↑ Avengers #36
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Avengers #37
- ↑ Avengers #38
- ↑ Avengers #39
- ↑ Avengers #41
- ↑ Avengers #42
- ↑ Avengers #43
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 Avengers #44
- ↑ Avengers #46
- ↑ Avengers #57
- ↑ Avengers #63
- ↑ Avengers #64
- ↑ Avengers #76
- ↑ Amazing Spider-Man #86
- ↑ Amazing Adventures Vol 2 #1-8
- ↑ Marvel Team-Up #82-85
- ↑ Champions #1-3
- ↑ 40.0 40.1 Civil War #3
- ↑ Thunderbolts #134
- ↑ Thunderbolts #128
- ↑ Secret Warriors #7
- ↑ Thunderbolts #135
- ↑ Thunderbolts #136
- ↑ Amazing Spider-Man #684
- ↑ Avengers Vol 5 #1
- ↑ Avengers Vol 5 #38
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 5 #19
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 5 #20
- ↑ Secret Wars #1
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 6 #1
- ↑ 53.0 53.1 Secret War: From the Files of Nick Fury #1
- ↑ Punisher: War Zone Vol 3 #2
- ↑ 55.0 55.1 55.2 All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #2
- ↑ Daredevil #105
- ↑ Avengers: The Initiative #8
- ↑ Daredevil #84
- ↑ Winter Soldier #1
- ↑ Mighty Avengers #3
- ↑ The Wolverine Files #1
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 5 #1
- ↑ Black Widow Vol 5 #13
- ↑ Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook #1
- ↑ Avengers: Roll Call #1
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