Black Widow

Real name: Natasha Romanoff
First appearance: Tales of Suspense #52
Base of Operations: New York City, New York
Occupation: Intelligence operative, crimefighter
Place of Birth: Stalingrad, Russia
Classification: human
Marital Status: widowed
Membership Status: currently inactive
Team affiliations: Avengers, Champions, Lady Liberators, S.H.I.E.L.D

Powers:
None, apart from being skilled in espionage, unarmed combat, acrobatics and leadership. Natasha started out as a spy for her native Russia and didn't get into the super-powered game until after a defeat by Iron Man. Her costume has micro-suction cups on its palms and soles that allow her to cling to surfaces like her namesake. Her wrist-cartridges contain various weapons and devices, including tear-gas pellets, a radio transmitter, and most notably her Widow's Bite (an electrical discharge weapon that can stun her opponents into unconsciousness) and Widow's Line (a grappling cable she uses to swing through the city like Spider-Man). Also, microscopic suction cups built into her uniform enable the Widow to walk on walls and ceilings.

History:
Natasha Romanoff, a descendant of Russia's royal family, was found as a young child by Russian soldier Ivan Petrovitch, who watched over her as she grew to adulthood and today works as her chauffeur. Romanova proved to be a brilliant scholar and athlete as she matured, and gained fame in the Soviet Union as a ballerina. Romanoff married renowned Soviet test pilot Alexi Shostakov, but the couple's happiness was short-lived.

It was decided at the KGB, the department of the Soviet government whichserves as the intelligence agency and secret police, that the Shostakovs would make good special operatives. While Alexi Shostakovs was away on a mission, he was informed of the state's new plans for him, and told that from then on he could have no contact with past friends and acquaintances, including even his own wife. Shostakov was then trained to become the Red Guardian, a costumed agent who was intended to act as the Soviet Union's counterpart to Captain America. Meanwhile, a Soviet officer told Natalia Shostakova that her husband had died in the explosion of an experimental rocket he was testing. Distraught, Natalia Shostakova said that she wanted to do something to be worthy of the memory of her heroic husband. The KGB had anticipated her reaction, and trained her to become the spy known as the Black Widow.

At first the Black Widow did not act as a costumed agent. Her first major field assignment was to infiltrate Stark Industries in the United States and to assist her partner Boris Turgenov in the assassination of the defector Professor Anton Vanko. The Black Widow was thwarted repeatedly by the original Iron Man in her various schemes against Stark Industries. The Black Widow used Hawkeye, who was then sought as a criminal and who found himself attracted to her, as an ally in some of her subversive activities. The Widow was given her first costume in her fourth mission in the United States. However, her growing love for Hawkeye led to a weakening of her resolve to continue her missions for the Soviets. Hawkeye refused to act as a criminal any longer, and successfully sought amnesty and Avengers membership.

The Black Widow fell into the hands of the intelligence agents of the People's Republic of China, who brainwashed her into serving them. They directed her to attack the Avengers, but she freed herself from the brainwashing, was reunited with Hawkeye, and revealed her true identity and offered her services to SHIELD, which has made use of her talents on numerous occasions.

Her romance with Hawkeye eventually ended, as did a subsequent love affair and partnership with Daredevil, although she remains friends with both men. She was a member of the Champions of Los Angeles, and serves from time to time as an honorary member of the Avengers. She remains active as a freelance adventurer. The Black Widow had one extended stint with the Avengers, actually serving as Chair of the team. Under her leadership the Avengers faced the Onslaught menace, where many of the teamís central Avengers were presumed killed. She blamed herself for the lost, and, despite a valiant attempt to reorganize the team, eventually disbanded the Avengers. When the lost Avengers returned, she joined them against Morgan Le Fey, but quickly and quietly departed the team when the crisis was over and a membership change was conducted.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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