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