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Black Widow (I)
NAME: Natalia “Natasha” Alianovna Romanova
("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.") KNOWN ALIASES: Natasha Romanoff, Nancy Rushman,
Laura Matthers, Oktober, Tsarina, Natalia Shostakova IDENTITY: Publicly known OCCUPATION: Adventurer, intelligence agent,
former ballerina CITIZENSHIP: Former citizen of the U.S.S.R.
who defected to the United States; she now lives in the United
States under an extended visa authorized by S.H.I.E.L.D.;
she has a criminal record in the United States for her espionage
activities for other nations, but was granted amnesty through
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s intervention. PLACE OF BIRTH: Stalingrad, former Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics now Volgograd, Russia MARITAL STATUS: Widowed KNOWN RELATIVES: Unnamed parents (presumed
deceased), Alexi Shostakov (alias Red Guardian I, husband,
deceased), Vindiktor (alleged brother, deceased) GROUP AFFILIATION: Avengers, former member
of the “Marvel Knights”, Queen’s Vengeance,
Champions of Los Angeles, Lady Liberators, and K.G.B., former
partner of Daredevil frequent freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
BASE OF OPERATION: Mobile, but maintains
a home in New York City EDUCATION: College graduate FRIST APPEARANCE: Tales of Suspense Vol.
1 #52 (1964)
HISTORY: Natasha Romanoff,
a rumored descendant of Russia's royal family. But nothing
else is known of her family. During World War II, a Nazi assault
upon Stalingrad set the building she was in on fire. A woman,
possibly her mother, threw her into the arms of a Russian
soldier named Ivan Petrovich before being consumed by the
Ivan brought Natasha under his protection and soon had to
defend her from her many enemies. In 1941, Natasha was sought
by the Nazi Baron Strucker, who presented her to the Hand
to become their master assassin. She was saved from Strucker
and the Hand by Ivan, the American super hero Captain America,
and the Canadian adventurer Logan.
Under Ivan’s care, Natasha grew to pursue her goal
of becoming a ballet dancer and studied under Oksana Bolishinko,
a famous Bolshoi instructor. She fell in love with and married
a Soviet test pilot named Alexi Shostakov. It was decided
at the K.G.B., the department of the Soviet government which
serves as the intelligence agency and secret police, which
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, Natasha decided that she would honor
Alexi’s memory by becoming an intelligence operative,
not realizing that this was what the K.G.B. had hoped would
happen when they informed her of Alexi’s death. She
was instructed by the K.G.B. in their infamous Red Room Academy
and under their training, she became their most skilled operative,
a superb fighter and information-gatherer. The K.G.B gave
her the code name of “Black Widow,” and quickly
sent her into the field
When Logan resurfaced in America, now bereft of his memory,
Natasha set out as the Black Widow to save him from a team
of Hydra assassins. She soon encountered Logan again when
he, Ben Grimm, and Carol Danvers stole the Red Storm Project
from Russia. Natasha pursued them but was ordered off by her
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, who was the creator of the Soviet Crimson Dynamo.
Natasha attempted to distract Tony Stark while her partner
Boris Turgenov used the Crimson Dynamo to destroy Stark’s
plants. Turgenov and Vanko wound up perishing in battle, and
Natasha remained in America to find some way of regaining
the K.G.B.’s favor.
Since Tony Stark was still unaware that she was a K.G.B.
operative, she continued to romance him so that she could
steal a new antigravity device he had created. She managed
to use the device to commit various acts of sabotage, even
lifting entire buildings into the air, but Iron Man nullified
the device and she barely escaped capture, now unable to trick
Stark into lowering his guard.
By luck, Natasha happened upon the novice costumed crime
fighter Hawkeye, who had been mistaken for a criminal by the
police. Hawkeye was so taken with Natasha that she was able
to entice him into on attempt at stealing plans from Tony
Stark. Hawkeye fought Iron Man while Natasha watched from
a distance, but when Iron Man deflected one of Hawkeye’s
explosive arrows, the force of the impact struck Natasha down,
knocking her unconscious. Hawkeye fled the scene to help Natasha
After Natasha recovered, her superiors instructed her to
avoid Stark Industries for a time and directed her instead
to target Williams Innovations. She duped Hawkeye into assaulting
that firm, but Spider-Man intervened and Hawkeye turned back
as he had begun to suspect his lover’s true motivations.
Natasha later sent Hawkeye out on a second attempt to steal
Stark’s plans. However, while Hawkeye was gone, she
was kidnapped by the K.G.B. and returned to Russia. The K.G.B.
designed a new costume for her and equipped her with her “widow’s
bite” and “widow’s line.” With these
new weapons Natasha joined Hawkeye in battle against Iron
Man in an attempt to destroy him, but when Iron Man shocked
Natasha with an electrical blast Hawkeye disobeyed her orders
to save her life once again. The K.G.B. the returned and stole
Natasha away from Hawkeye.
This time the K.G.B. brainwashed Natasha to ensure her loyalty
to the state; in her next mission, she found herself pitted
against Hawkeye, who had become a member of the Avengers.
Her love for Hawkeye allowed her to resist the brainwashing,
and she finally turned against the K.G.B. She became an ally
of the Avengers for awhile, aiding them against the Sons of
the Serpent. She also proved instrumental in defeating the
alien Ultroids who were certain the Avengers would not kill
their leader Ixar because of their oath against killing, but
Natasha forced Ixar to surrender, reasoning that as she was
not an Avenger, she was not bound by their oaths.
On an assignment for S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha discovered that
Alexi Shostakov was still alive, and had been transformed
by the K.G.B. into the costumed hero, the Red Guardian. She
and the Avengers opposed the Red Guardian and his masters,
and Alexi died in the Battle. For a while Natasha abandoned
her identity as the Black Widow, just as the Avengers were
about to make her an official member.
Natasha finally decided to resume the Black Widow identity,
but soon broke off her relationship with Hawkeye so that she
could pursue a solo career. She adopted a new all-black uniform
and became a vigilante, battling gangs and organized crime
in New York. Ivan had come to America by then, and he served
as her chauffeur and confidant. Her new methods of operation
brought her into contact with Daredevil, and she soon developed
both a professional and personal relationship with him, battling
side by side as they fell in love.
Natasha was less taken with Matt’s law partner Froggy
Nelson, who was manipulated by the villain Mr. Kline into
prosecuting her for the murder of the Scorpion (it was actually
a robot duplicate of the Scorpion created by Mr. Kline). Although
Natasha was proven innocent, she never truly forgave Froggy
for the savagery of his courtroom assault.
Matt broke up with his long-time love, Karen Page, so that
he could be with Natasha, and the two of them moved to San
Francisco to start a new life together. They fought against
menaces such as the Man-Bull, the Blue Talon, Dark Messiah,
Angar the Screamer, Ramrod, Terrex, Kraven the Hunter, the
Death Stalker, the Owl, El Jaguar, Hydra, and Damon Dran,
the Indestructible Man.
Natasha wanted to find a new career for herself beyond the
day-to-day adventures she and Daredevil enjoyed, and attempted
to become a fashion designer, but her career never took off,
and her relationship with Matt became strained.
Natasha left Daredevil briefly to accept an offer of membership
in the Avengers after aiding them against Magneto, but she
soon left them after determining from a battle against the
Lion God that she did not fit into a team environment. Natasha
and Matt reconciled for awhile, but after a lengthy romance,
Natasha finally broke up with Matt because she felt he did
not treat her as an equal in battle.
Still on the West Coast, Natasha joined forces with the Ghost
Rider and Angel and Iceman of the X-Men when the gods Hercules
and Venus were captured by the armies of Pluto and Ares. After
having saved Hercules from a forced marriage, he joined the
four heroes to found a new super-hero team, the Champions.
Based in Los Angeles and bankrolled by the Angel, the team
enjoyed modest success in their adventures. During this time,
Natasha became involved with Hercules, but his perspective
as an immortal made a long-term relationship seem unimportant.
The Champions finally disbanded due to bankruptcy.
Although she and Daredevil had parted ways, the Black Widow
was still well-known to Daredevil’s enemies as a woman
he had loved, and Natasha was captured by Bullseye to be used
as bait in an attempt to slay Daredevil. However, Natasha
escaped her bonds and aided Daredevil in defeating Bullseye.
Damon Dran, one of Natasha’s enemies from her days with
Daredevil, captured Ivan in order to lure Natasha to his island,
where he set an army of female combat specialists against
her. Dran intended to send an agent impersonating the Black
Widow to infiltrate the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and assassinate
Nick Fury, but Natasha defeated his agents, warned Fury, and
saved Ivan from Dran before S.H.I.E.L.D. bombed Dran’s
The Black Widow was once more embroiled in the schemes of
the Hand when she attempted to prevent them from stealing
the body of their master warrior, Kirgi, from the morgue.
The Hand struck Natasha down with poisons that killed her,
but Stone of the Chaste restored her to life. She joined forces
with Daredevil and Stone against the Hand when they attempted
to revive Elektra. Natasha guessed at the time that Elektra
had been successfully revived, but kept this from Matt for
his own good.
When Natasha learned that Oskana Bolishinko, her old instructor,
was in America at the Russian Embassy, she broke into the
premises, seeking to apologize to her mentor for abandoning
the ballet to become a spy. Oskana replied that Natasha was
not the only pupil of hers who had been stolen away by the
K.G.B., and that she accepted that espionage was Natasha’s
Russian agents then created a Life Model Decoy (LMD) of Alexi
Shostakov, which they used to dupe Natasha into believing
her husband was still alive. With threats of terminating Alexi,
they coerced her into performing acts of espionage for Russia
against the U.S. Upon gaining the desired technology, the
Russians revealed the truth and tried to kill the Widow, but
with the aid of Ivan, she defeated them and destroyed the
Natasha later joined forces with Iron Man to prevent the
Russian sleeper agent code named “Oktober” from
launching nuclear missile which would have caused World War
III. Unknown to Natasha, she herself was Oktober, and succeeded
in launching the missiles. Unfortunately, Iron Man prevented
them from being detonated and aided Natasha in capturing the
K.G.B. agent responsible for Natasha’s reprogramming.
The Window also worked alongside Daredevil against the murdering
telepath known as Rose, who had target other telepaths, including
several members of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ESPer unit.
S.H.I.E.L.D. sent the Widow to investigate the Molina, the
Russian Mafia, which thrust her into the middle of the decades
old struggle between two seeming immortals, the vigilante
Night Raven and the drug smuggling Yi Yang. The Widow assisted
in foiling Yi Yang’s plot and was witness to Yi Yang
casting her helicopter on top of the Night Raven. No bodies
were found in the wreckage.
Natasha eventually returned to the Avengers and assumed the
mantle of leadership, usually managing the team’s operations
from Avengers Mansion while allowing the Black Knight to lead
in the field. During this time she also became attracted to
Captain America, but wound up sleeping with Tony Stark instead.
Her tenure as the Avengers’ leader came to a sorrowful
end when most of the team was apparently slain battling Onslaught.
Unable to rebuild the Avengers roster herself, and threatened
with a legal action from the Maria Stark Foundation, the Black
Widow allowed the Avengers to dissolve.
Considering herself to be the last Avenger, Natasha embarked
upon a personal mission to bring down all of the Avengers’
former enemies, including the Grey Gargoyle and the Masters
of Evil. She again encountered Daredevil at this time, who
was concerned with her mental state as he witnessed her obsessive
hunting of the grey Gargoyle. Natasha’s presence in
Daredevil’s life again complicated his relationship
with Karen Page, which at that time was still being rebuilt.
Although Natasha was willing to rekindle their relationship,
she acknowledged that Karen was the woman Matt loved and nobly
allowed them their space. Later on, she even offered to assist
Karen after she had been framed for by Mr. Fear.
Natasha was also the first person to correctly identify the
former members of the Master of Evil who had adopted the guise
of the heroic Thunderbolts. She attempted to turn M.A.C.H.-IV
and Songbird against Baron Zemo before he could make his move,
inspiring them by telling them how Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and
the Scarlet Witch had redeemed their own criminal pasts, but
Zemo set his plan into motion before they could reach a decision.
The Avengers finally returned and resumed their operations,
but the Black Widow has only occasionally assisted them on
missions, still feeling responsible for the team’s disbanding.
Instead, she has focused on her espionage work. Natasha has
accepted several more assignments from S.H.I.E.L.D., such
as impersonating the terrorist leader Ebon Flame in order
to shut down her organization, Freedom’s Light. She
also had Iron Man assist her in infiltrating the forced-labor
camp for scientists run by Tuatara under Mandarin’s
Natasha came close to learning some truths about her past
when she was led into a trap by a man named Vindiktor, who
claimed to have a copy of Natasha’s mother’s diary.
This turned out to be false, but as Natasha fought him, he
claimed that he was her brother. Unfortunately, Vindiktor
died during their battle before Natasha could ascertain if
he was telling the truth.
Natasha crossed Daredevil’s path again when he attempted
to slay Baby Karen, believing the infant to be the Antichrist.
Natasha saved the child, but was badly beaten by Daredevil
in the ensuing fight. Karen Page ultimately died protecting
the child, and Matt went to Natasha to be consoled and to
explain his earlier actions to her. Natasha reconciled with
Matt, revealed that she still loved him, but noted that they
had grown to far apart to become a couple again.
Recently, Natasha became aware of the presence of another
Black Widow, a younger woman named Yelena Belova who had also
been trained at the Red Room and who was obsessed with being
the sole Black Widow. The two Black Widows first encountered
each other while attempting to retrieve the Endless Fury bio
weapon created in Rhapistan, which exploded violently. Natasha
later had herself and Yelena trade appearances through plastic
surgery to help teach Yelena teach Yelena that her superiors
considered her expendable
Despite the presence of the other Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff
remains one of the world’s most accomplished hand-to-hand
combatants, and is quite possibly the most skilled espionage
agent alive, still in high demand with S.H.I.E.L.D., though
the U.S. government recently attempted to turn her over to
the government of Bulgaria in exchange for having the Viper
released to the United States. Her most recent S.H.I.E.L.D.
assignment has been to trace the whereabouts of the Tinkerer
during a plot to investigate the financing of super-villains
in America by foreign nations, possibly Latveria.
HEIGHT: 5 ft. 7 in. WEIGHT: 131 lbs. EYES: Blue HAIR: Red-auburn (formerly died black)
STRENGTH LEVEL: The Black Widow possesses
the normal human strength of a woman of her age, height, and
build who engages in intensive regular exercise.
SUPERHUMAN POWERS: The Black Widow has received
a variant of the Super-Soldier Serum which enabled her to
remain in peak physical condition for the past several decades,
as well as slowing her aging process to some degree
ABILITIES: The Black Widow is an Olympic
WEAPONRY: Bracelets that contain both the
“widow’s line” which fires her cable, and
the “widow’s bite” which releases electric
bolts to stun her adversaries with a charge of up to 30,000
volts. Her gloves and boots are equipped with miniature suction
cups which enable her to cling to surfaces. Her belt contains
Prevented HYDRA from obtaining Logan (Wolverine Vol. 2 #-1,
Encountered Ben Grimm and Logan (Before the Fantastic Four:
Ben Grimm & Logan #1-3, 2000)
Sent by K.G.B. to kill Anton Vanko, met Tony Stark (Tales
of Suspense Vol. 1 #52, 1964)
Stole Stark’s anti-gravity device (Tales of Suspense
Vol. 1 #53, 1964)
Met Hawkeye and duped him into battling Iron Man (Tales of
Suspense Vol. 1 #57, 1964)
Received costume and weapons (Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #60,
Brainwashed by K.G.B., reunited with Hawkeye (Avengers Vol.
1 #29-30, 1966)
Discovered husband had become Red Guardian, witnessed his
death (Avengers Vol.1 #43-44, 1967)
Adopted all-black costume (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #86,
First met Daredevil (Daredevil Vol. 1 #81, 1971)
Moved to San Francisco with Matt (Daredevil Vol. 1 #86 1972)
Joined the Avengers (Avengers Vol.1 #111, 1973)
Broke up with Daredevil (Daredevil Vol. 1 #124, 1975)
Founded the Champions (Champions #1, 1975)
Killed by the Hand, resurrected by Stone (Daredevil Vol. 1
Fought Vindiktor (Shadows & Light #1, 1998)
Met Black Widow II (Black Widow Vol. 1 #1-3, 1999)
Traded identities with Yelena Belova (Black Widow Vol. 2 #1-3,
Updated from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: