14 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Widow From The Comics
With Natasha Romanoff getting her very own film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now is a good time to run through some little-known facts about Black Widow in Marvel Comics. For instance, did you know Natasha Romanoff was not the first character to use the "Black Widow" moniker in Marvel Comics? And that Natasha Romanoff isn't her real name? What about the fact she actually does have some superhuman abilities?
Black Widow's backstory encompasses a thousand comic book appearances and more than 50 years of publication history. Here are some things you may not know about the Red Room-trained superspy.
Natasha Romanoff Was Not The First Black Widow In Marvel Comics
You'd be forgiven for assuming Natasha Romanoff was the first Black Widow to grace the pages of Marvel Comics - she was introduced way back in 1964, after all - but you would be wrong for doing so. The first Black Widow was actually introduced to readers in 1940's Mystic Comics #4 when Marvel Comics was known as Timely Comics.
This Black Widow had very little in common with the Black Widow we know and love today outside of the catchy moniker. Her name was Claire Voyant (get it?) and she was a medium who was granted powers by Satan himself to harvest souls on Earth. After a few scant appearances, she was shelved for good in the early 1940s, only to be revived for Marvel's The Twelve limited series that ran from 2008-2012.
More than anything, Claire Voyant is a fun trivia fact for Marvel fans to bring out at parties.
Black Widow's Real Name Isn't Natasha Romanoff
Scarlett Johansson has spent the past decade making Natasha Romanoff a household name thanks to her work in various Marvel Cinematic Universe films, from 2010's Iron Man 2 up through 2020's Black Widow. And while Marvel Comics' version of the character is happy to go by the same name, and usually does, Natasha Romanoff isn't her real name.
Weirdly enough, Natasha's birth name is Natalia Romanova, which is just close enough to Natasha Romanoff to drive you a little bit nuts every time you read one or the other throughout the character's hundreds upon hundreds of appearances in Marvel Comics.
Perhaps poking fun at this minuscule name change, writer Richard K. Morgan had the Widow adopt the fake identity of Nadine Roman during the opening panels of 2004's Black Widow #2 in order to extract some information.
She Has Been Romantically Entangled With Numerous Marvel Superheroes
Thanks to the soap opera-esque nature of comic books, characters rarely stay in meaningful relationships for any lengthy period of time. And when they do end up staying in a committed relationship or even getting married, the powers that be generally end up splitting them apart to drum up controversy (hello, Spider-Man: One More Day) and keep people reading. And when you're a female superhero that Marvel doesn't know what to do with for a good chunk of your publication history, you end up getting into relationships with other superheroes.
Black Widow's first superhero relationship was with Clint Barton's Hawkeye - back when he was wearing a costume with an H on his mask. The two eventually broke it off and Natasha ended up with Matt Murdock's Daredevil for a spell. As Daredevil fans know, Matt Murdock doesn't get to be happy for long, and the pair split, which left the Widow without a superhero boyfriend.
Later, Bucky Barnes was dusted off and brought into the 21st century in the Captain America comics of the mid-2000s, and he and BW rekindled their romance from their days in the Red Room for a hot minute. To be fair, both Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier still harbor feelings for Natasha, proven by their reluctant teaming up to find her in the 2018 "Red Ledger" storyline from Tales of Suspense #100-104.
Romanoff Began Her Marvel Career As An Iron Man Villain
Natasha Romanoff got her start in the MCU in the same way she got her start in Marvel Comics: as a supporting character in an Iron Man story. Yes, the Black Widow's first appearance was as a villain to old shell head in 1964's Tales of Suspense #52. In fact, the cover boasts "Introducing: the gorgeous new menace of... The Black Widow!" And if you didn't catch the drift from the cover, the first page exclaims, "Introducing the breath-taking beauty of the mysterious Black Widow!"
This Stan Lee-penned version of Black Widow bears little resemblance to the character she would become in the decades following. She calls herself Madame Natasha, says things like "comrade leader" and "brutish oaf," and is generally just another in a long line of forgettable C-tier Marvel villains.
However, she still came across as a well-trained and manipulative Russian spy, so the seeds of her character are certainly there for the planting.
She Was A Founding Member Of The Champions Of Los Angeles
Marvel's current Champions lineup boasts popular modern heroes like Ms. Marvel, Mile Morales, and Riri Williams. And while Black Widow ended up leading the team during the events of the 2017 Secret Empire event, the team is a far cry from what it was during its original incarnation in 1975 as "The Champions of Los Angeles." That team was a mish-mash of Marvel characters consisting of Ghost Rider, Hercules, Black Widow, and X-Men heroes Angel and Iceman.
The team's series only lasted a scant 17 issues during the mid-1970s, but they have become a favorite of long-time Marvel fans due to their sheer weirdness. The characters never really meshed well together and constant changes in the creative team never gave the book a chance to find its footing.
The best little bit of trivia about the Champions is that they flew around in a Quinjet known as the "Champjet." Talk about a fantastic job naming your plane, guys!
She Has Perished More Than Once In Marvel Comics
Good news for all you MCU fans who found Black Widow's demise in Avengers: Endgame too much to bear: she's been dispatched twice in the pages of Marvel Comics and has come back both times! In two classic cases of comic book tomfoolery, Natasha Romanoff has been dramatically executed only to be revived shortly after because, well, it is hard to make money off a deceased character.
The first instance of this happening occurs in 1982's Daredevil #188, in which Romanoff expires on the final page after being poisoned during a fight with the Hand. Luckily for Matt Murdock and fans everywhere, Romanoff was magically revived at the beginning of Daredevil #189, so... yeah, all that pain and strife was for naught.
The more recent of Natasha's untimely ends was both a bigger deal in the context of Marvel Comics as a whole and more interesting due to her eventual revival at the hands of the Red Room. During the events of Secret Empire, Natasha tries to stop Miles Morales from taking the life of a reality-warped Hydra version of Captain America. Unfortunately for the Russian super-spy, this evil Cap snaps her neck with the point of his shield. This time, for a while at least, Natasha stayed deceased.