International gal of mystery
DESPITE her star turn in The Avengers, Black Widow isn’t getting a solo movie (yet). But she does have a new comic book, which she richly deserves.
’Twas not always so. Black Widow has a long history in comics, one that until relatively recently would make her a rather surprising candidate for her own title, much less a big role in an Avengers movie.
The first Black Widow – yes, there’s been more than one – was a character named Claire Voyant, who debuted in Mystic Comics #4 in the summer of 1940. That precedes Wonder Woman, and possibly all other costumed super-heroines. (Most “mystery women” in those days operated in evening gowns, high heels and domino masks. Seriously.)
Claire didn’t last long – only five appearances – possibly because she wasn’t a very nice person. Believe it or not, this Black Widow worked for Satan, killing evildoers on Earth and delivering their souls to hell. That isn’t a terribly admirable profession, although the end result is bad guys getting just deserts.
Mystic was a title from Timely Comics, the predecessor to today’s Marvel Comics, where the next, and current, Black Widow made her debut in an Iron Man story in 1964. She was still pretty unrecognisable – but still not a very nice person.
She was a Soviet spy, and what is referred to as a “honey trap”. Far from her current status as a black ops agent, Black Widow was originally a femme fatale, complete with black evening gown, white opera gloves, furs, veil and a beauty mark, right where Marilyn Monroe’s was. Her Soviet masters sent her over here to seduce Tony Stark – not much of a challenge in those days – and steal weapons-systems plans.
Her name was Natasha Romanoff. Natasha was possibly the best-known Russian girl’s name in America, thanks to Natasha Fatale in The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, which premiered in 1959. And Romanoff was perhaps the best known Russian surname, given that it was the family name of the last czar of Russia, Nicholas II, who was executed in the Russian Revolution.
Natasha finally saw the error of her ways, and defected. (Her Soviet masters trying to kill her for failing probably influenced the decision.)
After hanging around Hawkeye (whom she had previously seduced) and the Avengers for a while, she went to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and then later, abruptly, ran off to San Francisco to become Daredevil’s partner. It was at that point that she was finally made an Avenger (1973), the third woman to be so honoured. (The first was founding member The Wasp, whom I hope we will meet in the Ant-Man movie, and Scarlet Witch, whom we will see in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, both premiering in 2015.)
Along the way, Natasha had ditched the evening gown for a genuine superhero suit, with grappling line and suction cups to walk on walls. Not exactly Spider-Man, you’ll agree, but she was becoming more like the super-agent we saw on screen in Iron Man 2 and Avengers.
That continued in, of all places, a 1970 issue of Amazing Spider-Man, where she adopted the skin-tight black leathers we know today. And over the years her armament has been upgraded, and even her name made more genuinely Russian (it’s now Natalia Alianovna Romanova).
And her past has not only been expanded, but has changed multiple times. In her first appearance, she was the widow of a cosmonaut. Later, it was changed to where she had been a prima ballerina recruited by the KGB. Some stories even showed her fighting in World War II!
And so what? She’s a spy! Some of those pasts could be true, or none of them, or even a combination thereof. Which is one reason I find her so fascinating. She could be lying every time she opens her mouth, and you’d never know, because she’s very, very good at it.
I think it’s a shame that there is no Black Widow movie on the current Marvel Cinematic Universe roster, as I think the character has enormous potential – especially as played by Scarlett Johansson, who has enormous range as an actress. Well, we can hope. Meanwhile, we have this new Black Widow title. The first issue shipped Jan 8 and the second, on Jan 22. According to Marvel, this title will depict the Widow seeking atonement for her bloody past in the darkest corners of the world.
“(Writer) Phil Noto and (artist) Nathan Edmondson have one of those magical creative partnerships that bring out the best in both of them,” said series editor Ellie Pyle, in a press release.
“Together they bring you a Natasha who is unsettlingly human in the midst of all the action and intrigue you’d expect.”
It’s not Scarlett Johansson, but it’ll do! – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
black Widow first appeared in 1964, looking like a 1950s movie star. This is her second appearance, in Talesof
Suspense#53. — Marvel entertainment
blackWidow#2 will arrive two weeks after the first issue. — Marvel entertainment Inc./ MCT