Black Widow

The Black Widow first appeared in TALES OF SUSPENSE #52.
THE BLACK WIDOW

Real name: Natalia 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.")

Occupation: Adventurer,
intelligence agent, former
ballerina

Legal status: Former citizen
of the USSR 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.

Identity: Publicly known

Place of birth: Stalingrad, former Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics

Marital status: Widowed

Known relatives: Alexi Shostakov (alias Red Guardian I,
husband, deceased)

Group affiliation: Avengers reservist, frequent freelance
agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., former partner of Daredevil, former
member of the Champions of Los Angeles

Base of operations: Mobile, but she maintains a home in New
York City

First appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #52

Origin: AVENGERS #44, DAREDEVIL #88

History:
Natalia Romanova, a descendant of Russia's royal family, was
found as a young child by a Russian soldier known as Ivan
Petrovitch, who watched over her as she grew up and today
works as her chauffeur. Romanova proved to be a brilliant
scholar and athlete as she matured, and in her teens gained
fame in the Soviet Union as a ballerina. She married the
renowned Soviet test pilot Alexi Shostakov. It was decided
at the KGB, the department of the Soviet government which
served as its intelligence agency and secret police, that
the Shostakovs would make good special operatives. While
Alexi Shostakov 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 any of his 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 official 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. Some theorize that Romanova was trained in the
nearly mythical location known as the "Red Room."

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 major 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 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 defected to the United States. She publicly
revealed her true identity and offered her services to
S.H.I.E.L.D., which has made use of them on numerous
occasions.

Her romance with Hawkeye ended, as did her 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 a member of the
Avengers. She remains active as a freelance adventurer.

Height: 5' 7" Weight: 125 lbs. Eyes: Blue Hair: Red-auburn
(formerly dyed 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.

Known superhuman powers: None

Abilities: The Black Widow is an Olympic level athlete and
gymnast, and a master of several martial arts, including
karate, judo, akido, savate, and boxing. The Black Widow has
had extensive training and experience in a great variety of
espionage skills, and is considered to be one of the world's
most effective and potentially dangerous secret agents.

Weapons: The Black Widow's uniform is equipped with
microscopic suction cups on the portions covering her
fingers and feet, activated by an electro-static charge,
enabling her to stick to walls and ceilings made of standard
building materials.

The cartridges of her wrist-bracelets contain a
spring-loaded cable capable of shooting a hooked wire a
hundred feet. Called her "widow's line," the cable is
primarily used for swinging from building to building. The
wrist-cartridges also carry a small device capable of
emitting a high frequency electrostatic charge of 30,000
volts a maximum distance of ten feet. This electro-blast,
called her "widow's bite," is sufficient to stun a man at
twenty feet. Other cartridges in her wrist-bracelets contain
tear gas pellets and a radio transmitter. She also sometimes
wears a belt of metallic disc-cartridges. Each of these
contains a plastic explosive equivalent to four pounds of
TNT.

TM & ©1998 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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