Black Widow First Costume
Natalia "Natasha" Alianovna Romanova born circa 1928 and was raised from her youth by a Russian soldier Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov after she was orphaned when enemy soldiers attacked Stalingrad. To save Ivan's life, she accepted a place in the Soviet government's covert "Red Room" facility. While there, she was bio- and psycho-technologically enhanced - granting her an unusually long lifespan and prolonged youthful appearance. She became one of the special agents known as the Black Widow. While in the program she was trained by the Winter Soldier, and the two became lovers. Each Black Widow was deployed with false memories to help ensure their loyalty. Natasha was given memories of becoming a ballerina but eventually discovered this fact, along with the knowledge that the Red Room is still active as "2R".
Black Widow was created by Stan Lee, Don Rico and Don Heck. She made her first appearance as a villain in Tales of Suspense #52.
It is rumored that Black Widow is somehow related to the last ruling czars of Russia, but this has yet to be proven. Not much is known about Black Widow's history prior to World War II other than she was born as Natalia Romanova in Stalingrad, Russia to unknown parents. Nazis set fire to the building that Natasha and her parents were living in and her mother threw Natasha out of the window into the arms of a Russian soldier named Ivan Petrovitch, who was serving in the army at the time. Ivan took care of Natasha while she was growing up and later became her chauffeur. After a youth spent traveling through war-torn Europe with Ivan and his company of troops, Natasha was recruited by the Red Room. Her masters there arranged a marriage with the hero pilot Alexei Shostakov, and soon with the help of Red Room brainwashing, Natasha became convinced she was an ordinary Russian housewife. When Alexei was (seemingly) killed, Natasha found she had a deep-rooted desire to serve her country and demanded the government let her serve in his place. She became the KGB's top agent.
Major Story ArcsYoung Natasha
Wolverine Training Natasha
For a while, Black Widow was trained and helped by Wolverine, who temporarily left his violent ways for her and cared very much about her well-being. Ivan also protected Natasha, until in 1941, when she was kidnapped by the Nazi Baron Strucker and was made an assassin for the Hand. However, she was taken back (against her will) by Ivan, Captain America, and Wolverine. When Wolverine came back to America, Black Widow saved him from Hydra assassins and encountered him again when Ben Grimm and Carol Danvers stole the Red Storm project from Russia. She pursued them but was ordered to abort the mission. During this time, Widow fell in love with a somewhat brainwashed Bucky Barnes.
Agent of the USSR
One of her assignments was to infiltrate Stark Industries with her partner Boris Turgenov in the assassination of Anton Vanko. The Black Widow, however, had her plans foiled by Iron Man. Natasha was attracted to Tony Stark and decided to try and distract him so that her partner could destroy Stark’s plants. Soon after her partner Boris Turgenov and enemy, Anton Vanko died, Natasha decided to stay in America and act as an undercover spy in order to regain the favor of the K.G.B. She faked sympathy in Tony Stark in order to steal his anti-gravity device. Natasha would be successful in stealing the device and used it to cause destruction. Eventually, Iron Man would be able to destroy his anti-gravity device but was unable to apprehend Natasha.
Black Widow's first Costume
Natasha would soon run into Hawkeye, who was a wanted man by mistake. She would sometimes use Hawkeye as he was attracted to her, and he would help her in some of her missions. Natasha was able to trick Hawkeye into stealing plans from Tony Stark. Hawkeye agreed to her plan and would eventually run into Iron Man. The two fought each other while Natasha watched from far away. However, one of Hawkeye’s arrows was reflected by Iron Man and it flew off and hit Natasha, knocking her unconscious. After she woke up, the K.G.B. gave her orders to stop attacking Stark Industries and gave her a new target, the Williams Innovations. Natasha would again convince Hawkeye somehow into attacking the company. However, Hawkeye would encounter Spider-Man, who convinced him that he was doing the wrong thing. However, Natasha would somehow convince Hawkeye again into stealing the Stark plans again. While Hawkeye was on the mission, the K.G.B. came and kidnapped Natasha, bringing her back to Russia. They designed a new costume for Natasha and new equipment. Natasha then returned to join Hawkeye in a battle against Iron Man. However, Iron Man would defeat them when he shocks Natasha with an electrical blast.
However, her attraction towards Hawkeye questioned her loyalty to Russia. Hawkeye refused to work with Black Widow and joined the Avengers. The K.G.B. once again kidnapped Natasha and brainwashed her into serving them again. They ordered her to attack the Avengers, but she freed herself from their brainwashing and reunited with Hawkeye. She became an ally of the Avengers, aiding them in many missions. However, she was not a full-time member as she did not respect the Avenger’s oath of non-killing.
Natasha later decided to join SHIELD to be their double agent and operative against the K.G.B. During a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha discovered that Alexei Shostakov was in fact still alive and had become the Red Guardian. She and the Avengers fought Red Guardian and he died in battle. Distraught, she declined the Avengers' offer to make her an official member and abandoned her Black Widow alias for a while.
Relationship with Daredevil
Black Widow's relationship with Hawkeye ended when Natasha resumed her identity as the Black Widow. She told him that she wanted to pursue a solo career and had to break it off with him. She became an all-new Black Widow, changing her costume into an all-black color. She became a vigilante and fought against common criminals in New York. Eventually, Natasha would be reunited with Ivan when he comes to America, Ivan served as Natasha’s chauffeur and would occasionally give her advice. While working in New York, Natasha would encounter Daredevil. The two quickly teamed up and eventually developed a romantic relationship. Natasha’s relationship with Foggy Nelson, Matt's partner, was never good, as he was brainwashed into prosecuting Natasha for the murder of the Scorpion. Natasha never forgave Foggy for that incident, even though she was proven innocent. Eventually, Matt and Natasha’s relationship would go so far to the point where Matt broke up with Karen Page. The new couple decided to move to San Francisco to start a new life there. They continued their duo-vigilante careers in the streets of San Francisco.
Natasha would pursue a career outside of crime-fighting and would try to become a fashion designer. However, she failed in this endeavor. This did not help her relationship with Matt, which had become a bit shaky. Natasha and Daredevil would later aid the Avengers in a battle against Magneto, and the two were offered memberships to the Avengers which they accepted. However, Natasha soon realized that she was not a comfortable fit for a team while fighting the Lion God. Natasha quit the Avengers and reconciled with Matt. They continued their relationship for quite some time, but eventually, Natasha would break up with Matt because she felt he did not treat her equally on the battlefield. She would remain friends with Matt and continue to help him on occasion.
She remained on the West Coast and briefly joined and led the Champions of Los Angeles, all the while having a romantic relationship with Hercules. The group was funded by Angel and achieved moderate success, but was eventually broken off due to bankruptcy. Shortly after the Champions had disbanded, Natasha and Hercules answered a summons from their former team the Avengers, and aided them in battling the nigh-omnipotent man-god Michael Korvac. Hercules and the Black Widow split up a short time later and Natasha went solo for a while.
Natasha was still widely known by the criminal underworld as one of Daredevil’s lovers. With this knowledge, Bullseye kidnapped Natasha, wanting to use her as bait to lure Daredevil into a trap. Natasha was able to free herself and aided Daredevil in defeating Bullseye. Later, an enemy of Natasha’s named Damon Dran captured Ivan in order to lure Black Widow into his trap. He had an army of female combatants. Damon Dran wanted to send a fake Black Widow to assassinate Nick Fury. Natasha defeated Dran's agents and told Fury about the attempted assassination saving Ivan before Dran's island was bombed by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Later, when The Hand wanted to steal and revive the body of Kirigi - a dead master warrior - Black Widow tried to thwart their plans but they poisoned her and she died, only to be restored to life again by Stone of the Chaste. After witnessing a strange interaction between Matt and his fiancee Heather Glenn, out of concern for Matt's mental health, Natasha visited Foggy Nelson. He told Natasha that Matt was very depressed following the death of Elektra, but also alleged that Matt had ruined his fiancee Heather Glenn's career to force her to agree to marry him. The two decided to write forged notes to both Matt and Heather to make them break up (the truth of Heather and Matt's dispute was that Matt stopped Heather's business life after her company was corrupted by Kingpin's cohorts).
Black Widow's 80's look
Natasha then teamed up with Daredevil to stop the Hand who were attempting to revive Elektra to serve as their new champion. During the battle, a desperate Daredevil himself attempts to revive Elektra's corpse but thinks his attempt has failed, and he leaves with Black Widow. Natasha however, knew that Elektra had been successfully revived, but she kept this information from Daredevil for his own good.
Heather Glenn was so upset by the break up that she committed suicide. This made Natasha partly responsible for her death. Russian agents duped Natasha into doing their dirty work by building a model of Alexei Shostakov called a Life Model Decoy (LMD). They threatened to kill "Alexei" if she did not participate in their plans. When Natasha got what they needed, they revealed the truth and tried to kill her but she defeated them with Ivan’s help. Natasha's brain was then reprogrammed into an agent called "Oktober" launching missiles to ignite World War III. Natasha was successful in launching the missiles. Iron Man, however, stopped the missiles from detonating and helped her capture the K.G.B. agent responsible for the reprogramming.
Joining the Avengers
Natasha returned to the Avengers and even though Black Knight was the leader on the field, she was leader in managing the team's plans. During this time, she was attracted to Captain America, but she ended up with Iron Man. Under her leadership of the team, they were all apparently killed in battle by Onslaught. She attempted to recruit new heroes, but failed and threatened legal action against her from Mary Stark Foundation and let go.
Natasha believed herself to be the last Avenger and so operated alone, hunting down the Avengers' enemies Grey Gargoyle and the Masters Of Evil. She came across Daredevil again who was concerned with her mental state, but this only complicated his life because he was rebuilding his relationship with Karen Page. Natasha wanted to reconcile their relationship, but she understood that Karen and Matt were trying to rebuild theirs, so left them their space. She even offered to help Karen when Mr. Fear framed her for murder. Later when the hero team the Thunderbolts were revealed to be the Masters of Evil in disguise, Natasha convinced them that other criminals had turned a new leaf and they managed to become real heroes.
The Avengers returned from the alternate Universe they had been shunted off to and Natasha would sometimes help on their missions, though she felt she was responsible for their break up. Natasha worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. and shut down Freedom's Light, a terrorist group, and asked Iron Man's help in her infiltration of a forced-labor camp run by The Mandarin. Natasha then battled a man called Vindiktor, who claimed that he had diaries from her deceased mother and revealed that he was her brother. He died before he could confirm this, however.
When Daredevil believed that baby Karen was the Anti-Christ, Natasha protected the baby but was severely injured. In the end, Karen Page died protecting the child. Natasha revealed that she still loved Matt, though they were too far apart to become a couple again.
A Second Black Widow
Natasha came into competition with another Black Widow named Yelena Belova. Yelena was also trained in the “Red Room” and became obsessed with being the only Black Widow. They encountered each other on a mission where while attempting to retrieve the Endless Fury bioweapon. The two would eventually fight, afterward, Natasha and Yelena traded appearances in order for Yelena to realize that her superiors did not care if she died or lived. Despite the other Black Widow, Natasha remains as one of the greatest S.H.I.E.L.D. agents alive.
Natasha with short hair again as part of the Government Sanctioned Avengers
After the incident involving the New Warriors in Stamford, Natasha was a supporter of the Superhuman Registration Act and worked with Iron Man’s group to capture rogue Super Heroes. After the death of Captain America, Natasha was assigned to transport Captain America’s shield. However, in doing so, she was attacked by Bucky Barnes. Bucky knocked Natasha unconscious and stole the shield. It was revealed that Natasha and Bucky had a romantic relationship back when she was still training to become an operative. Shortly after this, Natasha was given a dull SHIELD job training agents by some angry officials. She was so angry she became a violent and resentful teacher. Natasha was overjoyed when Tony Stark took her out of this job so she could join the Avengers. While working for them she battled Ultron, alien symbiotes, and Doctor Doom.
She and the Falcon rescued Bucky from the Red Skull and brought him to S.H.I.E.L.D. There Bucky becomes the new Captain America, and she later helps him stop the Red Skull's plan to control America, in the process saving S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter. Natasha then started to date James again. She was later ordered by S.H.I.E.L.D. to help capture Hercules, but let him go because of her respect for the Greek god.
Confronting Iron Man during Secret Invasion
Natasha joined the Mighty Avengers as they traveled to the Savage Land to take a look at a crashed Skrull ship and together with the New Avengers, fought off a group of Skrulls that looked like different superheroes dressed in their old costumes. She and the Avengers later joined the final Skrull battle in Central Park. After this, she continued to date Captain America (James Barnes) and continued to be his partner, but no longer with the Mighty Avengers or with S.H.I.E.L.D. after it was shut down by Norman Osborn.
Facing Osborn during Dark Reign
Natasha was revealed to have been posing as Yelena Belova on Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts team, secretly working for Nick Fury. She helps Songbird escape the Thunderbolts and reunite with former teammates Fixer and Abner Jenkins. Wolverine entrusted Black Widow with what remained of the Muramasa Blade. She participated in his plan to be prepared for attacks by Weapon X members and left the sword exactly where Wolverine wanted it (Wolverine then used the sword to kill Omega Red).