Natasha: So, you going to tell me where to find him, or do we put your MI6 training to the test?
Sims: Oh, I’ll tell you, Natasha… for a small price.
Natasha: Easy, soldier… I’m involved. Off the market, as they say in the civilized world.
Sims: You being serious?
Natasha: Deadly. So why don’t we make your price the antidote to the poison I put into your first drink? Then we can catch up on all times.
I’ve written about this scene before, I think, and what I like about it isn’t that it really establishes her commitment to Bucky Barnes, though obviously that’s one thing it does. It’s incidental, I don’t really think she’d have slept with this guy if she didn’t already have a boyfriend. And Natasha has always been a person of deep, if idiosyncratic, personal loyalties— not cheating on her boyfriend is not blazing new territory.
But I do really like this scene, and not just because it shows a ladytype one-upping a sexist cad, and here’s why. There’s this spy trope about the beautiful women you might meet in darkened rooms, who find plain looking guys and use their lovely bodies to deceive them. This is a deconstruction of that trope, a plain looking guy meeting a beautiful spy and assuming her lovely body is his to use. Like I said before, this is an arc about the past, about old grudges and old allies and old wounds that still need healing. But this encounter Natasha has with a washed-up agent in a world that’s left him behind is a reminder that she has a past too, and obstacles that Bucky and Namor never had to overcome, wars they never needed to fight. And her casual triumph here, in a book where the measure of a person is the amount of crap that they’ve lived through, is just another reminder: she is the best there is at what she does.
From Captain America #46, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.