Natasha: Hold! Before you conquer the universe, evil one, you must first deal with… the Black Widow!
Clint: ‘Tasha! You set your Widow’s Bite on lethal charge!
Natasha: Yes, Hawkeye— and now I am aiming it directly at Ixar— unless he surrenders.
Ixar: You are bluffing— just as he was!
Natasha: Think what you wish, Ixar, but remember, I am bound by no Avengers’ oath.
Clint: Wait, Natasha! No matter what he is… or what he’s done… you can’t kill him!
Natasha: I have no choice, my darling. If we are all to die, I shall like to make certain that Ixar does not live to boast of his victory! But my patience grows short. Surrender at once— or your mad quest for power shall end… in death.
Ixar: I… don’t believe you! I…
Natasha: Look into my eyes, Ixar. Look deep into the eyes of the Black Widow. Are these the eyes of one who deals in empty words and idle threats? So, make your decision… at once!
So I’ve been reading around, that GRRM thing, mentions like this of Natasha’s “groan inducing” history (“Who really wants to see another super lady spy who uses her vagina like Captain America uses his fist? Not I!”) and wondering anyone actually knows what Black Widow was like in the Silver Age. This is what she was like.
Ixar was an evil alien overlord who captured the Avengers one by one and stuck them in plastic tubes. He left Clint and Natasha for last because they were the weakest and surely posed no threat to his evil overlordly schemes. Natasha is outgunned, the team is on the line, the world is on the line, and the only way she can win is bending the rules a bit. This sets her up as willing to kill, which was a big deal in 1960s time. The Avengers then had a strict no-kill clause, and so did superhero comics on the whole. And Ixar knows they have a strict no-kill clause, and so he’s not willing to believe Hawkeye, who just tried pulling the same trick. But Natasha isn’t an Official Avenger™ yet, so she seizes that ambiguity and leverages it.
It’s a brilliant scene because she doesn’t actually kill him, she doesn’t break the Avengers rules, she doesn’t have to. It might just be a bluff. We don’t know, the story doesn’t answer for us— Natasha gets to circumvent the Comics Code without actually circumventing it. She is a mystery and her hair is fabulous. Ixar returns to space in his sinister flying saucer, the world is saved, and not because Natasha could outfight his schemes, but because she could outthink them.
You know, probably with her vagina.
From Avengers #37, by Roy Thomas and Don Heck.