Natasha: Danny was breathing hard, from the exertion, from the sudden action, I don’t know. We ran across the compound, I was in the lead— but it was Danny who took out the next guard. I think now that he was trying to prove something to me, then— but what it was, I’ll never understand. We took the elevator down, and down, into solid bedrock, I think. And finally—
Danny: That’s it, babe— Project Four! You grab the gobe while I cover these clowns, got it, Tash?
Natasha: Don’t worry, Mister French. I can take care of myself.
I have an idea of what Danny was trying to prove; some men have a bizarre reflex that kicks in whenever women show themselves to be equals. They get threatened, and have to prove to themselves that they can beat the girls after all. But I’m not sure Conway was in touch enough to make that observation. Danny French was probably just trying to prove himself “worthy” of Natasha. In the present, he pathetically confessed that all the harassment was just his special way of saying he liked her. But by then there was no room in Natasha’s life for Danny French.
The globe they’re talking about here was a mystery device that remained a mystery. No one could ever figure out how to get the damned thing to work, or what it did, or anything about it, really. After this mission, Danny would keep it, but it wouldn’t do them any good. The mission, Natasha says, was a double-cross by their masters. It was the end of Danny’s career, and it would have been the end of Natasha’s, too, if she wasn’t stronger. That’s what I like about this little story, more than all the parables of sexism. We see Natasha go from understandably frightened to confident in her own abilities. By the end, she says she can take care of herself, and she means it. And it means more because we know she might not have thought so a few pages earlier, during the car chase.
Of course, Conway’s other point is still pretty noteworthy. Natasha’s a badass superheroine living a dangerous action-junkie lifestyle in the Merry Marvel Manner. But he’s showing that she’s had to face obstacles Matt’s never had to think about, because he’s a he and she’s a she, and this is 1972. And in doing so Conway’s imbuing Natasha with a strength Matt will never know, but would do well to try to understand. No doubt he was hoping to teach his mostly male readers the lesson, too.
From Daredevil #90, by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan.