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Fuck Yeah, Black Widow

Fallaces sunt rerum species

Здравствуйте from FYBW, your one-stop tumblr shop for Black Widow news, no-prizing, and oversaturated .gifs. Some MCU, mostly comics. Often overwritten. Always overthinking.

Black Widow created by Lee, Rico and Heck & is © Marvel Entertainment.

Natasha: Clint is so frustrated. I know how personally he takes failure. And I know how stubborn he is about finishing what he starts. My plan was to sneak in and sneak out. But…
Perhaps I could help you with at least one of your problems? Clint: Tasha? We didn’t do nothin’— I swear!
Natasha: Actually, I came because I needed the Thunderbolts’ help!
Clint: Yeah? Whatever we can do, pretty lady!
Bert: Uhm… Exuse me— isn’t anyone concened how she got past our security systems?
Abe: Dude, she’s the Black Widow!

Damn right.

From Thunderbolts #43, by Fabian Nicieza & Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley.

MMMOBW 6: To Avenge the Avengers

First, I want to plug this "We Love the Women Fandom Hates" project, because it coincides nicely with the goals of this blog. If I’d found out about it earlier I’d probably be spamming tumblr with Sharon Carter appreciation. Next time, fandom, next time!!

This time, I want to talk about Thunderbolts #9.

In 1996, Marvel moved all the Cool Kids to a special table inside Franklin Richards head. The Fantastic Four, the X-men, Avengers Classic— they were all sent to this pocket dimension of blockbuster Loeb/Liefeld creative teams. The rest of the Marvel Universe thought they’d all died, perished in some climatic battle, the sort that must happen every other week when the sliding timescale kicks into play. It was called Heroes Reborn, and it was kind of like the DC reboot except they cancelled it after a year. For a while, there were two Marvel universes: the one with the FF, the X-men, and the Avengers Classic™, and the one with everyone else.

The most successful book coming out of this whole event-stimulated reshuffling was Thunderbolts (which, it seems, has yet to escape event-stimulated reshuffling.) Since the big time hero teams were missing presumed dead, it only made sense that Marvel would come up with an XTREEM new team to take their place. That was the Thunderbolts, and they showed up in Hulk before getting their very own ongoing. They were a brand new team of brand new heroes, and were promoted that way.

Spoilers: they were actually the Masters of Evil.

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Tony: To be sure, I switch on my imaging sensors, checking not only for objects, but for sound bouncing off the surface. No ships. No copters. No planes. Nothing else larger than a seagull. So I make my grand entrance, repulsors charged and ready for anything.
Natasha: Good afternoon, Iron Man. You’re right on time.
Tony: Natasha Romanoff— the Black Widow. I should have known.
Natasha: I hope you’ll pardon my cloak and dagger games, Tony. I couldn’t resist the thought of seeing you unure of yourself. Just for once. Caviar? Sparkling water?

There’s a lot here that’s lol-worthy, but I think special attention should be paid to Natasha’s shoes. If they can be called that.

From Iron Man #6, by Kurt Busiek and Patrick Zircher.

The Name Game

One of the most frequently asked of frequently asked questions is how Natasha’s name works. Is it Natasha or Natalia? Romanoff or Romanova? Which is her real name?

The tricky bit is this: Natalia and Natasha are both forms of the Russian name Наталья. The Natalia/Natasha equivalency doesn’t exist in English, leading to tail-chasing confusion about which is real and which is fake. Natasha is a diminutive form of Natalia, the same way Bill is a nickname for William. “Natalia” is not more authentic or more Russian, it’s just more formal. “Natasha Romanoff” is not an alias the way “Nadine Roman” or “Nancy Rushman” are.

The Romanoff/Romanova issue is just a question of transliteration. The Russian surname is Рома́нов, which has been written Romanoff or Romanov depending on the decade. In Russian, women’s last names take feminine endings to match their grammatical gender— Ivan Belov becomes Yelena Belova, Aleksandr Belinsky becomes Aleksandra Belinskaya. But the feminine endings often get dropped in English translation, e.g. Nastia Liukin, and not Nastia Liukina.

I want to make it out that there isn’t really a standard, “correct” way to translate a Russian name into English. Sometimes the patronymic is dropped, sometimes it isn’t. Immigrant women use the feminine form, or they don’t. It’s a matter of preference, and can also be generational.

I also want to emphasize that comics have never been able to make up their mind.

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So I heard there was a desire to see Natasha kicking ass while in formal wear. Also say hello to our friend Iron Hand Haputmann, with him in the mix you get “bodily harm to Nazis” as a bonus.

Unfortunately, as formal wear, this dress/jewelery/updo combination is rather uninspiring. She was undercover, though, so maybe that explains it.

From Iron Man #6, by Kurt Busiek and Patrick Zircher.


It’s not Romanova. In Russia, people have three names: First, patronymic, and last. Romanova is her patronymic name, so Natasha Romanova literally means “Natasha, daughter of Roman.”

It’s not Romanov/Romanoff, because that was just a lie. When the building they were in caught fire during an…

Yeah, actually it is Romanova. The patronym for “daughter of Roman” is Romanovna, as far as I can tell. Her patronym is Alianovna, according to the Marvel handbook and most comics— it’s a bit weird as Alian is not a typical Russian name. In Iron Man v3 #8, Kurt Busiek might have tried to retcon it to Ivanovna, which might make sense given her relationship with Ivan Petrovitch, or it could just be a random error.

As for the Romanov connection, i.e. whether or not she’s one of the Romanovs, I felt that Cornell’s Deadly Origin pretty much explicitly confirmed that. She’s had definite connections to the Russian aristocracy since the early 1970s— she was referred to constantly as a countess in the Daredevil and the Black Widow issues, but they seem to have dropped that with time. I’d say she’s been hinted to have connections to the dynasty since 1990s Claremont, at least.

Of course, Romanov is a fairly common last name in Russia. Now, if this old lady is lying about it— and she has no in-story reason to, I’d still be inclined to say Romanov is her “real” last name, because she’s never known or used any other.