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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.

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Maria: I can’t put SHIELD on this. Not officially.
Natasha: This is a complicated web, Maria. We’re tangled in it.
Maria: Then I suppose we’ll continue to need a spider who can navigate the threads. You’re the only person I can trust right now.

This scene sets up an interesting and kinda unremarked dichotomy. Chasing Chaos, Natasha has run into familiar faces from her life’s other sides— Frank Castle and especially Matt Murdock, who question whether they can trust Natasha or Natasha can trust herself. But she is chasing Chaos because Maria Hill asked her to. Because she’s the only person Maria can trust.

From Black Widow #6, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto.

Natasha: I have spent over a month hunting you! I will follow you! I will find you! And if not me, then others! I found you here, do you not understand? If you do not surrender yourself, this can only end in death! Mine or yours, but one of us! Castle! I will not stop pursuing you— I will never stop—

In honor of this week’s Punisher/Black Widow crossover, I thought I’d post a scene from one of my favorite Natasha comics of the past few years, Punisher War Zone #2. Greg Rucka’s excellent run on Punisher was a meditation on the power of missions— the way a mission can transfigure, make someone more than human, and less. In this story Natasha spends a month tracking a nearly wordless Frank Castle to a remote jungle. But Frank loses her when he runs through a camp of child soldiers. She stops; she can’t abandon them until she knows they’re taken care of. Frank knows the score, knows the mission, is the mission in ways she cannot let herself be.

"Pick your battles."

From Punisher War Zone #2, by Greg Rucka and Carmine di Giandomencio.

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You’ve reached the voice mail of the Black Widow, ex-superspy and crime fighter extraordinaire. I’m out fighting crime right now, please leave a message.

From Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #2, by Richard K. Morgan and Sean Phillips.

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I was given a second chance. I was more than a butcher. But this is my house.
Lobo: What are you doing?
Natasha: Some housecleaning.
Lobo: Ack!

I was talking some, somewhere else, about how Natasha thinks she’s a little bit above the rules, something that comes to play here in Black Widow #3. Natasha compares herself to Lobo here and decides that she is worth saving, and he isn’t. She tanks her mission last-minute because can’t be responsible for giving a butcher back his freedom and his knife drawer.

Natasha’s stories are full of ignoring Fury’s orders and doing things her own way, it is a common trope in spy fiction— fictional spies usually don’t have a slavish devotion to authority because their work requires them to operate outside the normal boundaries of society and morality. A good agent needs to be able to think outside the mission, and Natasha needs to know when the mission is not worth doing. I mean, she is an Avenger and a spy, which is kind of a contradiction in terms. Like I said: the rules don’t apply.

There is some criticism of the current volume and how often Natasha seems to get blindsided, how often her missions drift south and how she doesn’t have contingencies wrapped in contingencies. And I agree, to a certain point— I would like to see her win. I am biased. But Natasha isn’t a good agent because she can follow directions to the letter, she is the best agent because she knows when she shouldn’t. She has back up: safehouses, extraction plans. She never gets blown away.

From Black Widow #3, by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto.

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Sharon: You do not know her, Natasha. You think you know her because she’s Russian-born and trained young. You think you know her because you think she’s you. The truth is, you spent a day and a half with her after you extracted her— and at your first meeting, she tried to kick your
Natasha: Keep your voice down!
Sharon: You had Steve Rogers stash her in a safe house and you never spoke to her again. You do not know her.

One of the things I love of about Sharon and Natasha’s brief interaction is how Sharon’s pragmatism shines through. Most of Natasha’s friends are superheroes, and through their eyes she comes off cold, calculating, harsh. But to other SHIELD agents, the ones without fancy Avengers clearance and mysterious backstories, Natasha must seem sentimental and showy. She has the skill to run into a room full of armed men and beat them all with fists and high-kicking, and they do not. She gets away with things, she can bend the rules, she can make her own missions. They are numbers— Agent 15, Agent 44. She is the Black Widow.

Sharon is not a superhero, she is a spy. She deals with the the threats of a comic book world without powers and without any of the plot protections that come with Avengers status. She fights within a narrative that considers her expendable. And that has made her tough and “unlikable” and mean, but she keeps fighting, anyway, because Sharon Carter is the bravest motherfucker on Earth 616.

I am glad that this story let Natasha be right about Tatiana. But I am glad it let Sharon be right, too.

From Captain America and the Secret Avengers #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Greg Tocchini.