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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.

Anonymous asked: Okay, I've got two questions: Was Natasha raised in the Red Room or did they train her there after she accepted Bucky's miracle drug to save Ivan? And, did Ivan know what they were doing to her? Thanks for your time! :)

I cover this in more detail in my Secret Origins series, which has three parts: one, two, three.  I also have a tag for origin stuff you might want to look through.

Basically, though, the “Natasha was raised an orphan the Red Room” idea comes from a series that decided everything we ever knew about Natasha’s history was wrong, and ran with it.

Anyway, after that story got published, it was really easy to be confused about her history, which is a big side effect of rewriting a character’s entire past. So Marvel published another miniseries, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, in part to clarify a new official version of her origin. In that series, she enters the Red Room in her twenties, as the price for saving Ivan. That is the “real” continuity as it currently stands! But stories can change.

As for Ivan— he knew enough that he didn’t want Natasha to enter the Red Room, even at the cost of her life, and I think it makes sense that they pursued him because he had some connection with Soviet intelligence. While Natasha was there, they were kept separate, but she still tried to confide in him.  What he knows exactly is up to how the reader wants to shade it.  But no one knows the everything of the Red Room.

Anonymous asked: Has Natasha ever worked together with Black Panther?

The closest I can think of off the top of my head is Avengers #111-112, when Natasha guest stars for a while with an Avengers lineup T’Challa is part of. #112 focuses on the two of them in parallel character arcs, but they do not directly interact much.

Natasha also shows up in Black Panther during the Civil War crossover event, but that’s a pretty standard “cameo appearance character gets hosed to demonstrate how badass our book’s protagonist is” one-off. T’Challa is also weirdly sexist! Civil War, man.

Natasha: Don’t make me have to—
T’Challa: I would never fight a woman. I have people for that.

The best team up between Natasha and Black Panther is imo Klaws of the Panther #4, which features Shuri in the Black Panther role.  Shuri recruits Natasha for her infiltration skills, but Natasha also helps Shuri confront her fears and guilt and anger. The writing is very old school exposition-y, but I’m a sucker for this kind of team-up story.

Shuri: I’m afraid I’m going to lose myself in it. That the person I want to be will be subsumed and only the killer will remain.
Natasha: …Of all the weapons ever made, the most powerful by far is compassion. But you have to have compassion for yourself before you can have it for anyone else.

Natasha is, ofc, sometimes better at giving advice than applying it to herself. This is the final issue of a 4 issue miniseries, but it’s easy enough to follow as a single story.

Panels from Black Panther #23 and Klaws of the Panther #4.
Anonymous asked: To be fair, Catwoman and Elektra were terribly written movies. Catwoman's plot was completely stupid. I firmly believe that a female superhero movie given the same level of writing and the same budget that Iron Man was given would be be a spectacular success. Unfortunately, because they greenlit shitty movies with otherwise good female leads they now have an excuse to say 'well it doesn't sell' when the truth is they bombed because they were bad movies, not because of the leads.

I agree but I don’t think that’s the whole of it. I’ve been running a Black Widow blog too long to not think there aren’t weird double standards female leads get pulled to. Like, Catwoman and Elektra were bad and it was easy to see that they were bad, that the marketing served them up poorly and played up the action and sexy fights specifically to drag men into it. But there’s a reason there’s a perceived dichotomy between sex appeal and character depth and lots of bad lines in a trailer drove moviegoers away from Elektra but Daredevil did okay enough to get the spin-off.  There’s a reason the the Globe and Mail evaluated Johansson’s performance in the Avengers explicitly as a “token sexy female” stocktype and felt comfortable reviewing her literally in terms of his own fourteen year old boy lust.  (“A pale pink at best” he says, on a scale of his hormonal reds.) 

I mean, I don’t think a female led action movie is an impossible mountain. Hunger Games exists and has millions and millions of dollars in the bank. Lucy just hit #1 at the box office based solely on trailers that played up Johansson’s Black Widow action-cred.  It could sell, we’ve already been selling it, people are thirsty for this.  We’re in such a fucked up situation we’ve convinced ourselves that a movie about a white lady beating people up would be an important feminist triumph.

But these blockbuster action films are traditionally laser targeted at men and boys aged 18 to 39 and Disney bought Marvel so it could sell toys to boys. Women make up almost half the audience of these Marvel movies but like, none of the lead roles, a fifth of the cast and a fraction of the merchandise. And the the problem isn’t just that there aren’t many Black Widow action figures, is that we tell girls and boys they need to play with separate toys, and we tell boys they don’t need a Black Widow to complete the set. Like, it’s that kind of marketing thought that makes “female led vigilante films” a category in the first place, and doesn’t make room for other contexts. It feeds back into itself, like a snake eating its own tail, and meanwhile we just get thirsty.

Anonymous asked: Hello! It's a shame that marjorie liu didn't get the chance to write an arc where Natasha was Laura's mentor. There will never be enough narratives where Natasha influences teenage heroines (if there's any). I love your blog btw!

You and me both, anon. Christos Gage has said that Laura was training with Natasha between appearances in Avengers Academy, so we can imagine. Natasha did make a cameo in X-23 #20 to set up her planned arc, and it will hopefully make a nice prologue to October’s Black Widow issue:

If you’d like to read another story where Natasha influences a teenage heroine, I recommend Nomad: Girl Without a World #1-4 and the backup story in Captain America #611-614, Underneath the Skin. But I agree, it’s never enough!

Anonymous asked: With Bobbi in the MCU hopefully we finally get some decent interaction between them, either in the comics or the movies. I'm not even picky. I just want them to interact more.

Yes, I agree! I’d love to see more of Bobbi, anywhere, really.  I think they’ll both show up in the next few issues of Hawkeye, Our Series of Perpetual Delays, based on the cover for issue #21. Whether they will actually interact is something else.

Anonymous asked: Does Natasha have any female friends that she works or hangs out with?

Natasha’s had several friendships stop and start— historically Marvel has had a problem keeping a female lead book going long enough to develop and sustain friendships beyond one issue or run.  And for whatever reason, comics tend to remember Natasha’s romantic entanglements with men more than her connections with other women. Her two-second, after the fact affair with Hercules is what Champions flashbacks always show, not the friendship she made with Darkstar, a fellow Soviet defector.

So, let’s see: the first Marvel Knights series had Natasha develop a deep friendship with Dagger that’s not been referenced since.  In the second volume she worked with Helen Kim, a non-costumed SHIELD agent who disappeared after that series was axed at issue #6.  Marjorie Liu planned on bringing Natasha in to be a mentor in X-23, but the book was cancelled before she could write that arc.  (Liu also pitched a series about Laura, Natasha, Elektra and Mystique that never got picked up.)

Natasha and Sharon Carter had a few team-ups that spun out of Brubaker’s Captain America run, including Captain America and the Secret Avengers by kellysue, but Sharon is dead now and no one outside of Steve’s book seems to have noticed.  Natasha was a complicated influence on Rikki Barnes in Nomad: Girl Without a World and the associated backups, but Rikki’s dead now too.

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Natasha: Why didn’t you call me yourself? I found out from cage.
Angela: I didn’t want to impose— you’ve already helped me—
Natasha: Hurting the Chaeyi? No imposition at all.
Angela: You’re right, Natasha— I didn’t think I’m sorry.
Natasha: Don’t let it happen again.

Natasha was a huge encouragement to Angela Del Toro when she was starting out her hero career in tamorapierce's White Tiger mini, but Angela’s fallen into comicbook limbo. A+X #2 showed Natasha making a connection with Rogue and implied the two now hang out regularly, but like everything else it’s never left that issue. (I guess Rogue’s been dead recently, too.) Natasha took Crystal of the Inhumans to a superhero theme night at a pizza buffet/all-male revue once during the nineties, but, okay, I can see why that’s never been revisited.

The central premise of the current Black Widow series is that Natasha doesn’t let herself take days off. She takes extracurricular missions, instead. And one of the major consequences in this story is the isolation that she creates for herself, and how that lonliness frays her. Natasha keeps parts of herself compartmentalized; she can be a difficult person to know. But she is also nosy and meddling and driven to help people who tug at her.

Natasha’s major SHIELD contact right now is Maria Hill, and they share a subtle, professional relationship that is one of the highlights of the current book for me.

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Natasha: And you think I can succeed where you failed?
Maria: I am not paid for uncertainty, agent. Do your thing.

In the wider MU, Natasha shares a developing friendship with Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. This started in Avengers Assemble, has been nodded to once in the main Avengers title, and is now a key component of the ongoing Secret Avengers series.

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Jessica: Can we do this every month, until, like, the next major catastrophe happens and everyone has to go beat up some aliens somewhere again?
Natasha: We can do this even twice every month. Wars never last. It’s going to be back to business as usual. Then we get more massages.

I’m not totally thrilled with Jessica’s characterization in that book, but I am totally thrilled to see a friendship like this survive more than one author. Maybe we’ll see Natasha pop up in Jessica’s just-announced book, eventually.

Panels from White Tiger #6, Black Widow #5 and Secret Avengers #1.