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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.

Whatever Happened to Yelena Belova?

Bixby: Wait…that’s it? You didn’t even tell me your name. Who are you?
Yelena: I’m the Black Widow.

Yelena Belova came into comics in 1999, after a decade of pouches and ediger, contemporary replacement heroes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the miniseries which crashed Yelena to Natasha also returned her to the 1970 all-blacks and half-bouffant, after near to two decades of short, angular hairstyles. Yelena had her middriff bare, Yelena used rifles instead of gadgets, Yelena was very 1999. She was also post-Soviet, young and hungry. Natasha was getting older, getting old; that 1999 mini saw her pass a birthday unremarked and unremembered. It also gave her an archfoe, something she hadn’t had for a while.

Yelena Belova was all these hard worn comic book trope: the edgy nineties replacement, the dark mirror. But because she was the Black Widow, none of that was colored in binaries. Natasha didn’t want to defend her codename— she wanted to save Yelena from it. Yelena wasn’t only the villain— she was also the wronged.

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a natasha romanova/yelena belova breakdown mix

stolen roses karen elson calm me down mother mother these streets bastille seven devils florence + the machine zero yeah yeah yeahs birth in reverse st. vincent black balloon the kills (remix) power & control marina and the diamonds help! i’m alive metric the other side 


Natasha: We… had to know what Stalyenko was doing, Yelena. We had to stop him.
Yelena: There were other ways!
Natasha: Yes, there were, but… I wanted you to understand, finally, what it meant to be a spy. We are not like Daredevil or the others, Yelena, we are not heroes. We are tools. And tools get used.

I think this is maybe what Whedon was talking about when he said: “She’s not a hero, you know, and it’s something that I read and I feel bad that I can’t remember who wrote the book, but it’s in one of the books explaining ‘These guys are heroes, you are a spy. It’s a different thing, it’s a different skill set, and you don’t have their moral high ground or any of that good stuff’ and that just makes her so interesting to me.” Or, I hope so, anyway, because if he’s basing Avengers 2 script on the Grayson/Rucka stuff, he’s doing it right.

I’ve written about the spy vs superhero thing before, but it drills down to this. Natasha became a superhero to escape her old spy life, but she can never get all the way out. The skills that the Red Room taught her are what let her be an Avenger. And as long as that’s so, the line between who she is and who she was will always be murky, grey.

After all, she still wears her old codename.

From Black Widow: Breakdown #3, by Devin Grayson & Greg Rucka and Scott Hampton.

yellowis4happy asked: What would you say is the recommended reading for Yelena Belova after her early stories (Itsy Bitsy Spider and Pale Little Spider)? I find the character really fascinating, but I'm not sure where to go next.

This is tricky because I really don’t think anyone has done Yelena right since Grayson and Rucka. Writers have treated her as “substitute Natasha, but evil and blonde” or been Richard Morgan trying to fix Grayson and Rucka because he thought those stories were sexist…

But, here is a list of stuff Yelena has been in, so you can judge for yourself.

  • Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #1-6
  • New Avengers Annual #1 (which is prequeled by Breakout, New Avengers #1-6 )
  • Marvel Comics Presents v2 #3-12 (the Vanguard arc)
  • Thunderbolts #132-136 (really just #136)
  • And now she’s in Secret Avengers.