Real name: Natalia Alianovna Romanova
AKA: Natasha Romanoff. Madame Natasha.
First appearance: Tales of Suspense 52
Favorite quote: "I'm Russian, Vision. Romance is my life!"
Team Affiliation: At least twice with the Avengers (team leader before Onslaught); founding
member and leader of the now-defunct Champions; member of the short-lived Lady Liberators;
occasional S.H.I.E.L.D. operative; former partner to the archer Hawkeye (on both sides of the law),
Daredevil and Hercules.
Powers: None, apart from being skilled in espionage, unarmed combat, acrobatics and leadership. Natasha started out as a spy for her native Russia and didn't get into the super-powered game until after a defeat by Iron Man. The Widow's costuming has micro-suction cups on its palms and soles that allow her to cling to surfaces like her namesake. Her wrist-cartridges contain various weapons and devices, notably her "Widow's Bite" (an electrical discharge weapon that can stun her opponents into unconsciousness) and "Widow's Line" (a grappling cable she uses to swing through the city like Spider-Man).
Favorite Storyline: 'Tasha's stint as undisputed leader of the 1970s super-team called the Champions.
It was one of the few times that she wasn't treated as a male hero's accessory or Marvel's career vamp,
and it was one of the first times a woman had risen to lead a super-team. Besides, some of the
Champions' stories were just plain cool, especially the ones in Champions 11-16).
Least Favorite Storyline: There are many, most involving her ill-fated romantic liaisons, but the most
recent stinker of the bunch would be an Iron Man two-parter that concluded with Tasha offering herself
to Tony Stark as a lingerie-clad toy for no apparent reason. He was a longtime platonic associate
who'd treated her like dirt not long ago and had no past, present or subsequent romantic relationship
with her; this come-on made no sense.
Future For the Character: A show-down between the Widow and the villains-in-disguise Thunderbolts
seems to be in the offing. While the Avengers were away, Natasha went on a revenge-binge that lead
to (among other things) the accidental shooting of Daredevil; what her role with the team will be now that the Avengers have returned to this reality is unknown.
Editor's Note: Jeanne here. Just in case you were wondering, Natasha really is a widow. One of her S.H.I.E.L.D. missions resulted in the death of her husband, the Soviet super-hero the Red Guardian. She retired from the super-power biz for a while after that, but soon decided that action was the best remedy for her feelings of guilt and grief.