See how the spy defected from Russia and became an Avenger!

Every Friday, we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place, or object that made waves this week.

Is Natasha Romanoff really dead?

Hawkeye and The Winter Soldier have been wrestling with this question in spite of themselves throughout the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE. In the wake of the events of Secret Empire, in which Romanoff, A.K.A. Black Widow, met her demise at the hands of Hydra Captain America, her two former friends—and sometimes love interests—have been following a strange trail that seems to have been left by the heroine.

As the mystery surrounding Natasha swells in the current run of TALES OF SUSPENSE, readers may recall that the character actually made her debut in issue #52 of the series back in 1964. In that story, by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck, Natasha Romanoff worked for the Russian government as a spy alongside a man known only as Boris. The duo was tasked with breaking into Tony Stark’s facilities, grabbing defected scientist Professor Anton Vanko, and reclaiming the highly advanced Crimson Dynamo armor.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #52

Tales of Suspense (1959) #52

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To facilitate their mission, they took on cover identities as a brother-sister duo visiting Stark’s lab in order to learn about the technology and bring it back to teach children in the Ukraine. Stark responded positively—and even asked Madame Natasha out to dinner while Boris finished his tour. Alone now, Boris managed to find not only find Vankov, but also the Dynamo armor! After donning the suit himself, Boris destroyed the Stark compound.

Hearing about the attack, Tony cut dinner short and raced back to his headquarters with Natasha at his side. Once there, he ran off to put on his Iron Man armor, leaving Black Widow to utilize her spy training to distract the Armored Avenger from taking out her comrade. Vanko, seizing a moment of opportunity, destroyed the Dynamo armor and himself in the process. The Widow used the resulting explosion to make her escape before returning in the next issue to make up for her failed mission. Though she claimed never to fail a mission twice, that’s exactly what happened as she once again missed out on killing Tony Stark.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #53

Tales of Suspense (1959) #53

  • Published: May 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Romanoff, disgruntled at her recent losses, changed her tactics and manipulated circus trick shot archer Clint Barton, A.K.A. Hawkeye, into attacking Iron Man. Though, after Natasha’s Communist handlers disrupted the plan, Hawkeye saw reason, vowing to use his abilities for good. He joined the Avengers soon after.

Natasha, back in Russia, was brainwashed once again and tasked with destroying the Avengers. She entered the mission alongside fellow baddies Swordsman and the first Power Man, but eventually her indoctrination wore off, she defected, and joined Barton in the name of good.

FLASH FORWARD

The Black Widow actually trained with the Winter Soldier as far back as the 1950s—she joined her fellow Russian operatives to retrain Bucky Barnes as an agent of the Soviet Union. The two began a brief romance, but the Russians had lingering worries about Bucky’s programming, so they decided to freeze him and thaw him out only when necessary.

After regaining his memories thanks to Captain America and the power of a Cosmic Cube, Bucky also managed to recall his time with Natasha. The heroes restarted their relationship, but the star-crossed lovers were foiled once again when a Russian sleeper agent brainwashed Black Widow, clearing her mind of her relationship with Barnes in the process.

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Check out a sneak peek from the new episodes airing Sunday, February 4 at 8:00am ET/PT on Disney XD.

There are two new episodes of “Marvel’s Spider-Man” this coming Sunday and they’re jam-packed, as Spidey faces the threat of Spider-Island! He’ll need a lot of help, including a notably formidable red-headed spy…

In “Spider-Island Part One” and “Spider-Island Part Two,” as everyone in Manhattan is manifesting spider powers, Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen must help Black Widow track down Crossbones before he delivers stolen vibranium to Arnim Zola and Hydra.

You can check out a preview clip from the episodes above, as Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Black Widow take on Crossbones!

“Spider-Island Part One” and “Spider-Island Part Two” air Sunday, February 4thth from 8:00 – 9:00 A.M. ET/PT on Disney XD.

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There are a ton of familiar Marvel faces to encounter on the Disney Magic.

Brand-new to the Disney vacation experience, Black Panther joined the collection of Super Heroes aboard the Disney Magic for Marvel Day at Sea.

When he’s not showing off his mastery of unarmed combat skills during an epic battle at sea, Black Panther is inspiring young guests with his superhuman strength and intellect.

The mischievous Loki also made his debut to the Disney vacation experience during Marvel Day at Sea. He may even charm you like only the God of Mischief can. That is, when he isn’t resenting the shadow of his half-brother, Thor.

Even Spider-Man needs to relax after showing off his super strength and agility, and of course there’s no better place to do that than a Disney cruise.

You may also find Doctor Strange teaching kids how to create portals to other worlds…

Black Widow and Hawkeye inspiring them to unleash their inner super hero…

Or Captain America embodying honor, integrity, courage and trustworthiness.

Black Panther and Spider-Man are two of the Marvel heroes you are guaranteed a time to meet and take photographs with during the cruise. Before you even step onboard, you have the chance to reserve time with these characters and more under the My Disney Cruise section of www.disneycruise.com.

Marvel Day at Sea returns to the Disney Magic in January on select sailings from Miami through April. If you’re joining the fun, be sure to share photos of your heroic encounters with #MarvelDayatSea.

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In theaters May 4.

There was an idea…

The first official trailer for Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” has finally arrived. We began our Marvel Cinematic Universe journey together back in 2008. All roads lead to Thanos next year. Get your first official look at “Avengers: Infinity War” right here on Marvel.com above.

Following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” the Avengers as we know it no longer exists. Lines were drawn; sides were chosen. The Avengers is nothing more than a team name without any team members. Can Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put aside their differences and unite once more? Do they even stand a chance against the Mad Titan who delights in their failure and desperation? Can they stop his thirst for power and chaos as he begins to collect the Infinity Stones?

The trailer packs as many super heroes as it can in a mere 2 minutes and 30 seconds: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Vision (Paul Bettany), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and so much more.

“You can fight it. You can run from it. But destiny still arrives.” We know the trailer brought a smile to your face as much as pain and suffering put one on Thanos’ face. Now excuse us while we watch the trailer a thousand more times!

See the culmination of the last decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when “Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on May 4, 2018. Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers and the rest of the MCU as it develops!

 

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Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man, Star-Lord and Black Widow will be part of the fun!

Today at Comic Con in London, Vice President Franchise Creative and Marketing for Marvel Studios, Dave Bushore and Creative Director of Disneyland Paris, Mark Huffman announced that the Marvel Super Heroes are coming to Disneyland Paris in the summer 2018 from June 10 to September 30.

Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man, Star-Lord and Black Widow will appear for the first time exclusively at Disneyland Paris in summer 2018 in a special Marvel Summer of Super Heroes season. Your favorite heroes will be featured in the Walt Disney Studios Park for exciting meet & greets and breathtaking, epic shows.

But that’s not all for Marvel fans at Disneyland Paris. As first announced at D23 Expo this summer, Disneyland Paris is also re-imagining one of its Resort Hotels into a universe that would make Tony Stark proud. Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel will transport guests to the action-packed, inspiring world of Super Heroes including Iron Man, The Avengers, and Spider Man among others. Work on Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel will begin in October of 2018 and it will open in 2020.

Stay tuned for more updates on Marvel Summer of Super Heroes.

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The spy turned Avenger can be seen aboard the Disney Magic!

The premiere of Marvel Day at Sea is just around the corner! Marvel fans will want to join us as we count down to this epic celebration on select cruises aboard the Disney Magic.

As we near the debut, we’re featuring some of the mighty Marvel Super Heroes you can meet onboard during the daylong event, giving you insights into who they are and how you can get some face time with them.

Get ready to meet another ultra-cool Marvel Super Hero. Black Widow is just one of the many Marvel Super Heroes you can encounter during Marvel Day at Sea aboard select Disney Magic cruises.

Black Widow is one of the world’s greatest spies and a master of disguise. Natasha Romanov, known by many aliases, is an expert infiltrator, athlete and assassin. Brilliant and determined, Black Widow serves as a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and is one of the Avengers.

During this one epic day on each sailing, you may cross paths with the legendary super spy, Black Widow around the ship and see her battling villains with her wits, wisdom and strength in the nighttime deck show. In Marvel’s Avengers Academy, Black Widow teaches young recruits how to expertly maneuver through an elaborate laser grid maze, how to learn the secrets of their foes and other important secret agent skills.

Marvel Day at Sea premieres on select 7- and 8-night Disney Cruise Line sailings from New York this fall, and returns on select 5-night Western Caribbean cruises from Miami in early 2018.

To meet more Super Heroes assembling for this epic event, take a look back at these previous posts:

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Nick Spencer wraps up an epic event with SECRET EMPIRE OMEGA.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Nick Spencer kickstarted an epic tale starting with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 last year and this week, he wrapped it all up with SECRET EMPIRE: OMEGA #1 along with artists Andrea Sorrentino and Joe Bennett. 

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

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Before getting to the main event, let’s look at a few of the side stories that found their completion in this issue. First, as Clint Barton wept over Black Widow’s casket, Bucky Barnes found himself in Madripoor looking into the upcoming assassination of a general who aligned himself with Hydra. When the guy gets shot, Barnes thinks that the killer had to be Black Widow.

At the same time, Emma Frost and Hank McCoy talked about the dissolution of the mutant nation New Tian. While McCoy said that the efforts to put forth a solid mutant society would mean a lot to younger generations, Frost regretted that they would never know who their actual queen was.

Meanwhile, we also caught up with one of the more surprising members of HydraCap’s crew: The Punisher. Feeling betrayed and used, Frank Castle decided to make it his mission to burn Hydra to the ground. As Punisher continued his crusade, Nick Fury looked on and said to Control, “He’s ready.”

With those mysterious set-ups out of the way, it’s time to talk about the main confrontation in this issue which came between Steve Rogers and his Cosmic Cube-created copy with the octopus tattoo across his chest. To do so, Cap broke into a jail holding just the one captive.

Inside, he faced the man with his face. HydraCap, still convinced that the reality he understood thanks to Red Skull’s essential brainwashing of Kobik, was the correct one and one still worth fighting for. He also brought to Steve’s attention how quickly people seemed to turn on one another and reach for the power he offered them.

Rogers, while concerned with the damage HydraCap did to his image and reputation, still saw some good in the whole situation, hoping that this whole nasty endeavor would stop some people from blindly following anyone, even himself.

Ultimately, though, the true Captain America believes in the goodness of people and the resilience of his homeland. We’ll see him trying to make up for the mistakes a man with his face made over in MARVEL LEGACY #1 and CAPTAIN AMERICA #695.

The Empire Strikes Back

Upon leaving HydraCap’s cell, Steve Rogers warned his double not to leave his cell, letting him know that he’d be able to spot him no matter the face he wore. As the guards rushed in at the very end, though, one of them whispered something in his ear: “Hail Hydra.” So, while the threat of HydraCap seems low at this point, don’t be surprised if we see him again!

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War's hard on everyone, especially super-powered kids.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Wars, whether overt or secret, take their toll on everyone involved. Soldiers fight the battles, their families try to go on living back home and children do their best to understand the whole thing.

SECRET EMPIRE may have ended last week with the true Steve Rogers returning thanks to the efforts of Bucky Barnes, Kobik and everyone else who resisted Hydra’s advances. But, just because Captain America’s back to normal, doesn’t mean the damage gets fixed in an instant, at least in some cases.

This week’s CHAMPIONS #12, by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, examined the current status of the team in the wake of their incredible and horrible experiences during the conflict, which we’ll examine now! 

Champions (2016) #12

Champions (2016) #12

This version of The Champions – Totally Awesome Hulk, Young Cyclops, Ms. Marvel, Viv Vision, Miles Morales Spider-Man and Nova – initially came together because they didn’t like how the adult heroes handled the business of saving the world.

Even though they had their differences, the Champions joined up with the rest of the adult heroes in the Underground after Captain America took over the country in the name of Hydra.

As Secret Empire kicked off, their ranks swelled to include Ironheart as well as the new versions of Wasp, Falcon and Patriot. When Black Widow split off from the rest of the resistance fighters, intent on taking Steve Rogers out for good, the Champions followed her.

Even though Miles Morales had seen the same vision of himself killing Captain America as everyone else in CIVIL WAR II, he and his team intended to let Black Widow train them in the Red Room – as seen in SECRET EMPIRE UPRISING #1 – but never fully agreed with the idea of killing Steve Rogers. 

Secret Empire: Uprising (2017) #1

Secret Empire: Uprising (2017) #1

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UPRISING also saw the Champions infiltrate the Hydra Youth Choir, a plan designed by Widow to get them close to Viper and eventually flip her to their side. This move allowed both Miles and Black Widow to get close enough to Steve Rogers to kill him, but instead Cap killed his former Avengers comrade and Miles gave himself up.

The remaining members of the team did their best to continue fighting against Hydra-Cap, but were temporarily erased from existence after he used a Cosmic Cube-created armor to rewrite history. As we mentioned above, though, Bucky’s plan to bring Kobik and Steve back worked and everyone returned to the land of the living, though still with the memories of what happened.

The Empire Strikes Back

In addition to bringing dead characters like Rick Jones and Black Widow back from the dead, Kobik also offered legacy characters like Miles, Amadeus, Sam Wilson, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Kate Burton, Jane Foster, Wolverine and Iron Heart a “journey of discovery…through the Vanishing Point.” Upon returning in the next panel, these individuals had been restored. To see exactly how, you’ll have to get the various GENERATIONS one-shots that feature these heroes meeting up with their predecessors in ways that allow long-dead or earlier versions of characters to interact with their modern counterparts.

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Before Clint and Natasha go their separate ways, see how they first got together!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

This week’s installment of SECRET EMPIRE by Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino not only established Captain America’s potentially wavering relationship with Hydra and equipped the heroes with the information they need to find the Cosmic Cube pieces, but also drove an enormous, and possibly permanent, wedge between longtime friends—and more—Black Widow and Hawkeye.

Way back in TALES OF SUSPENSE #57, Hawkeye—who decided to go from expert circus performer to masked hero after seeing Iron Man in action—got wrongfully accused of a crime. Russian spy Black Widow then appeared to save him, filled his quill with fancy arrows, and set him against Shellhead, dangling the potential for love like a carrot before the archer’s nose.

The duo continued to work together in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #60 and #64, but eventually Hawkeye’s patriotism overcame his lust for the espionage expert and he went straight, joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes along with the rest of Cap’s Kookie Quartet in AVENGERS #16.

Even though she too intended to defect to the States, Natasha found herself brainwashed and battling her former beau and his new allies in AVENGERS #29 and #30. However, she admitted that her love for Hawkeye helped break her from the mind control. The pair tried to make it work for a while, but ultimately, they went their separate ways.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #57

Tales of Suspense (1959) #57

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Natasha eventually became a full-fledged member of the Avengers herself and even led the team for a while. She also co-headlined the DAREDEVIL series for a time. Hawkeye moved on with Mockingbird, but still showed up in DAREDEVIL #99 to try and win the Widow back!

After enough time passed, Hawkeye and Black Widow figured out how to work together as friends and teammates. Most recently, Hawkeye came under fire during CIVIL WAR II for killing Bruce Banner at the doctor’s own orders. He then moved on to OCCUPY AVENGERS. Black Widow herself starred in her own acclaimed eponymous series.

So, what could cause such a rift between these two? A very clear split in ideology. Black Widow wants to assassinate Captain America for all he’s done, especially after the resistance lost so much ground trying to figure out if he was a clone or a Skrull or something else. Hawkeye, however, wants to wait and see if this Cosmic Cube plan can come together and fix his friend. In SECRET EMPIRE #2, Natasha made her position clear as she cold-clocked Clint and made off with her own agenda.

The Empire Strikes Back

If any two characters could understand the possibilities of a second chance, it’s Clint and Natasha. As you can tell from the above history lesson, both characters worked on either side of the law before becoming Avengers. A major reason they both got accepted into that organization’s hallowed halls lies with Captain America having faith in them. As Avengers and even agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both have been able to at least try and make up for the bad they’ve done, which makes Natasha’s stance all the more troubling.

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Reviewing Some of Natasha Romanov’s Best Allies

Despite being trained as a lone wolf assassin, Black Widow has long excelled in team and partner situations. As writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee turn up the heat on her on January 18 in BLACK WIDOW #10, these might be some of the people she could turn to for some aid and support.

CAPTAIN AMERICA
It turns out Cap and Black Widow have been allies for even longer than their Avengers history would suggest. All the way back in World War II, Rogers intervened to stop Romanova’s kidnapping by the Hand. Then, she teamed up with him, a certain angry Canadian, and her surrogate father to repel the ninjas on the streets of Soviet Russia.

Since then, Widow and Cap obviously share an extensive history of team-ups, both within and outside the rank of the Avengers.

WOLVERINE
The angry Canadian mentioned above. He may not have a clear memory of the incident in question thanks to Weapon X’s tinkering, but he stood with Natasha and Steve to fight those Hand ninjas some 70 years ago. Since then, her relationship to the mutant has been less smooth than hers with the Captain. She protected him from Hydra assassins, they have teamed up against the Hand again, she has manipulated him into partaking in a secret invasion of Latveria, and fought against him when he had been brainwashed by those ninjas that facilitated their first team-up back in the 40’s.

THE WINTER SOLDIER
While under the direction of the Soviet Union, a brain washed Bucky Barnes fell in love with a deadly Red Room assassin. Their tyrannical government and time tore them apart, only for them to reunite in modern times, now both free of Russian control. They fell into romance once again but it proved even more short-lived as Bucky found himself forced to erase all memory of their love from her mind to save her life. They have teamed up since, but it seems she remains still unaware of their complicated past.

CRIMSON DYNAMO
Romanov has a fairly extensive history with the Crimson Dynamos, most prominently with the second Dynamo, Boris Turgenov, with whom she had teamed up with for some time before coming to the U.S. on a mission to abduct or kill the first Dynamo, Anton Vanko, who had become an ally of Iron Man’s. Turgenov ended up killed during that mission and since most encounters between Widow and a Dynamo trend towards antagonistic.

CAROL DANVERS
Not yet a costumed hero, Danvers teamed up with Romanov–and Nick Fury–to see a newly altered by Weapon X Logan avoid death by at the hand of Hydra assassins. The next time they met, they opposed one another as Danvers (still in military service only) and the Thing tried to steal Soviet secrets and Widow opposed them. In modern day, of course, the two have teamed up many times and enjoy a professional relationship.

NICK FURY
One of the biggest opponents of her career as a Russian spy became one of her biggest allies and a mentor figure in her post-Soviet career. They share not only a career path–professional spy–but similar understanding of the grays that fill the real world, grays that most super heroes struggle to acknowledge, nevermind wrestle with.

IRON MAN
Beginning as just a mission objective, the relationship between Iron Man and Black Widow has blossomed into a deep and complex friendship. Although briefly romantic, what has most defined their connection has been their mutual dedication to attempting to assert order where none often can be found. This led Widow to join with Stark during CIVIL WAR and to stick with him even after the death of Cap. He, in turn, has helped her overcome her implanted Soviet programming (the Oktober Protocol) overlooked her past while encouraging others to do the same.

HAWKEYE
After initially failing to seduce and destroy Stark, Black Widow turned to similarly heading towards being a hero but not there yet Clint Barton. At first, his idealism drove her away from the Soviet Union and they began a romance, all without stopping their criminal activities. In time, he would assist her in making her break from Russian intelligence permanent and ask her to marry him. She ultimately refused, but the two have remained friends and allies since, now largely on the right side of the law.

DAREDEVIL
Arguably, with the possible exception of Winter Soldier, her deepest, most committed romantic relationship happened with the Man Without Fear. The two fought side by side and lived together in San Francisco until, alas, their relationship unraveled and DD headed back to the East Coast. The two still boast a long history of flirtatious friendship and getting each other’s back no matter what.

DARKSTAR
Choosing to stay on the West Coast, Black Widow quickly helped begin and lead the super hero team known as the Champions. Soon after, as an act of paying it forward, Widow helped aid the Russian super hero Darkstar in defecting to the United States. Joining the Champions at the same time, Darkstar and Widow served side by side as teammates. From time to time, they would team up again, usually to oppose Russian overreach. Any change in their relationship brought on by Darkstar’s murder and resurrection via techno organic virus has yet to be revealed.

RED WIDOW
Saved by Black Widow as a child, Red Widow grew up not just admiring her one-time savior but doing her all to follow in Natasha’s footsteps. Besides her drive, Ava Orlova brings the ability to transmit electricity through objects to her mission. As of now, the two have only met the day Romanov rescued Orlova from the Russian mafia, but a team-up does seem inevitable, does it not?

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