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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Black Widow Key Issues Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this Black Widow key issues series, and even though Black Widow was a recurring character in the Avengers titled comic, we won't be digging too deep in that. So, we'll be ending her Silver Age keys pretty quickly and diving right into the Bronze Age in Part 2.

While these eras did sprinkle bits and pieces of her past, more details of the character's history doesn't really flesh out and at the same time get convoluted until the Copper and Modern Ages. Go figure. 

If you missed Part 1, click that link there. Otherwise, here's the Black Widow key comics for Part 2. 

1st appearance of Red Guardian

A character from Black Widow's past, the Red Guardian is Alexei Alanovich Shostakov and is actually the 2nd character to take up the mantle. There is a Golden Age version.

Alexei Shostakov was the husband of Natalia Romanoff or Romanova and both became agents of the Soviet Union. Of course, Romanova became the super spy known as Black Widow and Alexei trained to be the Soviet counterpart to Captain America.

The KGB had faked Alexei's death in order to train him in secret so he could become Red Guardian. Although this character as the Red Guardian only lasts two issues, his appearances in Avengers #43 and #44 does shed a bit of light on Natalia's past. 

Avengers #43 was published August, 1967.

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Death of Red Guardian

Continuing the story line and after revealing a bit more of Natalia Romanova's past, Alexei Shostakov as the Red Guardian bites the dust when saving both the Black Widow and Captain America. He is not the only one to take up the mantle of the Red Guardian, however, and another takes his place later.

He, of course, doesn't really truly die either although Black Widow thinks he does in this issue. Alexei would return as the assassin Ronin in later Marvel Comics. Avengers #44 was published September, 1967.

1st appearance black iconic costume
1st Black Widow & Spider-Man meeting?
Origin of Black Widow

Here's a pretty important Black Widow key issue, and this issue marks the first appearance of Black Widow's iconic black costume. Sometimes simple is just better.

This new look also gave Black Widow red hair and her iconic wristbands that fired a variety of weaponry. The most well-known is the electro-static energy blasts called the Widow's Bite.

Amazing Spider-Man #86 saw Black Widow recount her past as she tries to combine or emulate Spider-Man's power with her own abilities. So the Web-Head actually inspired this rebirth of the character in the comic's story.

After fighting with Spider-Man briefly, Black Widow comes to the conclusion that she shouldn't try to gain the secrets of Spider-Man's  powers, and that she should craft her own destiny with her own unique abilities. This conclusion would set up the Black Widow's next appearance.

John Romita Sr. is the legendary comic artist that gave us this redesigned and iconic Black Widow costume, and Amazing Spider-Man #86 was published July, 1970. 

A definite must-have for any Amazing Spider-Man or Black Widow fan, and I think this comic has the first published meeting between the Black Widow and Spider-Man but not entirely 100% sure. It does have a Black Widow's origin story told in flashback.

1st solo Black Widow story
1st appearance of Ivan Petrovitch

If you're looking for Black Widow key issues, this one has to be on your want list. Sure, it is important because it's the first Black Widow solo story and her first starring feature or split feature in a comic title, but the character of Ivan Petrovitch is an important supporting character in the Black Widow mythos.

As most know, Black Widow's origins would later become as convoluted and mysterious as Wolverine's since both are part of secret programs in the Marvel universe. In the Widow's case, it was the Black Widow Ops.

In later stories it is told that Ivan Petrovitch is Natalia's adoptive father, and he is the one who brings young Natalia to the Black Widow Ops to be trained in the Red Room. Just like Wolverine, she is given memory implants under the program, but the memories of Ivan Petrovitch being her protector as a youngin' so far seems to be true.

Ivan Petrovitch first appears in this issue, and Amazing Adventures #1 of the 2nd series was published August, 1970.

1st Black Widow & Daredevil meeting 

The Black Widow's feature in Amazing Adventures did not last long. Although she shared the billing with the Inhumans, Widow was dropped after issue #8. Inhumans only lasted 2 issues after that.

However, this popular femme fatale was shuttled into the pages of Daredevil, where she would become a major recurring and supporting character. Although I highly doubt we'll see this on the big or small screen, Daredevil and Black Widow were romantically linked for quite a while after her romance with Hawkeye ended.

This would mark the first time Black Widow and Daredevil meet and would begin Black Widow as a recurring character in the titled comic. Daredevil #81 was published November, 1971.

Black Widow joins Avengers

While Black Widow was also moonlighting in the Daredevil comics, she was always a recurring ally and supporting character in the pages of the Avengers. Though she turned down membership into Earth's Mightiest Heroes before, Black Widow finally joins the Avengers in this issue right here.

Pretty obvious that this comic has seen a jump in demand and value since because of the Avengers movies. Despite movie-hype, the Avengers has always been an important team for the character, and she has always been greatly linked to the team in the comics.

Definitely another one of the better Black Widow key issues to snag in the Bronze Age, and Avengers #111 was published May, 1973.

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1st appearance of the Champions

Uhmmm...okay. Yep, Champions #1 does make it onto this list of Black Widow key issues. Shortly after her split with Matt Murdock, Black Widow becomes part of the oddly formed Champions super-hero team.

Aside from herself, this team would comprise of Hercules, Ghost Rider, and Iceman and Angel from the X-Men. Within this series, Black Widow and Hercules would be romantically involved in this comic series, and Natalia would assume leadership of this pretty short-lived super-hero team in Champions #6.

Ivan Petrovitch would be a major supporting character, and both him and Black Widow's backstory would be given more light in this comic series. The Champions comic series would only last 17 issues, and Champions #1 was published October, 1975.

There are definitely some over-looked keys in Part 2 of this Black Widow key issues series. Although Black Widow has been an Avenger already in two big screen movies, Avengers #111 and the issue that sees her finally joining the Avengers team has not blown up to ridiculous prices currently.

Also, Amazing Adventures #1 is still quite affordable even for high grade CGC copies, and is both an Inhumans key and Black Widow key comic also. There is more than meets the eye for that comic, and as I've already stated Ivan Petrovitch is an important supporting character for the Black Widow.

Avengers Age of Ultron just gave us a tiny glimpse of Black Widow's past, but if they finally decide to flesh out the character of Black Widow and dig deeper into her past on screen, Ivan Petrovitch could pop up somewhere in a flick or even the Peggy Carter or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. Just a bit of speculation though.

Although we've hit the Bronze Age, we're not done with Black Widow key comics. More key Black Widow comics in Part 3, so just click the link below to continue.

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