Real Name-- Natasha Alianova Romanova (aka Natasha Romanoff)
Class-- costumed athlete
Affiliations-- Avengers member ; former leader of the Champions ; frequent SHIELD operative ; frequent partner of Daredevil ; widow of the first Red Guardian
Occupation-- former ballerina ; intelligence agent ; adventurer
Scale of Operations- worldwide
Powers-- Romanova possesses no super human powers, although her agility and fighting styles are highly above average. She often employs hi-tech weaponry, such as her "widow's bite" bracelets, capable of firing blasts of electricity, gas-filled capsules which explode on contact, or a grappling cable line. Similarly, her belt is covered with disks filled with explosives that function as grenades. The gloves and boots of her Widow's costume are covered with microscopic suction cups that enable her to crawl on walls and ceilings.
History-- Natalia Romanova, a descendant of Russia's royal family, was found as a young child by a Russian soldier known as Ivan Petrovitch. Raised by Petrovitch during the Soviet Union, Romanova grew into a brilliant athlete and scholar, gaining fame as a ballerina teen prodigy. Later, she married the renowned Soviet test pilot Alexi Shostakov. The couple was contacted by the Soviet Intelligence agency, the KGB, to be made into covert operatives. The KGB separated the couple, denying them contact with each other forevermore. Later, Natalia was told that her husband died in the explosion of an experimental rocket. Distraught, Natalia said she wanted to do something worthy of her husband's heroism, as predicted by the KGB, who then trained her to become the spy code named the Black Widow.
The Black Widow's first assignment was to infiltrate Stark Industries in the United States to assist in a assassination. Thwarted by the hero Iron Man (in actuality, Tony Stark,) Natalia repeatedly tried to sabotage Stark Industries at various times, only to be foiled each time by Iron Man. At one point, Natalia used the young Hawkeye as an ally in her criminal schemes. However, she began to fall in love with Hawkeye, who soon refused to act as a criminal any longer, and thus she began to resent her own activities.
Later, Natalia fell into the hands of intelligence agents of communist China and was brainwashed into their service. She was directed to attack Hawkeye and Iron Man's superhero team, the Avengers, but soon freed herself of her brainwashing when reunited with Hawkeye. Defecting to the United States, she retired from her spy career and associated with the Avengers for a while, without becoming an official member, mainly to be near to Hawkeye.
However, Natalia later quit her relationship with Hawkeye and the Avengers and became a freelance spy. She revealed her identity to the U.S. government and joined the international espionage organization SHIELD. During this time, Natalia would occasionally require the help of the Avengers, such as when her believed-dead husband reappeared as an agent of the Soviet government, the Red Guardian, bent on destroying America with the high-tech "psychotron" device. She was reunited with her lost husband only to see him killed when the psychotron was destroyed. She breifly abandoned her costumed identity a short time later, quitting SHIELD.
Neverthess, Natalia would resume her Black Widow identity on an as-needed basis, often joining other superheroes. Natalia enjoyed a brief partnership with the hero Daredevil, becoming lovers for a time. Shortly afterward, she helped the Avengers again, becoming a full-fledged member for a brief stint. Other times, she joined with heroic teams including the Lady Liberators and the Champions of Los Angeles, the latter of which she served as leader. Returning to freelance adventuring after the Champions' brief tenure, she soon found herself alongside the Avengers, maintaining an on-againg, off-again spurts of membership. At one point, she began participating in Avengers on more active basis and eventually became the deputy leader under Captain America. When Captain America had to depart the team, she was made chairperson.
It was during her leadership that the Avengers fought the supremely powerful being known as Onslaught. In the ensuing battle, most of the Avengers appeared to give their lives to stop the menace. Natalia tried to keep the Avengers going, but failed, and relinquished all Avenger property to SHIELD, effectively disbanding the team.
Natalia appeared to have an emotional breakdown, fighting all Avenger-related super villains. In reality, Natalia was playing a front as part of her SHIELD assignment to stop neo-Soviet communists from taking over Russia. With the help of Daredevil, Natalia defeated the communists and partnered with him for a brief time before returning to her freelance spy work.
Most recently, Natalia met her successor to the code-name Black Widow, who was working for the Russian intelligence. Although the two clashed initially, they teamed up to defeat their mutual enemy, and Natalia warned her successor against being a tool of the government before parting ways.
When the heroes returned after being believed dead, Natalia helped the team re-assemble to fight the menace of Morgan le Fay. Despite her renewed Avengers affiliation on non-active basis, Natalia had come to decide she was better suited to espionage than superheroics. She remains a freelance agent while occasionally helping the Avengers.
Most recently, Natalia changed roles and even faces with Yelena (who in the Jones-mini tried to take the reign from Natasha as Black Widow) in order to really let Yelena feel what it means to be a spy AND to uncover stolen plutonium....Yelena was very confused because the faces-change was done while she was drugged but she played along and unknowingly helped Natasha's case...but was very upset when she found out about it all...
Yelena however proceeded with her own spy-ing for the Russians and in her own mini-series (covers by Greg Horn and art by Igor Kordey) she is confronted with the murder of her old mentor and underground-sexclubs...