Are there two comic book versions of Black Widow’s origin story? If so which do you go by? Thanks!!!!
So you can boil Natasha’s origins in the comic books down to two narrative.
War orphan grows up to be a super spy: This Natasha was orphaned as a baby, raised by a Soviet soldier named Ivan, was a teenaged soldier in WWII, joined the KGB in the 1950s (and met the Winter Soldier), was given some sort of chemical to stop her from aging, was brainwashed to think she was a ballerina as part of her cover story, who defected to the US, and eventually becomes an Avenger.
The murder orphanage: This is the Richard Morgan Homecoming origin story, that had Natasha grow up in a Soviet murder orphanage in the 1970s, goes straight from the murder orphanage to the KGB, ends up defected to the US, and eventually becomes an Avenger.
Comic book readers use the first origin story for Natasha. The first origin story - like with most superheroes with long publication histories - has evolved over time, and because different creators can pick and choose what bits they like and don’t like from what previous creators have done, can be confusing and/or a little overwhelming for new readers. Because of this, every so often the characters get miniseries that help introduce their origin stories to new readers. Natasha had one of these miniseries back in 2010 called Black Widow: Deadly Origin. The miniseries is the most concise and most recent retelling of comic book!Natasha’s origin and provides the basic outline of her origin story that comic book readers go by.*
The second origin story can only be found in the two Morgan miniseries that came out in 2004-2005. This is because it was widely disliked and was quickly ignored by the rest of Marvel’s writers and readers before fading into AU obscurity…until Joss Whedon shoved it into Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Considering both men like to think the best way to mansplain feminism is to make the female characters’ back stories super sexist, we really shouldn’t have been surprised when Whedon latched onto Morgan’s crappy story). So that has led to some elements of Morgan’s story slowly creeping into comic book!Natasha’s backstory as Marvel tries to bring the comic books more in line with the movies. =/
For more information about Natasha’s origins, I really recommend reading this posts from FYBW:
* Two things I’d like to note about the miniseries: it came out back in 2010 and so you kinda have to mentally work the flashbacks from the last three Black Widow series inbetween the flashbacks in Deadly Origin (check out this post from FYBW about making it all work). The other thing that’s important to know about Deadly Origin is…it’s not very good. The flashback art is gorgeous and the book is a good reference, but overall it’s not a very good comic book….
idk if youve seen it but theres some "confession" post in the tag talking about how bucky/nat's relationship retconned nat's past. correct me if im wrong but wasn't it more like nat's past + "oh hey bucky was there too"? i cant remember what her canon was before that point but it didnt seem like it changed anything. it was more like their relationship was just added on.
Yep, I saw it and kinda rolled my eyes because that OP is
clearly reacting to a telephone-chain of bad information that antis like to put
out to taint everything Brubaker did with Natasha (therefore tainting all thing
BuckyNat) in the minds of new fans.
Despite what some people may try to claim, Brubaker did not
retcon Natasha’s backstory out of thin air just to make her Bucky girlfriend. Before
Brubaker ever got to write Captain America, Natasha already had two different
backstories – the Cold War spy (who may be much much older than she looks) backstory and the murder orphanage
backstory. As with all things Natasha, FYBW has an in-depth write-up [Secret Origins Part
Origins Part 2] [Secret
Origins Part 3] that I highly recommend reading, but here is a quick
Backstory 1, a.k.a.
the Cold War spy backstory: So way back in 1972 (when Brubaker was all of
six years old btw), Daredevil #88 laid out the groundwork for the Natasha
backstory we know today – she was a war orphan that Ivan had rescued in
Stalingrad, who chooses to join the KGB/becomes a Cold War spy and who later
decided to defect and eventually become a superhero. Daredevil #88 came out
about thirty years after the war, so the timeline made perfect sense. However,
as we got further and further away from WWII, things got a little weirder.
That’s when Uncanny X-Men #268 shows up in 1990. UXM #268 tells how Logan and Steve and Natasha first met in WWII:
While ignoring some of the specific details of DD #88’s timeline, UXM #268 doubles down on Natasha’s connection to WWII and is the first to suggest (but fails to explain) that Natasha is not as young as she appears to be:
The writer, Chris Claremont, left the book
shortly after UXM #268, so he never went into more detail/gave any explanations
for Natasha’s age. So it and the Cold War origins became a hanging plotline
that more and more writers choose to ignore the further we got from the end of
the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. (Sidenote: The Red Room
entered into the Black Widow mythos in 1999 with the introduction of Yelena Bolova.)
Which brings us to…
Backstory 2, a.k.a.
the murder orphanage retcon: 2004 was the year Marvel inflicted Richard Morgan onto Natasha, and he inflicted his murder orphanage retcon onto all of us.
Morgan set out to tell a story about why sexism bad and proceeded to do so in
the most mansplainy way ever with the added bonus of removing all of
Natasha’s agency from her entire life. No longer did Natasha decide to join the
KGB and become a spy. Nope, instead she grew up in the 1970s in a murder
orphanage designed to produce perfect little spies. No longer did Natasha
choose to deflect from the Soviet Union and become an Avenger. Nope, instead
Nick Fury used special pheromone perfume that forced Natasha to do what he
wanted. Seriously. (Keep that in mind next time these people try to claim that
Brubaker retconned Natasha’s history just for Bucky’s dick. Because what they’re
trying to do is convince people a gross AU retcon from a decade ago is Natasha’s
‘real’ origin story.)
Moving on to 2007 and Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America. In an interview following the release of
Captain America #27, he states:
In the Winter Soldier origin issue, which is in my second
Cap trade, we show the history and the timeline, and in the late ‘50s and
early ‘60s he was deep in Department X. That was an actual Soviet special section
during the Cold War, where they did their experimental stuff, like brainwashing
and the like. So, when I was researching it, it occurred to me that the Red
Room program would have been attached to Department X, and that if the Black
Widow was being trained in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, they probably met. [X]
Brubaker either didn’t know about or actively chose to ignore a three-year-old recon, and decided to go back to Backstory 1 because
it worked with the story he was trying to tell. The only thing he actually
retconned was the ‘fact’ Natasha had a secret relationship with the Winter
Soldier for a short time in the late 1950s. So basically all Brubaker did was bring the unaging Cold War spy backstory back into play (with a tiny extra dash of tragic romance), which was then followed by Cornell and Liu who each filled in details and
shaped it into the backstory we know today.
Hey, I love your blog, but I want to ask where I shoukd start for reading comic books, I want to read ones with cap, bucky, natalia, clint, or all the avengers, but I have no idea where to start or with what issue. Any suggestions? Thanks much!
first thing I recommend for anyone brand-new to comic books is signing up over
at Comixology. Comixology has some amazing deals and that includes free comics.
They routinely has 30-35 Marvel issues for free at any one time and change up
5-7 titles every week or so. You can find a general list of free issues from
all publishers on Comixology website,
but if you want to see a list of just the Marvel issues that are free, you
either need to check out the
list on Marvel’s website, or if you’re using the Comixology app, select
Marvel under the Publisher category and scroll down until you see “FREE COMICS”.
Going back to the deals, the very best ones tend to coincide with events -
like Free Comic Book Day (the first Saturday in May) or SDCC –
and you can get books for 75-80% off. But great sales can happen at any time
and we’re sure to get more the closer we get to CA:CW. Anytime Bucky and/or Natasha’s books go
on sale or are free, I post and tag it as Comic
Book Deals. (And FYI: Black Widow (2014) #1 is currently on sale for $0.99.)
But the main reason why I recommend Comixology to people
who have never read comic books before is because of the Guided View Mode. It’s original purpose was to make it easier to read comics on small smartphone-sized screens by having the reader view the story panel-by-panel, rather than the entire page all at one time:
Guided View vs. Full Page
But it had the added bonus of being a great way for new readers to become comfortable following the flow of the panels and word balloons on the page, so I definitely recommend checking it out.
Now on to the reading recommendations!
Barnes Comic Recs
America and Bucky #620-624: Bucky’s comic book origin story – both as Bucky and
as the Winter Soldier – is very very different from how it is in the movies, so
this storyline is a good introduction/place to start (plus the last issue is
America (2004): The original Winter Soldier storyline is issues #1-8 and #11-14.
Bucky then shows up a few times after that, but it isn’t until Captain America
#25 (after Steve’s ‘death’) than Bucky becoming the lead character.
Widow: Deadly Origin: Ok I have to warn you guys – I hate recommending this
story because I actually really hate it. But it is the most concise telling of
her 616 canon origin story, and because of that, the book is really useful. The
book has a modern-day story with long flashbacks to Natasha’s past and those
flashbacks are the useful part (even if they aren’t that well-written). Just make
sure to skip over the modern day stuff because it’s gross and can be triggering
for some people. The flashback
pages are: Issue #1: 13-19; Issue #2: 5-9, 13-15, 17-19; Issue #3: 8-9, 13, 17; and
Issue #4: 8-9, 13, 15.
The Adventures of Captain America (1991): This is a great series that is worth hunting down. It was a major influence on the CA:TFA screenwriters and has some of the best WWII teen sidekick!Bucky scenes.
(2012) #1-6: Hickman’s first Avengers storyline is pretty well tailored to the
new readers coming in from the movies – it starts with the movie six and then
introduces more and more of the characters into the narrative rather than
dumping them on you all at one time. Plus it was a really good story. Sadly
however, I would not recommend the rest of Hickman’s run to new readers because
I don’t even know what the hell was happening. And his attempts at writing
Natasha was terrible.
so Bucky's only still 'young' because of being kept in stasis, and Nat's because of the super serum, right? so will Nat have to watch him grow old, while she remains the same? how'll that work?
Not exactly…but before I go into Bucky’s situation, I’ve got to take a moment to clarify Natasha’s situation, since this is a very common misperception:
Natasha does not have the super serum. What she has are chemical enhancements that have stopped her from aging. The MU has employed numerous chemicals, formulas, and dodgy genetics to explain why certain characters don’t age and a lot people - and pros are just as guilty of this as the rest of us - tend to throw around “super serum” as a catch-all for all of these. But the super serum is something very specific to Steve Rogers and the Captain America mythos. Natasha’s chemical enhancements are very different from Steve’s serum, and very specific to Natasha’s history. For more on why this distinction is important, I really recommend these two posts from FYBW:  
So back to Bucky. The situation you describe could have been their future before the events in Fear Itself. Before then, Bucky had no enhancements outside those needed to control the cybernetic arm. But after the battle against Sin in Fear Itself #3 that seemingly killed him, Bucky was given Nick Fury’s last dose of the Infinity Formula:
The Infinity Formula does end up saving Bucky’s life:
but it’s important to remember that no one knows the long-term effects it will have on him or his health:
Hello there ~ I'm new to the Bucky/Nat fandom and I noticed there aren't fics or fanarts in which they are parents. I understand Nat's situation and sympathize with her in a very spiritual level, but there are many ways to be parents and I was wondering If it would be out of character of them to in a point be parents together? Or even in a AU would be ooc? Nat seems to have wanted to be a mother in the mcu but maybe not in the comics? And at last, is there any fic with them as parents? Thanks!
You’re right – there is very little fanwork of them as parents out
there, and I do think that has more to do with the comic books than it does
with an independent analysis of MCU!Natasha’s characterization. Now before I
get started I’m going to have to punt on part of your question – Bucky has never indicated
in either universe his thoughts on the matter, so we’re just going to talk
about Natasha here since it is reasonable to assume that he would want whatever
There are a couple reasons why there is so little fic or fanart with them
as parents, part of which is the fact that 616!Natasha’s reproductive history
is vastly different to MCU!Natasha’s. In the comic books, Natasha was 28 years
old when she was given the chemical that stopped her from aging and prevents
her from carrying a pregnancy to term. But when Natasha was 16 and fighting
the Germans on the frontlines during WWII, she and a fellow soldier, Nikolai,
fell in love and she became pregnant. Needless to say, the eastern front during
WWII is probably the worst time and place to get pregnant and when Natasha gave
birth, the baby was stillborn:
Black Widow #4
Black Widow: The Name of the Rose (where the above panel comes from) has shaped how a lot of readers view Natasha, the losses in her life, and her ability to love in spite of those losses. At the same time, I don’t want to limit this discussion to just The Name of the Rose, so I really want to recommend a series of essays over at FYBW: Mother’s Day.
We also have to remember that 616!Natasha is still a 88 year old woman in the body of a 30 year old. 616!Natasha’s had a long life to make peace with all that she has lost and gained over the years and so she’s at a very different emotional place regarding family and children than MCU!Natasha, who is really only starting that emotional journey. I think for those of us coming from the comics, it is really easy to characterize MCU!Natasha as having reached that level of wisdom or maturity when she’s really still learning (and is probably something we should watch out for).
So back to your main question – is it OOC for MCU!Natasha to want
children? With what we know about her at this point, no I don’t think it is. I
think a convincing argument could be made either way. Though there is one thing
I would like people to consider while they develop their own characterizations
of MCU!Natasha in their rp or fanwork – that Natasha’s feelings about her infertility, in and of
itself, are not a direct measurement of her desire to have children or not to
have children. Finding out you cannot have a baby is a very complex emotional
experience that actually has less to do with your desire to get pregnant than
it does with the fact you no longer have a say in the matter. I mean, obviously
the degree to which you want to have children has an effect on how you process
the information, but the heart of the matter doesn’t change – you no longer
have a choice because your body has taken that control away from you. And those
emotions can be surprisingly intense (even for those not particularly
interested in having children) and that’s just went it’s your own body
hijacking the decision process. I can’t imagine what it would be like for
Natasha. Obviously I don’t think that Natasha’s infertility should be framed as
her greatest trauma – unlike some people. *coughWhedoncough* But at the same
time it doesn’t matter if people headcanon MCU!Natasha as adoptive mama-to-be
or happily childfree – neither situation fixes or wipes out her feelings about
what was done to her and it’s just something I think people should mindful of
when they approach this subject in their work.
And for the final part of your question: there have been at least two MCU
AUs with Bucky & Natasha as parents. The first one has Bucky and Natasha
adopting a baby girl they find on a mission and raising her at the Tower. You can find the art and fic
for it under this tag: Soviet Superfamily. The other AU has the Winter Soldier and the Black Widow raising
Hellboy and eventually going to the run to protect him from Department X &
the KGB. You can find the initial photoset here and RPG
thread logs here. And if you don’t mind Steve/Bucky/Natasha, I have
to recommend probably my most favorite kid!fic here: Tsesarevna