Saturday Morning Comics: [Richard Morgan's] Black Widow

[Everybody knows Natasha Romanova, aka Black Widow from Iron Man 2-- I'm spinning this with the "not everyone knows Morgan's version" line.]

A few years before Batman Begins, Richard K. Morgan, hardcore sci-fi and fastasy author, put his spin on two limited series featuring Russian spy the Black Widow (Homecoming and The Things They Say About Her).

He essentially stripped the character of all/most of her comic book features, and artist Bill Sienkiewicz even drew her as a fairly normal-looking woman who works out a lot, rather than the impossibly-proportioned porn-worthy females typical of comics.

For example, the “Widow’s Bite” bracelets (see below) were gone, complete with the explanation that they were several pounds of Warsaw pact equipment that tended to malfunction (plus they were too heavy overall, and impossible to find parts for in the US).

Black Widow’s history was also retconned fairly realistically [SPOILERS]: she found she was part of a Soviet-era program that created (using orphaned girls) 27 “Black Widows” for deployment in foreign countries– the Soviets used psychological (false memories, including being a ballerina) and genetic engineering, making the “widows” several times stronger, faster, etc., than men.

If you’ve ever read Morgan’s other stuff (recommended), you know he’s a hardcore feminist the same way Joss Whedon and James Cameron are: he loves strong female characters. Black Widow is no exception here– she (and a lesbian Federal agent after her) are two of the stongest characters here, and it’s refreshing.

Especially the scene where she intentionally cripples an attempted rapist.

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