Iron Man 2: Black Widow

It seems like only yesterday that Iron Man flew into theaters and stole our hearts. Aww. The first film was enough of a rousing success that a sequel was warranted and this time, there's more of everything. Some of the new characters you may not be familiar with, so every Tuesday and Thursday until the film's release Omnicomic will be profiling one of the characters in the film.

Real Name: Natalia Alianovna Romanova, A.K.A. Natsha Romanoff

Origin: Orphaned as a young child by a fire, Natsha was raised by her surrogate father (and later confidant) Ivan Petrovich. Even before her parents' deaths, however, Natasha was trained as part of the U.S.S.R.’s Black Widow Ops program (a shadowy branch of the government associated with the KGB).

The Black Widow program trained Natasha, from an early age, to be an expert close combatant, spy and assassin. In addition, Natasha has been exposed to a wide array of experimental technological procedures that have enhanced her agility, stamina and even slowed her aging. Literally a perfect human weapon, you might think of the Black Widow as everything to espionage that Captain America is to war.

Abilities: Natasha is highly trained in martial arts and military weaponry (of all kinds). Her dexterity and immune system are in peak physical condition. She is an expert gymnast (and was formerly a ballerina). She's fluent in a wide variety of languages and is skilled in the arts of deception and disguise. At the risk of oversimplifying, you might think of Natasha as every James Bond girl you’ve ever seen rolled into one. It’s worth noting, however, that she has been trained from birth to follow orders to the letter- whatever the cost. While not manipulative by nature, Natasha is well versed in the art of seduction and is willing to use it to get the job done.

First Comic Appearance: Tales of Suspense #52 (1964)

Background: Natasha’s early life was harsh, lonely, and disciplined. Essentially government property, Natasha was taught to fight and die as a soldier and spy by some very bad people even as a child. Her parents' former servant and friend, Ivan Petrovich, was the only man who cared for her at this time.

Natasha quickly climbed the ranks of the Black Widow program because of her natural athletic skill and sharp intelligence. Later, she married a government test pilot Alexi Shostakov. Shortly after her marriage, and unknown to Natasha, Alexi was eventually asked to serve as an espionage agent of sorts himself (called The Red Guardian). Alexi’s death is faked by government officials (in order to protect the Guardian’s identity), leaving Natasha isolated and broken.

Eventually, Natasha begins to grow weary of her benefactors/jailors and begins to consider the possibility of taking her business elsewhere. A series of missions organized by the KGB sends Natasha to the United States, primarily to seduce Tony Stark and obtain plans for his personalized weaponry. Mixed feelings over her employer's nature and a blooming relationship with a young Clint Barton (A.K.A. Hawkeye) begin to sway Natasha towards defecting.

Eventually, Natasha becomes a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Avenger of great merit. Still, her complicated loyalties and shadowy past sometimes compromise and triangulate her. Consequently, the Black Widow has learned to act as an independent operative first and foremost. Her allegiance and behavior, therefore, are sometimes difficult to predict. Still, she has become one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best assets and is currently Fury’s most trusted advisor and soldier.

Recently, Natasha learned that the Black Widow Ops program used a variety of memory-control techniques. The presence of such technology calls a great deal of Natasha's past- especially in regards to her parents and their death- into question.

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