Earth's Mightiest Costumes

Earth's Mightiest Costumes: Black Widow

A series of sultry looks for the greatest spy in the Marvel Universe!

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And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!”

Each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we’ve got you covered on the history of Marvel’s most prolific team of heroes!

So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!

By TJ Dietsch

The superspy and eventual heroine known as The Black Widow first appeared back in 1964's TALES OF SUSPENSE #52 as an agent of the U.S.S.R. intent on manipulating Tony Stark. As Natalia "Natasha" Romanova progressed over the years she went from KGB operative to brainwashed Avengers villain and eventually wound up as not only a member of the team but an important part of the Marvel Universe all around.

Along the way, the sultry bombshell's wardrobe evolved as well. Starting with simple dresses sporting spider-themed embellishments, Natasha's looks varied from a full-on super hero costume to the now famous full bodysuit with Widow's Bite gauntlets that has become her most iconic look.

Whether using her feminine whiles on Hawkeye in his early days as a costumed adventurer, hanging around with Daredevil or working alongside Steve Rogers in the Secret Avengers, Natasha has always kicked ass and looked great doing it.

First Appearance

Natasha initially appeared more as a femme fatale than a full-on super villain. As such, she wore a dress with a web symbol on the chest instead of a skin-tight cat suit. Still, she kept it classy. Also note that Black Widow would not be seen wearing her trademark fiery red locks for several years.

First Super Suit

While she showed up several times after her first appearance as a threat to Iron Man, The Black Widow kept the civilian look until TALES OF SUSPENSE #64. Natasha went with a costume that included a mask, fishnets, boots, a small cape and even a small "B" clasp to keep it in place. Black Widow wore this outfit when she took on the Avengers in their 29th issue after being brainwashed by the KGB into joining forces with Swordsman and the original Power Man. Natasha kept this costume after getting her head right, defecting from Russia and becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Classic Look

Black Widow finally donned her iconic, skin tight costume in 1970 in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #86. She not only let her hair—now red—grow longer, but also added to the costume with a yellow disc belt and her Widow's Bite gauntlets. This soon became Natasha's favorite look and she sported it throughout the 70’s and 80’s while co-starring in DAREDEVIL and co-founding the Champions.

Going Gray

In the early 80’s, Natasha made a wardrobe change from the all black and yellow costume to a full-body gray suit with a lower cut and higher collar. She kept the gauntlets, but ditched the belt and gained a pair of widow emblems, one small on her chest and one very large on her back. The Widow popped up in AVENGERS #239 to appear with the team on David Letterman's show and stuck with this costume through the rest of the 80’s including further DAREDEVIL appearances and into the 90’s when she joined the Avengers again full time.

Black & Red

By the mid-90’s, the gray suit and jacket got dropped in favor of another body suit. Natasha returned to the dark black look, but this time in navy blue with red stripes around the abdomen and thicker, more metallic looking gauntlets. She wore this costume when the Avengers fought and fell against Onslaught, but survived to appear in DAREDEVIL once again.

Back in Black

By the time the Avengers returned in 1998, Natasha returned to the all-black costume but this time with gray gauntlets and circle-belt. By the time she starred in MARVEL KNIGHTS, she got back to the classic yellow gauntlets and belt, but the belt now featured the red hour glass widow symbol.

Yelena Belova

As it turned out, the Russians trained more than one Black Widow. In the late 90’s a new version appeared with the name Yelena Belova. In addition to an amoral attitude, Yelena also sported a modified version of Natasha's dark costume, but split into two pieces: tight pants and a midriff-revealing long sleeved shirt. She retained the Widow's symbol as a belt buckle and also kept her hair short and blonde. Yelena came to blows with as you'd expect and her mind later ended up in the body of a Super-Adaptoid to steal the Avengers' powers. Natasha even assumed Yelena's identity to infiltrate the Thunderbolts when Norman Osborn led the team, wearing a more modest version of Yelena's duds.

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