Black Widow (Joint Venture)
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Real Name Natasha Alianova Romanova
Current Alias Black Widow
Alias(es) Natasha Romanoff, Natasha Petrovich, Nat, Tasha, Red, Tsarina, Yelena Belova, Nadine Roman, Laura Mathers, Nancy Rushman, too many more to list
Relatives Ivan Petrovich (foster father, presumed deceased); Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolevna Romanova (speculative mother, presumed deceased); Tsar Nicholai Aleksandreivich Romanov II (speculative grandfather, deceased); Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova (speculative grandmother, deceased)
Affiliation Avengers, formerly SHIELD, Hellfire Club, Red Room
Base Of Operations Star Tower, NYC, New York; formerly SHIELD Helicarrier
Alignment Chaotic Good
Universe Joint Venture Universe
Gender Female
Eyes Blue
Hair Red (often dyed black or blonde)

"Is it me, or is every old war buddy Wolvie's got in the world like some incredibly fabulous, gorgeous babe?"

~Sunpyre, upon meeting the Black Widow

Natasha Romanov is a superheroine, a mainstay of the Avengers, and the second superhero to don the moniker of the Black Widow. This is the Joint Venture Universe version of the character.

History

Early life

Natasha Romanov plays her cards very close to her chest, so not much is known of her earliest childhood.

It is known that, despite her extremely youthful appearance, she was 11 years old in 1942, putting her birth date somewhere around 1931. It is also known that she was born in Russia, and immediately given up for adoption, provided her adoptive parents allowed her to retain her given last name: Romanova.

She grew up the foster daughter of Ivan Petrovich, a contoversial expatriate and former secret agent who loved her like a daughter, but made it clear that she was not his daughter by blood. His nickname for her, "Tsarina", fueled rumors about her true lineage that continue to this day. Nonetheless, she would use the alias "Natasha Petrovich" more than once during her career.

Madripoor in World War II

Ivan raised Natasha in Madripoor, a Southeast Asian island city-state relatively uninterested in becoming involved in the conflict that would eventually become the Second World War. Nonetheless, as Japan began to become involved with the Axis powers, so too did the secret cult of Japanese assassins known as the Hand. In 1942, the Hand, believing Natasha to be the only daughter of the legendary Grand Duchess Anastasia, and knowing Ivan to be a renegade ex-KGB agent, abducted her. They nearly killed Ivan in the process, his life only saved by the timely intervention of Canadian Secret Service agent James Logan and the newly-minted American super-soldier Captain America.

Taking Natasha to a secret hideout beneath Madripoor's Hightown, the Hand prepared to induct her into their order as one of their few non-Japanese elite assassins. They even had a sacrifice ready in the form of Ivan, who was turned over to them (along with Captain America and Logan) by the American consulate, secretly an Axis sympathizer. The three men fought back against their attackers, however, and won both their freedom and Natasha's.

The Red Room

This freedom would only last a few scant years, however, before Ivan snuck Natasha back into Russia, due to her expressing a desire to become a ballerina. She joined the world-famous Bolshoi theater under the pseudonym of Natasha Petrovich, to make her foster father proud. Regrettably, the KGB were made aware of her via the Bolshoi, and abducted her, as the Hand had. Ivan tried to protect her, but he was hauled away. Natasha never saw him again.

It was revealed that rogue elements of the Russian government recruited men and women from the Bolshoi for their top-secret "Black Widow" program, created, like the Hand, to construct the ultimate assassin. Where the Hand used mysticism and ancient magical rites, however, the Black Widow program created master operatives using not only advanced armed and unarmed combat training, but also technological and psychological enhancements, as well as deep psychological conditioning to erase all trace of their trainee's former life. The training facility for this was called "The Red Room", and was in fact a massive facility designed to cull the candidates to only the most skilled, talented, and easy to manipulate.

Yelena and Matvey

It is unknown how much time Natasha spent as a trainee of the Red Room, or what trials and traumas she underwent there -- however, in the 1970s, during the rising tensions of the Cold War between Russia and America, she was often sent to the US under the pseudonym of Yelena Belova, alongside an assigned partner, one of the few male recruits of the Black Widow program, a gay man whom she only knew as Matvey Laegreid. Laegreid and Natasha -- under the Belova alias -- disguised themselves as a figure skating couple during the rise of Soviet prominence in the sport, proving talented enough to qualify for the elite Jackson Haines Society. It was through this society that Matvey and Yelena gained entry into the upper echelons of American society: the legendary Hellfire Club.

Using Hellfire Club assets and information, the Black Widows managed to provide the Red Room with a great deal of intelligence, all the while maintaining their cover, until they were exposed by two inductees into the Club, Howard Stark and Nathaniel Essex, a member of Hellfire possessed of considerable secrets of his own. In the ensuing confrontation, "Yelena" was seemingly killed and Laegreid escaped, to report back to his superiors. Like Ivan Petrovich, Natasha never saw Black Widow Matvey Laegreid again.

Nick Fury and SHIELD

Natasha, of course, was not dead. In truth, the Red Room had done its job too well -- in hardening her psychic resistances and honing her mental acuity, they had made her impossible to manipulate, and given her the skills in deception necessary to deceive even the Black Widows into believing her to be one of them. For the years she had spent in America, she had sought only an escape, and the confrontation with Stark and Essex had been the very diversion she needed.

Natasha constructed alias after alias for herself, living all over the United States and even burying her native Russian accent under a nondescript American dialect. She never stayed in one place long enough for people to realize she didn't age, instead packing up and moving on before anyone was the wiser. However, it was this mobility that eventually gave her away...not to the American or Russian governments, but to the international agency known as SHIELD, several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of all other Black Widows, including Laegreid.

Natasha was working as a trapeze artist for a traveling circus under the alias of Nadine Roman when she was approached by Nick Fury. He offered her a chance to stop living her life in hiding, to use the talents she'd been "gifted" with in the Red Room for the good of all mankind. The offer was enticing, and Natasha became the last Black Widow, and one of the first agents of the modern-day generation of SHIELD. It was she who recruited her friend from the circus, the marksman Clint Barton, to become Hawkeye, SHIELD's ranged weapons specialist and greatest sharpshooter, deadly accurate with any form of gun or throwing weapon, including his preferred weapon, the bow.

Natasha served SHIELD for over twenty years, until the discovery of Captain Steven Rogers, frozen in the ice off the coast of Skraeling Island, but still alive. Upon his thawing and revival, Natasha recognized the man who had saved her life all those decades ago...and moreover, upon hearing Fury's plans to begin a new team with Captain America as its leader, she jumped at the chance, and became one of the original Avengers.

Powers

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The Black Widow, while not a mutant, is a genetically and cybernetically augmented human with a wide array of abilities and skills.

Advanced longevity: Despite being over eighty years old chronologically, Natasha retains the health, youth, and physical fitness of a woman in her mid-to-late 20s. It is presumed that among the experiments the Red Room performed on her was a procedure designed to extend her lifespan.

Master Spy: As a Black Widow of the Red Room, Natasha possesses intimate knowledge of nearly all forms of armed and unarmed combat, intensive gymnastics and acrobatics training, and is a master of espionage, deception, seduction, and intelligence-gathering.

Manipulation: Natasha is a master of interrogation, able to coerce information through a variety of means based on her analysis of her subject's psychological makeup. She can also use this knowledge to coerce others, to a degree, into doing what she wants.

Peak Athleticism: Natasha is at the peak of human physical health and fitness, possessing Olympic-caliber strength, speed, agility, reflexes, balance, coordination, and stamina.

Trained Multi-Disciplinary Performer: Natasha trained as a member of the Bolshoi theater, and incorporated much of her Red Room training into many of her aliases. As such, she not only possesses the skills of a prima ballerina and master actress, but is an Olympic-caliber figure skater and gymnast, and a master trapeze artist.

Weapons Specialist: Despite being trained in a vast multitude of weapons both archaic and modern, the Black Widow truly excels at three weapons in particular:

  • Her Widow's Bite, a wrist-mounted electrical weapon that works like a close-range taser,
  • Her Widow's Line, a grappling gun she uses for transportation in a similar manner to Spider-Man's webs,
  • and her Widower, a long-range sniper rifle that delivers powerful blasts of electrical energy at range.

Body Armor: The Black Widow's signature catsuit is actually a form-fitting body armor, constructed of Richards-invented unstable molecules. As such, it is insulated and resistant to most conventional forms of blunt impact or ballistic damage.

Weaknesses

Normal human: Despite the numerous enhancements to her mind and body, Natasha is still human, and vulnerable to human weaknesses and frailties. She can become sick or fatigued, and injured by most conventional means...provided they hit her.

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