Cover for Black Widow #1
Art by J. G. Jones
|First appearance||Inhumans #5 (March 1999)|
|Created by||Devin Grayson|
|Full name||Yelena Belova
|Notable aliases||Black Widow, Crimson Widow, Super-Adaptoid, Pale Little Spider, russkiya|
|Abilities||Peak athletic condition|
Extensive military, martial arts, and espionage training
Black Widow (Yelena Belova) is a fictional character, a spy in the Marvel Comics Universe and second modern-era character to use the name Black Widow. She first appears in Inhumans #5 (March 1999) and was created by Devin Grayson and J.G. Jones. She was trained as a spy and assassin in the Red Room. Originally a foe of Natasha Romanova sent to kill her, they later became allies. She was also a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vanguard and HYDRA, who changed her in a version of Super-Adaptoid. As Super-Adaptoid, she was one of the members of the High Council of A.I.M. She has reverted back to her original codename Black Widow in 2017.
Belova, the second modern Black Widow after Natasha Romanova (Natasha Romanoff), was initially a post-Soviet Russian spy of the GRU. She debuted briefly in Inhumans vol. 2, #5 (March 1999), and was fully introduced in the 1999 Marvel Knights mini-series Black Widow. A second miniseries, also titled Black Widow and featuring Natasha Romanoff and Daredevil, followed in 2001. The next year, she did a solo turn in her own three-issue miniseries, also titled Black Widow (officially Black Widow: Pale Little Spider in the series' postal indicia) under the mature-audience Marvel MAX imprint. The June to August 2002 story arc, by writer Greg Rucka and artist Igor Kordey, was a flashback to the story of her becoming the second modern Black Widow, in events preceding her Inhumans appearance.
Belova is an amoral spy and assassin who was trained at the Red Room by the same spymasters who trained Natasha Romanoff, the first Black Widow. After the death of her trainer, Pyotr Vasilievich Starkovsky, she is activated as the new Black Widow and deployed to investigate. She apprehends and eliminates his killer, unaware that both his murder and the investigation were part of a ploy to get Belova to assert herself as the new Black Widow. Believing herself to be the rightful successor to the title of "Black Widow", Yelena enthusiastically volunteers for a mission that will put her at odds with Natasha, although the meeting and confrontations between the two do not lead to a decisive battle. Natasha refers to Yelena as "little one" and "russkiya", meaning "Russian", and encourages her to find what makes her unique and her personal identity rather than blindly devote herself to her nation. Natasha later subjects Yelena to a cruel-but-necessary manipulation in order to shatter her illusions about the "Black Widow" title and teach her the reality of the espionage industry. Belova eventually retires to Cuba, where she becomes a successful businesswoman and model.
She is lured back, however, by the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and becomes involved in the agency's mining of vibranium in the Antarctic Savage Land. Shortly afterward, she barely survives an attack by Sauron, receiving severe burns and being subsequently approached with an offer for revenge against S.H.I.E.L.D. and the New Avengers.
Belova is genetically altered by the terrorist organization HYDRA, as she had suffered debilitating and disfiguring injuries after her last encounter with the New Avengers in the Savage Land. HYDRA recruited her with the prospect of revenge and after hiring the services of A.I.M. transferred her mind into a new version of Super-Adaptoid. This body appeared as Belova had originally until it began to absorb powers, at which time it changed as the original did, though now yellow in color. Now equipped with the ability to copy all of the New Avengers' powers, she engages the superhero team in combat. She is eventually defeated by a combination of Tony Stark's 49 successive Iron Man armors--from the first, Tales of Suspense #39, to the then-current--and the Sentry's use of his Void persona, which she absorbs with the rest of the Sentry's powers and energy. When she is defeated, HYDRA disables her using a remote self-destruct mechanism they had implanted in her, rather than let her reveal intelligence to the New Avengers.
During the Dark Reign storyline, Quasimodo researched Yelena Belova for Norman Osborn. Yelena Belova appeared to join Osborn's Thunderbolts. However it was eventually revealed to be actually Natasha Romanova in disguise, acting as a double agent for Nick Fury. She believed she was disguised as Belova on Fury's behalf, planted for Osborn to find and invite into the Thunderbolts. However, Osborn revealed to her that he had tricked her into taking on Belova's appearance in order to get her to do his dirty work. After Natasha's escape from the Thunderbolts, Osborn then revealed the true Yelena in stasis to Scourge and warned him that she could be his replacement on the team.
The real Yelena is later freed from stasis by members of A.I.M. who install the female Adaptoid on the High Council of A.I.M. (alongside Andrew Forson, Graviton, Jude the Entropic Man, Mentallo, Superia, and an undercover Taskmaster) as the Minister of State in Bagalia (a country populated by supervillains).
After the death of the original Black Widow at the hands of Captain America's Hydra doppelganger then defeat at hands of the real Captain America in Secret Empire, Yelena began to reassume the Black Widow identity once again, but now to honor the late-Natasha. Sometimes during the world's restoration from Hydra's mess, Yelena travels around the world to assassinate the world's infamous generals and remaining Hydra's remnants, which caught the attentions of Natasha's former lovers, Winter Soldier and Hawkeye.
Black Widow is in peak athletic condition. She also has extensive military, martial arts, and espionage training.
As a Super-Adaptoid, she was mutated by material synthesized from the Super-Adaptoid where she could adapt the powers of anyone around her like Luke Cage, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine in rapid succession.