Black Widow’s Costume – the Early Years

Cover for Tales of Suspense 64, first appearance of Black Widow in costume

Title with outline of Black Widow in her original costume The Black Widow, Natalia “Natasha” Romanova (also known as Romanoff), started out as a villain without a costume. Her attire was that of a sexy, wealthy modern woman — sleek, form-fitting dresses, trendy hats, gloves, and high heels. She wore that air of feminine sophistication for her first several outings after she first appeared in 1964 in Tales of Suspense #52. However, it wasn’t long before the storytellers began to showcase additional technical skills and weaponry that made Natasha more than just a dangerous honey trap.

Cover for Tales of Suspense 64, first appearance of Black Widow in costumeMost of her enemies and companions were costumed heroes. So, in issue #64 of Tales of Suspense, she appeared for the first time in her own costume. Her attire was a black bodysuit with blue mesh that emulated webbing, and a short cape. She wore a mask but didn’t cover her black hair. Her gloves and boots gave her the ability to cling to walls and from her bracelets she was able to shoot a nylon cord which she used to swing through the air.

This version of her costume would last until 1970 when she decided to update it to reflect a more trendy, sexy period evolving in comics. Her sleek black bodysuit was first introduced in Amazing Spider-man #86. More on that costume in the previous post.

Panel art, first appearance of Black Widow in original costume
This the first time Black Widow appears in a costume. Panels from Tales of Suspense #64.
Black Widow returns to Hawkeye
Next page. Black Widow reveals herself to Hawkeye. She and Hawkeye had established a relationship in previous issues when she had manipulated him into attacking Iron Man.
Panels from Tales of Suspense 64: Iron Man attacks Black Widow
In the same issue, Black Widow works with Hawkeye to take down Iron Man. Notice that her costume doesn’t have the widow’s mark (the red hourglass found on black widow spiders) that she would incorporate later into newer costumes.

Here are some images from another early appearance of the Black Widow in costume. Her costume has more of a gray appearance in this issue. The pages come from issue #30 of Avengers, Volume 1 (1965). In this issue, she starts as an enemy of the Avengers, but eventually begins her transformation to an ally.

Panel art from Avengers 30, Black Widow in original costume
Black Widow and a pair of jealous oafs preparing their villainy against the Avengers. Black Widow was brainwashed for her mission, but as you can see, her affection for Hawkeye is starting to make the brainwashing crack.
Black Widow reveals brainwashing to Hawkeye
Black Widow reveals to Hawkeye that she has been brainwashed. She is no longer under the enemy’s control and expresses her love for him. Never one to take himself too seriously, Stan Lee (who wrote the story), makes a joke about the melodrama. That’s the Wasp in the last panel, by the way.
Cover of Avengers Volume 1, #30 with Black Widow
Black Widow appeared at the bottom on the villain’s side of the cover for The Avengers #30.


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