Black Widow’s just became a whole lot crazier thanks to the new issue of Tales of Suspense.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Tales of Suspense #103!
Natasha Romanova’s status quo has been very up in the air in recent months. She was killed in last year’s Secret Empire crossover, cut down in battle with Hydra Supreme Steve Rogers. However, it wasn’t long before signs emerged that she may have survived that battle. Tales of Suspense #102 confirmed that Natasha is still alive, but it turns out the truth is a lot more complicated.
Issue #103 flashes back a month to connect the dots from Secret Empire to the present. As we learn, Natasha did actually die in her fight with Cap. Her old handlers at the Black Widow Ops Program cloned her and put her to work taking down the battered remnants of SHIELD and Hydra. She and her fellow Red Room recruits are basically clone pawns in a larger game.
Not only is Natasha a clone, it’s heavily implied that this isn’t the first time she’s been killed and restored in clone form. As explained by Ursa Major (a Russian mutant who’s basically a talking bear), the Black Widow Ops Program relies on the abilities of a super-soldier called Epsilon Red. Epsilon Red’s mind serves as a vast memory storage bank, allowing his masters to selectively imprint these memories into cloned bodies. Natasha was meant to be cloned only with her essential memories intact, but Ursa Major ensured that she retained everything, good and bad. Together, the two are now working to destroy the Black Widow Ops Program from the inside out.
For all intents and purposes, Black Widow has just become the Marvel Universe equivalent of a Replicant. She’s been forced to reevaluate her own humanity, even as she questions which of her memories are real and which are false implants by the Black Widow Ops Program. Previous stories have revealed that Natasha has been biologically enhanced and is resistant to aging, but it may be that doesn’t grow old because her body is simply cloned anew every time she’s killed in action.
Let us know what you think of this new take on Black Widow in the comments below.