In 1970, Marvel finally gave Black Widow her own solo series.
Of course, she had to share the spotlight with The Inhumans. When Marvel revived their anthology series, Amazing Adventures, each issue featured two stories. The Inhumans starred in the first story while the second story would feature Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a., The Black Widow) and her assistant, Ivan. While The Inhumans dealt with cosmic concerns and royal intrigue, Natasha and Ivan would battle more down-to-Earth criminals. It was not a perfect combination as the Inhumans had little to do with the Black Widow and vice versa. But, for 8 issues, they made it work.
The 5th issue of Amazing Adventures was a Christmas issue and it featured a story that was dark even by the standards of Marvel in 1970. Ivan comes across a teenage boy who is about to jump off a bridge. Ivan grabs him and takes him to the Black Widow’s luxury apartment, located at the top of Manhattan’s Mammon Towers. “You mean that jet set chick who cooled the Young Warriors’s scene a while back?” the teenager says, showing that he knows all of the hip lingo.
When Ivan and the teenager arrive at the apartment, the Black Widow has just stepped out of the shower. (Every issue of Amazing Adventures featured at least one scene of the Black Widow either showering or getting dressed.) The Black Widow wishes Ivan and the still nameless teenager a Merry Christmas but the teenager isn’t impressed.
The teenager explains that he’s from Utah. He came to New York with “a dime in my pocket, sawdust in my skull” and eventually, he ended up crashing at the pad of a cult leader called The Astrologer. Using the stars as his guide, the Astrologer sent his cult out to commit crimes. At first, the teenager was cool with all of the the petty theft but when the Astrologer suggested robbing a blood bank and holding all of New York’s O-type blood hostage, that was a bridge too far.
As the teenager finishes his story, the members of the cult show up. Out on the balcony of her apartment, Natasha fights several of them off before a cult member named Willie gets in a lucky punch and knocks her down. The teenager shouts that he won’t allow the Black Widow to die because of his mistakes and he jumps at Willie. Both of them fall off the balcony and plummet several stories to their death.
With tears in her eyes, Natasha calls the police to report a death. No, she and Ivan never learned the teenager’s name. “But yes,” Natasha says, “I guess you would say — he was a friend of mine!”
Merry Christmas, right?
Three issues later, Black Widow would get her revenge on the Astrologer and the villain was never seen again. She never did learn the teenager’s name but his brief appearance was one of the key moments in her brief run in Amazing Adventures. His sacrifice not only established that the Black Widow lived in a dangerous world where even Christmas could end with a sudden death but it also epitomized the concepts of sacrifice and redemption. He may have been a runaway and a petty criminal with “sawdust in my skull” but could still save the life of a hero.
Amazing Adventures (Vol. 2 #5, March, 1970)
“…And To All A Good Night”
- Writer — Roy Thomas
- Artist — Gene Colan
- Inker– Bill Everett
- Letterer — Artie Simek
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