Marvel’s next Big Event was announced in USA Today. Original Sin will be headlined by Jason Aaron, these preview images are by Mike Deodato, and begins with the death of the Watcher.

Former S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy Nick Fury is “the grizzled Marvel superhero version of an old homicide detective” who assembles Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and others for the main manhunt, Aaron says. Meanwhile, another group including the Punisher, Doctor Strange, Emma Frost, Ant-Man and Black Panther conducts its own investigation.

Natasha isn’t mentioned in that little text blurb, but it seems like she’s in the Captain America/Iron Man/Thor group in the picture preview..

Fury: Fury to Black Widow: how are those upgrades working out? They give you that boob job I requested?
Monica: Drop dead.
Fury: Strength, speed, hyper-agility: I guess now you know why the last Black Widow kept volunteering for Stark’s experiments.
Monica: Would you please stop trying to make conversation? The sound of your voice makes my stomach heave.
Fury: Monica, listen. Between you and me: don’t you think it’s a little off calling yourself the new Black Widow after everything that went down with Hawkeye’s family?
Monica: I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It’s a cool code name and if Hawkeye doesn’t like it he should grow the hell up.
Fury: Still adorable after all these years, huh? Why did we ever split up.

And here’s the first appearance of Monica Chang. This intro scene focuses heavily on the ex-couple bickering between Monica and Nick. I’m glad they’ve expanded her character beyond that, since we’re in agreement that Ultimate Nick Fury should shut up.

The line about enhancements is some easy exposition-by-dialogue to set up the new character: we know she’s stronger and faster than she ought to be. The Ultimate universe, with its overarching theme of military-industrial complex, is much freer with the government-granted nebulous power upgrades. Note that, as with Yelena’s first appearance, the intro sequence doesn’t show Monica’s face.

From Ultimate Comics Avengers #3, by Mark Millar and Carlos Pacheco.

Natasha: Well, sometimes you have to disappear to get your life back.
Nick: My thoughts exactly. Still, lyin’ to all your friends? Lyin’ to Steve Rogers?
Natasha: I can lie just as well as you can, Nick… I was well trained in the art. Besides, this gets you what you want, doesn’t it?
Nick: If we’re gonna win this war, we need Captain America back. And if this doesn’t get Steve Rogers back into that uniform… I don’t know what will.

The idea that Natasha would fake Bucky’s death to manipulate Steve back into wearing wings on his head has never sat well with me. First, because Natasha is someone who pays attention more to the men behind the tights— codenames and disguises are more ephemeral.

But more importantly, this is the exact same schtick the Soviet Union pulled on Natasha to get her to accept the name Black Widow, and all the burdens and duties that came with it. They told her that the man she loved was dead, and she told herself that he would have wanted her to carry on for him. And that was the deception that ruined her. It weighs a lot.

Natasha has always been at her most ruthless and manipulative when she feels there is something worth saving on the line— her most stunning cruelties often accompany her most stunning acts of compassion. (See: Belova, Yelena.) So I can well believe that she’d take it upon herself to fake Bucky’s death, if that’s what she felt could save him. And I can see her taking credit for Nick Fury’s “take back the shield, Steve” scheme because guilt is a part of her curse. But look what she says, here— “it’s what you want,” not what she wants, not what Steve wants or what Bucky wants. It’s the classic Nick Fury dick move, really, all the more dickish because it might be for the best. But the big picture “we need a Captain America to win this fight, and this is how we can get one” is the exact sort of chessmaster politics Natasha is ever attempting to escape.

Fury has to be thinking about the tactical value of Steve Rogers Captain America, Natasha has to concentrate on the personal value of James Barnes Human Being.

(Incidentally, Brubaker has just announced he’s leaving Captain America with issue #19.)

From Fear Itself #7.1, by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice.



monica: well, lucky for you hawkeye was twice as lame back there. did it hurt when your little head hit the ground, clint?

clint: would somebody please get this freak away from me?

petra: jim rhodes said you and miss chang were married for six months. is that true?

nick: six months, two weeks, and five days. vietnam was less traumatic. 

from ultimate avengers #04 (mark millar & carlos pacheco)