Natasha: No, m’sleepy.
Matt: Grab your stuff, Natasha. We can’t sleep here tonight.
Natasha: Matt, I have to sleep. You know how I get.
Matt: Yes, but you have a hired assassin after you who has not only gotten access to my SHIELD file… (…which is something I have never had.) But today, before all of this, he has seen my face.
Natasha: He’s probably left the city.

The mounting evidence that Natasha isn’t a morning person.

From Daredevil #64, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Quinn: Okay, okay, I am seven city blocks away from Matt Murdock’s law office. I am here because Natasha “the %^@ who kicked my %$$ yesterday” Romanova hasn’tleft his side in 39 hours and counting. I have no idea if I’m going to be able to make the shot from this distance. I have— there they are! (Huggy little bears…) I cannot believe that someone of the Black Widow’s reputation is still making such a public spectacle of herself. We have been trained to blend in and disappear… and she’s standing out there like she wants me to— No way…

From Daredevil #64, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Natasha: Very good. Did you wonder why I wanted to take posession of it here?
Evans: I was curious, love, yes. I thought maybe you wanted to go on holiday.
Natasha: No. You see, right now, I’m in America, and I’ve realized I need to get rid of a lot of documents and material.
Evans: You’re in America, right.
Natasha: It’s true. And I’m remotely detonating the explosives in the foundations. Because you were write, Harry: I can’t live with having funded you. And I found out that you sold the gun design to the Shadow Council. Goodbye.

From Secret Avengers #20, by Warren Ellis and Alex Maleev.

…What? Oh, no. “Escape hatch.” I remember the last time I was here. I loved this place so. Damn you, Henry McCoy, for being so incredibly boring that I didn’t listen to you talk about time travel.

I’m going to take time off from my campaign of deep-felt personal nerdrage to remind you all how fucking spectacular Secret Avengers #20 was. It’s an aggressively smart book, smart the way I feel all Black Widow stories ought to be, done in delicate spirals of single issue spy-fi, spiked with Maleev’s particular understated glamor. It’s instantly unlike anything else the big two are putting out, instantly it’s own thing.

But it’s not just Warren Ellis high-concept tehnobabble, it’s also just down to the bones a Black Widow story. I don’t always think Ellis gets it right when he boils characters down to their core concepts, but he nailed Natasha, to me. It’s all her melancholy, all her aching timelessness, all her grace under pressure and winking references to her pop culture inspirations, all the deeply weird hidden things that the Marvel universe can be. It’s all there, packaged with a dry and human wit that reminds us why and how she’s the world’s greatest secret agent, and hints at all she’s given up to become herself. It’s a book about a woman without being About A Woman. It’s basic, fundamental proof that Marvel gets these things right sometimes. It came out six months ago.

Find it, buy it, read it, if you haven’t. Ask for more.

From Secret Avengers #20, by Warren Ellis and Alex Maleev.