Natasha: I love high heels, don’t you? Benjamin Gamboza, hot-shot attorney. You drive a BMW, enjoy egg whtie omelets at the café in your building… and when you call a hooker— after every case you win— you prefer blondes. Women who don’t look like your wife. Except you don’t beat the hookers.
Gamboza: I don’t—
Natasha: Ah. You sweet, brutal man. No protests, please. I’m very precise in my resarch. And your wife has caught my eye over the past mont. We go to the same coffee shop. I jog there. She always arrives by cab. I know how a woman should move, Benjamin. And I know how a woman moves when she’s in pain. I know that look in a woman’s eye. Divorce her. Give her a lot of money. Or I’ll come for you again. And again. And again.

From Black Widow #1 by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuña.


all, everything that i understand,” he wrote, “i understand only because i love.” but words on a page didn’t teach me that lesson. i learned it on my own. i learned it from a ribbon tied around my ring finger. i learned it from a kick inside my belly. i learned it from death, and hardship, and brief acts of inexplicable kindness. no matter where i’ve gone, or what i’ve done—all the dark things i do not regret, but will never speak of— that is a part of me that i have always kept safe.

 favorite comics: black widow vol. 7 by marjorie liu and daniel acuna

Natasha: But you showed them, didn’t you? Just like you think you’ll show me, the Avengers, whoever else you target.
Imus: If you hadn’t been foolish enough to keep files on your friends, we wouldn’t be here right now. I had no intention of coming after you, or the Avengers. I had more… pressing concerns. Until I discovered that sweet little secret hiding in your belly… so I thought, why the hell not? If I destroy you, I destroy the heart of the Avengers.

I thought I’d elaborate, because this isn’t an aspect of Name of the Rose I see talked about much. Imus Champion, before this story, wasn’t much of a Black Widow villain: his grudge was with the Avengers. Marjorie Liu remakes him by extracting themes of mortality and immortality, drive and ambition, “mere humanity”, stuff that’s essential to what she wants to say about Natasha. Mere humanity is the one thing Imus Champion is trying to overcome, and the one Natasha, lady of loss, cannot afford to lose.

But look at how Imus monologues here: if I destroy you, I destroy the heart of the Avengers.

It’s true in so many senses, but radically different from the (often equally true) notion of Natasha as a hero apart, at the sidelines, in the shadows. Look: through decades of tangled continuity, Natasha has placed herself at the center of a web that includes so much of the Marvel universe. She has led gods into battle, and given young women their costumes, and touched very many lives. And look: Imus’s plan is to turn against her. If they did that, if they were low enough, they really would lose their heart.

From Black Widow #4, by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuña.

Natasha: Wait, is that me in there?
Richard: The photo? It’s, uh… well, do you remember that party the night we bought Champions HQ? When we met George? That was… kind of the best night of my life. I mean, we were all together in the same city, Ivan was still alive… it felt like, I don’t know… like we were doing something good… cheap sentiment, I guess. Sorry.
Natasha: Don’t be.
— All right. Not a complete disaster.
George: Hey, remember Bobby throwing up in the elevator?
Natasha: Oh Lord, it was like a slurpee—
— They’re good people. Good friends. Like I said, without moments like these— people like this— I’d go a little crazy.

Old Woman: She was afraid you would forget what’s important.
Natasha: Never.

From Avengers Assemble #14AU by Ewing and Guice & Black Widow #4, by Liu and Acuña.

Natasha: Scream all you like on the inside. Fight to move. Pray. You’re in my prison now, Maki. Remember the next timeyou come after my friends, and their families. Killing people is easy. Making them suffer is an art.

More on yesterday’s discussion!! Marjorie Liu played around with the “does things other Avengers wouldn’t” spooky music in her Black Widow run, in ways much more cruel and unusual than a couple of brain bullets. But it’s my favorite series for a reason. These moments of bone-chill are balanced with moments of kindness and frailty. Natasha crying for a man killed in front of her, a man she had no special esteem for and she was threatening moments before. Natasha’s a lot of things, and she’s more human for not fitting them all together neatly. But Liu’s Natasha is frightening, too. And not because she can turn her emotions off and do the unspeakable. But because she can make herself do the unspeakable and feel every second of it.

From Black Widow #4, by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuña.