Beware… the Black Widow!
Author: Stan Lee
Illustrators: John Romita, Jim Mooney
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Originally published: July 1970
It totally threw me off that Spider-Man claims the Black Widow is a “female copy of [him]self”. I’m not crazy familiar with the character, but she’s shown up in a bunch of Avengers stuff that I’ve read and I never noticed any spider-like powers, despite the name. It’s also weird that the splash page calls her a “new costumed adventurer”: this is the same Black Widow that’s been around for awhile – though, admittedly, she does get a new (smoking hot) costume.
Anyway, this issue starts with Spidey apparently swinging home after his encounter with the Kingpin (since apparently all the shit I read since then was in the wrong spot – see previous post). We’re then treated to a little Black Widow recap in a nutshell. When Spider-Man gets home, he finds Gwen, Capt. Stacy and Harry waiting for him. As far as they know, he’s been taken captive by Spider-Man. Pete is covered in bruises from his fight (wait – I just realized Spider-Man never actually got involved with the fight. Why was he bruised?!), and Gwen first drops the L-bomb, then asks Pete to promise to never have anything to do with Spider-Man again. Ouch.
In addition to his usual girl problems, Pete has a case of his not-infrequent dizzy/groggy spells, and he feels like his powers may be fading. This usually means he’ll be fighting somebody less powerful than himself later, and that Stan needed a reason for him to not be able to beat the crap out of this lesser foe. In this case it’s pretty obvious that he’ll end up fighting the Black Widow.
Speaking of Natasha, we cut back to her in her new costume, testing out her new web-shooter – which she readily admits is “just like a female imitation of the original wall-crawling, web-shooting Spider-Man”. Man, shit like that makes me cringe. She wants to find the secret to Spider-Man’s powers, so she sets out to find him.
It’s weird, apparently she does have Spider-Man’s powers, or at least some of them. She’s shown clinging to walls. Why didn’t I know about this? Perhaps I am stupid. But, later she says she gets her powers or whatever from training and special weapons. How would those help her walk on walls? What am I missing?
For some reason they start fighting. It’s really ridiculous actually, and pretty unbelievable. They end up fighting more or less to a standstill, but the Black Widow is still amazed by Spidey’s powers, even in his weakened state. She goes back home and decides she should just be herself, gosh darnit. And wouldn’t ya know it? We get to see her be herself in her own monthly book that’s just starting! Pff.
Anyway, Pete goes home and is still feeling like ass. He decides to test his own blood, but he’s afraid to look at the results. It ends with Pete realizing he’s really afraid to lose his powers.
This issue was alright. The Black Widow stuff was kinda weird and dumb, and it’s pretty annoying that it was just a crossover to launch her own stupid book. Most of the Peter stuff was pretty good, though – everything with Gwen, him being afraid of losing his powers, all that jazz.
This issue has the third Spider-Man Woody Allen reference.