You might have heard— Marvel is doing a gigantanormous 700 issue free digital bonanza and this means for the first time I get to do a masterpost for some of my favorite Black Widow comics!!Black Widow v6 #1 (url)
The kickoff to the 2010 ongoing is still my preferred intro point, because this is a kickass run of comics that mixes grade-A character study with the context of the wider Marvel universe. Again, this is the Natasha story I think everyone should read. This story arc continues with #2-5 of the same series.
Words by Marjorie Liu, art by Daniel AcuñaBlack Widow v1 #1 (url)
The 1999 mini introduces Yelena Belova, a second Black Widow and mixes glossy international espionage with themes of identity and individuality. I still love this one, and it was my go-to rec before the 2010 ongoing came out. Continues in #2-3 of the same series.
Words by Devin Grayson, art by J.G. JonesBlack Widow v2 #1 (url)
This is a spiritual sequel to the first Grayson mini, and is a mean, twisty mindfuck of a story. I like this because it shows Natasha at her worst, and also shows what drives her there. Continues in #2-3 of the same series.
Words by Devin Grayson & Greg Rucka, art by Scott HamptonEnter the Heroic Age #1 & CA and the Secret Avengers #1 (url & url)
Two linked one-shots by Kelly Sue DeConnick, involving copious ladysnark, over the top Bond-villainy, and an assortment of cute coats and puppies. Read Enter the Heroic Age, then the SA issue.
Words by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Jamie McKelvie and Greg TocchiniFear Itself: the Black Widow (url)
This takes place during the Fear Itself megacrossover but you don’t need to read the big crossover to understand what’s going on. I like how this one explores Natasha’s ruthlessness in the context of her vulnerability, and the art is lithe and elegant.
Words by Cullen Bunn, art by Peter Nguyen
These are all #1 issues, so they were written as starting points and should be easy for anyone to download and digest.
No superpowers required: Ways in which Natasha Romanov uses her body and preconceived notions about her femininity as a weapon
AU where all the Avengers are teachers—
- Tony’s the smartass physics teacher, the one whose exams are impossibly difficult, but you can’t even hate him for that, because he tells the best stories and lets you swear and eat in class or use your phone, because he does all of that, too. He’ll basically let you get away with anything because he gives even less of a fuck than any of the students.
- Bruce is the super nice math teacher, the blessed saint who grades homework on completion, and who’s always available to talk to outside of class to help you understand the material and makes you feel like a champ when you finally get that pesky quadratic equation thing down. And if you don’t, well don’t worry about it, he gives plenty of opportunities for extra credit, because he sees the best in everyone.
- Thor’s the gym teacher who thinks he’s doing the nerds a favor when he gives them one-on-one attention (“Come now, scrawny one! I shall do these 10 push-ups with you!”); he’s also the football coach who’s in better shape than anyone on the team.
- Loki teaches European history, but his classroom window overlooks the track, where Thor’s classes are always making noise, and sometimes Thor catches Loki looking out the window and booms, “BROTHER, JOIN US IN THIS ROUSING MATCH OF KICKBALL,” and the students think it’s hilarious, but every time they laugh, Loki slams the window shut and gives them a pop quiz.
- Steve teaches American history, and is blissfully unaware of how much high school kids know about sex, and is astonished at what he sees in the halls between classes. You absolutely cannot swear in his class because he’ll write you up, no exceptions. He’s also the coach of the really sucky baseball team, but firmly believes they always “try their best,” no matter how bad the score.
- Natasha’s the hot foreign language teacher that everyone’s terrified of. She gives speaking tests all the time, and docks major points if you speak without an accent. If she catches you texting in class, she takes your phone and changes it to the most obscure language in the settings, and she’ll only change it back if you give her a rundown of what you were texting about in the first place—in whatever language she’s teaching.
- Clint teaches English, and the thought of disappointing him by getting a bad grade or not turning in your homework makes your insides turn, because he’s nothing but nice, and he’ll always write you a hall pass if you need one. Everyone knows he has a thing for Natasha—there’re rumors about an experience they shared while studying abroad in Budapest, of all places—and there are bets among the other teachers when he’s going to make a move.
- Peter Parker’s a student teacher under Tony, and Tony sees this as just one more excuse to do whatever the fuck he wants during class, so he hangs out with Bruce, or pokes his head in the doorway to Steve’s classroom and shouts “SEX” then keeps walking like nothing happened. But one day Tony finds a note Peter left for him saying he couldn’t keep doing this because he couldn’t control the students, so Tony sends him a text saying the next day is on him, but he expects Peter to be back the day after that. Peter returns to students who are almost too well-behaved, and when he asks Tony what happened, Tony just smiles.
- Principal Fury normally designates disciplinary practices to Assistant Principal Coulson, unless the kid is there on account of Steve (Fury wishes he had a dollar for every time Steve sent someone to the office for swearing or texting in class), because Coulson’s a huge baseball fan and followed Steve’s college career, and he could’ve played in the majors, but instead Steve chose to teach, so Coulson would always uphold Steve’s detention sentences because he worshiped him.