Black Widow, Colan and Everett

Striking a blow for feminism back in 1970, the Black Widow reveals a universal truth. Marvel should probably have marketed this image as a T-shirt. It would’ve surely looked good on all women carrying a copy of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch under their arm, or perhaps waiting in line for the Wonder Woman collected edition with the introduction by Gloria Steinem wherein she decries DC’s de-powering of the character.

I suppose one could make an argument for dialogue like this being in keeping with the general trend for “relevance” in comics in the early 1970s, though I doubt writer Roy Thomas had that in mind. Relevance tended to be somewhat heavy-handed and grafted on—especially over in DC comics—while this arises much more naturally as a sign of the Black Widow’s strong character. Indeed, I think the Black Widow series was Marvel’s first to feature a solo female lead. It paved the way, less successfully, for the likes of Shanna, The Cat, and, er, Night Nurse a few years later.

Interestingly, a similar comment to Natasha’s was made in the 1974 Doctor Who story The Monster of Peladon. There, a young princess is heard to proclaim that she can’t manage her political responsibilities as she’s “only a girl.” Outraged, the Doctor’s then-companion Sarah Jane Smith retorts, “There’s nothing only about being a girl!”

Hear, hear!

Art by Gene Colan and Bill Everett, from Amazing Adventures #5.

Image ©2012 Marvel Characters, Inc