Oh man. Where to start? It really depends on the Natalia/Natasha Romanova/Romanoff you want to get to know. I think she’s easily one of the greatest characters of the Marvel Universe. Where to start with my favorite ballerina assassin? Hmmm. Fair warning, I’m going to suck so hard at this. I’ll focus on current and readily available books, rather than the Historical Documents.
It’s important to note that the Black Widow’s first appearance is an an Iron Man villain in the early Tales of Suspense. If you’re feeling game, I love these older titles and it’s always interesting to see the progression of a beloved character. After leaving her super sketch past behind her, she becomes the 16th (someone fact check me?) Avenger. This edition pretty much collects all of her early appearances.
Now, I don’t think it’s readily available, but check eBay and your LCS, but I have such a stupid love for The Champions. This was 1975 and Natasha is leading a superhero team. 1975. That’s amazing. I mean, to be fair you couldn’t pay me crazy Stark money to be on that team, but it’s still totally 70’s and amazing. Her SHIELD shenanigans and Marvel Fanfare tales are collected here.
Then you can read Black Widow: Itsy-Bitsy Spider which is literally Natasha’s version of Aesop’s Fables. A very fucked up Aesop Fable. Like Nic Cage/John Travolta Face-Off Aesop Fable.
If you read anything off of this list, you read Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. I swear on Alan Moore’s Mall Santa beard, I am a that door-to-door random Christian-sect member asking if you have accepted Marjorie M. Liu and Daniel Acuña’s The Name of the Rose as your lord and savior. This was one of the very first ongoings I kept up with when I first started reading comics weekly. It’s a perfectly self-contained book that manages to introduce Natasha as a flawed and remarkable individual while keeping her steeped in the old world and new. This was a book that made me stop and say, “goddamn.” It’s a perfect marriage of art and words.
Other notable titles include the Widowmaker mini written (mostly) by Jim McCann. It sets up Hawkeye: Blindspot, if you’re interested in reading more, but it’s a fairly fun read. Naturally, pick up any books with Winter Solider in the title. There’s a fair amount of Natasha’s backstory in those books, so go proudly comrade.
Here’s the thing with Black Widow titles, compared to other characters, you can pretty much just read everything, and it’s not going to take long. It might be difficult to find like Daredevil titles, but it’s out there. If you like her, it’s good reading.
Oh, and of course a Black Widow post wouldn’t be complete without required reading from Uncle Warren’s story time. до свидания, or whatever.