Black Widow’s death was one of the few major changes to come out of Marvel’s Secret Empire event that Kobik, a living embodiment of the Cosmic Cube’s power, did not undo. Unsurprisingly, the super spy’s already back from the dead, but her return reveals interesting new information that changes everything we know about her.
Over the course of the past few months, Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier have been on the hunt for a trained assassin who they suspect might be Natasha—based on the skill with which the mystery figure eliminated her targets. In Tales of Suspense #102, the two Avengers are shocked when Widow shows up alive and well, confirming their suspicions. In issue #103, it’s explained that while the evil Captain America definitely killed Widow, the Red Room has been cloning many of its agents for years and using the psychic Epsilon Red to implant each clone with a copy of the original agent’s memory.
Under normal circumstances, Widow would have been revived and only given the memories the Red Room wanted her to have in order to keep her under their control. But the newest Widow clone wakes up with all of her memories, including her traumatic death, thanks to the intervention of Ursa Major, a super intelligent bear who also works for the Red Room. With both Hydra and SHIELD effectively out of business, the Red Room has designs on becoming the new dominant shadowy organization manipulating the world—and its plans all rely on its cloning program working without any hiccups.
Now that Natasha understands the long game the Red Room is playing, though, she’s taking matters into her own hands and scheming to take them down from within. Though “secret clone factory” isn’t exactly the most novel comic book plot, this is exactly the sort of story that brings out the best in characters like Black Widow. And it would actually make a pretty solid basis for the Black Widow solo film that’s finally coming to the MCU.