During Marvel’s Silver Age period, the Black Widow went through three distinct phases, during which her look changed drastically. Each phase is illustrated below.
Initially, the Black Widow appeared in glamorous eveningwear, and was presented as a cunning Soviet spy without any superhuman abilities. During this period she matched wits with Iron Man and seduced Hawkeye into helping her steal military secrets. This is how she was dressed for her first appearance, in Tales of Suspense #52.
After a while, it was decided to make the Black Widow into a costumed super-villainess, so she was taken back to Russia and outfitted with high-tech accoutrements that enabled her to stick to walls, swing on a cable, and fire lethal energy blasts, which she called her “Widow’s Bite.” Even after she defected to the West, she continued with this look for some time. Her new costume made its debut in Tales of Suspense #64.
Finally, the Black Widow decided to adopt a sleeker look, in part to distance herself from her life as a Communist spy. She chose a simple black catsuit, with weapon-laden gold accessories provided by the international espionage agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. She also gave up on the black hair dye, letting her true colors show. The Black Widow made the change in Amazing Spider-Man #86.
The Black Widow kept this image well into the 1980s. She has since returned to it, or some modernized version of it, and it is the look by which she is best known.
Back to the Black Widow Chronology.