As the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s lone female Avenger (at least initially), Natasha Romanova has never had a larger profile or more eager fan base. The complicated Black Widow has a challenging, hard-to-trace Marvel comics continuity, worthy of her former days as a Soviet Spy.
The potential confusion for new readers with Black Widow is exacerbated by the fact that Marvel has literally never committed to a Black Widow solo title longer than 20 issues (even launching two separate solo titles that lasted a mere three issues!).
Nonetheless, below you’ll find a proper Black Widow reading order for the best double agent in the Marvel Universe.
Black Widow Origins
Collects: Collects Tales of Suspense #52, Amazing Spider-Man #86, Amazing Adventures #1-8, and Daredevil #81.
A variety of Black Widow’s relatively early 1960’s to early 70’s appearances in Marvel Comics. It’s a bit of an odd collection that could use some additions if you’re truly interested in Black Widow’s early days.
For the Marvel Unlimited crowd, I’d recommend in the below order:
Tales of Suspense #52, #53, #57, #60, #64
Amazing Spider-Man #86
Insert the Below Avengers appearances and then continue!
Amazing Adventures #1 to #8
Daredevil #81 to #83
Keep in mind that this is a modern take on what the Black Widow’s origin looks like – it didn’t really look like this until the 2000’s.
Collects: Avengers (1963) #31-40
Part One of Natasha’s Silver Age face turn as a supporting cast member of the Avengers starts here!
Avengers #39 to #45 is essentially where Black Widow goes from “Red Spy” to potential Marvel hero. It’s kind of amazing how many 60’s Marvel stories feature redemption arcs for genuine super villains, with a list including Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and of course, Black Widow. If you’re particularly invested, you could run Avengers all the way back to issue #29 and read forward from there.
Collects: Avengers (1963) #41-50, Avengers Annual (1967) #1
Part Two featuring a face off with Nat’s ex, the Red Guardian!
Collects: Avengers (1963) #59-68, Marvel Super Heroes (1967) #17
Nat’s last Silver Age Avengers guest appearances before joining SHIELD!
Collects: Killmonger (2018) #1-5
As a SHIELD agent, apparently Nat was caught up in the secret origin of Erik Killmonger.
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #75-84, Material from Amazing Adventures (1970) #1-8
Nat’s adventures with the Man Without Fear start here!
Essential Black Widow Stories From 70’s To 90’s
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #85-96
Black Widow begins to co-headline DD’s title!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #97-107, Avengers (1963) #111
More adventures with DD in San Francisco. Nat finally (briefly) joins the Avengers. Plus, guest-star arc by Captain Mar-Vell and Moondragon with a sidebar Thanos War tie-in!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #108-119, Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #3
Nat’s name is no longer on cover but she’s still a regular featuring character all the same!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #120-132, Material from FOOM (1973) #13
The first half contains the final classic Bronze Age DD team-up stories!
Collects: Champions (1975) #1-17, Iron Man Annual (1970) #4, Avengers (1963) #163, Super-Villain Team-Up (1975) #14, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #17-18, Incredible Hulk Annual (1968) #7
Nat joins Hercules, Iceman, Angel and Ghost Rider in this unlikely and short-lived super group operating out of Los Angeles!
Natasha played around with both the Avengers and SHIELD, but never really had a squad of her own until the 70’s Champions.
Avengers: The Korvac Saga – Black Widow and the Champions make some major appearances starting around Avengers #173.
Collects: Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #27-28, Daredevil (1964) #158-161, 163-172
Nat returns to being a regular supporting cast member in DD’s world!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #185-191 & 219, Daredevil: Love and War (1986), What If? (1977) #28
Nat continues her supporting role as Miller and Janson’s acclaimed DD run concludes!
In particular, I’d consider Daredevil #188 to #190 – Although for this one you’ll want to read from Daredevil #178 (at least), which gives you some great Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Daredevil comics.
Collects: Avengers (1963) #231-241, Avengers Annual (1967) #11-12, Amazing Spider-Man Annual (1964) #16, Fantastic Four (1961) #256, Doctor Strange (1974) #60
Only for the total Black Widow completist: Nat makes a one issue guest app in Avengers- featuring alongside Hawkeye, T’Challa and others on real-life late night legend David Letterman’s TV show! Also, to date this marks the earliest collected appearance of the Widow’s short hair and popped-collar 80s look!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #215-217, 219-222 & 225-226
Nat just cannot stay out of the world of Daredevil!
Collects: West Coast Avengers (1985) #10-16, West Coast Avengers Annual (1986) #1, Avengers Annual (1967) #15
Nat takes part in a very unceremonious Avengers reunion to confront a traitor in their ranks!
Black Widow in the 1990’s
Collects: Captain America (1968) #372-386, Captain America Annual (1971) #9-10
Nat becomes a regular supporting guest star in this early 90s story of Cap trying to get a dangerous desinger drug off the streets!
Collects: Marvel Fanfare #10 to #13, Bizarre Adventures #25, Black Widow: The Coldest War Marvel OGN #61
Uncanny X-Men #268 – Ok, Black Widow, Wolverine, and Captain America walk into a bar…
Collects: Avengers (1963) #333-344, Avengers Annual (1967) #20, Avengers: Deathtrap – The Vault (1991), Material from Incredible Hulk Annual (1968) #17, Namor The Sub-Mariner Annual (1991) #1, Iron Man Annual (1970) #12, West Coast Avengers Annual (1986) #6
Nat rejoins the Avengers just in time for some cosmic weirdness with The Collector and a big crossover: The Subterranean Wars!
Collects: Avengers (1963) #345-347, Avengers West Coast (1985) #80-82, Quasar (1989) #32-34, Wonder Man (1991) #7-9, Iron Man (1968) #278-279, Thor (1966) #445-446, Captain America (1968) #401, Material from Captain America (1968) #398-400
Nat and the Avengers are once again drawn into a cosmic dispute between two warring empires. Along the way, Earth’s Mightiest become Earth’s Most Divided…
Collects: Infinity War (1992) #1-6, Warlock and the Infinity Watch (1992) #7-10, Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #108-111
Nat and the Avengers get caught up in The Magus’ madness!
Iron Man #315 to #317 – Vs. the Titanium Man
Punisher, Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web (Marvel Graphic Novel #74)
Collects: Avengers (1963) #348-359, Avengers Annual (1967) #21, Material from Captain America Annual (1971) #11, Thor Annual (1966) #17, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #25
Nat becomes the new leader of the Avengers!
Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir (Marvel Graphic Novel #75)
Collects: Avengers (1963) #368-369, Avengers West Coast (1985) #101, X-Men (1991) #26, Uncanny X-Men (1963) #307, Black Knight: Exodus (1996) #1
Nat and the Avengers team up with the X-Men over a crisis on the island nation of Genosha!
Collects: Daredevil (1964) #319-332, Daredevil Annual (1967) #10
Nat and the Avengers guest star for a story arc!
Collects: Force Works (1994) #1-11, 12 (A story), 13-15, Ashcan Edition, Century: Distant Sons (1996) #1, Material from Iron Man/Force Works Collectors’ Preview (1994)
Nat is a recurring guest star as former West Coast Avengers form their own short-lived splinter group!
Collects: Captain America (1968) #444-454, Thor (1966) #496, Iron Man (1968) #326, Avengers (1963) #496, Material from Captain America Ashcan Edition, Captain America: The Legend (1996), Captain America Collectors’ Preview (1995)
Nat and the Avengers guest star for the start of Mark Waid and Ron Garney’s fan-fave run!
Collects: X-Men (1991) #53-54, Uncanny X-Men (1963) #335, Onslaught: X-Men (1996), Avengers (1963) #401, Fantastic Four (1961) #415, Cable (1993) #34, Incredible Hulk (1962) #444
Nat and the Avengers are brought in to help fight a mutant crisis so big it needs ALL the heroes!
For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Onslaught reading order.
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #1-5 & -1, Incredible Hulk (1968) #449, Tales of the Marvel Universe (1997) #1, Spider-Man Team-Up (1995) #7, Thunderbolts Annual ’97
Nat is a recurring character, suspicious of these new “heroes” who just show up while the Avengers are thought dead.
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #6-14, Heroes For Hire (1997) #7
Nat confronts the Tbolts!
Collects: Daredevil #365 to #380
Collects: Avengers (1998) #1-11
The Avengers turn out to be not dead and Nat takes part in their reunion!
Collects: Iron Man (1998) #1-14, Captain America (1998) #8, Quicksilver (1997) #10, Avengers (1998) #7, Iron Man/Captain America Annual 1998, Fantastic Four (1998) #15
Nat guest stars in some of Shellhead’s solo stories!
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #38-50, Avengers (1998) #31-34
Nat teams up with both the Thunderbolts and the Avengers to tackle some dangling plotlines from the pre-Onslaught era!
Marvel Knights Black Widow (1999 through 2000’s)
This collection contains issues #1 to #3 of both the 1999 and 2001 Black Widow miniseries. Note that the 2001 miniseries from Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson is labeled Black Widow: Breakdown in Marvel Unlimited.
Marvel Knights #1 to #12
Issues: #61 to #66
As always, I highly recommend Bendis and Maleev’s run on Daredevil. This collection is the most important for the Daredevil and Black Widow relationship.
Issues: #1 to #5
Issues: #1 to #6
Note that only issue #6 has any Black Widow appearance, and even then calling this a “Black Widow” comic is a bit of a reach. Nonetheless, the story has surprisingly essential implications for Black Widow moving forward.
Issues: #1 to #6
Issues: #1 to #6
Note that Mighty Avengers occurs directly in the wake of Civil War. If you are not up to speed on Marvel’s Civil War event, I highly recommend you give it a read prior to Mighty Avengers.
Issues: #1 to #4
Black Widow Comics From 2010 to 2012
Issues: #1 to #5
If you read nothing else on this list, read “The Name of the Rose” from Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna. It’s not only my favorite Black Widow comic of the 2000’s, but it’s one of my favorite Marvel Comics since 1998.
Issues: #6 to #8 – Duane Swiercyznski’s follow up to the Liu story.
Note that this is simply titled ‘Widowmaker’ in Marvel Unlimited.
Issues: #16 to #21
Natasha is a member of the Secret Avengers, but it’s issue #20 that is one of my all-time favorite Black Widow stories. A single issue masterpiece from Warren Ellis and co.
Marvel NOW! Black Widow
Fourteen glorious issues from Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, and Michael Lark. Sure it’s a “Winter Soldier” comic but Natasha plays every bit as essential a role.
This collects the first six issues of Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s twenty issue run on Black Widow. The series takes you all the way to “Last Days” tie-ins prior to Secret Wars.
All-New All-Different Black Widow
Collects: Black Widow (2016) #1-6
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee step in to give Nat a new solo series!
Collects: Black Widow (2016) #7-12
The dramatic conclusion of Nat being on the run from SHIELD!
Collects: Secret Empire (2017) #0-10, Secret Empire Omega (2017) #1, Captain America (2015) #25 and Material from Free Comic Book Day 2017 (Secret Empire)
Nat is a key player in the resistance movement against the Evil Cap’s new Hydra America!
For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Secret Empire reading order.
Collects: Secret Empire: United (2017) #1, Secret Empire: Underground (2017) #1, Secret Empire: Uprising (2017) #1, Uncanny Avengers (2015B) #24-25, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy Annual (2017) #1
Nat takes the teen heroes to assassin school in a resistance-style Red Room!
Collects: Tales Of Suspense (2017) #100-104
Nat supposedly died during Secret Empire, so why does it still look like she’s leaving a fresh trail of bodies? Hawkguy and Bucky have a very uneasily bromantic team up to learn the truth about their mutual ex. And maybe a little about themselves…
Collects: The Punisher (2016) #224-228
After using the War Machine armor to overthrow a despot overseas, Frank’s antics go noticed by the super hero community once he cycles back stateside- except Nat has other plans for Frank Castle…
Collects: Infinity Countdown Prime (2018), Infinity Countdown (2018) #1-5, Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock (2018) #1 and Material from Free Comic Book Day 2018 (Amazing Spider-Man)
Nat joins Dr. Strange’s new Infinity Watch – For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Infinity Countdown + Infinity Wars reading order.
Collects: Infinity Countdown: Black Widow (2018) #1, Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel (2018) #1, Infinity Countdown: Champions (2018) #1-2, & Infinity Countdown: Daredevil (2018) #1
Nat inherits the Space Stone from Wolverine!
Collects: Infinty Wars Prime (2018) #1, Infinity Wars (2018) #1-6
Despite a new Infinity Watch, Gamora has her own plans for the Infinity Stones!
Collects: The Punisher (2018) #1-5
Frank may no longer have the War Machine armor but Nat is still working as his handler!
Collects: Weapon H (2018) #7-12
Nat goes undercover as Roxxon Industries tries to pillage the resources of Weirdworld!
Collects: Black Widow (2019) #1-5
Nat is back in an all-new solo adventure!
Collects: War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Land Of The Giants (2019) #1, War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Dark Elf Realm (2019) #1, War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The War Avengers (2019) #1
Nat is part of Carol Danvers’ War Avengers! For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s War of the Realms reading order.