Marvel's newest Black Widow run is only one arc in, but it has proved to be a pivotal and incredibly emotional turning point for Natasha Romanoff as a character. The first five issues of her newest comic have established a brand-new status quo, only to have it dismantled in a monumental fashion. It's clear that, wherever Nat goes next, she will be profoundly impacted by recent events -- and it looks like she will be doing so in a brand new costume. While Marvel had previously teased that Nat would be suiting up in some new duds, the events of this week's Black Widow #5 added more context behind the costume's debut. Spoilers for Black Widow #5 from Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Rafael de Latorre, Jordie Bellaire, and VC's Cory Petit below! Only look if you want to know!
The issue opened with the consequences of the previous installment's cliffhanger, that James and Stevie, Natasha's husband and biological son who came into her life after she was kidnapped and brainwashed by some unknown villain, had seemingly been killed in a tragic and fiery explosion. After Natasha dealt with the immediate grief of that, she and Yelena Belova, Bucky Barnes, and Clint Barton all decided to fight the cabal of villains that are targeting her. The fight largely succeeded, and afterwards, Natasha and Bucky talked about how they had actually faked James and Stevie's deaths -- projecting holograms of them in the warehouse fire, and then hiding them away somewhere safe. Natasha revealed to Bucky that she is still clearly traumatized by the ordeal, and by the fact that -- for her own self-preservation -- she needs to treat James and Stevie as if they really died.
Weeks later, Natasha can be seen on the rooftops of San Francisco in a brand-new costume, a hooded ensemble with new red and grey accents. After talking to Yelena, Natasha revealed that she's done trying to get revenge on the villains who caused this situation, but is instead going to honor James and Stevie by fighting as something "different."
This sequence, and the idea of her fighting as a more noble vigilante, definitely adds a whole new significance to Natasha's new costume. As Casagrande explained when the costume was first teased last month, that new path led to some specific sartorial decisions as well.
"I created Nat's new costume working as a full team with Kelly and Sarah (writer and editor). The first directives were to add high-tech elements and think of Nat as a vigilante, but at the same time not weigh her down, visually speaking, and still maintain the lines of the classic Romita and Samnee costume," Casagrande said last month. "I immediately appreciated the idea of thinking of her suit as a suit that enhances her strength, that has a technology that makes her more powerful and resistant: we realized the idea through the red lines on the hips, which when Nat uses it at full capacity, light up."
"Another directive was to make its logo 'hidden', not immediately visible, and even here in the end I did a job of reduction, rather than illusion," Casagrande added. "I started getting inspired by the motocross and parachuting suits, and then streamlined their appearance and approached the widow's most classic outfit. The 'gadget' that we kept, however, was the jacket with hood and parachute on the back (in fact!), to give her a sort of 'mask' on her face and to make it easier for her to move between the skyscrapers of San Francisco."