|Tales of Suspense #52, April 1964|
|The Black Widow stole a new invention of Tony Stark's through her irresistible charms in Tales of Suspense #53, May 1964|
The Black Widow would become a reoccurring character in Tales of Suspense using her female charms to steal Tony Stark's technology for her Communist superiors.
Unlike his Marvel contemporaries, Jack 'king' Kirby and 'sturdy' Steve Ditko, who were idolized by fandom, Don Heck was an unsung workhorse of Marvel's Silver Age. He was the original artist on Iron Man and was a co-creator of Black Widow, Hawkeye and many Iron Man villains like the Mandarin and the Crimson Dynamo. Without him the Marvel Universe would have been poorer for it.
The early Black Widow's power was seducing men into doing her bidding. She would use this power on a young Hawkeye, to help her destroy Iron Man (but not Tony Stark, seeing as how Natasha had the hots for him)
as told in Tales of Suspense #57, Sep 1964.
|From Tales of Suspense #57, Sep 1964|
|After some time apart, Natasha reconnects with her lover/play thing, Hawkeye in Tales of Suspense #64, May 1965, with a new scheme in mind.|
by 1965 Marvel was growing by leaps and bounds and needed to expand so Stan Lee put some fresh blood in the Avengers which included the upstart archer, Hawkeye though it seems that the Black Widow didn't make the cut and was brushed aside like so much chaff.
|from Avengers #16, May 1965|
|from Avengers #29, June 1966|
But, it seems that the master manipulator became the manipulated, when General Chen brainwashed her into do their bidding.
|Natasha begins to question her superiors in Avengers #30, July 1966|
|Natasha convinces Hawkeye of her love for him in Avengers #30, July 1966|
Don goes on to describe the "Marvel method" of script writing, "Stan Lee used to give you the first three pages, tell you who the character was fighting, and give you the last couple of pages so you'd know how it ended, and in between you'd put about fifteen pages of stuff. "
Overcoming her captors brainwashing was a real turning point for the Black Widow. Finally she was able to be with the man that she had grown to love, Hawkeye, and for his part, he is determined to make her an Avenger. Roy Thomas takes over writing duties from Stan with the Avengers #35 and takes away the Black Widow's fem fatal edge.
|Giant Man, Hank Pym vehemently opposes the Black Widow's joining the team in Avengers #36, Jan 1967|
|Natasha means business when she threatens to kill Ixar in Avengers #37,|
Love struck Hawkeye doesn't take no for an answer and goes to bat hard for the Black Widow to get her into the Avengers but before she can join the team Nick Fury enlists her services thus making her an official S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (Supreme Headquarters of International Espionage and Law-Enforcement Division).
|Natasha receives an offer that she can't refuse, to spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. in Avengers #38, March 1967|
This basically ends the Dashing one, Don Heck's time as artist for the Avengers and the exploits of everyone's favorite Russian beauty but 'Rascally' Roy Thomas and 'big' John Buscema do her character real justice when they created an epic two parter in Avengers #43 - #44 where we learn more about the Black Widow's Russian past.
|To Hawkeye and the Avengers surprise the Black Widow was a widow for real, or at least she thought she was in Avengers #44, Sep 1967|
|From Amazing Adventures #1, May 1970|
Since then the Black Widow has moved on to an illustrious history partnering up with Daredevil and joining many teams including the Avengers and the Champions but mostly she has worked solo. Lately she has become a sensation in the new blockbuster Avengers movie. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a movie of her own.
Though overlooked by fandom, Don is fondly remembered by his peers. Roy Thomas has praised him in interviews saying, "Don was unlucky enough, I think, to be a non-superhero artist who, starting in the sixties, had to find his niche in a world dominated by superheroes. Fortunately, as he proved first with Iron Man and then with the Avengers, Don could rise to the occasion because he had real talent and a good grounding in the fundamentals. He amalgamated into his own style certain aspects of Jack Kirby's style, and carved out a place for himself as one of a handful of artists who were of real importance during the very early days of Marvel."
You can read more about Don Heck at Don Heck.com
also - Don Heck - In His Own Words from 20th Century Danny Boy