First You May Have Missed: Red Widow
With the current state of the marvel universe and the MCU, a lot of focus has been put on legacy character's. At this point not only has almost every A list hero had one, but most have had or have ongoing series, life action or animated appearances, and even some big speculation success (Miles, Kamala, X-23 and even Riri are gaining momentum). Out of the main comic book and MCU avengers line up it seems that almost everyone has had their understudy get some sort of shine but one major player has always been shafted, Black Widow.
So today I will do my part to shine the light on the black sheep of the young marvel family Red Widow.
Ava Orlova was a Russian child captive being held by the same organization that trained Black Widow. She first appeared in a back up story in 2015's *deep breath* Mockingbird: S.H.I.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1. At 9 years old she was rescued by Natasha Romanoff the Black Widow but while Natasha promised she would return for her, she never did.
Ava was eventually taken in by Shield where the was then again held for 5 years before she escaped into the streets of Brooklyn and began to fend for herself. During which she managed to get into some local trouble and adopted the vigilante identity Red Widow along with some stolen Shield tech to save a friend.
She adopts the name with both admiration and disdain for Natasha as she recognizes her as a hero to some but as a disappointment to her 9-year-old self which was left behind by Natasha. This is where she vows to be as strong as Black Widow but not as disappointing.
This sets up a great story line for the Red Widow and one I would have loved to see play out in maybe a solo mini or even alongside a shield comic but this is where things get hazy. Red Widows next publication was in the Young Adult book realm. Black Widow: Forever Red featured a team up of Black and Red Widow against the continued experiments of the Red Room.
I have not read this book. Nor have I ever touched the sequel that was published a year later, I have read great review's and a few spoilers but I tend to stay away from YA novels, it's just not my thing. With that being said I can not tell you much about what happened or if any of it is technically comic book canon for the 616 but I can say Natasha and Ava do play nice as it is a team up book and there are pretty Marvel #12 (now #1 the not so relaunch during the 2015 series).
This back up story which i assume is set between the two YA novels shows a fully progressed Red Widow training with and working for shield. While it is not much it gives us an idea on her status in the greater marvel world, and coincidently this book also features the 1st appearance of The Red Dagger Ms Marvels friend and possible ongoing hero love interest.
Nothing has been mentioned of Red Widow since then (although it should be noted in Avengers #700 a hidden character being called Red Widow has made a very brief appearance no speaking and 1 panel). So lets recap The Red Widow is Black widows young legacy who has only appeared in two comics to date.
With rumors if the MCU going younger and getting a revamp but also the possibility of a Black Widow solo film it's not far off to think a recent YA novel may be tapped for source materials especially given the fact that it dives into Natashas past with the connection to the red room but also can relate to the modern landscape with the involvement of shield and Captain Marvel.
Ava would be perfect to give Black Widow some personal character growth as well as appeal to the younger face of the MCU and not meddle too much in what is going on in other films. A placement as an anti-hero among the marvel rising cast could also work.
I am not completely sure if Marvel just does not care for or never intended to develop Red Widow into comics but she seems like a perfect fit as a wild card amongst the likes of The Champions or even teaming up with Kate Bishop (I just realized how bad we need a Frank Castle Legacy!). Whatever happens I see some potential with Ava and hope she is integrated into comics soon.
Mockingbird: Shield 50th Anniversary #1: 1st appearance of Ava Orlova A.K.A. Red Widow. This is First You May Have Missed gold. Books like this are what I love to dig for. A 1st appearance With only 25k print run on an obscure 1 shot title headlined by a d list character. If this does not make your collector and speculator sense tingle whenever you see one in a $1 bin then i don't know what will.
Seriously this books 25k run was split (in unknown quantities) amongst 3 covers which makes it even better. I would grab any I could find with the Ward variant at the top as these are becoming ghost. The action figure variant features agent Coulson which is always a plus. To add-on to the hunt a 2nd print was produced, I'm guessing in single digit thousands (just my guess).
While it does not feature different art just a title color change from white to black I would still grab it if I seem it as sometimes these do well later on. Right now these can all be had for pretty cheap if you can find them but this is one of those books that once it's in collector's hands it may be really hard to find. But if something a bit more ratio is your thing then let's move in to my next book.
Ms. Marvel #12 (2015 series): 2nd appearance of Red Widow 1st appearance of Red Dagger. So this one is a bit tricky. The 1st appearance of Red Dagger may be enough for some to grab this book already and I know many people have. Add in the fact it has a small 28k print run with 2 regular order covers and not 1, not 2, but 3 ratio variants and you start to gain a bit of momentum.
Then slap on the fact that 1 of the 1:25 variants is the first(and only at the moment) cover appearance of Red Widow and you now have a bit of a storm brewing. I should note that the cover is reused from the cover of the YA novel but it is still a great looking cover and 1 ration variant of a low printed book.
There is also a 1:10 variant and another 1:25 variant. Of course for Red Widow spec you have to go with the Red Widow cover which was not extremely easy to find upon release but now is a Ghost with only 1 on eBay(at the time of this writing) and less than 5 within my known reach.
This may still be sitting in a shops somewhere so keep your eyes peeled as it is easily overlooked. I am lucky to actually own at least 1 of each cover (being red daggers first I grabbed them all on release). If you're looking for an even more rare item…
Red Widow First Strike comic. Print run??? This is a rare book that is extremely hard to find. It is a reprint of the first Red Widow back up story printed in Mockingbird and the only Red Widow titled comic that exist. This book to my knowledge only came in a signed edition as a pre-order bonus given by author Margeret Stohl before the releases of the 2nd YA novel.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week. Until next time remember “it's better to have first and flip then to never have first at all” —-Valiant Horton