The Black Widow of 2099 has finally arrived, and she’s exactly the kind of blast from the past that the future needs to survive the battles ahead.
The following contains major spoilers for Spider-Man 2099: Exodus #4, available now from Marvel.
The saga of Spider-Man 2099: Exodus has been stunning at nearly every turn. A new type of terror emerged with the creation of the Celestial Garden. It was determined to seize its power. The future heroes are equally capable and there seems to be more. While many of 2099’s Mightiest Heroes have taken up the mantles of those who inspired them, the recently introduced Black Widow has had her for longer than any of them have been alive. Not only is the Black Widow of 2099 just the kind of hero the world needs when facing the apocalypse, she’s one of the few of her era to survive it the first time around.
Spider-Man 2099: Exodus #4 (by Steve Orlando, Alessandro Miracolo, Jesus Aburtov, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) finds the titular hero reaching out for exceptionally low-tech help in his mission to bring down Osborn’s regime. Spider-Man, with the assistance of Black Widow can safely move his next all-important ally across the landscape despite Hawkeye’s best efforts. Black Widow is not only more powerful than her enemy, but she also has a bitter past that dates back decades. Hawkeye was actually targeting Natasha Romanoff as her greatest Black Widow target. Yelena Belova can’t ignore this loss without taking vengeance.
Yelena Belova first appeared in 1999’s Inhumans #5 as the then-current Black Widow. It has been complicated for her to be with Natasha. Yelena, for example, spent many months pretending to be Natasha because of a complicated plot Romanoff devised to show Belova how spying really is. Yelena was crushed in ways she could not have imagined and forced her to quit the life she loved. Tensions among the Black Widows rose to an all-time high upon her return. Even though so much hurt was caused, they were able to come to an agreement, particularly after each of them experienced the death and rebirth that came with being themselves.
Once Yelena took up the mantle of White Widow, it was clear that she had finally embarked upon a path that was truly her own. Natasha was able to escape her idyllic life and build a new, secure home with her friends. With Natasha’s apparent demise at the hands of Hawkeye 2099, however, Yelena has no family chosen or otherwise left to fight for, although she does have their legacies to see live on into the next century.
Yelena’s appearance in Spider-Man 2099: Exodus #4 doesn’t exactly point towards her having a prominent part to play in the coming battles, but it does set her up to play one in general. At this point, Yelena might be the last original hero the world of Marvel 2099 has left. She has proven her endurance and dedication by enduring so much over so many years is testament to her strength. If any version of the Marvel Universe has needed seasoned Avengers to lead it into a new era, it has to be Marvel 2099.
This isn’t to say that heroes such as Miguel O’Hara are incapable of fending for themselves, but rather that Yelena’s is the sort of insight that simply cannot be gleaned from anywhere else. She has not only survived wars and wastedlands but has also watched as her enemies prosper and plan from far away. Yelena is the last remaining hero who has survived all these events without using any futuristic technology or tactics. So, her advice to the future Avengers could be the most valuable.