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When Black Widow Was Forgotten in Operation: Galactic Storm

This is "How Can I Explain?", which is a feature spotlighting inexplicable comic book plots.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Rick D., we look at Black Widow's inexplicable disappearing act from Operation: Galactic Storm!

Black Widow's 1990s stint with the Avengers is almost worth an article on its own, as it was just SO weird. You see, Black Widow never really had a full stint with the Avengers before this time. She was almost always just a reserve member. Then, out of nowhere, when the Avengers announce a new lineup in Avengers #329 (by Larry Hama, Paul Ryan and Tom Palmer), she's suddenly a member of the main team (again, she hadn't been a member in years and had never had a significant stint on the team).

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During the rest of Hama's brief run, she's just kind of there. Then Bob Harras joined the book as the new writer and right off the bat, she takes on a bit of a deputy role to Captain America in the book, like this scene from Avengers #336 (by Bob Harras, Steve Epting and Tom Palmer)...

When the Harras/Epting/Palmer run REALLY began in Avengers #343 (their first story together was sort of a fill-in event before their run officially began), Black Widow is now explicitly Captain America's second-in-command...

She has this role during the rest of Captain America's time on the book. She and Cap had a close relationship during this time...

Then Operation: Galactic Storm began. The early issues were setting up the concept, which is that the Kree and Shi'ar Empires are warring with each other and they're using space warps that are powered by stars and one of the stars they're using is Earth's sun, which is destabilizing the sun.

So the Avengers have to get involved. Captain America gives a speech to the assembled Avengers (with Black Widow right by his side)...

Then he announces that they have come up with a plan involving splitting all of the Avengers into three teams. Two teams will go on diplomatic missions to the two different alien empires and a third team will guard Earth. Cap specifically notes that the teams were made up by him, Iron Man and Black Widow.

So he announces the teams...

Yep, you guessed it, she isn't on any of the teams!

Hawkeye borrows some Pym particles to force Captain America to put him on the Kree team over USAgent, but Black Widow never says anything about NOT BEING ON A TEAM...

She then does not appear in the rest of the crossover.

When the Avengers return to Earth (with Cap all irritated at the rest of the Avengers for killing the secret mastermind behind the war, Supreme Intelligence), Black Widow is right back there...

I love the bit where Cap gives a lecture on ethics, and Black Widow is one of the only people to show up and Cap is all, "You three don't need it"...

Oh, the spy? She's the only one who's up on ethics? For serious?

Anyhow, that's the story of how Black Widow helped pick teams for Operation: Galactic Storm and apparently decided to put herself on no teams!

Thanks for the suggestion, Bill!

If anyone else can think of a good inexplicable comic book plot, write me at brianc@cbr.com!

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