WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Tales of Suspense #103 by Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman, on sale now.
Natasha Romanoff died -- for real died -- during the events of Secret Empire, or at least that's what we've been told. When Kobik's restored the non-Hydra-ified world, she and everyone else who lost their lives in the chaos weren't resurrected. This detail made it all the more strange when both Clint Barton and Bucky Barnes found themselves chasing down someone who, for all intents and purposes, was pulling off assassinations that only Natasha could do.
Well, in Tales of Suspense #103 by Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman, we finally got answers about just what's been going on, and how, for better or for worse, Natasha came back despite Kobik deliberately not resurrecting her.
Natasha's history with the Red Room is pretty iconic, despite the fact that the Red Room itself has never really been a major player in the global sense across the Marvel Universe. This makes sense, really, seeing as the Red Room's motives were always more clandestined and espionage-based compared to your standard Hydra or AIM fair. The program's graduates and staff pop up from time to time, or are revealed to be the engine behind manipulations that spill out into the bigger picture, but it's rare for them to get a major, featured story.
But that's about to change -- sort of. In the fallout of Secret Empire, the Red Room has started making some serious moves to fill the power vacuum left by the shambles of both Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. A chance to strike doesn't come all that frequently, it would seem, and now is an opportunity to do so. But in order to achieve its goals, the Red Room absolutely needs to be at full working capacity. This means it needs its best and brightest operatives back in the field and readily available -- a problem when you consider that not only has Natasha recently died, she's also, technically, no longer a loyal Black Widow soldier.
That's slightly up for debate, to be sure. Natasha's stories frequently revolve around her either being forced to return to the Red Room or fight against ghosts from her past in ways that make her fellow Avengers think that she's double crossed them. Natasha's loyalties are always a point of contention, and there's usually no shortage of manipulation or brainwashing to be found -- something the Red Room is deeply invested in capitalizing on.