5. "I Got the Yo-Yo... You Got the String" Bizarre Adventures #25
Ralph Macchio and Paul Gulacy give us an intricate spy story in this black and white adventure. The star of the issue is Gulacy, who mixes between stunning noir-driven artwork and Steranko-esque designs. Really a stellar job by Gulacy.
4. "Homecoming" Black Widow #1-6 (2004)
Richard K. Morgan is the writer on this engaging and complex spy story with artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz and Goran Parlov. It ties in with Natasha's past as she investigates an attack on her by a mysterious assailant. Sienkiewicz, in particular, really does a great job.
3. "Name of the Rose" Black Widow #1-5 (2010)
Now that I think of it, it is kind of weird how Name of the Rose ALSO opens with Natasha almost being killed by a mysterious assailant. Anyhow, that is the only real similarity between this tale by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuña and Morgan's Homecoming. This story has Natasha convincingly framed as a traitor to her American superhero friends and a great angle on the story is that while Natasha is going about her awesome spy stuff while on the run, Liu tells a parallel tale of her friends (almost all ex or current boyfriends) try to prove her innocence on their own, as they've all seen this story before. They know her too well to believe even an excellent frame-job like this one. Liu also brings in Lady Bullseye from Ed Brubaker's Daredevil as a new adversary for Natasha. I was a bit disappointed by the reveal of the man behind it all, but really, all in all this is an excellent adventure with outstanding art from Acuña.
2. "Itsy Bitsy Spider" Black Widow #1-3 (1999)
After making a short appearance in the Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee Inhumans mini-series (I don't know if they created her or if she was given to them to put into their work ahead of her debut in this mini-series), this mini-series by Devin Grayson and JG Jones officially introduced the NEW Black Widow, Yelona Belova. This mini-series pits the new and the old Black Widow against each other, as Natasha tries to get her successor to understand the things that Natasha herself learned (said lessons continue in the sequel mini-series to this one, also featured on the list).
1. "Web of Intrigue" Marvel Fanfare #10-13
Ralph Macchio and George Perez co-wrote this series with beautiful pencils by Perez and inks by a few different inkers (most prominently Brett Breeding). This is an over-the-top romp throughout the globe as Black Widow's friend, Ivan, is kidnapped (and brainwashed). Natasha is lured to the U.S.S.R. where she is beset by six master assassins, all as part of a plot to replace her with a double in the U.S. to kill Nick Fury! Can Natasha stop the assassins, save Ivan AND stop the plot against Nick with the faux Black Widow? Well, of course she can, but it is the getting there that's the fun! Perez's artwork is great. There is an especially awesome double-page spread on the Widow's history leading up to this story that is quite awesome.
That's the list! Agree? Disagree? Let us know!