Yelena Belova has been many things, from a trained espionage agent to Black Widow, a lingerie model, entertainment entrepreneur, social activist, and an all-powerful Super-Adaptoid. But she has always been a product of the Red Room’s ruthless spy training program.
A Wandering Spy
At age 15, Yelena Belova is chosen as a candidate to become the new Black Widow, an elite Russian intelligence operative. The title’s previous holder, Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, was no longer loyal only to Russia so they needed a replacement. Yelena trains for roughly a decade under Vasilievich Pyotr Starkovsky at the espionage academy known as the Red Room, the same facility that had trained Romanoff. While there, Belova never feels as if she measures up to her predecessor and ultimately refuses the Black Widow title for that reason. Unbeknownst to Yelena, as she grows older, Starkovsky becomes obsessed with her, paying another woman, the dominatrix Petra, to don Yelena’s costume and satisfy his desires. This arrangement was put together by Nikki, Petra’s employer at the Fabrika Club, who was actually Captain Lubyev from Glavnoye Razvedovatel’noye Upravlenie/Main Intelligence Administration (GRU). Petra eventually becomes psychotic, believing herself to be the true heir to the Black Widow title, and kills Starkovsky during one of their sessions.
Investigating the Fabrika Club, Yelena discovers and slays Petra, avenging her mentor, after which she finally truly accepts her role as the Black Widow; however, she remained aware that Starkovsky’s death was part of a plan by Lubyev and other superiors to drive her into finally taking the Black Widow mantle. Graduating from the Red Room, Yelena becomes the first student to surpass Romanoff’s marks.
Do or Spy
Yelena is extensively trained in espionage and various forms of armed and unarmed combat, being a master martial artist. She is highly intelligent and is an Olympic level gymnast.
She’s proficient in the use of various handheld weapons, including small firearms, semi-automatic rifles and light-to-medium machine guns. As the Black Widow, Yelena wears a Kevlar costume and uses bracelets, which release electric blasts (her “Widow’s bite”). It is unknown whether they can also launch a cable similar to Romanoff’s.
In her Super-Adaptoid form, she can absorb the powers and abilities of those she came into physical contact with. During her known mission in this form, she gained the powers of Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, Luke Cage, James Howlett/Logan, AKA Wolverine, Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman, Carol Danvers, AKA Ms. Marvel (later Captain Marvel), Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, and Robert Reynolds, AKA Sentry, among others. How long she can retain these abilities is unrevealed.
Once Bitten, Twice Spy
Yelena faces many foes including several members of the Avengers and agents of the transgovernmental intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Though she eventually works with the latter of the two and leads an operation in the Savage Land. When the operation there was botched and Yelena barely came out of it alive after an attack by Sauron, Hydra offers her vengeance against S.H.I.E.L.D. With the help of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), they genetically modify her biological body using research from their Super-Adaptoid program. She faces the Avengers and now able to copy their abilities, she is near-impossible to beat. Though she is defeated, Hydra activates a remote-self destruct to keep their Adaptoid secrets from the Avengers and put it in stasis.
Sweet as Spy
Initially, Natasha Romanoff Is one of Yelena’s targets and foes but they eventually become allies. Like Natasha, Yelena receives training in the Red Room Academy and eventually defects from Russia, joining the intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. But her time there doesn’t last long and when she is seemingly betrayed, she joins Hydra.
Liberated from stasis, Yelena is installed on the High Council of A.I.M., put in the Minister of State role in Barbuda, a sovereign nation and island owned by the organization. She joined the council alongside the Scientist Supreme Andrew Forson, Franklin Hall, AKA Graviton, Minister of Science, Jude the Entropic Man, Minster of Health, Marvin Flumm, AKA Mentallo, Minister of Public Affairs, Diedre Wentworth, AKA Superia, Minister of Education, and an undercover Taskmaster.