X-Men: First Class (2nd series) #9

Issue Date: 
April 2008
Story Title: 
The New Recruit

Jeff Parker (writer), Val Staples (colorist), Blambot’s Nate Piekos (letterer), Cruz & Anderson (cover), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

1st story: Roger Cruz (artist 1st & last page), Julia Bax (penciler), Kris Justice (inker)

2nd story Colleen Coover (artist)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)

SHIELD agent Black Widow is meant to recruit the Scarlet Witch for SHIELD. She observes Wanda and Jean ice-skating and uses the opportunity of an accident with Wanda’s power to drive a wedge between the two girls and take Wanda along with her on a case to protect a new experimental submarine from HYDRA agents. Believing Wanda to be kidnapped, Jean intervenes and the three women are abducted to a HYDRA underwater basis. The HYDRA agents try to brainwash Jean but she manages to hold on with Xavier’s telepathic help and free the Widow, who holds off the HYDRA agents until help from SHIELD comes. Later, Wanda makes it clear that she wants to join neither SHIELD or the X-Men at this point and the Heli-Carrier leaves.

(2nd story)

The Black Widow wants a new more practical look. After several aborted attempts, she sees a picture of Marvel Girl and decides that a black suit and red hair are the right image.

Full Summary: 

(1st story)

The Heli-Carrier. As Nick Fury trains, a guard begins to announce the Black Widow. However, she cuts him off. She can announce herself. She is ready to give her report. Not stopping, Nick remarks that everything she says is being recorded. Of course, she replies amused. They all love her Cossack accent. He’s heard worse, he admits, and wants to hear it from the beginning. He already knows the beginning, she smirks.

The Black Widow’s report:

As usual, she was interrupting people having a perfectly normal life, though they weren’t perfectly normal people, were they?

The two people she’s observing are Wanda Maximoff and Jean Grey ice-skating. However, Jean is barely proficient at it, unlike Wanda. She takes Jean’s hand and the other girl quickly improves. Too quickly. Wanda jokingly accuses her of cheating with her powers and tries to use her own power to cancel that out. Instead, she breaks the ice beneath Jean’s feet and Jean falls into the icy water.

Natasha sees this as confirmation of Wanda’s power and gets ready to move. As Wanda gets the freezing Jean out, Natasha arrives and offers her coat plus some extra clothes Jean may change into.

At the cabin, Wanda offers to help. Ticked off, Jean replies she’s done plenty. She steps inside with Natasha to change. Shortly, Natasha comes out alone, stating that Jean went home. She seemed quite bothered, but ok. Wanda feels hurt. Natasha leads her to her slinky car and states that westerners are not used to such discomfort. Wanda strikes her as from the Carpathians like much of Natasha’s family. Ride? Wanda agrees and the two introduce themselves with their first names.

They have barely left when Jean comes out, wondering where Wanda is.

On the road Natasha inquires about Wanda’s life: Is she in college or working? Wanda replies evasively. She was unhappy in her last job. Now she can do whatever she wants. She supposes she is at a crossroads. Natasha hints that she works for an organization that might be a good… Suddenly, an alert bleeps. SHIELD requires Black Widow; assistance needed immediately. Coordinates are in her autopilot. Natasha sighs and the car begins to fly.

Meanwhile an agitated Jean is phoning Xavier’s, asking the professor to scan the northern hemisphere for Wanda. Patiently, the professor points out that Cerebro wasn’t built for that purpose. Please, Jean pleads and he gives in, remarking a moment later that’s impressive. Somehow, Wanda has already made it to the Massachusetts coast.

There, the new submarine, Arronax, is introduced to a gathering. It is meant to be to deep sea research and transport what the shuttle is to the space program. Among the crowd, watching are Wanda, Natasha and her colleague, “Dum-Dum” Dugan.

This is a dangerous mission? Wanda asks incredulously. No, this is a waste of time, Natasha replies. Her employers received last minute intel. And rather than compromising their forces elsewhere, they gave her this duty.

Dugan tells her to come on and adds to Wanda that what Natasha is not saying is that her bosses trust her to be worth a whole regiment of agents. And they’ve got ole Dum Dum there for back-up. Is this their new recruit? Wanda incredulously looks at them both. Not likely, Natasha retorts, since he and Fury have destroyed every subtle path she may have taken.

Suddenly, several HYDRA agents attack, intent on stealing the Arronax. Natasha tells Wanda to take cover as she reveals her Widow’s costume. Wanda is more concerned with how Natasha managed to change so fast.

Feel the Widow’s sting, the Black Widow shouts at one HYDRA agents as she takes him down with her trademarked blast. Feel Dugan’s knuckles, comes the more down to Earth cry from Dugan. Three more HYDRA agent shout Hail HYDRA, ready to fire at them. At this moment, Wanda gets into the game. Using her hex power, she makes the men lose control of their weapons. Not bad for a beginner, Natasha commends her.

In the meantime, the rest of the HYDRA agents have reached their goal: the Arronax. The Black Widow manages though to throw a tracer on one of them, enabling them to follow the sub. Dugan talks with the coast guard to give them a chase vehicle. “Exciting, no?” Natasha asks Wanda, who’s really getting into it.

Soon, the X-Men on their plane are getting close, the only thing they see is a coast guard cutter. Cyclops apologizes for being unable to help as there’s nowhere for him to land the jet.

Wanda, in the meantime, has changed and announces she’s ready for anything. Good, Natasha remarks as she looks up, they are being followed by a jet and it has launched something at them.

Something being Angel, carrying Marvel Girl. Man, Wanda’s just going to think he’s carrying a torch for her, Warren complains. It’s not all about him, Jean points out annoyed. Is she sure? he asks.

False alarm, Natasha decides. The sun was interfering. She was just seeing a bird. A large bird? Wanda asks hesitatingly.

The next moment, Warren attacks Dugan and Jean jumps at Natasha. Take that, Witchnappers! she shouts. What are they doing there? Wanda asks, rescuing them. Punk made him lose his derby, Dugan complains, as he climbs back aboard.

Natasha suddenly pushes the coast guard captain at Angel, ordering him to take the man out of there. He doesn’t work for her, he protests. Wanda asks him to do it. She’s one of the good guys. He’s lost, Warren mutters as he obeys. Well, he’s found him, Dugan announces as he hangs onto Warren’s other arm. The Captain points out that their friends are being taken away, by that whirlpool.

There’s darkness. I think a whale ate us, one of the ladies announces. No, a HYDRA did, Natasha corrects them. The lights go on. Indeed. “Hail HYDRA!” a HYDRA agents announces, Clamp the SHIELD agent, guns on the others. Rude, Jean protests and Black Widow warns them not to resist until they know the situation.

They are led inside the HYDRA underwater base. Not that this doesn’t happen to her all the time, but who are these goons? Jean inquires. HYDRA is the largest subversive organization in the world, dedicated to overthrowing all national alliances, Natasha rattles down, echoed by a chorus of HAIL HYDRA from all the agents guarding them. They are the mainforce they in SHIELD battle to the end, Natasha adds.

They reach a throne where another agent, a higher one stands beneath the symbol of the HYDRA. HYDRA can never end, Black Widow, he announces. She knows this. Cut off one head… And two more will take its place… the agents echo obediently. While SHIELD wasted men storming a false operation, they were actually stealing the submarine for this new undersea base, the Black Widow realizes. Exactly, he agrees. Now isn’t she tired of being one step behind? Wouldn’t she rather be part of an organization that thinks ahead like that? Ha, Natasha scoffs.

While they are engaged in their battle of wits, Jean asks Wanda why she went along with that woman. Jean left her, Wanda angrily snaps back. No, she didn’t, Jean explains. She was taking a hot shower and the woman said she’d tell Wanda that she had calmed down.

Just like Magneto all over again, Wanda realizes. She should never trust. She doesn’t think that woman is as bad as the Brotherhood, but hey, she can trust her, Jean points out.

An agent orders them to break it up. Fed up, Jean tells him to break it up as she levitates the agent and his gun away from her, and she’s ready for the two more that will take his place.

Too soon, Natasha mutters. A powerful one, perfect for indoctrination, the HYDRA agents decide and hit Jean with gas. Wanda, grabbed by another agent, threatens them, but the leader is unimpressed. Using her powers to make things malfunction within a pressurized base would not be very smart. He bets her old boss, Magneto, had to constantly fix every base she ever walked though.

The dizzy Jean is strapped into a die, barely seeing Natasha who warns her that they are going to brainwash her. She must resist!

Her image is replaced by that of Professor X, who addresses Jean and Wanda. They only have moments before they begin tracing Jean’s neural pathways and imprinting their own code. She must protect her greatest resource: her mind. He can help deter the machine’s effect for a moment. Angel and Scott contacted him and he read the SHIELD agent’s mind. They’re sending reinforcements. Wanda just needs to cause some chaos.

Wanda points out she hasn’t got enough focus. The Black Widow can create enough trouble for everyone he replies. They must both concentrate their powers on the encasements on her arms. He is guiding them.

The girls concentrate and the encasements break. The next moment, the Widow is among the HDRA agents, fighting up a storm. Wanda uses a hex to make the machine Jean is strapped into malfunction. Thanks sis, Jean tells her, before informing the HYDRA agents this is what she can do with clear thinking as she levitates them away.

The leader boasts they cannot escape. They are still under the sea. Widow points out the SHIELD frogmen hard at work outside. A little later, the whole base is being carried aloft by the Heli-Carrier.

Later, Jean, Angel and Wanda debriefed by Dugan and the Black Widow while drinking a cup of tea. So they want to make a secret agent out of her, Wanda asks. Black Widow says yes. They knew she was unaffiliated. They had word she had followed Magneto. That’s bad, Dugan remarks. But they left him, Wanda points out. That’s good, Dugan agrees.

And she’s on friendly terms with the X-Men, Natasha states. They don’t know what that means, Dugan adds. It means she is comfortable working in neutral territory like a SHIELD agent has to, Natasha replies smoothly. But ultimately for the good cause. The X-Men may get off there.

As will she, Wanda decides and climbs down the stepladder to Xavier’s mansion with Jean.
So she’s an X-Man now? Natasha asks. No, but she’s more like them than an espionage agent. They do not lie to her. Understood, Natasha replies and thanks them for their assistance.


And there you have it, Natasha finishes her tale. Mission not accomplished.

Fury advises her not to be so hard on herself. They got some free work out of her after all. She would have been a great asset in sabotage, Natasha muses. More important is the balance of power, Fury replies. They were worried she might fall in with the villains again, but that’s clearly not the case. Odds are she’ll hook up with the FF or the Avengers at some point instead.

Does she think they hovered there long enough? For intimidation? Yes, she decides. And the X-Men and Wanda cheer as the Heli-Carrier takes off.

(Second story)

Fighting HYDRA agents, the Black Widow decides that’s it. She’s sick of her fishnets catching on everything. Tell SHIELD she wants a new uniform!

No, she decides, as they dress her up with a paramilitary look and an hourglass eye-tattoo.

The skimpy ninja outfit with the hourglass cleavage gets an even more decided no.

As does the partner look with Dugan and his derby. He suggests she take a look at what the other action girls are wearing.

Natasha does just that and catches Marvel Girl’s look. Red hair and a black body suit – perfect! And even the HYDRA agents whom she takes out admit – the new look is pretty hot.

Characters Involved: 

(1st story)

Professor Xavier

Angel, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)

Scarlet Witch

Black Widow

“Dum-Dum” Dugan

HYDRA agents

SHIELD agents


(2nd story)

Black Widow

“Dum-Dum” Dugan

HYDRA agents

Marvel Girl

Story Notes: 

(1st story)

The alien being played havoc with the X-Men’s powers in issues #6 and 7.

The X-Men helped Dr Connors in X-Men: First Class (1st series) #2.

The Arronax is named for Professor Arronnax from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne (thanks to Ann Nichols for that info).

Continuity is a bit iffy here. The story is supposed to take place before the Scarlet Witch joins the Avengers in Avengers #16. But the Black Widow was clearly still a Communist agent when she appeared later in Avengers (1st series) #30.

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