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Yelena Belova

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Let's be honest, if not for Black Widow, we wouldn't be getting this action figure.

Trained by the spymasters of the infamous Red Room, Yelena Belova is the second operative to take on the role of Black Widow.

Yelena Belova, the second Black Widow (second in the real world - in the comics, there have probably been dozens over the years) was created by Devin Grayson and J.G. Jones during that late-90s "Marvel Knights" period when people were allowed to take risks because Marvel, as a company, was circling the drain. Not everything from that period is any good (it's the same time the Punisher got angelic powers, for instance), but "Blonde Widow" wasn't terrible. It's just that Natasha was still around and still being Black Widow, so Yelena was stuck in second place; she was the Conan O'Brien to Nat's Jay Leno. Or the Ben Reilly to Peter Parker's... Peter Parker. So she became an overlooked character and was one of those villains who only showed up to get killed. Several times. But she was great in the MCU, and now she's got a new toy.

After being activated as the new Black Widow, Yelena eventually broke from the Russians and joined SHIELD. They used her to do any work they'd want to be able to disavow, and she got severely injured during one of these missions (by Sauron breathing fire on her, which isn't a power he actually has, but whatever). Hydra promised to heal her, but actually turned her into a Super-Adaptoid; when it was clear the Avengers were going to defeat her, her bosses hit the kill switch and melted her into a pile of goo. AIM collected that goo and reconstituted her, and that version is what this figure represents.

The figure's body is mostly the "Legendary Riders" Black Widow body, with a chest that's got the suit zipped all the way up. That's not a drastic change, since her first costume was just the normal Black Widow uniform with a belly shirt, and fully half her stories have revolved around she and Natasha trading identities, but we do get one clever new feature. Between being rendered into a puddle (in 2006) and de-rendered out of a puddle (in 2013), she somehow showed up as a fully intact human body in a tube in Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers Tower (in 2009). That inexplicable appearance gave her design a really clever new element: a mask with multi-eyed night vision goggles, making her look more arachnid. Like Widowmaker in Overwatch. Although that plot point was never mentioned again, she kept the goggles when AIM later brought her back, so that's what we get here. The lenses are recessed below the surface, and her blonde hair spills down over her shoulders. All the new parts of the toy are sculpted by Daniel Salas.

Thers's not much paint to talk about here - below the neck, she's just black plastic. Her hair is yellow, but muted enough to look natural, and her skin is remarkably pale. She's wearing black lipstick on her outstanding little smirk (no, people who hold a stupid grudge against the windowless packaging, that's not "crooked" paint, it's the way her expression is sculpted). The goggles themselves are silver, with red lenses. Since the body required no paint, that left room in the budget to do her belt nicely. It's molded from warm tan plactis, but the buckles on the front are picked out in silver, and even the hourglass in the center of the buckle gets a red app.

Hasbro has taken the opportunity of "existing body" and "no paint" to really give Yelena a nice assortment of accessories. She has one copy of the little laser-sighted Glock like we've seen before, and one version of the same thing, but now with a silencer molded on the front. That one can fit in the holster on her leg. She also gets a sniper rifle, with a carrying strap for you to attach so she can sling it over her shoulder (loop goes around the barrel, the hook goes onto the bar in the center of the stock). All the guns come from the 2020 "Deadly Origin" Black Widow exclusive. The set also includes red muzzle flares and grey smoke. Finally, there are open and closed sets of hands.

This is where you'll acquire the big ol' chest of this series' Build-A-Figure, Puff Adder.

It would have been great if this figure included a second, unmasked head for Yelena, possibly with her shorter original haircut - after all, her only other Marvel Legend was as a rare variant back in the ToyBiz days. But since the MCU version is going to be in that Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers movie, it's possible the 616 version will be getting another figure as a tie-in with that. Even if not, this a really good offering and one of the highlights of this series.

-- 06/16/23

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