Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Golden Age idol--And You Thought The Red Bee had A Weird Shtick!

Look, I'm not big on trigger warnings and the such, but if you've got a thing about spiders, maybe don't read this post.

Because of all the oddball Golden Age heroes out there, none were more oddball, or creepier, than The Spider Widow:

There's a lot to unpack in that debut panel. "Grandmother of terror"?!? "She weaves a web of justice to trap the insects of corruption"?!? A "beautiful, wealthy and athletic" woman finding the underworld (and, of course, Axis spies)??

Let start with Miss Diane Grayton, and her...well, her not entirely heroic boyfriend:

Great suggestion!

SPOILER ALERT: She doesn't hang with Robert for very long.

Well, Diane later comes across her chauffeur being accosted by fifth columnists who just blew up a train, so she decides to leap into action with whatever is at hand...

"Pets the gardener show me"?? Whatever can she mean?

After stowing away in the crooks' trunk...

...The Spider Widow goes into action with those very same pets!!

Fortunately, even though black widow bites are not particularly life-threatening in most cases, criminals are a cowardly and squeamish lot:

When the spiders aren't doing the heavy lifting, Spider Widow shows off her athletic abilities, which are especially effective since the mask makes her look old and weak...

But when it trouble, well, Red Bee has one bee. Spider Widow...?

That's a pretty good rock and a hard place there: drowning, or dying by venom!!

Spider Widow hung around for a year and half or so, picking up new slogans...

"The most horrible dispenser of justice of all times!"

...and keeping the old:
But when push came to shove...

...it was back to the spiders!!

(Yes, I know, I know...)


Apparently, Dianne somehow trained the spiders, although some sources claimed she could control them psychically somehow. As far as I can tell, there is literally zero evidence for either proposition in the stories...it was the Golden Age, after all, and there were no snarky bloggers around to ask questions like that!

Two more significant facts; first, at one point she picked up a sidekick/love interest called the Raven. He was just some guy who put on a bird costume and fought criminals. But it's thought that she was the first female super-hero to have a male costumed sidekick. Historic!

Secondly, she had a brief rivalry with Phantom Lady--mainly over Raven's affections!--which led to what was probably one of the first multi-part, multi-book crossover stories, in Feature Comics #69-71 & Police Comics #20-22!! So blame Quality Comics and Spider Widow for today's never-ending crossovers!

Is there room in 2017 for a beautiful and athletic heiress who dresses up like an old woman and uses poisonous trained spiders to beat crooks? Could The Grandmother Of Terror flourish more than 70 years after her final appearance? Will someone take a chance and publish new adventures of The Most Horrible Dispenser Of Justice of All Times, with a costumed boy toy?

She's public domain, guys...someone have at it!!

From Feature Comics #57-58 (1942)

1 comment:

Warren JB said...

That actually sounds pretty cool.