On paper, the Spider Widow differed little from other super-heroines of the Golden Age era. Wealthy socialite – and sportswoman – Dianne Grayton is unfulfilled by her silver-spoon existence and decides to use her considerable physical and mental skills to fight crime.
Unlike such fellow members of the not-so-idle rich as Lady Luck or the Phantom Lady, Grayton took her crusade in a decidedly different direction when she adopted the guise of a green-skinned witch and demonstrated an uncanny ability to control poisonous spiders.
Although the character sounds ideal for rather dark adventures, Quality characters weren’t quite as bloodthirsty as some of their competitors (I’m looking at you, Ace and MLJ … ) and the Spider Widow soon developed a will-they or won’t-they relationship with a fellow crime-fighter known as The Raven.
She even developed a rivalry/alliance with the Quality Comics Phantom lady that crossed over two different titles, a rarity at that time.
Spider-Widow and Raven also took down a villain known as Spider Man, who was basically a lunatic who rode a giant robot spider.
For the purposes of Spider-Verse Week, however, we’ll turn to the bizarre heroine’s first – and creepiest – appearance in Feature Comics #57 (Quality, June 1942). The story was written and drawn by the Spider Widow’s creator, Frank Borth, who also penned the Phantom Lady’s adventures in Police Comics and undoubtedly cooked up the inter-title crossover.
Coming tomorrow: MLJ’s The Web! He’s a pretty intense guy!!!
Fox Publications’ Phantom Lady may have been the poster girl for “headlight comics,” but her toughness could never be questioned. Not only did she turn back threats from serial killers and Communist zombies, but as today’s tale proves Sandra Knight had more than enough skill to take down one of the may werewolves that populated Golden Age comics.
The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “The Monster In The Pool” from Phantom Lady #16 (Fox, February 1948). The story is uncredited, by the Grand Comics Database guesses the story was scripted by Ruth Roche and drawn by either B. Tirado or Gus Schrotter.
Coming tomorrow: A tormented artist tries to win over his true love! It’s a Pre-Code horror comic, what could possibly go wrong?!?
Long before Hawkeye became an Internet sensation, the Victor Fox incarnation of The Phantom Lady set the standard for striking seductive poses and kicking serious @ss.
(Yes … I know Hawkeye Initiative devotees would probably dislike Phantom Lady comics but it was the snappiest intro I could think up on short notice. Besides, the character does kick serious @ss.)
“The Subway Slayer” originally appeared in All Top Comics #12 (Fox Feature Syndicate, July 1948). According to the Grand Comics Database, the story was pieced together by the nameless denizens of the Iger Studio. Others suspect it was written by Iger editor Ruth Roche and drawn by Matt Baker.
Golden Age justice!
Day 6 of Super-Heroes vs. Super-Horrors Week stacks the deck against everyone’s favorite “Good Girl,” Matt Baker’s Phantom Lady, as the sexy sleuth takes on “An Army Of Walking Dead.”
The story originally appeared in Phantom Lady # 15 (Fox Feature Syndicate, December 1947) and was drawn, naturally enough, by Matt Baker. The Grand Comics Database believes the plot is courtesy of the Iger Studio’s prolific staff writer, Ruth Roche.
Don’t underestimate the Phantom Lady just because she’s drawn like Jessica Rabbit! Coming tomorrow: Spy Smasher gets in a fist-fight with Death! (Spoiler: It doesn’t go too well for the hero…)
The comics that offended “right-thinking” people in the 1940s and 1950s are tame by today’s standards, especially when compared to what major publishers offer on the stands these days.
Fox’s Phantom Lady may have been Public Enemy No. 1 to Frederic Wertham, but to be quite honest I’ll take the relatively respectful (and realistic) “headlight” art of Matt Baker and Phantom Lady’s wit, intelligence and competence over the one-dimensional, anatomically exaggerated bad girls currently offered by the “House That Siegel & Shuster Built.”
From Phantom Lady #19 (Fox Features Syndicate, August 1948), here’s “Wine, Women and Sudden Death” by Iger Studio writer and editor Ruth Roche (one of the most successful and prolific – if anonymous – female creators of the Golden Age) and Matt Baker.