Thursday, October 6, 2016


She's not THAT Black Widow, or even that other Black Widow. For that matter, there may also be another ten or twelve Black Widows of whom I've never heard that she's also not. What she is, however, is a one-shot avenger of the night who makes her sole appearance in the character-packed first issue of Cat-Man Comics (May 1941).

The domino-masked Black Widow is secretly Linda Masters, an actual widow whose husband was murdered by crooks off-panel before the story even started. Having never met the fella, it's difficult to say how we're supposed to feel about his untimely death. What if he were a horrible jerk? What if he were a one of those guys who clipped their nails on the bus? Maybe he deserved it, is what I say, and what I say to all widows whom I chance to meet.

That "Suddenly" is brilliant. Drink it in.
Black Widow plays second fiddle in her debut story, despite having her name on the splash page. Most of the action -- as often happens in these Golden Age comics -- is focused on the horrible villains of the piece. In this case, it's a witch-faced hag (or possibly a hag-faced witch) and her deformed son Igor, horrifying monster-people who use their terrifying appearances to commit crimes!

Well, the first one anyway. Mom and Igor scare the spleen out of their first victim, making off with the payroll he was counting out. The second victim, a night watchman, is overpowered by Igor and hanged from a nearby tree. I guess SOME guys got stronger constitutions than others.

The murders baffle the local authorities, represented here by Police Commissioner Thorpe and his factotum Blake. The two of them are apparently pretty used to be outclassed and out-maneuvered, though, as they take a phone call from Black Widow and hop to her every instruction.

Meanwhile, the Black Widow lurks around the bad guys' hideout, wasting panel space in what will be her very brief lifespan as a publisher superhero. She gets into a donnybrook with the malformed Igor, which inspires her to use her sole superpower, the only real superpower in the world -- shooting people and kicking them in the face! It works for the current Black Widow.

Jack Palance is unimpressed.
Widow is overpowered, though, and hauled unconscious back to the weird crooks' home, where Igor expires from gunshot wounds. Momma takes some offense at this and retaliates by burning her own home down, with the Widow inside. This is just like when sports fans' teams win the playoffs and they go around wrecking the stadium. Go wreck someone else's stadiums, you guys! Or at least go beat up an ice rink instead.

Anyway, Widow escapes the fire, Igor's terrifying mother runs back in and dies, and all that's left to do is forensics-shame the cops when they finally show up. "I knew that the persons responsible for those crimes were hiding in the country" she explains to Blake, idly loitering while all the action happens elsewhere. "If you would have looked better, you would have seen it too" she continues, "There were particles of mud at the scene of each crime!" There was mud at the crime scene so the crooks were hiding in the country, and she found their place immediately based on those clues.

I have to admit, the Black Widow knows her stuff, or she was just going around and murdering everyone she could find in a house in the country. One of the two. Either way,she never made a second appearance, probably sparing many lives and the ego of the local constabulary.

Not her finest moment

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