Black Widow (Claire Voyant)
From Heroes Database
Black Widow (Claire Voyant) is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She is one of the first costumed, superpowered female protagonists. An antihero who killed evildoers in order to deliver their souls to Satan, her master, she first appeared in Mystic Comics #4 (August 1940), published by Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Created by writer George Kapitan and artist Harry Sahle, she is unrelated to Marvel's later superspy character called Black Widow.
The Black Widow made five appearances during the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of comic books: in Mystic Comics #4-5 (Aug. 1940, March 1941) by the originating team of Kapitan and Sahle, and #7 (Dec. 1941), with Stan Drake on art; USA Comics #5 (Summer 1942), penciled by Mike Sekowsky] and inked by George Klein; and All-Select Comics #1 (Fall 1943), with art tentatively attributed to Drake. The latter story was reprinted in 1974, along with the rest of the issue, by publisher Alan L. Light's company Flashback as Special Edition Reprints #14.
The Black Widow returned in the 2008 series The Twelve. Revived in the present day after from suspended animation with 11 other heroes since World War II, she recommenced serving as an "instrument of vengeance" for an unknown agency and recommenced going on missions for that party. She was still doing so when the series was put on hiatus following its eighth issue.
Fictional character biography
Madame Claire Voyant is a spirit medium who communicates with the dead through supernatural means. She has blonde hair and an eerily flowing green dress. While serving a family named the Waglers, she is possessed by Satan to put a curse on them. James, a member of that family, survives a subsequent car crash provoked by the spell, and returns to Claire's quarters and guns her down.
Voyant's soul goes to Hell, where Satan dresses her in her Black Widow costume, which has a spider-like design on the front, a green cape similar to her dress, and boots with fire designs on the trim. He gives her the power to kill with a single touch of her fingers to the head (which leaves a branded "Black Widow mark"); to summon flames; and to use other mystical tricks. Satan — who, daringly for the time, was discreetly depicted as a nude man — sends her back to Earth to avenge her death. After killing her murderer, she returns to Satan, who, no longer content to wait for evil souls to die a natural death and perhaps repent their sins in the interim, charges her with bringing those souls to him. "On the upper world are mortal creatures whose hearts are blackened with wickedness and corruption. You, the Black Widow, will bring their souls to me!"
She later kills corrupt arms manufacturers, crime boss Garvey Lang, members of a syndicate called Murder, Unlimited, and the villain Ogor, while also healing Ogor's victim. In a 1990s retcon, she aids the Invaders against the Nazis.
She was introduced in Mystic Comics #4 as "the strangest, most terrifying character in action picture magazines — the Black Widow. You've heard of the black widow spider — that evil creature whose bite spells doom. Now start the adventures of another black widow — a human tool of Satan whose very touch means death."
- Mystic Comics #4-5, 7 (Aug. 1940, March 1941, Dec. 1941),
- USA Comics #5 (Summer 1942),
- All-Select Comics #1 (Fall 1943)
- Marvels #1 (Jan. 1994)
- Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9.
- The Twelve #1-8 (March-Dec. 2008)
- Black Widow at Grand Comics Database
- The Black Widow at Nevins, Jess, A Guide to Golden Age Marvel Characters. WebCitation archive of latter.
- The Black Widow at International Hero
- Black Widow at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
- Black Widow (I) at Golden Age Hero Directory