Posts tagged mystic comics
So, this week marks the debut of the Avengers movie. From all impressions it looks like it’ll be pretty great, awesome and (insert gushing adjective here). I was a little weirded out by the choices of characters to include, though. Sure, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man & Thor I can get. Heck Hawkeye is a good fit too, but I don’t know why anyone would pick Black Widow over Ant-Man & the Wasp. I mean, the Black Widow is a character who has less than 20 appearances in her entire 70+ year history! So, in my never-ending quest to inform the public, I present to you the (balls-out crazy) origin of… The Black Widow!
Our story opens in the parlor (get it) of Madame Claire Voyant. At first I thought this was a stage name for the character, but no it’s the real name of a psychic medium. I love you, Golden Age. Anyway, Claire is going to help a well-to-do family’s widow see her dead husband. They all sit around the table, seance-style when all of a sudden, the image of Satan himself appears and freaks everyone right the heck out. You see this isn’t any of Claire’s psychic chicanery, it’s ‘ol Scratch himself! Not only that, he’s there to pretty much screw with everyone in the room. As you’ll see, when the widow starts accusing Claire’s antics as a farce, Lucifer does his thing and a bunch of lives are set on an odd course.
“Does that mean presents? Oh, you said Satan, my bad.”
Of course, the Waglers don’t believe a word, which I would normally be 100% behind, but man, Satan was right there! On the way home the car hits an unexplained skid. and well, things play out as you might expect except for one small detail…
Man, Satan is a dick.
And so, the next step of Beelzebub’s wonderfully circuitous plan is unfurled. James is hell-bent (see what I did there) on getting revenge for his imagined slight, so he heads back to Claire’s home. The story doesn’t explain how James knows where she lives, or how he gets there when his only transportation has become a smoldering wreck. I am just going to chalk it up to “demonic intervention” and let it lie. Anyway, James in his oh-so stylish vertically striped pants guns Claire down in her home. Of course, it isn’t that simple…
I’m starting to think that man in red there may not be entirely a good guy.
James hoofbeats it out of there and Satan takes Claire’s corpse to h-e-double hockey sticks. When there, he places Clair on an altar and starts a “mystic rite”. He also invokes the “almighty evil”. Now I dunno, but since Satan is supposed to be the ruler of hell and all of its minions, you’d think that he himself is the almighty evil, but what do I know. Anyway, flames envelop Claire’s body as Satan commands her to rise again as…
There is something about this image that hits all the right creepy buttons for me.
So OK, let me get this straight. Satan goads a family into killing Claire so he can have her as his instrument on Earth? He should have cut out the middleman, he is freaking Satan after all. Maybe he had to do things the way he did to ensure that she’d have a proper mindset, but whatever. Anyway, Lucifer goes on a bit of a big speech about how awesome he and hell are, while giving Claire a tour. It shows some pretty graphic depictions of pain and suffering (for the Golden Age anyway), including the fate of people who commit suicide (turned into trees of suffering). He then goes on to tell the Black Widow that this is nothing in comparison to what he has in store for her. The Black Widow seems cool with that, though she does ask for permission to kill her killer. Satan is all like, of course, my dear, kill in my name!
So the scene cuts to the docks, where James is wallowing in his despair. You can’t really blame the guy, seeing as Satan completely screwed up his life. As a matter of course, the Black Widow shows up, and the results are what you may expect, that is, if you were expecting a flaming touch that equals instant death!
Luckily, they left out the panel where the Black Widow mated with him before the killing.
With that, Satan hits the “recall” button and the Black Widow returns to his side in a flash of flame. This attracts the attention of a local beat cop who finds the body of James lying on the docks. He is dead, of course, but he also has his forehead marked with a black widow insignia, adding insult to (grievous) injury. Now, cops then weren’t like cops now, so he easily puts two and two together and realizes James was killed by a person with a black widow motif. We’re left to wonder if he starts a manhunt though, because we’re brought back to hell. Here, Satan finally unveils what his actual plan for the Black Widow is, and wow, it is a doozy…
What? The only evil-doers in this story were under Satan’s influence in the first place!
So you see, the Black Widow is a hero! Um, yeah tell me another one, guys. Anyway, as I mentioned before. Claire Voyant, aka the Black Widow had a total of only five Golden Age appearances and a couple of Silver Age cameos before returning in J. Michael Straczynski’s frankly amazing The Twelve. While I really enjoyed that series, I don’t see how that merits her inclusion in the Avengers movie. Oh! A thousand pardons. I guess I was misinformed and of course the Silver-Modern Age Black Widow is in Avengers, not this one. Well, I guess that means I owe you guys another Secret Origin tomorrow!
This story originally appeared in Mystic Comics #4, July 1940. To my knowledge, it has only been reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Mystic Comics – Volume 1.