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The Scarlet Widow

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The Scarlet Widow
Spiderlady-serial
Debut "The Scarlet Widow"
(9/26/1945)
Created by Ben Peter Freeman
Portrayed by Elspeth Eric (radio)
Carol Forman (serial)
Statistics
AKA The Black Widow
The Spider Lady
Classification Human

The Scarlet Widow was one of the few female master criminals faced by Superman on radio's The Adventures of Superman. A dangerous, greedy hag, described as gaunt and ugly, the Widow was often assisted by her Cockney henchman Sniggers. Her most significant act was the theft of Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum, which she then split into four chunks. Unlike most of Superman's enemies, however, the pragmatic Widow had only profit rather than revenge in mind, by splitting the Kryptonite into chunks and auctioning it off to four of Superman's greatest (radio only) enemies: The Laugher, The Vulture, Papa Raush, and Der Teufel.

The Widow's auction is complicated, however, when the prospective buyers insist on a demonstration. She arranges one, using it to subdue Superman, but in the confusion, Der Teufel steals a piece. This sets off a chain of events which would result in the creation of The Atom Man. The Widow is satisfied when she learns of Der Teufel's death ("the only man who ever double-crossed me"), however. Though two of the remaining three pieces have already been handed over to the Laugher and Vulture, one piece remains in trust for Papa Raush. Sidney, who has had past business dealings with the Widow, offers to buy the piece (and kill Papa Raush as well, to dispose of the rival claimant). The Widow agrees and plans to flee the country with Sniggers: "I've played a long and dangerous game, and I've won. Now I intend to leave the country -- safely -- with my money."

In other media

Elements of "The Scarlet Widow" storyline were reworked as the first Superman film serial. The Scarlet Widow is renamed the Spider Lady (played by Carol Forman) and reconceived as a more sultry, vamp character.

For the 2010 Dallas stage revival of the musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, the Scarlet Widow was one of many characters from different Superman eras and media who were incorporated into the original revised script draft. Due to concerns from DC, most of the others were dropped, but the Scarlet Widow remained (played by Julie Johnson, who doubled as Ma Kent), as a supporting villain assisting Max Mencken.

Appearances

  • The Adventures of Superman
    • "The Scarlet Widow" (September 26-October 10, 1945)
    • "The Atom Man vs. Superman" (cameos in October 11 and November 8, 1945 chapters)

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