(The other) Spidey poses for the readers.


Original Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: "Elsa Lesau" (Louis and Arturo Cazeneuve)
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Back in the 1940s, naming superheroes after spiders had not yet become the exclusive province of Marvel Comics, which abounds with heroes named Spider-This and Spider-That, including, of course, Spider-Man himself. At least one, The Spider Widow, had spider-related super powers, there were several (such as The Web, Tarantula and Spider Woman (no relation) who assumed spider-related themes for their superheroing activities, and even one, The Spider, who apparently just thought the name was cool, and used it for no good reason. Of all …

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… the arachnid-related superheroes of that decade, only The Spider Queen actually anticipated one of "our" Spidey's familiar schticks.

The Spider-Man schtick this Spidey practiced in advance of its current use was to swing from "webs" produced by squirting liquid from nozzles attached to her wrists. She got the stuff when she straightened out some old records left by her husband, Dr. Harry Kane (no relation to the same-named bad guy who bedeviled The Two-Gun Kid and other western stars of the '60s), a chemist working on the upcoming war effort for the U.S. government, was murdered by the country's enemies. Harry had been unable to find a use for the fluid, which dried instantly into a sticky, string-like substance that was strong enough to hold her weight, but the widow, Shannon, did. She made small spray containers for it and went into the superhero business.

This happened in The Eagle #2, published with a cover date of September, 1941 by Fox Feature Syndicate (The Flame). She replaced Rex Dexter of Mars, who was never seen again. The byline on the story was "Elsa Lesau", who doesn't happen to exist. The real creators are believed to be the Cazeneuve brothers, Louis (The Red Raven) and Arturo (Captain Freedom).

A trait the two Spideys did not share was the later one's success. In fact this one was seen only here and in the next two issues of The Eagle. Her third and last outing was dated January, 1942. Two of those three appearances came before Wonder Woman's December, 1941 debut, but as distinctions go, that one is rather mediocre. More than a dozen other female superheroes, from Phantom Lady to The Red Tornado, came before Wondy.

Her real distinction came from being revived in 1993, by no less an industry giant than Marvel itself. That company had brazenly ripped off the names of characters owned by companies too defunct to sue, such as Daredevil and Captain Marvel, but it was still rare for them to pirate a whole character, including secret identity and back-story, like they did with The Spider Queen.

The occasion for her revival was when The Invaders met a group of Nazi-sympathizing superheroes. The original idea was to use a few '40s obscuros the company had lying around, but that was nixed by editor Mark Gruenwald (The Squadron Supreme), who declared that even acknowledging Stalin was a greater threat wasn't sufficient to justify a good-guy Marvel character being soft on Hitler, the 20th century's #1 icon of political evil, so non-Marvel heroes would have to be used. The one she replaced would probably have been The Silver Scorpion.

There was an "out" for fans who didn't want to believe that was the "real" Spider Queen. The colors of her outfit were altered, replacing the blue with more red. Still, there she was, web-shooting wristwear and all.

That was the only appearance she ever made at Marvel. Since then, not even AC Comics (Femforce) has used her.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Fox Feature Syndicate