A look at the public domain hero with Spider powers who came before Spider-man.
Host: She’s not amazing, spectacular or sensational, but she is the first ever web slaying superhero. We’ll tell you all about it as we look at Spider Queen, a hero of the public domain, straight ahead.
Spider Queen was one of several script in the short lived the Eagle comics. The first script appeared in issues 2 through 4 and so will take a look at all 3 stories. I should note, that because she is public domain, she has been used in other works by other creators. The character was used actually as a supervillain by Roy Thomas in The Invaders. The whole reason for that and that character’s story is matter we’re not going to get into but we’re just going to focus on the heroic aspects of her golden age appearances.
In the first story, it begins with her already a Spider Queen stopping a bank robbery and then flashes back to her origin story and we find her working as an assistant to her husband, who is described as a brilliant, young scientists. However, the artist draws the husband as having white hair and a white moustache. He is killed by criminals and then Shannon, while cleaning out his things, discovers a formula that can be used to make spider web fluid. She then takes the formula and invents 2 bracelets from which she can fire it and combining that with her athletism, she becomes Spider Queen and sets out to war on crime. Well after she knocks out multiple bank robbers including the one with the bag, Detective Mike O’Bell, happens on the scene and arrest the criminals and takes the money to the chief of police. However, the chief of police is actually the head of the gang, which Shannon discovers and he’s determined to take the money back and split it with the gang and just rely on it being his word against O’Bell’s because apparently O’Bell didn’t get a receipt. At any rate, Shannon decides she has to tell O’Bell what’s going on so that he can arrest the chief and in a really funny sequence, Shannon gets O’Bell into her apartment and insist on serving him something to drink and while he’s waiting for her to come back she comes back in as Spider Queen jumps out the window after telling him about the chief and then while he’s leaning out the window runs back in, changes back into Shannon and offers in the tea but Mike excuses himself and goes off to confront the chief, the chief is captured and that’s pretty much the end of the story.
In the second story, in a shop there are kidnapping and shenanigans going on and the owner of the shop is being tortured as Spider Queen happens upon it and Mike O’Bell follows quickly behind, confronts Spider Queen, she knocks him out and then she realizes the crooks are still there and she needs to lead the crooks away from O’Bell, less they find him and kill him and so she leads them on a merry chase, jumps out of the window, which confuses the villains and it’s really funny because it’s like she can hear them up there saying, where is she going and she’s saying and she’s actually saying this, teehee. I love it. A superhero who says teehee. Well, O’Bell wakes up and finds the victim gone and asks Shannon for help to try and ask some questions because he figures she would not be suspected, since she’s the little fluffy type. This is his words not mine, and no one would suspect anything. She goes and gets information by swinging in and confronting the criminals and threatening them with providing the information or else, which is one of the worst things you can threaten someone with during the golden age. It turns out she is able to get information to Mike. Mike rescues the victim but he has trouble getting away. Spider Queen gets a boat for them but it turns out that the boat’s motor’s not working. However, she’s able to use her spider web to subdue all the criminals so that Mike gets away safely.
In the final story, which I think is actually the best one. It’s a great opening panel. It does a good job establishing the atmosphere and tone of the story as it introduces this mad killer, the Noose. Mike can’t come over to visit with Shannon even though he had been expected because the Noose’s escape. Spider Queen is actually able to get to the Noose and stop him before he kills his first victim, using her spider web and wrapping it around his throat and even threatening to strangle him but she does decide to call the police instead and he ends up escaping from police custody and strangling another woman, who he thinks to be Spider Queen but is actually just a woman who lives in the same building as Shannon. And he continues his reign of terror and he threatens the police to get them off the back, warning them that if they don’t cease pursuing him, he’ll give them the dreaded or else and spotter Queen resolves to catch the Noose and she hunts him down and they meet in a barn and they fight and this is actually a really well-done fight scene. I like it because there’s actually one portion where they end up going past an old wagon wheel and it’s used to frame the panel for the fight. Just a beautiful bit of art there in the middle of this. However, in the middle of the fight, Spider Queen trips on a loose board and the Noose is ready to finish off her but then Mike comes barrelling in and saves the day and he and the Noose fight. But then the Noose actually gets in a position to kill Mike and is holding a pitchfork over him. Apparently, the Noose is so mad, he’s even willing to compromise his brand in order to commit this killing. However, Spider Queen saves the day by using her webbing to take the pitchfork out of his hands and that moment allows Mike to recover, get the upper hand and arrest the villain, who has monster like hands for some reason in the his faunal panel.
Overall, the Spider Queen stories are fun. They’re not great but I think they show potential, particularly the third story just had some really good art in it. So, Spider Queen’s an interesting character and you can find her online at the digitalcomicmuseum.com in the pages of the Eagle from Fox Feature Syndicate.
Now we turn to listener comments and feedback and I have a comment from David regarding Episode 64 and the review of Batman: Rules of Engagement. And he writes, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for this marvellous gift. After listening this episode, I went to my local library and borrowed this book. It was an excellent look at Batman’s relationships with his various Robins, with Alfred, with Talia and Catwoman, with Superman and with the relationships among those folks as well because of Batman. It was an unusual look at Bruce under the the cowlI especially enjoyed the three-page sequence of panels with the alternating between Superman’s view of Batman and Batman’s view of Superman. If nothing else, those pages should be required reading for anyone who writes a story of Batman and Superman. Finally, by an interesting coincidence, as I started reading the last story from Batman Annual #2, I was listening to the recording of the great Sophie Tucker singing, Some of These Days, turning the page to Alfred singing the same song as he went about his duties. “
That is a really neat coincidence and thanks so much for your email David. I’m glad you enjoyed the book.
That’s all for today. If you have a comment, send it to me firstname.lastname@example.org. Please rate the show on iTunes and check us out, classycommicsguy.com. From Boise Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.