- "Darlings, we are about to play a dear little game: The Spider and the Fly."
- ―Black Widow[src]
The Black Widow was a villainess and enemy of Batman in the Batman 1960s TV Series. She was portrayed by Tallulah Bankhead. Though no there is no direct evidence of it, Black Widow must be some kind of electronic genius to have come up with the devices she utilizes to commit crime. At times she also uses hypnosis, drugs, or other brain stimuli. She is the widow of her beloved Max Black.
Not much is known about the Black Widow's past, except she was married to a certain Max Black who had passed away. He seems to have spent much time telling his wife, "Money can't buy happiness."
The Black Widow made her debut at one of the Gotham City Banks, where she short-circuits the brain of one of the bank presidents, Irving Cash, with her Cerebrium Short-Circuiter. Thus, he is unable to stop himself from giving her $30,000 from the vault.
Mr. Cash reports the incident to Police Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara at Police Headquarters, who, in turn, contact Batman and his partner, Robin. The Dynamic Duo soon arrive at Police Headquarters, where the Commissioner gives them a full description of Black Widow. Batman then shows them his Brain Wave Bat-Analyzer that looks like an ordinary hairdryer, but registers the brain wave's patterns in the various control areas of the human brain. They suspect that Black Widow used her device to short-circuit a portion of Irving Cash's brain to render him incapable of making judgements. After analyzing Cash's brain, they find out that the Black Widow removed his cerebrum, and that she has done the same to other bank presidents in the past. The Caped Crusaders thus set off to locate and apprehend her.
At the Black Widow's hideout called "The Web" in an underground grotto in Gotham City, Black Widow and her henchmen are counting their money. She tells them that there are more banks to rob before they split it. The villainess subsequently proceeds to another bank, where she uses her device on another bank president, Irving Bracken, to give her $40,000 from the vault.
Commissioner Gordon then calls Batman, informing him that the Black Widow has robbed four more banks. Batman asks for the names of all the banks that she robbed, and finds out that they were all plundered in alphabetical order. After deducing the possible scene of the next robbery, the Dynamic Duo decide to arrange a trap for her.
At Gotham's Bank and Trust Company, Batman and Robin hide in the shadows while Black Widow arrives and attempts to short-circuit the brain of bank manager Irving Leghorn. The Caped Crusaders then attempt to arrest her. She tries to use her device on them but Batman reveals that they are wearing Anti-Short-Circuiting Bat-electrodes. The crafty villainess escapes, however, using Instant Nerve Paralyzer of Spider Venom on Batman, rendering him unable to move.
The Black Widow returns to her hideout but Batman and Robin follow her. She spots them with a periscope and activates two electronic animated robots resembling an elderly couple to approach the heroes and throw them off the criminal's track. Batman and Robin then return to the Batcave to analyze audio recordings of the robots' voices, only to find that out they were amplified. Batman determines ro return to the place where they had tracked the Black Widow before.
After finding the Black Widow's hideout, Batman and Robin invade the lair and attempt to apprehend her. However, the villainess sees them arriving again, and tells her gang of henchmen that they are going to set a trap for the Dynamic Duo. When Batman and Robin locate her, she calls on her henchmen to save her. The goons are easily beaten, and the Black Widow appears to beg for mercy. They refuse, so she drops a tangle of cables on them, which resemble a spider's web. Caught in the web, Batman and Robin are helpless when she reveals her latest plan: Her henchmen will release highly venomous Black Widow spiders on the heroes to kill them. The thugs do so, and the spiders begin to swarm the Dynamic Duo. The Black Widow gloats over her seeming victory, and goes on to say that her and her lieutenants will tunnel under her vault and count their loot before leaving the crimefighters to die.
However, the Caped Crusaders escape her deathtrap and ponder over the last words that Black Widow had told them. Batman deduces the location of her new hiding place, and the two burst in while she is dividing the money from their latest robbery with her henchmen. As the villainess reaches for her short-circuit device, Batman confidently reminds her that it won't work on them. She tells them that she has reversed the polarity and turns Batman's electrodes against him, resulting in his brain being short-circuited.
The machine has no effect on Robin, who lost one of his electrodes, so he is overpowered and bound while the Black Widow decides on how to use Batman for her own evil purposes. She asks Batman to find her another bank for her to rob by using his Remote-Control Batcomputer Oscillator to ask the computer in the Batcave which target would be easiest to rob next. While the Caped Crusader uses it, he finds out that there is the Heritage First National Bank that has just opened but also that his life is in danger.
The devious criminal decides to dress one of her electronic animated dummies in Batman's spare Batsuit and disguise herself as Robin so that she can go in the Batmobile and rob the Heritage First National Bank. She tells Batman to phone the manager of the bank, Irving Irving, who then informs Commissioner Gordon that Batman has demanded $40,000 in a brown paper bag left at the front of the bank at 11: 43 AM and that he's arranged for the Batmobile to be there. Irving is confused, as Batman had also mentioned that the Black Widow will meet him there and they will split the money. Commissioner Gordon, meanwhile, becomes convinced that this is a trap for Black Widow and so he urges Mr. Irving to cooperate. The now-disguised Black Widow and the robot set off for the bank, convinced that everything is under control. The plan works, and the villainess escapes with the money.
Commissoner Gordon is shocked when he receives word that the Dynamic Duo have just really robbed the bank. Although reluctant, he issues a warrant for their arrest. The police spot the Batmobile and attempt to make the arrest, only to have one of the police officers observe that Robin's voice is different. The Black Widow makes her getaway, but bullets flying from police guns strike the Batman robot, leading the police to become convinced that Batman is dead.
Back at The Web, Batman plays Solitaire with Black Widow's henchmen, before he urges them to go outside and wait for her. Robin, meanwhile, breaks free from his bonds and seizes Black Widow's short-circuiting device. He reverses the polarity, turning Batman back into his heroic self.
Together, they decide to set one last trap for the crafty Black Widow. Batman thus secures Robin again and pretends that his brain is still short-circuited. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon hears the news of Batman's supposed death, and he calls the Batcave to locate Robin. Alfred Pennyworth answers the phone and explains that he was there when Batman activated the Batcomputer by remote control and gives him the address of where it came from: The Black Widow's hideout.
When the Black Widow returns to her lair, the Dynamic Duo fight her henchmen and use her device on her, rendering her helpless. She is told to return all the money she stole back to the banks, then she is arrested and taken to prison where Batman uses his Brain-Wave Batanalyser to switch her personality to a more law-abiding one. The crooks have no idea of the process, and believe that they are doing their hair.
In Batman '66, the comic continuation that started in 2013, Black Widow teamed up with Penguin. They managed to capture Batman and Robin. Eventually, Batman makes a deal with Penguin. Batman, Robin, and Penguin all unite to take down Black Widow.
Weapons and Equipment
Black Widow used a few deadly weapons in her crimes:
- Cerebrum Short Circuiter - The Black Widow's most commonly used weapon that removes the cerebrum from the human brain, which makes victim susceptible to verbal commands, removing their ability to make independent decisions.
- Black Widow Cycle - The Black Widow's most common mode of transportation and getaway vehicle. Tarantula drives the motorcycle, while she sits in the sidecar.
- Instant Nerve Paralyzer - Spider Venom gas that renders the victim with mobility.
- Spider's Web - A giant web that makes the victims stick just like flies on a real spider web.
- Web Phone - The Black Widow's own private line.
- Black Widow Spiders - Deadly arachnoids that are extremely poisonous.
Though Black Widow carries out most of her schemes herself, she often has henchmen to help her in her schemes:
- Tarantula (portrayed by Don 'Red' Barry) - Black Widow's chief henchman, often gives her rides in her motorcycle towards and away from places she robs.
- Daddy Longlegs (portrayed by Mike Lane) - Attempted to rob banks as a child but was never successful.
- Trap Door (portrayed by Al Ferrera) - Lives behind a small door in Black Widow's hideout. Often gets lonely. Seems to have a fridge in there.
- Max Black - Black Widow Husband (Mentioned Only)
- Penguin - They teamed up once, but Penguin double crossed her at the end.
- Batman (1960s series)
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
In Other Media
- The Black Widow appears on Batman: The Brave and the Bold in the episode "Day of the Dark Knight!". She is leading a large group of supervillains trying to escape Iron Heights Penitentiary, but was foiled by Batman and Green Arrow. It should be noted that the other convicts that Black Widow escapes with are either common criminals, the show's supervillains, or other villains from the Adam West series including Egghead, King Tut, the Bookworm, Ma Parker, and Shame.
- The part of the Black Widow was actress Tallulah Bankhead's final performance.