"Whosoever holds evil in their heart shall burn at the Black Widow's touch!"
|Black Widow I (Joint Venture)|
|Real Name||Claire Colbert|
|Current Alias||Claire Voyaunt|
|Alias(es)||Black Widow I, "Satan's Messenger," "Daughter of Mephisto"|
|Relatives||Angela Colbert (sister, deceased), unnamed husband (deceased), unnamed son, Marie-Ange Colbert (granddaughter)|
|Base Of Operations||Widow's Lair, Mephisto's Realm|
|Universe||Joint Venture Universe|
Claire Voyant, the original Black Widow, is a demonic sorceress, and was the first-ever costumed and superpowered female superhero, created in 1940. This is the Joint Venture Universe version of the character.
From a young age, Claire Colbert was always interested in mysticism, divination, and the arts of witchcraft. Growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, to say this was frowned upon would be putting it mildly.
Little is known of how she came to it, but she eventually went into business for herself as a psychic medium and fortuneteller, going by the somewhat on-the-nose name of "Claire Voyaunt." Despite the embarrassing choice of nom de guerre, by the late 1930s Claire had already established a reputation for herself as an eerily accurate, but dark and unsettling, diviner of the future. She even saw her own death, but also a life after it -- something she would never reveal to another living soul, not even her husband, and certainly not their young son.
The Widow's First Curse
One night, an obscenely rich couple, the Waglers, and their younger son James came to Claire, in her fortuneteller's parlor on the East Coast, for a seance to locate Richard, their elder son, who had run away from home just before the Great Depression, and had not been heard from since. During her meditations, Claire came across a hideous secret: that Richard had, in fact, become a contract killer during this time, serving the wealthy elite by eliminating their competition until he could once again join their ranks. One of his victims had been Claire's very own sister, Angela, an innocent caught in the crossfire between him and the New York Mob.
Claire was enraged to learn this. When she told the family what she had seen, but could not answer their questions about his whereabouts today, they, too, grew angry and called her a fraud, accusing her of desecrating their son's memory and taking advantage of a family's grief and worry for her own personal gain.
They were about to storm out of her home, and Claire was about to let them, when a dark voice whispered in her ear. telling her to avenge her sister -- if not on the man who killed her, then on the rest of his family, who had dared to accuse her so in the midst of her great suffering. Something inside Claire snapped, and she did just that, predicting that, as she had lost her only family, Richard would lose all of his, and therefore the Waglers would die before the week was out.
A storm kicked up that night on the Wagler's way home, so violent and terrible that it drove the Waglers' car off the road and into a rock quarry. Mr. and Mrs. Wagler died instantly, but James was left alive. Although he had had misgivings about his parents' treatment of Claire before their deaths, he was targeted by the medium's curse nonetheless, and his doubt turned to shock, fear, and hatred -- hatred that a dark voice in his ear fomented, caused to grow deeper and more malevolent, until the once-gentle young man was driven into a murderous fury.
Murder and Rebirth
Returning to Claire's house in the dead of night, James Wagler sealed her inside while she slept and set the place on fire, listening to her dying screams as he vainly sought to fill the void in his soul left by the evil done to him, and the evil he himself had done.
Claire Colbert died in the blaze, but her soul did not pass on...instead, it was captured by the demon Mephisto, and brought to his Hellish realm. Although he claimed to offer Claire a chance to live again, and better still, to exact justice for her own horrific murder. Claire recognized his voice as the one that had whispered its dark temptations to her, giving her both the impetus and the power to lay the curse on the Waglers to begin with. Nevertheless, feeling as though she had no choice, she agreed. Mephisto restored her to life and enhanced her powers, granted her new demonic magic, and the ability to kill the wicked with a touch.
Her first victim was, of course, James Wagler. On the very night he buried his parents, she came to him, saying that she might have reconsidered, lifted the curse upon him, but he'd not only killed her, but killed her agonizingly, so she now had to visit the same agonies upon him. He ran, but she was easily able to track him, seeming to swoop in on him through the mist itself. She eventually caught up with him at the docks, cornering him and striking him dead with a single touch of her fingertips to his forehead, sending his soul to Mephisto's realm as the first of the demon king's new recruits. His body was unmarked, save for the look of terror frozen on his face and a symbol -- a black spider -- burned into his forehead.
After this victory, Claire was brought back to Mephisto's side and the full extent of his bargain was offered: he would not only grant her life everlasting, but untold-of wealth, any material possessions or indulgence of vice that her heart desired. In exchange, she would be at his beck and call, seeking out the wicked and corrupt and sending their souls to him at the height of their evil, to swell the ranks of his demonic forces before they could be redeemed. Everyone won, he told her in his dark, tempting voice. Evil got its just reward, he got more souls for his Hell dimension, and she got an eternal life, free from want, as one of his creatures, for as long as she remained loyal to him. Claire mistrusted Mephisto and the darkness he was instilling in her, but again, what choice did she have? So she agreed, thinking that with eternal life, she could one day outwit the demon lord, and he made her his Black Widow, the dark huntress, entrapper of evil.
The Evils of War
Not long after Claire's horrific death and unholy resurrection as the Black Widow, World War II broke out in Europe. Although the United States would not officially become involved until some years in, there were some who had learned of the atrocities committed by the Nazi party, and sought to take the fight to them. Among this first wave of "Invaders" was the Black Widow, who fought, not for altrustic reasons, but at the will of Mephisto, who saw the Nazis, and HYDRA, their metahuman research branch, as prime targets to swell his ranks. However, even through Mephisto's poison and the darkness of her own power, the Widow felt sympathy for the victims of the Nazis, the starving refugees, the hidden undesirables they wanted to seek out and exterminate simply for the crime of being born different.
On the Side of Angels
Eventually, one winter's night, the Widow came across a couple fleeing from the concentration camps. Hiding from sight, she eliminated their pursuers, but the woman was deathly ill due to the hardships of the camps and the bitter chill in the air. Her husband sought desperately to care for her while the Widow watched from the shadows, unable to tear herself away. Eventually, despite the man's best efforts, the woman was in so much pain that death looked like a mercy, and so the Widow stepped in, prepared to use her power on an innocent soul for the first time. However, when she touched the woman, something else happened, something the Black Widow would not have expected in a thousand lifetimes: The woman was healed. Not only of her illnesses, but she was restored to perfect health, better even than she had been before being sent to the camps. The Widow tried to do the same for her husband, and succeeded again. Though she would never learn this, the couple she saved were Magda and Erik Lensherr, who went on to forge significant stories of their own.
In healing the Lensherrs, the Black Widow discovered the flip side of her dark powers: for every evil soul she sent to Mephisto, she had the power to save one good soul, to heal, cure, and strengthen them; indeed, she could bring a good person back from the very brink of death.
This power gave her a new outlook on her life, what she was capable of doing. She did not know whether Mephisto knew of this silver lining to his dark gift, nor did she care. Ever since her resurrection, the Black Widow had only thought of herself as Mephisto's messenger, his tool. But this new ability, to save lives instead of merely taking them, allowed her to think of herself as Claire Colbert once again, for the first time in ages.
The Black Widow, along with the rest of the Invaders, vanished mysteriously in 1945, at the closing days of the war. The only thing left behind was an old film reel which shows the Widow casting a spell upon a mirror, then all of the Invaders stepping through it, one at a time, as if it were a doorway. Then the mirror goes dark and the film reel ends. None of the Invaders, including Claire herself, have been heard from since. It is unknown why the Invaders vanished, or even if they were coerced into stepping through the mirror, or if they did so of their own free will, all questions that remain a mystery to this day. Only Claire Voyaunt might have the answers.
Demonic Physique: As the Black Widow, Claire Voyaunt is a soul granted a diabolical body. She possesses above-average strength, speed, agility, and stamina, and is immune to most conventional weapons, such as gunfire. If Mephisto is to be believed, she is also functionally immortal.
Alignment Detection: While she does not possess telepathy, The Black Widow can sense a person's nature -- good, evil, ordered, chaotic, or balanced -- in much the same way as a telepath.
Widow's Touch: The Black Widow has a unique power granted to her by Mephisto: the ability to instantly kill an evil person with a touch of her hand. This touch sends their souls directly to Mephisto's realm, and leaves the mark of a spider burned onto their forehead. If used upon a good person, it will instead heal them of any injuries or illnesses and restore them to perfect health. This does not work on demons or higher orders of beings, such as Heralds of Galactus.
Magical Powers: The Black Widow possesses many powers that are mystical in origin, learned spells separate from those granted her by Mephisto. She can cast these seemingly at will. Among her most commonly demonstrated are:
- Divination: As Claire Voyant, the Black Widow practiced many forms of divination, both conscious and subconscious, including the use of tarot cards, crystal scrying, and prophetic dreams. She still possesses some divinatory powers as the Black Widow, but these are muted considerably due to the influence of Mephisto.
- Widow Deck: Claire used a unique Tarot deck in her divinations, before and after her transformation into the Black Widow, which she left in her will to be bequeathed to her granddaughter Marie-Ange in the event of her death or disappearance.
- Flight: the Black Widow possesses the power to levitate, and fly over great distances. Her top speed is unknown, however, she was able to overtake a speeding car in 1945.
- Pyrokinesis: The Black Widow can spontaneously generate fire from her body, and is completely immune to the effects of all non-magical fires, and even a few mystical ones.
- Probability Manipulation: In a similar manner to the X-Man Scarlet Witch, Claire has the power to cast "curses" or "charms," which affect outcomes around her in varying ways that even she cannot predict. For example, when she cursed the Wagler family under Mephisto's influence, a freak rainstorm caused their car to go off the road and into a rock quarry, but a charm she placed on Captain America before the final battle against HYDRA may have enabled him to survive the plane explosion that seemingly killed the Red Skull and Bucky Barnes, and put him in suspended animation until his discovery and revival in the early 2000s.
- Dimensional Aperture: The Black Widow has the ability to transform any doorway, archway, mirror, or other aperture into a portal to anywhere on Earth, via Mephisto's Realm.
To be disclosed