Art by John Fleming Gould
The Spider TM & © Argosy Communications, Inc.
Nita Van Sloan

Simply put, Nita Van Sloan is Richard Wentworth's soulmate. She is his loving refuge when he is at rest, his steely companion when he's prowling as The Spider, and even his violent savior when he's been laid low.

She is described as a chestnut-curled beauty with violet eyes. Though her family and its fortune are all but gone due to War and Depression, she is from proud aristocratic stock, an old family that came to America before the Revolutionary War. R.T.M. Scott introduces her thusly in The Spider Strikes (October 1933):

"High up in the tower of Riverside Mansions, in a tiny apartment overlooking the Hudson River, a girl dreamed and worked with a Great Dane for companion. It was not an expensive apartment, since it could only be reached by climbing stairs from the level where the elevators ended. But it suited Nita Van Sloan very well. It suited her purse, and she liked to paint the Palisades at sunset, and soft, morning lights over ther the great river."

To keep her company on those long, cold nights when The Spider would stalk the city alone, Wentworth had bought Nita a Great Dane, Apollo, which they trained together. As with many secondary characters in the series, Apollo pays the ultimate price; He is poisoned in Laboratory of the Damned (July 1936) and exits The Spider after only three years.

Nita, herself, is always spared from death -- but little else. During her valiant adventures with The Spider she: was turned into a drug addict, had brain cells sucked out of her head, was surgically crippled, hypnotized to kill, institutionalized, driven mad, and even suffered amnesia. And this was only when she wasn't simply being trapped or kidnapped by the Monthly Madman and his gibbering lackeys.

But Nita is never the sort to stand meekly by waiting for rescue. And she rarely stays at home while the men-folk strike at Satan's minions. Before the series' initial year is out, she makes her first kill in Reign of the Silver Terror (September 1934). Less than a year later, in Master of the Death Madness (August 1935) when Wentworth is too wounded to function, Nita actually dons The Spider's disguise and carries on his fight!

"Nita felt lead tug at her cloak and once more laughter rasped from her throat. She fired both automatics, and laughed to feel their bucking thrust against her slender wrists. The gunman was jerked up straight on his feet, hurled over backward by the poweful slugs that struck him. He rolled over twice before he lay still ... She had slain -- slain in the cloak and the name of The Spider!"

She becomes The Spider again in 1936, 1940, 1941 (twice!) and 1942. And in Spider and the Slaves of Hell (July 1939) she invents her own separate identity -- Black Widow!

Yes, Nita and Dick were a match made in heaven -- which suffered through hell. They carried on probably the longest engagement in all of fiction. You see, Wentworth did not want to bring disgrace and shame upon Nita if it were discovered that he was The Spider, so they agreed to put off the union until The Spider's work was done! Tragically for our star-crossed lovers, this never happened while the magazine was still in print.