Dianne Grayton was a beautiful, weathy and athletic young woman of means who was disgusted at the society dandies she met in her social circle. She hated how they were ignoring the problems with crime and war profiteering that were appearing all over the city. So when she overheard the plans of gangsters being paid to sabotage gasoline transports, she decided to act on her own. She uses a rubber party mask from her attic and an assortment of creatures the gardener pointed out to her on her estate to go after the criminals. A long black outfit and a tall cone hat go with the mask to give her the appearance of a wicked old witch. When she fights the gang, she attacks them with the spiders she has hidden on her body. The crooks were either bitten by her black widow spiders or panicked by her other eight-legged companions. There was no explanation how she could move around with these things stuffed into her clothes and she never got bit. The terrified criminals were no match for her. In her fourth story, she encountered another costumed hero, the Raven, who rescued her and then they kept running into each other and wondering about each other's secret identities as they fought traitors and spies who were out to subvert America. It was a half dozen stories later before it was revealed that the Raven was Tony Grey. In FEATURE COMICS No. 66, the pair meet and fought The Spider Man! As the character developed, her use of spiders was phased out and she became more of the standard young heroine with agility and unarmed combat skills. Her costume altered and her legs showed enough to give her the new appearance of a beautiful young lady with a mask of an old crone.
The character was created and mostly drawn by Frank Borth, and appeared in FEATURE COMICS numbers 57, June 1942 through 72, October 1943. The last story was by Rudy Palais. After she encountered the Raven in FEATURE COMICS #59, the name of the strip was changed to "Spider Widow and the Raven." For the character's last appearance, the title went back to just "Spider Widow."
Shortly before the strip ended, there was a crossover plot tying the Phantom Lady strip in POLICE COMICS and the Spider Widow and the Raven strip in FEATURE COMICS. This may be due to the fact that at the time Frank Borth was drawing (and probably writing) both strips. Dated July 1943, POLICE COMICS No. 20 had a Phantom Lady story in which the Raven showed up to help Sandra Knight take on a gang after her father, the Senator. Spider Widow, the Raven and Phantom Lady all take on the gang in the pages of FEATURE COMICS No. 70, dated August, and the same month the trio appear in a story in POLICE COMICS No. 21. In that tale, the gang boss sends an insulting letter to Phantom Lady with the Spider Widow's signature, and a similar forged challenge signed by Phantom Lady goes to Spider Widow. The pair meet in a remote spot, and with the Raven as referee, they have a duel with foils. The gang planned to get the two women at odds because the Raven was known as Spider Widow's boyfriend, and he'd been spending a lot of time lately with Phantom Lady. The duel goes on for a while, but the gang decides to bump the trio off, and come in with guns blazing. The ladies suspend their feud to handle the new threat. In that tale, Diane never puts on her Spider Woman costume, doing everything in her regular clothes. In FEATURE COMICS No. 71, the two ladies are still feuding, and when the Raven tries to stop it, Raven and Phantom Lady are trapped by the gang. They are locked in a flooding basement when Spider Widow shows up to save the day, and the women resolve to be friends. Finally in POLICE COMICS No. 22, there is one last little bit of crossover as the pair of Spider Widow and the Raven show up in a couple of panels of the Phantom Lady story just to say so long.
The Spider Widow would not make another apperance until JLA:Destiny, where many of the characters were heroes or villians. This character was loosely based on her Quality character.