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The Amazon Book Review
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Spider-Woman / Jessica Drew was one of Marvel Comic's 70's female character attempts, and one of only several to survive to this day.
The character had an exteme rollar coaster ride of highs and lows in terms of story and art. I gave this book only three stars because the first several attempts at the character (Marvel Spotlight & Marvel 2-in-1) were only so-so, as were issues 17 - 25 of her own book. If Marvel comics puts out a volume 2 (covering SW 26-50,Avengers Annual #10, Avengers 240/241, X-Men 148, Mavel 2-in-1 #85, and for good measure, a segement of Captain America # 281), issues 26-32 and 47-49 of her own book will also be only so-so. However the rest, is quite good. Just in totally different ways. The original 16 issues had Carmine Infantino on art (normally not a fan, but his style fit SW in a way) and Marv Wolfaman and Mark Guenwald on story. Both writers focused on keeping SW away from the traditional superhero, working more to discover her past and encountering strange people and creatures along the way. It had an off-beat / horror feel that worked for the character. She was a different character from Spider-Man. But then they had problems figuring out where to go with the character until Chris Claremont took SW over around issue 34. Claremont took the character into the private investigator/spy arena with Steve Leialoha on art duties (personally my favorite of the SW artists). He made the character very spy savy, very confident in herself and strategically intellegent. By issue 38, the women's movement had slowed down and sales of the comic forced it to go bi-monthly. Claremont and Leialoha left with issue 46 and the book took a horrible turn and ended with at least a half-decent finale issue at #50. The SW part of the character was put to rest in Avengers #241.Read more ›
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Marvel tried really...really hard in the 1970's and early 80's to develop a popular female super hero into her own on-going title. To that end the era gave us characters such as Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Dazzler, and Spider-Woman. Of course three of these were simply female versions of the more popular male characters. If one judges based strictly on longevity, the most popular character was Spider-Woman who lasted for 50 issues from 1978 to 1982. Certainly nothing to sneeze at and it was longer than many other male heroes lasted in their own series.
She made her first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #32 (which is included in this book). Jessica Drew is Spider-woman and had a rather colorful origin that included being given an experimental drug to try and cure radiation poison and then being placed into a genetic accelerator that slowed her aging. Sounds kind of backwards though doesn't it? Years later she would be release and recruited by HYDRA and then would turn on them and become a super hero in L.A., and eventually meet Spiderman.
Jessica Drew possesses superhuman strength. Her agility, reflexes, endurance, and speed are likewise enhanced. Her hearing is hyper-acute. She can cling to walls and other surfaces, and her enhanced musculature and stamina allow her to easily lift and carry an undetermined amount of weight while clinging to walls.
She is immune to all forms of toxic substances and radiations. She also has the ability to store bioelectricity in her body, which she can release at will in powerful discharges that she calls "venom blasts." Her metabolism generates certain types of pheromones that elicit attraction and/or repulsion on others, depending on many, still unknown, factors which might include gender and mood.Read more ›
I'm relatively new to the world of Marvel Comics fandom, so new in fact that the first time I had ever heard of Jessica "Spider-Woman" Drew was only a couple of years ago while I was looking through the Marvel Encyclopedia 4: Spider-Man. At first glance, my thoughts about her were entirely cynical. After all, Spidey is so popular that obviously they'd try to spin a new character from the same idea but just as a different gender; clearly this backfired since I hadn't heard from this lady since. Now with her resurgence in New Avengers, a limited-edition origin series currently on shelves, and especially a new Essential volume, Johnny-Come-Latelys like me can get a more accurate perspective of the Arachnidian Adventuress. I was very pleased to pick up the Essential Spider-Woman both to learn more about the history of the character and because a volume on a solo heroine was really past due. My time with Ms. Drew was very enlightening, but was it enjoyable? Read on, true believer.
The saga of Spider-Woman begins with espionage across Europe and concludes on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Ms. Drew is introduced as an unwilling ally of Hydra (her duel with Nick Fury was quite a treat since we don't see too much of him in the Essentials) but then the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing helped her regain her bearings during an extended stay in Marvel Two-in-One. By the way, the blurb on the back cover is quite correct in saying that she first "worked a few bugs out of her origin". Archie Goodwin, the author of her first appearance in Marvel Spotlight, claimed that the High Evolutionary created her from an actual spider; Marv Wolfman however retconned that little germ of an idea and gave her a true human heritage (Because, really, a common wolf spider transformed into a statuesque brunette?Read more ›