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Julia Carpenter in her Arachne costume.
Art by Marc Silvestri.
|First appearance||Secret Wars vol. 1 #6 (October, 1984, in the shadows)
Secret Wars vol. 1 #7 (November, 1984, full appearance)
|Created by||Jim Shooter
|Alter ego||Julia Eugenia Cornwall Carpenter|
|Team affiliations||Omega Flight
West Coast Avengers
|Notable aliases||Spider-Woman, Arachne, Madame Web|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, and durability
Ability to create webs out of psychokinetic energy
Julia Carpenter (born Julia Cornwall) is a fictional superheroine in the Marvel Comics universe that was initially known as the second Spider-Woman, and later known as the second Arachne, and then as the second Madame Web. The character first appeared in Secret Wars vol. 1 #6 (in the shadows).
As Spider-Woman, Carpenter has appeared as a starring character in Avengers West Coast and Force Works as well as a supporting character in the third Spider-Woman series, whose main character was Mattie Franklin. While she frequently appears as a member of a team, such as the Avengers West Coast and Force Works. Julia starred in her own four-part Spider-Woman miniseries which explained her origin and the origin of her enemies, Death Web.
Fictional character biography
A secretive government group called The Commission decided to create their own superhero. Val Cooper met college friend Julia Carpenter in Julia's hometown of Denver, and convinced her to be part of an "athletic study". She was unknowingly a test subject in their experiments. During the experiment, they "accidentally" injected Julia with a mix of spider venom and exotic plant extracts, which gave Julia powers very similar to those of Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed]
Not long after she was given the identity of Spider-Woman, she was drawn into the first Secret Wars, where she met Spider-Man and the Avengers for the first time, and allied herself with the superhuman champions. She battled the Absorbing Man, Doctor Doom, and the Hulk. She was killed and resurrected by Doom with the power of the Beyonder. After returning to Earth, Julia joined Freedom Force[volume & issue needed] (a government-sponsored super team made up primarily of former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants who enlisted into government service to avoid prison terms). In an early mission with Freedom Force, the team was sent to arrest the X-Men. During this conflict with the X-Men, Julia also began to question her teammates' exceedingly brutal attitudes that they held over from their criminal pasts. Subsequently Freedom Force was sent to arrest the Avengers after a disgruntled Quicksilver made false accusations against them. Freedom Force actually defeated the combined East and West Coast Avengers teams and helped bring the Avengers into custody at the Vault without a trial. Spider-Woman once again found her loyalties divided; she had a change of heart and eventually chose to aid the Avengers by breaking into the Vault and freeing them, battling the Guardsmen and thus becoming a fugitive from the law herself. While on the run from the law she teamed up with Spider-Man occasionally.[volume & issue needed] In another adventure she also teamed with Iron Man, to battle renegade A.I.M. agents named the Seekers, who sought to capture Valerie Cooper to undercover solo work. In gratitude for her earlier assistance with the Avengers, Iron Man worked with the government to get her pardoned.[volume & issue needed] Alongside Spider-Man, she battled the Wrecking Crew as a government assignment.
Later, one of her assignments led her to California looking for a team of Asian supervillains called the Pacific Overlords. She met and assisted the Avengers West Coast against the Pacific Overlords, and battled U.S. Agent. She was eventually offered membership in the team, and joined the Avengers West Coast. As a member of the West Coast Avengers, Julia battled some of the Marvel Universe's major foes including Doctor Demonicus,[volume & issue needed] Ultron[volume & issue needed] and Mephisto[volume & issue needed] as well as participating in the Infinity War cosmic crossover.[volume & issue needed] In addition while still a member of the West Coast Avengers, Julia was chosen by Doctor Strange to be a founding member of the Secret Defenders in their first mission alongside Dark Hawk (whom she would later recommend for West Coast Avengers membership), Wolverine and Nomad.[volume & issue needed] When the West Coast Avengers disbanded, Julia joined their spin-off team Force Works,[volume & issue needed] whose primary enemies included the alien Kree[volume & issue needed] and long time Iron Man foe the Mandarin.[volume & issue needed] She had a relationship with Moonraker during this time.[volume & issue needed]
Julia's main enemies in her solo adventures were the arachnid-based team called Death Web, which consisted of three supervillains who were created by The Commission, using a variation of the same serum which transformed Julia. When Mike Clemson, founder of Death Web, captured Spider-Woman's daughter Rachel, he blackmailed her into fighting Spider-Man. Even though she nearly killed Spider-Man, she would not commit an act of murder, and Spider-Man helped her rescue Rachel.[volume & issue needed] Eventually, Julia walked away from the superhero business to concentrate on raising her daughter.[volume & issue needed] Like Jessica Drew (the original Spider-Woman), Julia was attacked by Charlotte Witter and had her powers stolen.[volume & issue needed] After the loss of her superpowers, Julia returned to the life of a normal mother.[volume & issue needed]
Julia reappeared in a story arc of the 2006 Ms. Marvel series, using the codename Arachne (which she originally intended to use).[volume & issue needed] Her powers have clearly been restored. During Civil War, Julia registers under the Superhuman Registration Act, and she and Wonder Man aid Ms. Marvel in the training of novice superheroes.[volume & issue needed]
However, Julia is shown to be a double agent; when she first responded to Iron Man's request, she thought it would be an opportunity to help people escape registration; she is shown to have tipped off Hobie Brown, the Prowler, moments before a S.H.I.E.L.D. capekiller squadron arrived at his home to arrest him, and she is thought to have warned many more heroes of impending arrests. It is also revealed that she is romantically involved with the Shroud, an opponent of the Superhuman Registration Act.[volume & issue needed]
Julia's status is discovered when a captured Prowler reveals under interrogation that she tipped him off. The Shroud, who had been captured by Ms. Marvel, reveals that Julia was paralyzed for several months after she lost her powers, even though all of her other injuries had healed. The Shroud's company had synthesized a duplicate of the serum that originally provided Julia with her powers, and these returned several days after it was administered to her. With the Shroud's help, Julia underwent intense physical therapy and was soon able to walk again. It was during this time that she and the Shroud fell in love.[volume & issue needed]
A government strike team led by Ms. Marvel, including Wonder Man and Araña, attacks Julia at her home just as she was about to flee the country with her daughter. Julia is captured and summarily incarcerated. However, it is revealed in Ms. Marvel #13 that Julia escaped captivity during the Negative Zone prison break, and she returned to Colorado in search of Rachel. A S.H.I.E.L.D. Psy Ops team telepathically traces her to Brooklyn, where she furiously confronts and attacks Araña, demanding to know where her daughter has been taken. She is subsequently defeated by Araña with surprising ease due to her instability from losing her daughter. After being rendered unconscious by Araña, she awakens aboard the Minicarrier 13 where Ms. Marvel endeavors to help Julia find Rachel.
Arachne became a member of the new Canada-based team Omega Flight. She was given the option of having outstanding charges dropped in exchange for her participation on the team. After a battle against the Wrecking Crew, Julia decided to stay on the team.
The Gauntlet/Grim Hunt
Afterward, Julia (still calling herself Arachne) became a victim of a grudge match between Spider-Man and the Kraven family. After escaping with Spider-Man from Ana and Alyosha Kravinoff, they are confronted by the Chameleon disguised as Ezekiel, who informs them of a battle between the Spider and Hunter tribes. Julia is then captured by the Kravinoffs, along with Anya Corazon and Madame Web as Kaine (who was dressed as Spider-Man) is sacrificed to resurrect Kraven the Hunter. When Madame Web was mortally wounded by Sasha Kravinoff, she transferred her prophetic powers (and blindness) to Julia, to become the new Madame Web. Julia's first action in this role is to prevent Peter from killing Kraven, explaining to Peter that he is the center of a moral web that would be destroyed if he killed Kraven, advising him that this murder, however justified, would turn him into a ruthless destroyer. After burying Kaine and Madame Web in a potter's field, she explains her new purpose to Spider-Man and Araña before teleporting away.
When the population of Manhattan develops spider-powers during the Spider-Island storyline, Julia observes the crisis with Shang-Chi, preventing him from intervening until Spider-Man is accidentally attacked by the New Avengers when he tries to help out. Later, as Anti-Venom works on curing the individuals affected of their spider-powers, reflects on the need for both Venom and Anti-Venom to fix the Spider-Island problem, but also notes that for one of them, "your story ends here." At the conclusion of the crisis, she offers the spider-powers cure to Spider-Man himself, but he rejects it. As she departs, she apologizes for the suffering that is to come.
While taking her daughter Rachel to summer school, Julia gets a vision telling her that the Great Web is unraveling. She then changes into her Madame Web gear and leaves to go speak to Spider-Man. While Spider-Man is fighting Morbius, the Living Vampire, Madame Web visits Spider-Man telling him that his life is in great danger. Although Spider-Man is concerned about Morbius, Madame Web states that Morbius is not the problem. She tells Spider-Man to return to Horizon Labs for a great tragedy lies in his future. She even tells Spider-Man that Silver Sable did not perish in the fight at Doctor Octopus' underwater hideout. Julia later detected that a new spider-based character has connected to the Web of Life as it shows that former Hobgoblin Roderick Kingsley was now working as Devil Spider.
After having a particularly strong vision of the future of the Marvel Universe, Julia enters into a comatose state.
In the finale of the Spider-Verse storyline, Julia wakes out of her coma, and distresses over the Great Web's strands being severed by the Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Peter Parker's body) in a desperate attempt to alter his fate and prevent Peter Parker from returning. Though his attempt was thwarted, the damage caused to the Great Web had weakened every Spider's spider-sense and left Julia bereft of her precognition.
Powers and abilities
Arachne possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes. Arachne possesses the ability to spin a "psi-web" of psionic energy between two surfaces. This web, once solidified, possesses sufficient tensile strength to support a 10 ton weight. It remains in effect for up to approximately 1 hour. She can also project and release sufficient psionic energy through her hands and feet to enable her to walk on walls and ceilings.
Julia's powers originally required considerable concentration for her to manifest them, and she found that physical gesturing aids her in the weaving of her psionic webs. By using psychokinetic energy, Arachne can bind ambient free-floating molecules into strands of solid force. Her psi-webs can be used to wrap enemies, or focused into narrow web-lines that she can swing from. Due to their psychic nature, her psi-webs can form from a distance, and she can mentally control the movement of her webbing.
She has heightened senses, and feels vibrations as does a spider in its web. Her senses allow her to detect a hollow area under a solid steel floor by walking over it.
In addition to her natural superhuman advantages, she has been extensively trained by the Commission on Superhuman Activities in espionage and hand-to-hand combat.
In addition to her own powers, Julia now possesses the powers of Madame Web, including telepathy, clairvoyance, prescience, precognition, and the ability to sense the presence of psionic powers in others. However, she has lost her eyesight in the process of gaining these new powers. Despite her blindness, she is able to stalemate Spider-Man (with his new training in martial arts taught to him by Shang Chi, but lacking his Spider-sense) using her clairvoyance in battle.
- When, in the Secret Wars storyline, Spider-Man first laid eyes on the symbiote black costume that would eventually become the symbiote-charged villain known as Venom, he surmised that he had subconsciously redesigned his costume to look more like Julia's. During her brief tenure with Omega Flight, Julia began wearing a redesigned costume similar to her original one. After gaining Madame Web's mental powers, she passed her costume on to Anya Corazon, who then goes on to wear it as Spider-Girl.
In the X-Men Forever comics, Julia is Spider-Woman in her classic black-and-white costume, and a core member of the Avengers. However, she displays the powers of Jessica Drew as she is able to fire venom-blasts at Gambit when the X-Men are ordered to be arrested. She is also able to fly by unknown means as she does not have the glider-webs Jessica Drew uses to glide.
In a possible future, Julia is seen wearing a modified version of her original costume, with belts and straps and silver duplicates of the Black Widow's gauntlets. She is a member of a superhero team whose members include Punisher, Daredevil, and Rhino.
A monstrous spider-like version of Arachne originates from a dark reality where Death has no power called the Cancerverse, and is killed by Ronan the Accuser when she attemptes to invade the Earth-616 reality.
In other media
Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) appeared regularly (both in and out of costume) in the 1994 Iron Man animated series, voiced by Casey DeFranco in Season One and Jennifer Hale in Season Two. She is part of the team loosely based on the comic and super team Force Works. In the cartoon, Julia Carpenter eventually married Tony Stark. However, this turns out to simply be a ploy by Tony to draw out the Mandarin and convince him he is not Iron Man. The Stark getting married was actually a robot, and the real Stark was disguised as a female guest; in this disguise, he became Iron Man and faced Mandarin. This convinced Mandarin that Tony was not Iron Man. In the first season, Julia had few action sequences; she primarily used her powers to fire blasts of energy, which formed what appeared to be rope nets that would fall on her enemies. In the second season she became more aggressive, actively fighting her foes. Her powers also became more like Spider-Man, as she fired organic webbing from her wrists (even using his trademark hand gesture when firing her webs) to swing from web-lines and trap enemies with sticky webs. In this continuity, she competes with the Scarlet Witch over Stark's affection. In the first season, Stark does not appear to reciprocate the feelings of either woman, but in the second season it becomes apparent that he harbors some feelings for Julia, only to have his "lone wolf" attitude complicate their chances of a relationship. When Stark's counter plan against the Mandarin, which includes faking his death without the knowledge of his teammates, leads to a disbanding of Force Works, Julia and James Rhodes are the only ones who continue to work with Stark. Rachel Carpenter also appears in the series, though she is older than her comic book incarnation and with a more "rebellious" attitude. In episode #3 she is shown as a lover of dance music - and arcades - disdaining classical composers (specifically Van Cliburn) but after a piece of Rachmaninov played by Cliburn on a cassette given to Rachel manages to recharge Iron Man's armor, she changes her mood and begins to appreciate the classical music. In the episode "Hulk Buster" she is lost within a time portal and Stark realizes the feelings he has for her. In the end of the episode, they kiss.
- Arachne is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
- Arachne appears in Marvel Heroes.
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6-12
- Uncanny X-Men #206
- Avengers Annual #15
- Iron Man #214
- Spectacular Spider-Man #125-126
- Avengers West Coast #70-74
- Avengers West Coast #75
- Ms. Marvel vol. 2 #6
- Ms. Marvel vol. 2 #8
- Ms. Marvel vol. 2 #14
- Omega Flight: Alpha to Omega
- Omega Flight #1-5 (April-Aug. 2007)
- Cronin, Brian (July 29, 2010). "A Year of Cool Comics – Day 210". Comic Book Resources CSBG Archive. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
- The Amazing Spider-Man #634
- The Amazing Spider-Man #637
- Amazing Spider-Man #668
- Amazing Spider-Man #669
- The Amazing Spider-Man #672
- The Amazing Spider-Man #689
- The Amazing Spider-Man #690
- The Amazing Spider-Man #691
- The Amazing Spider-Man #695-697
- The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #15
- The Amazing Spider-Man #666
- Secret Wars #8
- Omega Flight #1
- X-Men Forever 2 #1
- Ant-Man and Wasp #3
- Thanos Imperative #1
- Arachne's profile at Marvel.com
- Arachne Entry on AlphaFlight.net
- Arachne's profile at Spiderfan.org
- MC2 version of the character at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe