Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)
|First appearance||Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977)|
|Created by||Archie Goodwin
|Alter ego||Jessica Miriam Drew|
|Notable aliases||Arachne, Ariadne Hyde, Hunter|
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) is a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #32 (cover-dated February 1977), and 50 issues of an ongoing series titled Spider-Woman followed. At its conclusion she was killed, and though later resurrected in an Avengers story arc, she fell into disuse, supplanted by other characters using the name Spider-Woman.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis added Spider-Woman to the roster of the high profile New Avengers. In 2009, the character received her second self-titled limited series, written by Bendis, which ran for seven issues. As part of the 2014 Spider-Verse event, Spider-Woman began her third ongoing series, this time written by Dennis Hopeless. This series was interrupted by Marvel's 2015 Secret Wars event, and ended with issue #10. Spider-Woman was relaunched several months later with a new issue #1, still written by Hopeless and continuing the story from the previous volume.
- 1 Concept and creation
- 2 Publication history
- 3 Fictional character biography
- 4 Powers and abilities
- 5 Other versions
- 6 Reception
- 7 In other media
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Concept and creation
Marvel Comics' then-publisher Stan Lee, said in 1978, shortly after Spider-Woman's debut in Marvel Spotlight #32 and the start of the character's 50-issue, self-titled series (April 1978 - June 1983), that the character originated because,
I suddenly realized that some other company may quickly put out a book like that and claim they have the right to use the name, and I thought we'd better do it real fast to copyright the name. So we just batted one quickly, and that's exactly what happened. I wanted to protect the name, because it's the type of thing [where] someone else might say, 'Hey, why don't we put out a Spider-Woman; they can't stop us.' ... You know, years ago we brought out Wonder Man, and [DC Comics] sued us because they had Wonder Woman, and... I said okay, I'll discontinue Wonder Man. And all of a sudden they've got Power Girl [after Marvel had introduced Power Man]. Oh, boy. How unfair.
Though by most accounts Spider-Woman was originally intended as a one-off character for the sake of simply establishing trademark, Marvel Spotlight #32 sold unexpectedly well and writer/editor Marv Wolfman was asked to take the character to an ongoing series.
In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was to be an actual spider evolved into a human as imagined by writer/co-creator Goodwin. Her debut was shortly followed by a four-issue story arc in Marvel Two-in-One in which Wolfman presented a different origin retcon as he felt her original origin was too implausible for mid-1970s readers. During this arc and the premiere issue of her own comic Spider-Woman was identified as the human Jessica Drew (combining the first name of Wolfman's daughter and the last name of fictional detective Nancy Drew) who had memories of being a spider implanted into her by the terrorist group HYDRA. Her costume was also redesigned for her series so that her long hair was uncovered, becoming a prominent part of the character's appearance.
Wolfman introduced Spider-Woman's mentor Charles Magnus and archenemies Morgan le Fay and the Brothers Grimm. He left the series after issue #8, citing a heavy workload, but later admitted, "If truth be told I never felt comfortable writing her. I never found a handle for her and kept trying until I finally decided to leave the book." Neophyte Mark Gruenwald became the writer, while the series's regular penciler, comics legend Carmine Infantino, remained on board, having developed a fondness for the character and her stories. Gruenwald continued with the macabre themes Wolfman had used, while putting more focus on Drew's struggles to deal with her social awkwardness, shyness, and the negative reactions she produced in nearly everyone she met. The last of these is revealed to be caused by fear-inducing pheromones, a previously unrevealed ability. Gruenwald also introduced outgoing aspiring actress Lindsay McCabe, who became Drew's best friend and the mainstay of her supporting cast.
Marvel had been heavily advertising the series from the start, and during Gruenwald's run an animated TV series began airing. But Roger Stern, who replaced Wolfman as editor, recounted that Spider-Woman had already lost her status as a top seller by this time. Despite her differing origin and powers and Wolfman's deliberate effort to avoid Spider-Man guest appearances or crossovers, readers still tended to see the character as a female Spider-Man. "They saw her, and later the She-Hulk," Stern explained, "as running a good idea into the ground, much as DC had done in the ’60s with its then-ever-growing families of Super- and Bat-characters."
Issue #20 saw the departure of Gruenwald, Infantino, and Stern. New writer Michael Fleisher gave Spider-Woman a career as a bounty hunter, abandoned both the series' macabre tone and outstanding subplots such as Charles Magnus' mysterious disappearance, and replaced them with such superhero standbys as criminal masterminds and a love interest who is enamored with the protagonist's costumed guise but oblivious to her in her civilian identity. Many fans criticized that Fleisher had taken away everything that made the character special. Fleisher would be retained on the series up until #32, after which Chris Claremont, already a big-name writer for his work on Uncanny X-Men, took over and switched Jessica Drew's occupation from bounty hunter to private investigator. Steve Leialoha was drawing the series by this time.
The series had already come under criticism for its rapid turnover of writers, and like all of its writers, Claremont had a fairly short stay on Spider-Woman. After 13 issues, both he and Leiahola were compelled to leave for other projects. Their final issue marked the return of Gruenwald, this time as editor. He was promptly informed that due to dwindling sales, Marvel was canceling the series, and issue #50 would be the last. Gruenwald hired comic book novices Ann Nocenti and Brian Postman as writer and penciler for the final four issues, under the theory that their inexperience in the medium would give them a unique perspective and perhaps take the series out with a bang. Under Gruenwald's direction, the series returned to its macabre roots and resumed the long-abandoned subplot of Magnus's disappearance. The final issue used a photo cover of Marvel staffers (including Gruenwald and Nocenti) in costume as the issue's cast, and had Spider-Woman perish in a climactic battle with her nemesis Morgan le Fay. Nocenti reasoned, "These are licensed characters and you want them to have a forever life. At the same time, they live in a violent world and occasionally you feel like someone has to die, otherwise it’s too unreal."
Readers were outraged at the character being killed, and Nocenti and Gruenwald both came to feel remorse over their decision. Gruenwald took the readers' reaction especially to heart, and became determined to fix what he saw as a major mistake. He and Stern had been paired up again on Avengers, but with their jobs swapped, and he instructed Stern to write a story reviving Drew. Less than a year after her death, Spider-Woman was resurrected in The Avengers #240-241 (Feb.-March 1984).
For the next four years she was limited to a handful of guest appearances. In 1988, she and Lindsay McCabe joined the supporting cast of Wolverine, appearing through the first 16 issues of the character's series, followed by brief returns in issues #27 and 125-128. She was never depicted in costume during her appearances in Wolverine, sticking with her civilian identity, though she did often use her powers to aid Wolverine.
In 1996, Mark Gruenwald returned to the character with a short back-up feature in Sensational Spider-Man Annual '96. Titled "The Return of Spider-Woman", it put Drew back in costume for the first time in over a decade and ended with a teaser for further Spider-Woman adventures in Spider-Man Team Up. Gruenwald died, however, before these stories could be written, and subsequent appearances treated "The Return of Spider-Woman" as non-canon. Three years later, Drew was again placed in the role of non-costumed supporting character, this time to the third Spider-Woman, Martha Franklin, for the first 11 issues of Spider-Woman volume 3.
Revival through New Avengers
In January 2005, The New Avengers was launched, ostensibly with Jessica Drew as a member of the titular supergroup, back in costume as Spider-Woman. Though this Jessica Drew would later be revealed as an imposter, this prominent exposure of the character opened the door for new attention to her original adventures. Firstly, on 21 December 2005, Marvel released the first issue of Spider-Woman: Origin, a five-part miniseries co-written by Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed, illustrated by the art team of the Luna Brothers, Jonathan and Joshua Luna. It was largely an extended retelling of Marvel Spotlight #32, though some details were changed.
Secondly, the original Spider-Woman series was reprinted in its entirety, along with Marvel Spotlight #32 and all her contemporaneous guest appearances, in a pair of Essentials trade paperbacks, the first released simultaneously with Spider-Woman: Origin #1, the second in 2007.
In 2009, the "Secret Invasion" storyline revealed that, with the exception of some flashback scenes, all of Jessica Drew's appearances in New Avengers over the past four years were actually made by a Skrull imposter. Writer Bendis said he had this planned since New Avengers #1.
You can go back to issue #1 and see hints. [...] Now you know why the Spider-Woman series didn't happen. We thought about doing it and having her revealed as a Skrull in the first issue of her series. [...] I wrote it, but in the end I just thought it wasn't selling somebody what they thought you were selling them.
Following this revelation, the real Drew supplanted her doppelganger as a regular member of The New Avengers. She was also featured in another solo limited series during this time, which was published both in printed form and as a motion comic. It was written by Bendis with art by Alex Maleev. Following the cancellation of New Avengers, Spider-Woman appeared as a regular character throughout the 2010-2013 Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue #34 (January 2013). She appears as a regular character in the 2014 Secret Avengers.
Spider-Verse and a new solo series
In 2014, Jessica was a key player in the Spider-Verse event. Spinning out of that event, a new Spider-Woman series was started, written by Dennis Hopeless. Starting with issue #5, the series featured the first redesign of Jessica's costume since it was created in the 1970s. This series was interrupted by Marvel's 2015 Secret Wars event, and ended with issue #10. Spider-Woman was relaunched several months later with a new issue #1, still written by Hopeless and continues the story from the previous volume.
Fictional character biography
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Spider-Woman was born Jessica Miriam Drew, daughter of Jonathan Drew and Merriam Drew, in London, England. At a young age, her family moves to a lab built by her father and Herbert Wyndham near Mount Wundagore in Transia, where she becomes gravely ill from months of uranium exposure. To save her life, her father injects her with an experimental serum based on irradiated spiders' blood. Because the serum requires a month's incubation, Wyndham places her in a genetic accelerator. Shortly after, her mother dies and her father leaves for the U.S.A., leaving Wyndham to care for her. While in the accelerator, she ages at a decelerated rate. When she is finally released, decades later, Drew is only 17 years old.
Drew is ostracized by the other residents of Mount Wundagore, the High Evolutionary's New Men, since she was originally human while they were animals. Because of this, she eventually leaves to seek human civilization. She is captured by a HYDRA reserve unit under Count Otto Vermis's leadership who erases her memories, brainwashes her, and recruits her as a HYDRA agent under the codename Arachne. One of HYDRA's top agents, Jared, is assigned to train her in combat and espionage, and to seduce her. Once Jessica has become his lover, he allows himself to be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., so that she can be goaded into assassinating S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick Fury.
While battling Fury, Jessica accidentally kills Jared and learns HYDRA's true nature. She quits HYDRA and assaults the unit's base, sending Count Vermis into a fatal crash, but not before he unlocks memory implants that she was actually an evolved spider and had killed a man before her association with HYDRA. Despondent from these revelations, she wanders the woods where Vermis crashed until being recaptured and hypnotised by HYDRA.
Origin does away with the spider-blood serum and genetic accelerator elements of the character's previous origin story.[volume & issue needed] Instead, Jessica's powers derive from her mother's womb being hit by a laser beam containing the DNA traits of several different species of spiders while she was carrying Jessica (the Drews were trying to splice and harness spiders' environmental adaptive capabilities, in order to graft them into the human genome).
After Jessica's parents disappear under mysterious circumstances, Jessica is recruited into HYDRA (under false pretenses), where she is made into a formidable fighter and assassin. She is trained and mentored by Taskmaster, who schools her in many martial disciplines and more than seven different fighting styles out of his own "arsenal".
In this re-telling, Otto Vermis, originally recruiting her into HYDRA, is rather an old, retired HYDRA agent who Jessica seduces in order to gain information that will lead her to her mother.
In addition, Origin made the following modifications:
- Merriem Drew was now Miriam Drew.
- The Drews moved to Wundagore Mountain prior to Jessica's conception, establishing without a doubt that she was born on the European landmark. Afterwards, she was raised by her nanny Bova (human in appearance), as well as her mother.
- Jessica's father, Jonathan, never found uranium on their land. Instead, their research was funded by HYDRA, and their direct liaison/financier from the group was General Wyndham. It is not clear what connection, if any, he had with Edgar Wyndham (who in the original Spider-Woman books was Jonathan's best friend and research partner), nor with the High Evolutionary.
- Jessica's father worked in large part with Miles Warren who later left the project because he felt that there was more potential in experimenting with the cloning of human cells.
Going by the "Spider-Woman" name, Jessica Drew is ordered to abduct Alicia Masters vacationing in London. During the resultant conflict with Ben Grimm, she recovers from her brainwashing and joins him in saving Masters. She and Grimm then encounter Modred the Mystic, who removes HYDRA's memory implants and restores her memories.
Jessica moves into an apartment in London, but finds it impossible to get a job due to her complete lack of background and her tendency to inspire dislike and even fear in other people. Following an aborted break-in she is unmasked by Scotland Yard officer (and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent) Jerry Hunt who becomes obsessed with her. During this troubled time she is approached by the mysterious sorcerer Magnus, who offers help. After defending him from Excaliber who was sent by Morgan Le Fay to recover the Darkhold, he suggests she relocate with him to Los Angeles. Magnus tutors her in the ways of civilization and informs her that her father was murdered, leading her on a hunt for his killer. She is distracted from this hunt when Morgan Le Fey's ghost again seeks the Darkhold, this time in person. During the battle, Hunt catches up with Jessica, and they begin a romantic relationship. With his help, she identifies her father's murderer who dies immediately after confessing.
For the time, Jessica chooses to keep her doings as Spider-Woman a secret. Her relationship with Hunt sours, and following a final battle with the Brothers Grimm, he and Magnus part ways with her. For the next three months she makes a hand-to-mouth living by working as a receptionist at the Hatros Institute while undergoing group therapy there. Though she ultimately loses the position due to a change in management, during her time there she received medication to suppress her pheromones so that she could move effectively among people without producing any unwanted side-effects, formed a strong friendship with fellow patient and aspiring actress Lindsay McCabe, and developed acquaintances with several other superheroes.
The next few months of Jessica's life are not covered by published stories. During this time, she goes public as Spider-Woman, becomes a bounty hunter working in partnership with parapalegic criminologist Scotty McDowell, acquires a full wardrobe of disguises for use in her work, and finds a police liaison in Captain Walsh. This situation lasts for several months. When her working relationship with Scotty fails, Jessica accepts an offer from Lindsay to move into an apartment with her in San Francisco, where she begins a romantic relationship with their landlord David Ishima, and sets up a practice as a licensed private investigator. Her move there allows Lindsay to deduce her secret identity; she is unbothered by the danger involved in being Spider-Woman's friend, and the shared secret deepens the friendship between them.
While working as a P.I., she battles Morgan once again. Not long after that, Jessica gives up her immunity powers to save Giant-Man. Her relationship with David Ishima develops to the point where she reveals her Spider-Woman identity to him, only to have him break up with her because he wants to be with an ordinary woman.
Jessica travels in astral form with Magnus to Sixth Century England to free her friends' souls in a showdown with Morgan le Fey in the 6th century. She manages to vanquish Morgan, but her human body dies while her spirit was gone. At her request, Magnus places a spell over humanity to remove all memory of Jessica's existence. This spell is faulty; when Tigra and the Shroud discover Jessica's dead body, they contact the Avengers and Doctor Strange. The Avengers and Strange travel to the astral plane to battle Morgan Le Fay, who was trying to claim Jessica's body so she could return to the physical realm. Eventually, Doctor Strange and Magnus reunite Jessica's spirit with her human body, though Magnus's life and Jessica's powers are sacrificed to do so. She thus abandons her Spider-Woman identity and continues her life as a private investigator in San Francisco, assisted by Lindsay McCabe and, for a time, by Tigra.
Jessica and Lindsay take a job delivering the Black Blade to Japan, but while passing through Madripoor she is ensorcelled by the blade. By this time her superhuman strength and agility, and ability to cling to walls, have returned. She is freed from the blade's power by Lindsay and an underworld figure called Patch, who she immediately recognizes as the X-Man Wolverine. Following the incident, she and Lindsay set up new business lodgings in Madripoor, with Patch as a frequent ally and information source.
Jessica Drew's life settles down until Charlotte Witter, a villainess going by the Spider-Woman name, steals her powers and leaves her near death. Jessica is taken from the hospital to New York City by Madame Web who directs her and Mattie Franklin (yet another woman who has assumed the Spider-Woman name) to track down Witter. Under Madame Web's guidance, Franklin absorbs from Witter the powers of all four Spider-Women. Afterwards, Jessica remains with Madame Web for a time, helping her to watch over Mattie. Jessica's powers gradually return to her during this time, but are now unreliable, failing her unexpectedly on occasion.
For untold reasons, Jessica moves back to San Francisco, resuming her private investigator practice there. When she hears that Mattie Franklin has gone missing, she goes to New York to find her. With the help of local P.I. Jessica Jones, she rescues Mattie from a drug dealer who had abducted her and was cannibalizing her tissue to make the Mutant Growth Hormone.
One day, a HYDRA agent known as Connely offers her powers back if she would rejoin S.H.I.E.L.D. as a double agent. Knowing Connely would kill her if she says no, Jessica Drew contacts Nick Fury who confronts her securely and urges her to accept the offer. He tells Jessica that he will feed her limited info until S.H.I.E.L.D. can analyze the HYDRA cell and then use the info to take it down. The HYDRA cell is in fact a team of Skrulls who made the offer as a trap to abduct Drew, so that their current Queen Veranke could take her place in the New Avengers and assume her role as Fury's spy in preparation for the upcoming invasion.
Avenger and agent of S.W.O.R.D.
Jessica Drew joins the New Avengers, claiming she has nowhere else to go. She also joins the Lady Liberators along with the Invisible Woman, Storm, Valkyrie, Thundra, Tigra, Black Widow, She-Hulk and Hellcat who are trying to discover the identity of the Red Hulk. Alongside her work with the Avengers, Jessica Drew joins S.W.O.R.D., under an invitation by Abigail Brand. Her membership in the organization takes her on a number of missions eliminating hostile aliens operating on Earth.
Before the Siege of Asgard, Ronin attempts to assassinate Norman Osborn but is captured by the Dark Avengers. Jessica Drew teams up with Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird and Jessica Jones to rescue him. After he is saved, the New Avengers relocate to a safehouse in Brooklyn where they meet up with Steve Rogers.
Jessica is then paired with Spider-Man to do reconnaissance on Avengers Tower, where she reveals to him she is an agent of S.W.O.R.D. The duo are then found by Mandrill and Griffin who proceed to attack them. During the fight Mandrill gets close enough to Jessica and controls her into attacking Spider-Man. Spider-Man appears to be on the losing end of the fight but manages to lure Jessica away from Mandrill and the effects of his control begin to wear off. The duo trick Mandrill and Griffin into thinking Jessica has beaten Spider-Man and when they approach Spider-Woman to give her new commands, Jessica punches Mandrill in the face and shoves her hand in his mouth, firing off a venom blast and knocking him out. Furious, Jessica wants to kill both villains for what they have done but is stopped by Spider-Man. The duo heads back to the safehouse where they head off with the Avengers to help the Asgardians. Upon arriving in Asgard, Jessica and the rest of the heroes engage Iron Patriot's forces and witnesses the insane Sentry's defeat.
Jessica is asked by Steve Rogers himself to join his team of Avengers. During their first meeting, Jessica expresses her doubts to Wolverine about being on the team, feeling she has not earned the role. Wolverine advises her if she feels that way, she will then have to work towards earning it then. Suddenly Kang the Conqueror appears in the middle of the meeting with a dire warning about the future and all of reality, blaming the children of the Avengers. After recruiting the Protector and building a time machine, the time machine is destroyed by a furious Wonder Man. Once the dust has settled, an alternate version of Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen appear. After Apocalypse's defeat, Jessica and a few of her teammates are sent into New York City to protect its citizens from the attacks coming from the timestream. While in Washington Square Park, they come across Killraven and join forces to help the citizens. Once their mission is completed and all the attacks have stopped, Jessica is the first to realize Killraven has not been returned to his proper future.
Later Jessica is present when Red Hulk comes to warn the Avengers that the Hood is seeking to collect the Infinity Gems. She is present along with the rest of the Avengers when they confront the Illuminati in Attilan about their existence and goes with a team of Avengers to the ruins of the Xavier Institute to get to Professor Xavier's Infinity gem.
While on a mission for S.W.O.R.D., Jessica is sent to locate an unusual alien energy surge in Wakanda. Upon finding the remains of a Spaceknight, Jessica is ambushed by the Intelligencia who take her as a prisoner. Abigail Brand approaches the Avengers for help and a team is put together to help locate Jessica. Jessica wakes up naked and is interrogated by two members of the Intelligencia. While the Intelligencia study the Spaceknight, the Avengers interrupt their attempts and the body activates, revealing it was containing Ultron's consciousness. The new Ultron escapes and Jessica is reunited with the Avengers.
Spider-Verse and Post-Avenger life
During the Spider-Verse storyline, Spider-Woman joins Spider-Girl and Spider-Man 2099 in confronting Spider-Man about Spider-Man 2099 witnessing his counterpart being killed by Morlun. She is among the spider-themed superheroes brought to Earth-13 by Spider-UK, Spider-Girl of Earth-982, and Spider-Ham, to form a resistance against Morlun and his family, the Inheritors. When the resistance was visiting Earth-928 and encountered the Superior Spider-Man with his own army, they attracted the attention of the Inheritors. Spider-Woman followed Silk with Spider-Man Noir to an unknown reality where they were being tracked by the Inheritors Brix and Bora. Spider-Man Noir was wounded and the trio escaped to his home world to allow him to recover from his injuries. After this, she was sent by Spider-Man to the Loomworld, home of the Inheritors to gather more information on the Inheritors. After encountering and replacing her doppelganger from Loomworld, who was Morlun's lover, she was able to gather intelligence in regards to the Master Weaver and his role in the conflict, which helped the Spider Army ultimately win the battle against the Inheritors.[volume & issue needed]
After the battle with the Inheritors, Jessica decided to quit the Avengers in order to start a new life and to focus on helping ordinary civilians. Jessica decides to help common people solve crimes, and enlists Ben Urich and the Porcupine.
Knowing the universe will end soon, Reed Richards and Susan Storm choose Jessica and Natasha Romanoff to copilot a ship that will contain a handpicked few to restart humanity and escape the destruction of the universe. Their ship is shot down when the Children of Tomorrow from the Ultimate Universe invade, and she and the ship's passengers are killed in the ensuing explosion. This timeline and the resulting deaths were later undone.
Post Secret Wars
In the debut issue of the new volume set after the Secret Wars, Jessica is in the second trimester of pregnancy and still works as a private investigator. Although there were various debates about the father's identity, after the baby's birth, Jessica admitted that, while she had been in a relationship over nine months ago that started her interest in a family, the man left before she could bring it up directly, prompting her to go to a sperm bank instead. She eventually gives birth to a son whom she names Gerry (similar to her MC2 counterpart).
Powers and abilities
After her mother was struck with a beam of radiation containing the DNA of several different types of spiders while she was in-utero, Jessica Drew developed superhuman powers patterned after several different types of spiders when she was born. Jessica is superhumanly strong and is able to lift around seven tons at her peak. She also possesses superhuman speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes. Jessica's body is more resistant to injury than an ordinary person, allowing her to take far more physical punishment compared to an ordinary human. Jessica also possesses superhuman hearing and smell, the latter of which allowed her to distinguish a life model decoy from the real Nick Fury. Jessica's palms and soles secrete a special fluid that allows her to cling to solid objects, like a true spider. Jessica's physical makeup also makes her highly resistant to all terrestrial poisons, toxins, and completely immune to radiation. While she is typically rendered dizzy by the initial dose, she is completely immune to it after being exposed again. She also exudes a high concentration of pheromones that elicit pleasure and attraction in men and revulsion in women, although she typically uses a chemical "perfume" that renders these pheromones inert. Jessica's body also produces an inordinate amount of bio-energy, which she can discharge from her hands. She refers to these discharges as "venom blasts" although they actually have nothing to do with poison and typically cause pain and unconsciousness, and Jessica can kill a man in the same way that a lightning bolt would and can pierce solid metals like steel by using her blasts at their greatest intensity. Jessica was also able to glide through unknown means using the web-like extensions of her costume, but seems to have gained the power to fly after being replaced by the Skrull Queen Veranke.[volume & issue needed] Jessica has lost her powers in numerous ways and on several occasions,[volume & issue needed] but after returning to Earth at the end of the Secret Invasion, Jessica's powers were restored and are greater than ever.[volume & issue needed]
In addition to her powers, she is also a superb hand-to-hand combat fighter, and has trained in several styles of fighting including boxing, judo, karate, and capoeira, learned under the training of the Taskmaster. She has also had training in fencing and the use of many other weapons. Jessica was trained by HYDRA (and later on by S.H.I.E.L.D.) in covert operations, stealth, espionage, and information gathering and is a superb athlete. She speaks several foreign languages, including Korean, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Jessica also received vocational training in undercover detective work and sometimes carried a Walther PPK handgun.
Age of X
In the Age of X reality, Jessica Drew is a member of the Avengers, mutant hunters who answer to General Frank Castle. Going by the codename Redback, Jessica is one of America's top killers and has been for eight years. She uses lethal force during fights and has never uttered a word, she uses hisses to communicate on occasion. She finally sacrifices herself using a gauntlet from the now-deceased Iron Man to stop the Hulk from destroying a mutant sanctuary with a chemical bomb, having come to recognize that their persecution of mutants is wrong.
During the 2016 Spider-Women event, Spider-Gwen's interdimensional transporter is stolen by Jessica's male Earth-65 counterpart, Jesse Drew. In this universe, Jesse is married with a wife and two children, a son and daughter, who is unaware he is actually Agent 77 of the criminal organization S.I.L.K.
Jesse's backstory is discovered by Gwen while searching files stolen by Cindy Moon's Earth-65 doppelgänger. It is revealed he is the son of two S.H.I.E.L.D. astronaut spies, sent up to the moon to live on a secret base for ten years, during which they gave birth to Jesse. His father turned out to be a Russian double agent, who is then killed by his mother. Joining S.H.I.E.L.D. after high school, Jesse is sent back to the moon to renovate the base where he and his crew were attacked by alien spider creatures. Jesse makes it out alive, but the spider's spit starts poisoning his blood and turning it into black goo. He is saved by the head of S.I.L.K., Cindy Moon, who uses her spider formula to fix his blood and grant him spider powers. She deceives Jesse into thinking he needs two doses of the formula a day to survive, but it is discovered by Gwen that he is already cured and the doses are just maintaining his superhuman powers.
After learning of this, he quits S.I.L.K. and escapes the state with his family, but not before he aids the three Spider-Women by giving them access codes to Earth-65 Cindy's home base.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man
In this version, Jessica Drew appeared in issue 52 and is a freelance agent who arrived at Peter's school as a substitute teacher when she discovered Peter's biology report mixed up with HYDRA's bio-weapons plan. She is one of the few people who knew Peter's secret identity.[volume & issue needed]
Spider-Woman is seen on the SHIELD Helicarrier after the beginning of the zombie infection. She fights alongside the other uninfected heroes but is eventually infected herself. She is then seen in Ultimate Fantastic Four #23 along with the other zombies.
In the MC2 reality, Jessica never regained her powers after losing them. She got married and had a child Gerald (or Gerry for short). She learned that her radioactive blood caused Gerry to develop a crippling illness and attempted to use the same genetic treatments her father gave her to save him. As Gerry "incubated" in a genetic accelerator, Jessica's husband blamed her for Gerry's health and divorced her. When Gerry emerged from the genetic accelerator, Jessica found that her son had gained spider-like powers (superhuman strength and agility as well as the ability to organically produce webs), but still had his disease.[volume & issue needed] Teenaged Gerry used his powers to become Spider-Man,[volume & issue needed] and had several run-ins with Spider-Girl (Spider-Man's daughter).[volume & issue needed] He was pushing his body far beyond its limits, and Jessica asked Spider-Man to convince her son to give up his "career" as Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed] Peter Parker has attempted to find someone capable of finding a cure to Gerry's disease,[volume & issue needed] and apparently succeeded (at least that is suggested in the Spider-Girl comic series).[volume & issue needed]
During the Spider-Verse storyline, the Earth-001 version of Jessica Drew is a servant of the Inheritors. She was sent to pick up the wine from Robbie Robertson's import company which is needed for the feast that the Inheritors will be having. Spider-Woman of Earth-616 met her counterpart while in Earth-001. She and Morlun are in relationship in which Bora describes her as "...one of Morlun's toys."
The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Spider-Woman appears as a recurring character. Being a clone of Peter Parker, she has heightened agility, strength, reflexes, a precognitive danger sense (spider sense) and the ability to stick to walls but can also shoot organic webbing from her fingertips.[volume & issue needed]
Ultimate Spider-Woman is a clone of Spider-Man (Peter Parker) after her chromosomes were manipulated to make her female and appears to be the same age (approximately sixteen). Created to act as an agent for the CIA (code name: Spider-Woman), she retains her original self's memories. Cassandra Webb is preparing to erase and supplant those memories in order to create her identity "Jessica Drew" but she escapes before the process can be carried out.
Doctor Octopus reveals himself as the cloning experiments' mastermind responsible for Jessica. Jessica and Peter fight Doctor Octopus together, and eventually prevail. Peter surrenders to Nick Fury while Jessica opts to flee. At the storyline's close, Jessica decides to start a new life and embrace her given identity. She takes her leave of Peter after what she calls "the most awkward hug in history".
Jessica Drew later appeared during the "Ultimatum" storyline. Taken by Peter's example of "with great power, comes great responsibility", she follows his vigilante path with her powers and aids Johnny Storm in apprehending the Vulture therefore making her public debut as "Spider-Woman". Storm begins to develop a romantic interest in her after a bad date with a famed but obnoxious teen singer, unaware that she's Spider-Man's female clone. She later meets May Parker while aiding civilians from Magneto's worldwide attack. She later took May to safety then promised to find Peter for her. She eventually traveled to the center of Manhattan where Doctor Strange's home was being attacked by Nightmare, however, the Hulk began to destroy the portal to the Dark Dimension, which resulted in an explosion, leaving Jessica to bear witness to Spider-Man's possible demise. After briefly being chased by Hulk, Jessica continues her search for Peter and met Kitty Pryde. They work together on the search as well as trying to help the survivors, but are also overwhelmed by the deaths and destructions around them. They managed to find a remnant of Peter's mask, which Kitty took with her and gave to Mary Jane Watson at Peter's home, informing her and May that Peter is still among the missing.
In Ultimate Enemy, Jessica Drew is later seen doing recon on the Roxxon Corporation looking to see what illegal experiments they have been doing on genetic material. Then instantly, a large mass of matter attacks the corporation's building, and Spider-Woman rescues as many people she can from the building before she crashes onto a taxi. It is assumed that the person behind the attack is the "Ultimate Enemy". She is later seen in her apartment and is attacked by the same creature that destroyed the Roxxon corporations building. She is seen again at the end of comic following Spider-Man.
The duo plan to infiltrate Roxxon Corporation. To do this, she poses as an employee under the name "Dr. Julia Carpenter". On her first day, she is introduced to a group of people who she is meant to work with: Roxxon Brain Trust (Dr. Arnim Zola III, Nathaniel Essex, Dr. Layla Miller, Dr. Samuel Sterns and Misty Knight). Shortly afterward, they witness another attack on the Baxter Building and Roxxon suggests they move into an underground bunker. While waiting there, Misty Knight starts to ask her questions and figures out that Spider-Woman is not who she says she is. Roxxon Brain Trust then reveal that they suspect Roxxon in the attacks as well. Spider-Woman still doesn’t trust them and when they want to see her powers, she webs them all up and runs from them. One of the Brain Trust members transforms into a brute of some sort and knocks her out before she can get away.
In Ultimate Doom, Spider-Woman awakens, bound on a table and meets Roxxon's Brain Trust's leader Doctor Octopus. It doesn't take long for Spider-Man to arrive and save her just before Roxxon is attacked again. Spider-Man and Spider-Woman start rescuing civilians. They also notice Doctor Octopus is in danger. Spider-Man rushes to help him. Although Spider-Woman wants to let him die, Spider-Man eventually manages to convince her to save him. Rick Jones arrives with the Human Torch and they learn that heroes are gathering to take down Reed Richards. Spider-Woman and even Doctor Octopus join the group.
During the attack in the Negative Zone, Spider-Woman meets the Ultimates for the first time, and assists Captain America himself. After the confrontation with Richards, Spider-Woman becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. as per Carol Danvers's request.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates
She and Johnny Storm once again thwart a mother-daughter supercriminal duo. It is implied that she and Johnny begin seeing each other, which shocks Peter Parker due to being aware of Jessica's true identity. The knowledge that his female clone is dating his male friend upsets and makes Peter feel awkward around Johnny. After Peter's apparent death after fighting the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), she confronts the new Spider-Man (Miles Morales). She later assists Iron Man and Hawkeye to fight Electro, which was defeated by Miles.[volume & issue needed]
Eventually, Spider-Woman becomes fed up on being in the Ultimates team. She was captured along with Captain Britain by the new S.H.I.E.L.D. director Marvin Flumm. But she is later released as she took part in Captain America's swearing-in to the presidency. When Captain America went to join the states once more, Spider-Woman joined the new President and was part of the ground forces. During the "United We Stand" storyline, Spider-Woman is reluctantly teamed with Miles by Hawkeye during S.H.I.E.L.D.'s battle with the terrorist group HYDRA. She comes to worry about him after they are separated during the battle, and later finds and returns him to New York.
Initially, she is not forthcoming when Miles asks why she cares so much about him. But after Miles later quits being Spider-Man following personal tragedy, Jessica reveals to Miles that she is Peter's clone. She explains that although she has Parker's memories, she is not Spider-Man but knows that someone must be, and that person is Miles, convincing him to resume the Spider-Man identity. Eventually, Spider-Woman and Spider-Man team up with Cloak & Dagger and Bombshell as a ragtag team of youths in fighting Roxxon's Brain Trust as well as confronting Philip R. Roxxon.
In Spider-Verse, she teams up with Kaine and an alternate Ben Reilly to investigate the home of the Inheritors and find out how they are able to clone. At this point, she now goes by the Black Widow alias, the third person in the Ultimate Universe to use the code name after Natasha Romanoff and Monica Chang.
In What If...? #17, which is set during the events of Marvel Spotlight #32, Jessica succeeded in killing Nick Fury after the accidental death of Jared. She escaped and came back to HYDRA headquarters but was pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents led by agent Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Spider-Woman (still known as Arachne) became a supervillain who wanted to know her real origin, just like Earth-616 version. Count Otto Vermis is still alive but captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Val chase Arachne to get revenge for Fury's death. This parallel universe is known as Earth-79101.
In other media
- A Spider-Woman cartoon, featuring Jessica Drew, launched on ABC's Saturday Morning Cartoon block in 1979 (produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Marvel Comics Animation), where Jessica Drew is voiced by Joan Van Ark.
- Spider-Woman has made two live action appearances on TV:
- A cameo role on the short-lived TV series Once a Hero about a comic strip hero who leaves his "world" to find his creator. Near the end of one episode Captain Justice returns to the "Real Earth", and a crowd of comic book characters can be seen cheering him on, including Spider-Woman.
- The Saturday Night Live sketch "Superhero Party" (originally broadcast March 17, 1979) featured Margot Kidder as Lois Lane with Superman (Bill Murray), Flash (Dan Aykroyd), Lana Lang (Jane Curtin), Hulk (John Belushi), Thing, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Ant-Man (Garrett Morris), and Invisible Girl.
- Spider-Woman is a playable character in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, voiced by Tasia Valenza. She possesses all of the powers she has in the comic book except super-strength. She has a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent variant costume (a navy blue and black unmasked version of her classic costume, with white glider webs and a silver belt). In addition, she also has unlockable costumes in the form of Julia Carpenter (Secret War edition) and Spider-Girl, and faces the Wrecker in her simulator disc mission. If a player were to ask her a question revolving around Spider-Man, she tells the player that she's not related to Spider-Man (though she seems to show a slight attraction to him by stating that he's "kinda cute in a geeky sort of way"). Spider-Woman has special dialogue with Black Widow, Edwin Jarvis, Grey Gargoyle, Enchantress, and Doctor Doom (while in Doctor Doom's castle).
- Jessica Drew appears in the PlayStation 2 and PSP versions of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Spider-Man encounters her on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and saves her from infected S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Following the path of her downed Helicopter, Spider-Man encounters Jessica, who has become infected and trying to fight the symbiotic control. Spider-Man manages to defeat Symbiote-Jessica and obtain the S.H.I.E.L.D. plans.
- Spider-Woman appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Elizabeth Daily. She is allied with Captain America's Anti-Registration movement. She is a boss in the Pro-Registration side, and an ally on the Anti-Registration side who also assists the player during a mission. Spider-Woman first appears in Stark Tower after the events in Washington and tells the heroes she does not plan on signing the SRA. If the player chooses Anti Registration, she assists the heroes in the first mission but is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D agents. Spider-Woman is one of the many heroes presumed deceased after the battle in the Negative Zone prison. She later gets taken over by The Fold and attacks the heroes outside of the Repeater Tower alongside Wonder Man.
- Spider-Woman is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, voiced by Grey DeLisle.
- Spider-Woman is a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance. Spider-Woman later becomes one of the Worthy as Kurth: Breaker of Stones.
- Spider-Woman appears in Marvel Heroes as a non-playable character.
- Spider-Woman appears as a playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
- Spider-Woman and other versions of the character appear in Spider-Man Unlimited as playable characters.
- A teenage version of Spider-Woman appears as a playable character in Marvel Avengers Academy, voiced by Kiernan Shipka.
- Spider-Woman was among the ten Marvel characters on a set of Marvel Comics Super Heroes commemorative postage-stamps that were issued in 2007.
- Spider-Woman motion comics have also been made as part of the Marvel Knights Animated line, based on the series written by Brian Michael Bendis. They are called Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. and came out 14 June 2011. In the series, Jessica Drew is voiced by actress Nicolette Reed.
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