Interesting Tidbit Vol. 4 #1: Spider-Woman is actually the codename of several fictional characters in the Marvel Comics universe. Harry “A” Chesler Comics published an earlier “Spider-Woman” in 1944; a non-superpowered crime-fighter named Helen Goddard made her first and only appearance in the Golden Age comic book “Major Victory #1;” and yet another Spider-Woman was in “Spidey Super Stories #11” (story 3), although that is not accepted as official canon…what does that even mean?
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SPIDER-WOMAN: AGENT OF S.W.O.R.D #2
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Alex Maleev
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
MODEL FOR SPIDER-WOMAN/JESSICA DREW: Jolynn Carpenter
Jessica wakes up from her fall and fight with Skrull-Spidey in a Madripoor jail. A little worse for wear and slightly mentally jumbled, Jessica is nevertheless “fine”…well, as fine as one can be in her situation. She is interviewed by an officer who seems interested in the tech that was found with her and is not surprised about its alien-finding purposes. The officer tells her that she is being extradited back to the States per Norman Osborn’s instructions. She manages to convince the officer to let her go (more on that later). Shortly after helping her, the officer is shot and killed by a levitating car. Skrulls? Jessica certainly thinks so and goes after them. No, not Skrulls. S.H.I.E.L.D? Jessica changes her mind and believes this now…until the car guns down a squad of Madripoor police. Oh, @#$!, it’s Hydra!
The opening of the issue is really strong. The art and the writing both support the fact that Jessica is in pain from her actions in #1 and is slowly getting a grasp on what is happening. I enjoyed it when Jessica broke the 4th wall, directly addressing the readers who may be doubtful of her powers. Once again there is a focus on the idea of paranoia: the video cameras, the watch, and the unknown allegiance of the flying car. Jessica remains in an unstable state for the most part, still unable to fully trust anyone and still unable to know what is true. Deception is also a predominant theme here.
Above I mentioned that the officer let her go…why you ask? Let me tell you. He fell in love with her…or so he thought. “WTF?!” you shout at me. Well, let me explain: one of Spider-Woman’s powers is indeed an ability to emit a high concentration of pheromones. Pheromones are chemical signals that trigger a natural response in another member of the same species; more than likely of the opposite sex. Now, I know a lot of people have heard me complain and rant about the role of female characters in comics, the fact that Power Girl is just an oversexed icon that is completely misused, and that male writers just do not understand. Well, I may sound like a hypocrite but…I loved this sequence. Yes, the panel of the “ta-tas” with an emanating glow is a little much, but on the other hand it is rather fitting. It shows not only that her powers are coming from within but gives a subtle hint of how they work: 1. In Latin, “pectus,” often meaning breast or chest, is thought to be the seat of the mind and heart, both of which she affects in others. 2. With that sort of perspective it is clear it is from the officer’s viewpoint, therefore ta-ta = lust. She does not do all this willingly; rather she voices her disgust at it throughout the entire episode. This is truly how a woman would feel in such a situation, and I appreciate that.
This issue gets a little deeper into the action which is good for those who do not enjoy talking and exposition. The fact that Jessica does not know who the flying car is affiliated with highlights her general confusion and the fact that she is “SOL” in many ways. Each of her guesses slowly crescendo until she reaches the ultimate “Oh, @#$!” moment with the realization that it is Hydra, a group with whom she’s had some…er, ties with, and with the climactic entrance of Viper, a woman who at one time believed herself to be the mother of Jessica.
Spider-Woman #2 continues the dark, gritty, paranoid tone that was present in the first issue. Once again the art reflects this, so I will not elaborate on that as I did before. The final comment I will make is the fact that we have not seen Jessica in her costume except on the covers. I heartily approve of this! Jessica needs to figure her life out before she can be psychologically ready to put on the mask again.
5.0 Webheads out of 5.0. I cannot find a fault…I truly cannot. Bendis is doing everything correctly with Jessica Drew that Jodi Piccoult failed at with Diana Prince.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Girl!