Interesting Tidbit Vol. 4 #6: My tenure as reviewer for SMCS began with Avengers/Invaders #1, but I do not think I really BECAME a reviewer until I got my hands on this title. Spider-Woman was the longest running series of reviews which I contributed to this site. I am not only sad to see Jessica lose her own series, but I am sad that I will no longer be able to review it. With Jessica goes an incredible story of growth that was starting not only to answer “Who is Spider-Woman?” but “Who is Jessica Drew?” Whether her story will be overshadowed by The Avengers is unclear at the moment, but I certainly hope this is not the last we have seen of Ms. Drew on her own. I appreciate all of your comments and taking the time to read my reviews. It means a lot to me to have the distinction of “A reviewer on the Spider-Man Crawl Space” and to be able to associate with generous and overall cool people like yourselves. Thank-you, from the bottom of my heart!
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SPIDER-WOMAN: AGENT OF S.W.O.R.D #7
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Alex Maleev
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
MODEL FOR SPIDER-WOMAN/JESSICA DREW: Jolynn Carpenter
Following the events of the last issue, Jessica clings to a building while talking with Agent Brand. It’s time to start being more cautious. It’s time to start being her best. It’s time to find her Skrull. Jessica puts on her Detective-hat and gets information on the Spider-Skrull that she killed in issue 1. She finds herself in a bar (which looks an awful lot like a strip club) with the Skrull that started her tenure with S.W.O.R.D. While getting her a$$ handed to her on a silver-platter, The Avengers…the REAL Avengers arrive. With the Skrull finally dead, it’s time for Jessica to move on…
Was this a Spider-Woman issue? No. Was this a way to tie up a short-lived series with a Skrull-green ribbon and tie into Spider-Woman’s new role as an Avenger? Yes.
There are two great things about this issue: the opening scene, and the revelation of why Jessica was chosen as the perfect form for the Skrull Queen. Jessica’s conversation with Brand in the beginning touches on several realistic issues, namely involving the politics of all the organizations that exist in the Marvel Universe. Where does one’s jurisdiction end and another’s begin? This conversation also separates Spider-Woman from all the other heroes: she’s not as calculating as Tony Stark or Reed Richards, and she’s not as strong as Carol Danvers or Luke Cage. The fact of the matter is she’s Jessica Drew: Spider-Woman, she was chosen for the job for a specific reason, and SHE is the one who is holding herself back. The age has changed following Secret Invasion and I think Jessica finally realizes this. The normal things that she could have done to finish a job will not cut it anymore.
While Jessica fights with the Skrull, Koru Kaviti reveals that the reason the Skrull Queen chose Jessica’s form was because “no one on this entire planet cares enough about you to notice you at all. And of all the things that went wrong with our invasion…that was the one thing we were absolutely right about.” Harsh. The fact is, I believe it and it makes complete sense. There was a reason she was contracted into S.W.O.R.D.; a reason she feels like the “most screwed-over person in the universe:” Spider-Woman is meant to work alone and rely on only herself. That’s why it was so important for Jessica to figure out who she really is and why we began and ended the series with Jessica Drew, not Spider-Woman.
The entrance of The Avengers seems forced. Not only do they explain that they have come to help her because they are “teammates,” the entire scene takes a really emotional turn when Jessica realizes that she has “friends.” As much I love to see ANYONE figure out that they have friends and stop acting like they are the only person on the planet, this scene did not sit well with me and I thought it did not fit the whole of the book. This is not an “F is for friends that do stuff together, U is for you and me, N is for anyone at anytime at all” type of book. And I don’t believe for a moment that Jessica has gotten any sort of closure from these final pages.
I am quite disappointed with the art in this issue. The opening scene (one of the best uses of scale I have seen in a while) is perhaps the only place that I actually could clearly understand what was going on. In a book that only relies 30-40% on words and the other 60-70% on images—with several panels having zero narration—everything needs to be 100% clear. There are several moments where I just do not understand what is going on. Perhaps this is just poor blocking on Bendis’s part. Perhaps this is a tell-tale sign that Maleev truly was burned out. Excuses…
The Spider-Woman series is like a ring composition: we begin with Jessica Drew, we end with Jessica Drew; we begin with her getting an assignment, we end with her getting an assignment; we begin with Jessica realizing she is “the most screwed-over person in the universe” not Wolverine, and we end with Wolverine saying that he is “still the most screwed-over person in the universe” and Jessica not truly convinced. As we end with a two-page splash of Spider-Woman gliding from the Avengers jet, we ask ourselves where the character will go from here. One can only speculate…
2.5/3.0 out of 5.0 Webheads: I’m vacillating between the grades, but the main point is that it was below par. For the last issue in a GREAT series, this should have been AWESOME! Jessica deserved better…MUCH better. Instead, the need to tie Jessica to the Avengers and paint her as any other hero with problems drastically pulled the issue down. Jessica is NOT like any other hero. Bendis know better.
While I just do not believe Jessica should be on a team, this will not keep me from attempting to continue following the character. Perhaps you will see me sooner than expected…
Jessica Drew has captured a piece of my heart and this series had brought me more joy than any other Marvel book that I was reading. Thank-you, once again, fellow Webheads, for allowing Jessica and I to hold a place in your heart, if only for a little while.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Girl!