Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s biggest properties and has developed a vast web of supporting characters, heroes, and villains. These include the anti-heroes Black Cat and Venom, along with legacy characters like Miles Morales. Still, there is one member of the Spider-Man family that is quite different from the others.
Despite the name, Spider-Woman is definitely not a female version of Spider-Man. In fact, she essentially has nothing to do with him at all. While it may sound like a handicap and the worst marketing ever, she offers a chance for the heroine to really break through, becoming a standalone property in a way that expands Spider-Man’s world without specifically needing it.
The original Spider-Woman was created in the Bronze Age, so Spider-Man had already established himself as one of Marvel’s premier heroes. Despite the obvious idea of adding a new superhero to the Peter Parker mythos, Spider-Woman was completely divorced from Spider-Man. In fact, she was created for marketing purposes only so that Marvel Comics could have the rights to the character’s name. After all, they did have a character named Wonder Man who was unrelated to DC’s Wonder Woman, and while they first introduced Power Man, DC would later create a character named Power Girl.
So creating Spider-Woman was a way to have spidery heroes of both genders under one roof, even if they never interacted while there. Jessica Drew obtained her powers after her pregnant mother was exposed to radiation containing the DNA of different spiders. This gave him powers similar to Spider-Man’s, although they weren’t exactly the same. Along with superhuman physical faculties, Spider-Woman also had superhuman senses, though not true “Spider-Sense”. She is also immune to poisons/toxins and has the power to fire powerful electrical “poison blasts” and manipulate others through pheromones.
When combined with his flight suit and martial arts training, he can definitely give even Peter Parker a run for his money. The original Spider-Woman book had her interact more with the world of SHIELD and spies than Spider-Man, which is why it only lasted 50 issues. Jessica Drew was actually killed off in the final issue, and though she’s been brought back and given more attention since then, she’s never really hit it off with the comic reader audience. The most immediate reason would be her lack of any real connection to Webslinger, although this is actually one of her narrative strengths.
Marvel’s Spider-Woman Still Needs More Development
Brian Michael Bendis initially planned to bring Jessica Drew back in a big way on the series. Alias, although she was instead changed to the original character Jessica Jones. Still, Bendis made the original Spider-Woman a big part of her new avengers run, where it finally received some limelight. Sadly, this hasn’t been enough to really get over the character, and perhaps her most successful storylines of hers are the Spider-Verse crossovers that tie her into Spider-Man. It’s honestly a pretty ridiculous idea that she’s not connected to him, especially from a marketing perspective, but the solution to her lack of true popularity may be to develop it further on her own.
Jessica Drew has been around for nearly 50 years, yet she lacks a truly memorable villain, supporting cast member, or solo story to her name. A Spider woman A comic that provides this to her and solidifies who she is would do wonders for readers to connect with her and understand her place in the Marvel Universe. Sure, a few more team-ups with Spider-Man and his allies would be great, but what Spider-Woman really needs to work with is her own fun adventures. Since she’s so disconnected from Spider-Man, her book could allow for darker and more esoteric plot elements, which would help give her a more unique identity.
Doing these things would greatly bolster Jessica Drew as a standalone character and property, which is something she needs if she’s ever to make it big both in and out of comics. It would also provide another figure like Venom, who is connected to Spider-Man while he can do his thing. Thus, the name Spider-Woman shouldn’t be a creative handicap, but rather an automatic push that generates interest for a hero who is nothing like her but just as great. The web that Spider-Woman weaves may be different than Peter Parker’s, but this is ultimately what can be used to make her shine.