Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman)
Created by Archie Goodwin and Marie Severin (artist)
In the increasingly convoluted Marvel Universe, there have been many Spider-Women, but JESSICA DREW was the first.
She made her debut in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977), as an actual spider who had evolved into a human (the result of some diabolical experiement); a throwaway character intended to be a one-shot, existing simply because publisher Stan Lee feared a rival comic company (ie: DC) might steal the name.
But the issue sold surprisingly well, and Lee, never one to miss a bet, decided to give her her own book, handing the writing chores over to Marv Wolfman.
To set up the launch of the new series, British-born Jessica appeared in a four-issue arc in Marvel Two-in-One. Wolfman gave Jessica a new origin story, some nonsense about her being a human who had had memories of being a spider implanted into her brain by all-round Marvel evil terrorists HYDRA. She gains all sorts of incredible powers and becomes almost invincible, while her palms and the soles of her feet secrete a special fluid that allows her to cling to solid objects, much like a certain Peter Parker. She also exudes a high concentration of pheromones that attract men and repel women. And she can shoot "venom blasts" from her hands. Jessica escapes HYDRA and becomes a costumed superhero.
Her origins now suitably revamped (this is big league comics, though, so it wouldn't be the last time), an ongoing series titled Spider-Woman made its debut in 1978. The emphasis was on the macabre, with themes of isolation and brooding loneliness permeating the series, particularly in its first few years. Writers came and went, and the story constantly changed. By the twentieth issue, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jerry Hunt has convinced her to move from England to the States, and she's become a private detective in San Francisco (after a brief stint as a sometime bounty hunter in Los Angeles).
Although initially a fan fave (it even inspired a Saturday morning cartoon), Spider-Woman's popularity waned, and the decision was made to kill Jessica off at the end of its fifty issue run.
This being Marvel, however, she was eventually resurrected/regurgitated (even while other characters began using the Spider-Woman name), participating in the usual Marvel hijinks, becoming a member of S.H.I.E.L.D for a while, joining the New Avengers, getting dragged into the Secret Wars, becoming at one point Black Widow #3 and another time a clone of herself who becomes involved romantically to ther Human Torch, and even made a rare, stripped down, non-costumed guest appearance in Alias, where she teams up with Marvel's other female private eye, Jessica Jones, to hunt down the latest Spider-Woman.
I'm not even sure where or what she is now (I hear she's pregnant), but I'm not sure I care. She WAS (and may still be) a private detective, but most of her adventures, even as a private eye, rarely venture into the mystery or crime genre, but fall smack dab into the whiz-bang costumed superhero world of the Marvel Universe.
Private Eyes of the Marvel Universe
Lady Eyes from the Comics
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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