spiderwoman origin marvel comics cover

Spider-Woman: Origin, Marvel Comics Review

Spider-Woman: Origin by authors Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed, Illustrations Jonathan Luna and Joshua Luna

Spider-Woman: Origin is a short standalone Marvel run that introduces readers to Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman. I first read Spider-Woman through the New Avengers and was curious about her Hydra background so I decided to pick this up. This review will contain some light spoilers.

Her origin is about as sterotypically comic book-y as you can get. Her parents are spider DNA researches and experimenters who also turn out to be working for who we know are the bad guys. While Jessica Drew is still in the womb there is a terrible accident that zaps spider DNA into her before she’s born.

Her dad turns out to be pretty amoral and wants to perform a lot of experiments on her to further his research. He takes zero precautions to ensure her safety or health, he just wants to succeed as a spider DNA splicer or something sinister like that. Her whole childhood is spent as basically a lab rat.

Then she’s in in a coma for 10 years and wakes up in the care of evil organization Hydra. Here’s where things get really messy. She is now a legal adult, age wise. But she essentially has the mind of a child. She doesn’t know anything about the world and she is easily manipulated. This should really be explored more in this book, it’s really pretty disturbing to think about as she becomes romantically involved with someone.

I also take issue with her power set. I was never really clear in New Avengers about what her powers were. The only one I knew for sure is she had some sort of pheremone power to use to seduce people to performing her whims. This is always a problematic power set given to female superheroes.

In Spider-Woman: Origin she’s given some kind of lightning power.

spider woman with lightning powers
like this

Can someone please explain to me how a woman with literal spider DNA develops lightning powers? She could have webs, or crazy good climbing, venom, or the ability to delicately glide down from great heights, you know, real spider powers but she’s given lightning? In what world do spiders have lightning powers? It really makes even less sense than comic books typically do.

As a final criticism I’m not in love with the Luna brothers’ art for a Marvel comic. I was fine with their rather simplistic style for their own works but it just feels out of place for an over the top Marvel book. Just my personal preference though.

I think this origin story is adequate for what is essentially a diversity grab character. Let’s be honest, there was never a chance that Spider-Woman was going to get a masterpiece first book. She’s just another player in a long line of derivative characters attempting to woo the female audience.

It was an entertaining enough book, if I put aside my complaints of reason I certainly didn’t hate reading it. It just confirms my feelings that I’m drifting further and further away from any love for Bendis. Turns out someone that prolific has more misses than hits.

Spider-Woman: Origin is a quick read if you’re looking for something easy without any background reading necessary. It’s a true standalone and that’s great in and of itself.

3/5 spiders 🕷🕷🕷

For more Jonathan Luna check out Alex + Ada

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5 thoughts on “Spider-Woman: Origin, Marvel Comics Review

  1. Yeah, this mini-series was a bit weird; instead of clarifying Spider Woman’s origins, it seemed to muddy the whole thing up even more.

    There are anachronisms from the original stories (like when exactly Jessica moved to San Francisco to become a P.I.) and Bendis seems to be suggesting that all the High Evolutionary stuff (including Bova being a literal cow-woman) was bullshit implanted in Jessica’s mind by HYDRA. But High Evolutionary (and Bova) are established characters who really did live on Mount Wundagore and have interacted with plenty of other characters (like the Avengers), so I’m not sure what Bendis was getting at. The whole thing just seems confusing, especially if you’ve read the original stories.