TITLE: The Spider-Woman – Vol. 1, Issue 5
YEAR: August 1978
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman
Illustrator: Carmine Infantino
Embellisher: Tony Dezuniga
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Michele Wolfman
With Marvel Comics not wanting to take a chance of another comic book publisher creating a comic book with the name “Spider-Woman”, Marvel Comics knowing well of the competition from DC Comics with Marvel introducing their character Wonder Man and DC Comics suing them, as they had Wonder Woman. And years later, Marvel Comics had Power Man and DC Comics introducing Power Girl, suffice to say it was a smart idea to create The Spider-Woman in order to establish a trademark.
First appearing in “Marvel Spotlight” issue #32 originally design by Archie Goodwin and visual appearance by then freelancer Marie Severin (Sister of John Severin but Marie was equally talented as a legendary multi-talented penciller, inker and colorist in the industry), by 1978, the comics industry rebel, writer/editor Marv Wolfman would take on the series.
Wolfman immediately retconned Archie Goodwin’s origin of the character (spider evolving into a human) but incorporated the tale that she was told that by HYDRA to forget about her humanity. But in issue #20, we learn that as a child, Jessica grew up at a construction site in the Balkans and due to exposure to the mountain’s uranium, her father injected experimental spider-blood serum to save her life. And this time, instead of a mask covering her hair, Wolfman let her long black hair free (note: the long black hair is part of the mask) and thus establishing Spider-Woman as a memorable Marvel Comics character of the late ’70s and ’80s.
But to add to the wonderfulness of The Spider-Woman comic book was the utilization of legendary comic book artist and former DC Comics Publisher, Carmine Infantino (known for his work on the classic Silver-Age comics and tasked with designing covers for the entire DC Line in the late ’60s). And Infantino left his artistic footprints in series such as”Star Wars”, “The Spider-Woman”, “Nova”, “The Flash” and more.
“The Spider-Woman” which was renamed to just “Spider-Woman” in issue #11, was a series that was much more darker and instead of showcasing top heroes from the Marvel Universe, Spider-Woman would often be seen collaborating with Werewolf by Night and taking on villains such as Brothers Grimm.
It wasn’t until issue #20 when we saw Spider-Man grace the cover/pages that the series would spotlight a major Marvel super-hero and again in issue #29.
But in issue #5, The Hangman has kidnapped Jessica and has tied her up and gagged her (because in his sick mind, he is protecting her and he considers himself a hero) and locked her in what looks like a haunted house.
But ropes are not going to hold Spider-Woman and as she escapes, crazy things start happening in the house and Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew is faced to fight her own inner demons. Is she going mad or is someone sinister toying with her?
The storyline is entertaining and Carmine Infantino’s artwork is marvelous. And while Spider-Woman has become a popular super hero in today’s Marvel Comics, definitely give the classic first volume a try. Sure, it has its cheesy moments (considering she was raised by a cow-woman and lived with humanoid animals) but that was part of the wild ’70s.
An entertaining comic book series worth checking out!