Review: Spider-Woman #1

Spider-Woman #1 cover
Cover by Joe Sinnott

Spider-Woman #1
Published and © by Marvel, April 1978

Title: “… A Future Uncertain!”
Synopsis: Jessica Drew tries to settle into life in London, but it’s hard to get a job when you’re half spider!

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Tony DeZuniga

Review: Of the three female-analogue characters Marvel introduced during the Bronze Age (see reviews of Ms. Marvel #1 and The Savage She-Hulk #1), Spider-Woman is the least connected to her male counterpart. Instead, her origin story is a bit of an everything-and-the-kitchen sink mess: We’ve got radiation, a little magic, the High Evolutionary’s mad science and something to do with Hydra. Because this origin material happened prior to this issue, writer Marv Wolfman has to spend much of his time recapping and adds little in the way of new action. The art, by Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga, is surprisingly serviceable.

Grade: B-

Second opinion: “Spider-Woman is the ultimate Marvel comic: a perfectly epitomizes the gutless, leech-like creative incest the company recently descended into.” – Kim Thompson, The Comics Journal #39, April 1978

Cool factor: Despite this lackluster first issue, there’s something appealing about this character that says “come back for more.” Maybe it’s the pheromones. (Or that iconic Joe Sinnott cover. This reviewer has always loved that cover!)

Notable: Prior to this issue, Spider-Woman had debuted in Marvel Spotlight #32 and appeared in Marvel Two-in-One #29-33.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a Marvel Legends reprint of this issue, as well as 2019 facsimile edition.

Character quotable: “If we could somehow infuse man with the special properties of spiders, then man could adapt … could evolve into a being capable of living in tomorrow’s world of over-pollution and radiation.” – Jonathan Drew, brilliant scientist/terrible father
A word from the writer: “Running through my mind was – what’s next? The Legion of Spidey-Pets? How about Spider-Man’s Pal, Harry Osborne? This couldn’t be happening. This is Marvel! We may be maniacal, but we’re not mad.” – Marv Wolfman, discussing his early resistance to the Spider-Woman concept, in in introductory essay in this issue titled “Confessions of a Comic Book Writer”

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Oct. 11, 2010.

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