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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Spider-Woman’s Dead and Forgotten?!?

Every Saturday, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Justin B., we look at the death and life of Spider-Woman!


Spider-Woman #50 marked the end of her series, and scripter Ann Nocenti and editor Mark Gruenwald ended the book on a somber note, where Spider-Woman encounters an old sorcerer friend who is actually a ghost and he convinces her to join him (in astral form) to help him defeat Morgan Le Fey. They succeed, but in the process, Jessica loses her mortal body.

So now dead, she decides to make everyone forget she ever existed…

Weird ending, huh?

So soon afterwards, in the Avengers (also edited by Gruenwald), Roger Stern (with consultation by Nocenti) do a complete 180 on the ending of Spider-Woman #50. Here it is in Avengers #240…

In the next issue, Jessica Drew is back to life (although temporarily without powers) and sent off to comic book limbo (Chris Claremont picked her up a few years later in Wolverine).

This is a bit different than a normal Abandoned storyline since Nocenti was involved in the change, which I typically don’t count, but I think it is fair to say that her involvement was more support for the story than anything else.


God, I miss Janet. :(

There’s a saying: “To be forgotten is worse than death itself.” What Marvel did with Jessica Drew/Spiderwoman was a bad move indeed.

“Shroud and I fought to shove the life back into her.”

Why don’t more doctors talk like this? Get her to the ICU, so we can proceed in life-shoving!

Pretty big chunk of dickery there by Magnus — “I don’t want my friends to mourn — I want them to be happy.” “All right — none of them knew you were ever here!” Imagine what he’d do for someone he DIDN’T like!

Dude’s cold enough to be from Krypton, messing with people on THAT scale…

Was this an abrupt cancellation, maybe? I get a sense of a bit of an “up yours, Marvel!” from killing Jessica — at a time when it WAS unusual for a character to die.

Oh, and one of the closest friends in her life — is a cow? I know a superheroine has an inhibited social life, but seriously, she can do better than livestock…

With that kind of mind-wipe power, Magnus should have been involved in in the ONE MORE DAY storyline. Add some actual Spider-continuity to the thing.

“Oh, and one of the closest friends in her life — is a cow?”

That’s Lady Bova, who raised Jessica Drew at Mt. Wundagore. Bendis revamped her origin fairly recently, but I haven’t read that mini-series to know whether that’s still in continuity.

By the way, Bendis’s limited series of Spider-Woman is another thing that remains unexplained (oh, yes, this and his new definition of the Beyonder’s origin… )…

In that limited series, Bendis removed the New Men of Wundagore and replaced with humans (as happened with Bova)… and then, he made that Jessica was hallucinating that these people were humanized animals.

We really do know that Bova and the New Men still appear in the Marvel Universe since that… so, how this can be explained?

One way is that that Jessica Drew wasn’t the real one, but she was Veranke, the Skrull queen. So, this could explain her memory confusion (problems with logical implants) and why Wolverine didn’t even remember he was her friend in the beginning of New Avengers (or not? hehe Bendis knew Jessica’s previous adventures, because he mentioned them when Jessica appeared in Alias… ).

But then this was a change that didn’t stick (as Byrne’s Spider-Man: Chapter One)?

Ah, and I also remember another little “abandoned an’ forsaked” stuff for Jessica Drew.

When her first origin was shown, it was told that she was a spider transformed in woman.

Some time later, it was shown that Hydra had made her to think that, but, in fact, she was a woman subjected to mutated spider DNA as a child. And that is her official origin since then (but Bendis, well, you know… needed to screw it up… hehe).

Didn’t know Hulk and Werewolf by Night did the original version to The Lonely Island’s “J*** in My Pants.”

Personally, I just considered the end of Spider-Woman #50 a bad dream and moved on. Creative quality has seriously fallen at Marvel for years in my humble opinion, and Jessica Drew was sadly, just another casualty.

i’m glad she’s still around

@PM Agria

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Spider-Woman is an Evolved Spider!
December 7, 2011

The best bit is that Stern picks up the biggest plot hole in Spider-Woman #50 — there’s still a dead body in a Spider-Woman costume outside Jessica’s apartment, even after all the memory-wiping.

The funny thing is, for me Spider-Woman’s story really does end there, with #50. I was an avid reader of that series from the beginning, and was only half-aware that she ever came back. (I’m still unclear on how much of what she did after coming back from the dead was really the Skrull Queen, so I just assume that all of it was.)

The funny thing is that I was also a regular reader of Stern’s Avengers run, but I’d forgotten all about the story shown here. It just didn’t make nearly as much of an impression as the end of the Spider-Woman series did. Reading those Avengers pages, I feel like Jan, She-Hulk and Tigra do in them: “What?! I don’t remember anything like that… oh yeahhh, wait, I totally read that story.”

Yup, Magnus’ action was half-assed from the start. You’d think Jessica would have thought about leaving a body behind, but maybe she assumed he’d taken care of that too.

I remember being so upset that Spider-Woman died when that final issue came out, and the ending never worked for me. So I was really happy when Stern finally followed up on it, in a way that made perfect sense.

can’t believe that marvel deciding they were done telling some stories with spider woman for a while had her die and decide to make every one forget her only to wind up being found alive and a ghost and every one who knew her still having memory problems. though glad marvel did not let spider woman stay dead.

Too bad we can’t have evolved cows who can take care of our children for us.

It’s always sounds like Bendis (and others) just change things and don’t think about what happens later. I hate to say this, but the ‘AvsX’ thing will be just as bad as Civil War. With no real plot or a real ending. What can they possible do to shock people after the first two issues of Civil War promised the biggest things ever and neither of them really went anywhere. Spider-man didn’t seem to be out-in-public and they never explored the fact that everyone knows who he is and (I think) it ruined the character. Seriously. They don’t like doing stories at Marvel anymore, I guess. Most of them do, but most of them aren’t in charge.

I remember finding issue #50 when I was kid, and all of the dead body shenanigans at the end really messing with my head.

Oh yeah, I have this comic. I used to read Spider-Woman back in the day. And this ending just… confused me. First, why end a superhero series by killing her? And not even in action, she just found out she was “dead!” An even worse, why make everyone forget about her!? Why render her entire career pointless!? I wondered if maybe Marvel had lost the rights to the character and just wanted to wipe her clean off the continuity.

But yeah, while Stern’s run on Avengers wasn’t my favorite, he has a point that there would simply be too many loose ends for a two-bit Merlin to just wipe away, starting with Jessica’s “dead body”. Besides it was a huge injustice. I’m glad to find out that Nocenti helped fix things, though.

Another thing that bothered me about Spider-Woman was how Marvel *insisted* in creating new ones, presumably to keep the trademark over the name. Seriously, how many where there, four!? Why not just bring Jessica back? Sheesh.

Wait, Bendis did WHAT with her!? As if replacing her with a Skrull wasn’t bad enough, he’s messed up her past too???

I love how people and there are a few in this thread, parlay a story written 25+ years ago, into a Marvel sucks, Bendis sucks rant today.

I like how Wasp didn’t just hold a meeting for prospective Avengers, she held a brunch. It’s more than just a name, folks.

“Forget I ever existed” feels like a meta message to me.

@Alex… and right there is why I dropped Bendis’ Avengers run. I love him on Powers and Alias. His Ultimate Spider Man is classic. But I couldn’t take his arbitrarily changing Avengers (and Marvel Universe) history that I cherished on a whim.

I will say however that his profile has made Spider Woman relevant again…

Hey, thanks Brian for putting this together at my suggestion. I didn’t think you would get round to it so soon. :)

JTRobin wrote :
“I love how people and there are a few in this thread, parlay a story written 25+ years ago, into a Marvel sucks, Bendis sucks rant today.”

Why would you love that?

(Sarcasm on the internet. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.)

I’m pretty sure that Stern’s storyline here is what got my dad into the Avengers.

I remember growing up, he had every appearance of Spider-Woman up to and including #50. However, we only only had very sporadic issues of the Avengers, maybe ten issues in all over a timepan of 10-15 years, until #240…

I’m pretty sure my dad only picked it up to see what happened with Spider-Woman, got hooked by Stern, and just kept reading the Avengers for the twelve years or so.

Yeah, the end to Spider-Woman’s comic was seriously weird. Chris Claremont and Steve Leialoha had been doing some fine work on the book, but they were suddenly off after an editorial shuffle. Nocenti took over for a few issues, did some so-so work, and then the book was abruptly cancelled. There’s been no warning; heck, when you read the comic, you don’t even realize it’s the last issue until the last page or two. I don’t think there’s ever been a cancellation quite like it.

I think that one of the reasons why this one was undone was because it complicated future retellings of Carol’s and Rogue’s histories- Jessica saved Carol’s life after Rogue’s attack. If nobody remembers Jessica, then what do they remember about Rogue’s attack?

JTRobin wrote :
“I love how people and there are a few in this thread, parlay a story written 25+ years ago, into a Marvel sucks, Bendis sucks rant today.”

Odd, how Bendis does that to people. It’s almost like he sucks.

Spider-Woman #50 always did bother me. For many, many, years (ever since I first saw it — it was one of my first WTH moments in comics), I have wondered just what was up with that ending.

Not only did it seem forced, rushed, and tacked on (indeed, it seems like the creative team was told this was the last issue when they were halfway through with it) but WHY the whole half-assed ‘make everyone forget she ever existed’ angle? Was Marvel editorial really at that point considering Spider-Woman an embarrassment they wanted nothing more to do with? Did they lose the rights to her somehow? Or did they think the chances of Spider-Woman EVER making it out of Comic Book Limbo and re-appearing in any form were as good as Muammar Quaddafi’s chances of being elected President of the United States, so they did this as a half-assed way of ‘giving her closure’?

Anyway, like most of the other commenters, I’m glad Roger Stern seized on the major plot holes and ran with them to bring Jessica back (and prove anyone who thought she’d never get out of Comic Book Limbo wrong).

And this happened in issue #50? Words cannot express my disappointment that they didn’t call it “Spider-Woman No More!”

I doubt this was done for rights because Spider-Woman was created entirely so that Marvel had the rights in the first place (Filmation were planning to create one for a cartoon so Marvel beat them to it). And barely a year later a new Spider-Woman showed up in Secret Wars.

I suspect the reason was that Spider-Woman’s original series was a total mess with just about every writer changing the direction, status quo, supporting cast etc… Even basic points like “what’s the extent of her powers?”, “is her hair naturally black, dyed or a wig?” and “does she need to keep taking pheromone suppressants to stop people recoiling at her and is it all people or just women except Lindsey?” changed from writer to writer. And don’t even mention her origin… Nobody was on the series long enough to get anything nailed down. The conclusion is almost a metaphor for wiping the slate clean on the whole mess.

Believe me, i was the artist on Spider-Woman issues 47-50,and no one wanted the book to continue more than me….i hear Shooter wanted to bring in new books that were guaranteed sellers like Alpha Flight….i am ready to start drawing the book again with Anne Nocenti writing. Write Marvel,i am ready to work on it again…

The letters page of Avengers #235 sheds some light on the subject of why the ending of Spider-Woman #50 was undone. Anne Nocenti and Mark Gruendwald decided on that ending for the series and thought it was a good idea at the time. Then after the issue was published, the tons of hate mail came in. It stated that SW #50 got more mail than the 12 issues of Spider-Woman before it. After the huge negative response, they realized they couldn’t leave things like that and announced Spider-Woman’s story would continue in Avengers #240.

Stern and Leialoha also did a nice follow-up in Dr. Strange #67.

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