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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Is the Viper Spider-Woman’s Mom or What?

Every week, 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.

Commenter Night Swordsman suggested this one.

Today we look at the on and off parental relationship between Spider-Woman and the villainous Viper!

Enjoy!

Viper, or Madame Hydra, as she is sometimes known (typically when she is, you know, working for Hydra) was created by Jim Steranko in the pages of Captain America but by the time Chris Claremont had brought her back for an arc in Marvel Team-Up in the late 1970s, she had been out of use for a few years (and had not been used against anyone but Captain America).

A couple of years after her Marvel Team-Up appearance, Claremont brought her into the pages of Spider-Woman for a notable arc.

First, Viper recognizes Jessica Drew…

We learn in issue #44 that Viper is Spider-Woman’s MOM! This is part of a story where Viper is working for the demon Chton (odd choice there by Claremont)…

Less than a year later, however, J.M. DeMatteis retconned Viper being Spider-Woman’s mother…

In the Deluxe Edition of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe, it confirms that Morgan Le Fey was behind the Chton that was involved with Viper. It was all a plot to kill Spider-Woman.

More recently, in the pages of the short-lived Brian Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev Spider-Woman series, Bendis confirms that Viper is not Spider-Woman’s mom….

I suppose there’s always room for a change in the future!

58 Comments

Nuclear Rooster

April 15, 2012 at 3:35 am

Okay, I’ve never read a comic by Maleev, but these pages really make me not ever want to.

I mean how many times can you reuse the same photoshopped image?

I’m sorry, but that’s just plain laziness in my book…

Spider Woman was the moment where I broke faith with Maleev as an artist. His Daredevil was beautiful– digitally created but demonstrating so much more creativity, recycled artwork far less and looked like something he drew more than something he traced. More charitably I wonder if that had more to do with the fact that Spider Woman was a motion comic as well, and the work was mostly done for that with the physical comic was an afterthought. But less charitably it put Maleev more toward the Greg Land end of the spectrum, and that was bitterly disappointing.

Yeah, but the colors make the work really pop.
Greg Land and Salvador Larroca have awful colorists that make the photo-shopping even worse.
But with Maleev, the pages are nice to look at. I love those blues.

Spider-Woman stuff was all over the place anyway. Remember how her origin used to be that she was a spider evolved into a human by the High Evolutionary? That was overturned an issue or two later.

I do remember that. It was in an earlier Abandoned An’ Forsaked! :)

Check out the archive here!

Is Bob McLeod the artist on the DeMatteis story? The art looks so cool.

No, that’s classic Zeck/Beatty art.

Did Jessica and Wolverine/Patch get it on in their Madripoor days? If so, Viper was married to Wolverine which turns this into one nasty story.

The Spider-Woman stuff by Bendis is…strange. He seems to have decided the character should be a superspy in a conspiracy thriller, so her father is retconned into a HYDRA assassin. Along the way, he tries to strip out all the fantasy elements of her origin, so that the High Evolutionary is simply a military man named Wyndham and Bova the Cow-Woman is just Bova the Ordinary Woman. I’ve never quite understood what the point of all of it was, especially since Marvel already has the Black Widow as a superhero-meets-superspy femme fatale type.

Given that the ongoing Spider-Woman series never took off, and that Jessica has receded into the background even in Bendis’s Avengers books, I suspect a lot of the Origin mini and the abortive Spider-Woman ongoing will one day be officially Abandoned an’ Forsaked. And Jessica Drew is unlikely to remain an Avenger for long after Bendis leaves. He’s made a real mess of the character by way of a botched revamp attempt.

I don’t like Bendis work post-2003 or so, but I think the point of it is clear, Omar.

Superheroes work better when they have straightforward origins. Even the X-Men, though they have complicated backstories, have the most straightforward origins of all – they were born with it.

But Spider-Woman’s origin is so convoluted. It’s the kind of 1970s origin story that makes the character hard to explain without resource to the greater web of MU history.

But that is not the worst of it. Usually, Marvel superheroes have origins that are tied to the kind of hero they are, and their power level. Spider-Woman is one of the few that has street-level capabilities, but a cosmic sort of origin with a Kirby demi-god.

In other words, her origin story sucks.

I remember when Viper’s right eye was always, purposely, covered by her hair. Then somewhere along the line the artists forgot. Possibly an abandoned plot of its own?

I don’t understand what the intent was to have Jessica not be viper’s mom once the plot line came up.

It seems like a twist for the sake of a twist, like a WWE wrestling plot by DeMatteis.

Claremont had some weird stuff but the mother daughter thing didn’t seems so crazy since it was their first meeting.

They’ve established Viper looks like Jessica so it’s not like an affair is out of the question or that Jessica was brainwashed. Either way the convoluted history seems to fit a character who is a great double agent

Omar Karindu

April 15, 2012 at 5:27 am

The Spider-Woman stuff by Bendis is…strange. He seems to have decided the character should be a superspy in a conspiracy thriller……………… Along the way, he tries to strip out all the fantasy elements of her origin…………….

______________________________________________________________________________________
http://www.blackgate.com/2012/01/18/art-of-the-genre-remember-folks-the-hobbit-is-a-childrens-novel/

http://www.blackgate.com/2011/06/19/thor-and-the-fear-of-fantasy/

““In general, it seems that the current wave of creators at Marvel is more comfortable with science-fiction stories than fantasy stories, and perhaps more comfortable with crime and espionage stories than either”.

An intriguing point. Brian Michael Bendis noted he had much the same mindset about Daredevil, feeling him as more of a pulp hero than the more cosmic properties such as the Fantastic Four. Bendis felt that the first Daredevil story fit more along the usually more urban adventures of Dick Tracy, the Spirit, etc. Bendis noted that he wanted to do a project for the Shadow at some point. So, that explains why he decided to strip out the more outre elements of Spider-Woman’s backstory.

Total Sell Out (2003)
– In this collection of comic strips and short stories by Brian Michael Bendis, he prints a fan drawing he did of The Shadow

However, although these writers prefer crime fiction, in fact the more cosmic and outlandish properties such as the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, etc. have tended to have higher box office grosses than the relatively grounded properties. In point of fact, Daredevil’s film, stands as considered a bit of a disappointment, and that film definitely followed the Miller feel for several points. The recent Spirit film also disappointed, and Frank Miller directed it! (If anyone brings up the recent Frank Miller influenced Chirstian Bale/Nolan films, I will have you know that Businessweek referred to the first film as a disappointment, in comparison to the Tobe Maguire films from 2002-2007).

Omar Karindu

April 15, 2012 at 5:27 am

The Spider-Woman stuff by Bendis is…strange. He seems to have decided the character should be a superspy in a conspiracy thriller, so her father is retconned into a HYDRA assassin. Along the way, he tries to strip out all the fantasy elements of her origin

http://www.blackgate.com/2011/06/19/thor-and-the-fear-of-fantasy/

“In general, it seems that the current wave of creators at Marvel is more comfortable with science-fiction stories than fantasy stories, and perhaps more comfortable with crime and espionage stories than either”.

An intriguing point. That trend goes as far back as Frank Miller. In Daredevil Chronicles#1, he noted that he did not read much fantasy literature, preferring crime fiction such as Richard Stark, Spillane, Chandler, etc. In an article in Wizard#25 and an interview with Hart D. Fisher in Hero Illustrated, he said much the same. Brian Michael Bendis noted he had much the same mindset about Daredevil, feeling him as more of a pulp hero than the more cosmic properties such as the Fantastic Four. Bendis notes he tried to follow the feel of more noir the Spirit and Dick Tracy.

Hmm. I liked Spider-Woman: Origin, actually. It goes out of its way to make her back story simpler, clean, and to explain away all of those fantastical elements as illusions/mental manipulation by Hydra to keep her in sort of a constant state of misery. As someone who came of age in the late 80s/early 90s (I’m 28 now) and never knew Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman and only knew her as a supporting player in Wolverine, X-Men, and Avengers (always labeled as “that detective who USED to be Spider-Woman but gave it all up), it made me feel a lot more comfortable with her character.

Different strokes, I suppose.

I understand why Bendis made the choiceshe did, I just think they were ill-advised and somewhat blinkered with regard to all those Marvel properties that aren’t Jessica Drew.

The problem is that the fantastical elements Bendis is discarding weren’t original to Spider-Woman’s backstory, which was always the worst sort of grab-bag of established characters and concepts. The High Evolutionary, HYDRA, and Bova were already taken from other books that could hardly lose them merely for the sake of “saving” Spider-Woman, a character created mostly to secure trademarks related to Marvel’s high-profit Spider-Man IP. Throw out the High Evolutionary, and what happens to Adam Warlock’s backstory?

And what did we gain, exactly? Marvel already has a comparatively down-to-earth, spider-themed superspy character. Natasha even had the wall-crawling and electro-blast gimmicks years before Jessica Drew was created. The Black Widow had Bendis-Jessica’s vaguely distrustful relationship with the Avengers back in the Silver Age, and got a “sleeper agent” storyline in Iron Man in the early 1990s that could have been Secret Invasion’s Spider-Woman plot minus the alien stuff. (That’s down to Earth?).

The Black Widow also had a nasty history with Viper/Madame HYDRA that was nonetheless relatively simple to explain. (Natasha got stuck in a deep cover identity, and Viper exploited it for a while before ‘Tasha snapped out of it.) I’m genuinely hard-pressed to think of a Bendis Spider-Woman story that doesn’t work with Natasha there already. Heck, Jessica’s even following Natasha by dating Hawkeye these days! (Guy has a type.)

There’s certainly a way to make Jessica Drew work as Spider-Woman, but Bendis’s revamp makes Jessica into a more convoluted version of a character Marvel already has around. Really, though, none of the Spider-Women have ever managed to become that successful as either solo or team-book characters. The solution is most likely to strip away Jessica’s origin links to existing characters entirely, but that’s not what Bendis tried…and it’s probably why the revamp didn’t particularly work as a long-term character setup.

Exactly. I’ve never understood why Bendis implied that Bova and the High Evolutionary didn’t exist as we knew them instead of just removing them from Jessica’s backstory and substituting a similar character to fill the role that Jessica’s father played in their backstories. Of course, Bova and the High Evolutionary reappeared after the Origin mini as soon as writers wanted to use them , but Bendis kept referring to the Origin mini as Jessica’s origin, so the end result is that Jessica’s origin is a bigger mess than it was before Bendis.

Lee, one problem with Claremont’s Viper explanation is that it implied that Viper was in charge of Hydra when Jessica was recruited- she was on the outs with them at the time because she’d failed them.
That could have been worked around, but at the time Spider-Woman’s series was coming to an end, and DeMatteis probably knew that the plan was for Spider-Woman to be erased from everybody’s memories, so I can see why DeMatteis didn’t want to try to deal with Viper’s origin being tied to a character nobody remembered.

I always liked the idea of Viper being Spider-Woman’s mother. There was a lot of potential to it. First, it added a little bit of depth to Viper, an otherwise one-dimensional psychotic nihilistic terrorist villain. And it also created an interesting conflict for Jessica Drew’s character. She thought she was an orphan, but it turns out her mother is alive. Then her mother turns out to be alive & well, only she’s an ifamous supervillain. That’s got to cause mixed feelings!

Obviously it’s been so long since Claremont’s idea was overturned that it’s not very likely that Marvel is going to go back to it, especially since it’s been stated on several occasions by different writers that Viper is NOT Spider-Woman’s mother. Which is too bad.

But I definitely agree, Bendis’ re-examination of Jessica Drew’s origin just made it more confusing.

Night Swordsman

April 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hi. First off, thanks for listening to my suggestion. You got the main points down, and yes, Origin mini-series does redefine(and pretty much retcons) most of her earlier appearances to the point they don’t match up anymore, but Bendis did not write the mini, but was probably heavily involved with the plotting.
Just recently, while captive of Hydra, Viper and Spider-Woman once again had another Mother/Daughter “talk”. If anything, the Captain America page felt like the “spell”, making them both think they are NOT related, as it was brief and very thrown in, mostly to undo what Claremont wrote and did with Viper in Spider-Woman. As soon as that was done, Jessica was out of the book and once again became a Viper vs Cap battle.

I wished they left the character alone rather than ruin the original series by saying they were all a spell. I really wish Bendis never did anything with Jessica, as for most of her involvment with the Avengers for the last 10 years has been either crowd scenes, comments about her pheremone powers, and now as Hawkeye’s new girlfriend, which consider his new series, will probably end very, VERY soon. And as for the abortive ongoing, i waited almos 20 years for Jessica to get another ongoing comic, and i found Maleev and Bendis’s reasons for not continuing to be very poor ones.

Spider Woman’s original series was doubly weird since she had this super-science/spy back story, yet she spent the whole time fighting wizards and magic. It always felt like a character that felt out of place in her own stories.

Okay, I sort of agree.

I was mostly saying why someone would want to discard Spider-Woman’s first origin story. It was never very good. Making her a more convoluted version of Black Widow isn’t very good either. And you complaining about Bendis messing with chronology as regards Adam Warlock, really? I believe that boat sailed a long time ago. Bendis and chronology don’t mix. Worse, Bendis seems to enjoy doing these post-modernist retellings, it’s not enough to discard the old story, but to point how silly it was. He is yer another writer that perhaps is too influenced by Alan Moore. Except Moore does a lot of genres, Bendis is only really good at crime fiction.

Night Swordsman is right. Jessica Drew has always been a muddled mess of a character. Her selling poins were her distinctive appearance, her status as the first female counterpart to Marvel’s most famous superhero, the fact that Chris Claremont worked on her when he was still hot, and perhaps the quirkiness of being San Francisco-based in the NY-centred MU.

The day they do a hard reboot of the MU, she is one of those characters that would benefit from starting from scratch. Ms Marvel too.

To Bendis’s credit: his revamp of Luke Cage has more or less worked.

And though I too found the Maleev’s artwork in the Spider-woman ongoing to be a disappointment, part of me wonders if it wasn’t a subtle joke about how lazy Bendis’s writing can be. The encounter between Jessica and Viper is extremely drawn out — multiple panels of two women talking about more or less the same point over and over — so why not just keep repeating the same image? It’s not like he has anything new that needs to be drawn, especially given Bendis’s penchant for huge, static panels.

Rene, let me try to put Omar’s point about Bendis and Adam Warlock a different way:
The High Evolutionary and Bova played extremely important roles in the Marvel Universe. If the High Evolutionary didn’t exist, then who gave Adam Warlock his soul gem? If the High Evolutionary and Bova didn’t exist, then Wanda’s and Pietro’s histories become completely nonsensical. If the High Evolutionary didn’t exist, then how was the Savage Land restored after Not Terminus destroyed it? If the High Evolutionary didn’t exist, then who restored Jocasta after she was destroyed in battle with Ultron? If the High Evolutionary didn’t exist, then does that mean the Man-Beast doesn’t exist? And if the Man-Beast doesn’t exist, does that mean that Flash and Sha Shan never became a couple? After all, Sha Shan only came to the United States as a result of the Man-Beast’s plans. And if Flash and Sha Shan were never a couple, then how did Flash and Betty become involved?
In other words, the Origin series screwed up continuity for a large part of the Marvel Universe just to make Jessica “viable” again. That’s a lot worse than Bendis’s other screwups.

So Bendis actually tried to erase the High Evolutionary? I skimmed the series, but assumed he’d just substituted someone else in his place as the mad scientist.
I’d like to say one reason Spider-Woman took off is because Marv Wolfman did a phenomenal job scripting her. He took a familiar comics concept, the person who’s slightly out of phase with everyone around her and executed it well, plus the Brothers Grimm in the original series run were entertainingly bizarre (I would never have imagined anyone so interesting could come out of Stan Lee’s dorky villain Mr. Doll).
The origin: Not that bad, certainly not grounds for a lack of success. As revised by Wolfman, that she was placed in suspended animation and treated with spider DNA to save her life. And she woke up with Spider-powers. Not brilliant, but no worse than Changeling/Beast Boy (or having to explain why Hank McCoy is now blue and hairy). And it’s not as if anyone has to refer back to her origin every appearance: When I was a kid in the Silver Age it was years before anyone recapped their origin or I stumbled across an annual explaining them but I was able to handle it.
That being said, the Viper origin feels like a retreat/precursor to Mystique/Rogue. And having just finished rereading Viper’s appearances in Captain America: Nomad, it’s not one that works for me: Englehart made her as coldblooded as you can get, someone who probably would shoot her own kid without a qualm. It’s a shame to soften such nastiness.

that was the second most craziest thing marvel did with spider woman besides the evolved human spider thing. having viper be her mother and trying to sacrifice her to some demon then she is not her mother though thinks she is .

Michael –

I understand Omar’s point. I only think that, if you really care about continuity and the logical connections among the several disparate MU characters, then you must have stopped reading MU comics far before Spider-Woman: Origins. Marvel continuity has had big holes ever since 2003 or so.

My own take is that, every since 2003, every Marvel series happen in a slightly difference alternate universe from all the others. Any other way of reading a Marvel comic post-Bendis/Quesada can only lead to frustration.

Fraser –

Changeling and the Beast don’t have a Kirby-on-acid space version of the Island of Dr. Moreau (except in Central Europe) as part of their origin. It’s pretty bizarre for a urban crimefighter to be tied to this bizarreness. I know old-school comic book fans delight in such absurd, but…

Paul — Steranko’s Madame Hydra had serious facial scarring which was the reason for the hair going over one side of her face; she was hiding the disfigurement. Either there’s an untold story about how she got her face fixed, or “The Viper” isn’t really Madame Hydra.

Rene, as I said, it’s not as if she has to reference the High Evolutionary even if she does mention her origin (“I was treated with spider DNA to save my life. It had side effects. Long story.” with a footnote referencing the relevant issue).
And while saying I delight in it might be a bit much, I can’t see why it fazes anyone. Or to put it more precisely, I suspect it’s people who don’t like her that much in the first place: I would guess (based on absolutely no statistical evidence) that she’s lost more readers because they don’t like her than because of her origin. As witness the recurrent comments above that she only exists to cash in on Spider-Man, or that the Black Widow does the same thing better.
Look at Thor. It made no sense that a mortal man given the power of Thor would start acting like he was the real Thunder God–remembering feuds with Loki, being recognized by everyone in Asgard as THE Thor–but even though it took what, nine years to explain it, nobody stopped buying him.

Part of my argument is that Bendis never decided if he was dumping all that continuity or not, so we got familiar character names attached to effectively new characters. I’m saying he should have entirely divorced Jess’s origins from Herbert “High Evolutionary” Wyndham and Bova, in name as well as in portrayal, if he really intended to give her a fresh start. The nods and winks create the problem, because they sort of suggest that we’re supposed to make it all fit together, that the writer left those familiar details in for some larger reason.

I also think he reinvented the wheel given that Natasha Romanoff was already doing most or all of what he seems to want Jessica Drew to do.

What’s this? Bendis tried to erase the High Evolutionary? But the HE has been involved in the recent cosmic events series and was recently in the Silver Surfer mini, stealing the power and technology of Galactus;is this a completely different being than the one we are used to?

I agree with the points made above: the HE is too important to too many parts of the MU to be so easily forgotten.

Re: Spiderwoman: I actually liked the idea of Viper as Jessica Drew’s mother. Sorry it was retconned.

Samurai didn’t recognize the Viper/Drew connection because of the terrible artwork.

Man, I just can’t get enough of Mike Zeck’s Viper. I like the character in general, but for me his take on her look was definitive.

My complaint about Bendis: every character that he writes talks the same way.

Let me get this straight:
Jessica Drew’s mother died when she was young, then years later it is revealed that she is actually alive and part of a terrorist organisation, and she tries to kill her super-spy daughter?
Wasn’t that the plot to Alias?
I mean Alias the tv show, not the Bendis comic, but hey, there’s another random connection!

Also: The Silver Samurai looks so fat in that first panel!

What issue is the Zeck art from?

What was the point of Bendis trying to “urbanize” Spider-Woman, a member of the Avengers, surrounded by gods and mutants and other fantastic concepts, in the first place?
I hated that whole photo-shop era that seemed to pop up around Bendis.
I also hated thaClaremontnt felt the need to have everybody in the Marvel universe be related to each other.

Heh, I actually liked the original SW origin and series, and thought at the time it was neat that Viper was Jessica’s mom.

For another “fun” Viper moment from Claremont (early original New Mutants), apparently Danielle Moonstar was the spitting image of our favorite green-clad nihilist!

Thanks for posting this!

Take it and run,

Fraser — Spider-Woman certainly started as an attempt to lock down rights. The character wasn’t exactly a cash-in, but rather, like She-Hulk, represented an effort to close a trademark loophole. Unlike She-Hulk, a character who found a good niche eventually*, Jessica has always tended to drift from concept to concept.

I actually quite liked the Wolfman era of Spider-Woman, the Gruenwald era (which is where the Dolly connection came from; I’m not sure what Wolfman’s plan for Mrs. Dolly and her sons was), and the Claremont era. But Jessica’s original title kept changing direction, and that’s ultimately what hurt her chances of becoming a Marvel superstar. No two writers seemed to have the same concept for the character.

However, some of those concepts shared a few features. Gruenwald tried to keep the tone from Wolfman’s run, introducing bizarre and quasi-horrific villains like the Waxman. And Claremont’s stories tended to pull in similarly off-kilter mystical and horror threats; the Viper story, for instance, had her enslaved by the Elder Gods and gave her a creepy possession-induced power involving that empty eye socket she used to hide under her hair.

Jessica Drew always worked well as the superhero with one foot in the world of weirdness. I like the version of her that fought life-size possessed dolls and wax-fleshed psychopaths; the one who ran into werewolves, lunatics, and ghosts fairly often, and whose archfoe was a 6th-century sorceress. The writers who’ve tried to “ground” Spider-Woman — like Michael Fleisher and Bendis — are the ones who tend to reduce the character’s appeal for me.

* She-Hulk’s first series, where she really is written as a poor (wo)man’s Hulk, has been largely and justly forgotten. Even David Kraft’s eccentric pseudo-Gerber plotting didn’t really make the book gel.

Pretty much what Omar said. Ditto about She-hulk. Reading the original series, I’d never have imagined something as fun as Dan Slott’s run (or Gerber’s slightly insane stint on the title) would have ever come down the pike.

I should correct one thing — I tend to think Gruenwald created the Mister Doll connection. Wolfman clearly had linked the Brothers Grimm to Jessica’s creepy landlady and her even creepier sons.

They should just give her the Spider-Woman cartoon origin, slightly modified, but basically she was bitten by a deadly spider as a child, her father was a scientist who used an experimental serum to save her life giving her those abilities. Introduce her sexist photographer / boyfriend and nephew and give her a job as editor of Justice Magazine, or a website of similar quality.

RE: Viper/Mom retcon The idea of the world’s pre-eminent lady terrorist being a 50+-year-old MILF just seems like too much of a stretch, even in a world with, y’ know, Spiderwoman.

I do like one thing Bendis did in that clip Brian posted up here: the idea that when Viper is off her rocker (off her meds?) and running in full-on crazy-ass mode that she THINKS she’s Jessica Drew’s mother. That’s sorta fun and gives writers all kinds of options to play with, without getting into all sorts of continuity hooha.

I mean, you can’t tell crazy people anything.

I remember JM deMatteis’ version of Iron Man’s old foe the Scarecrow had him completely delusional, fabricating a tragic past and getting revenge on people for something that never happened. It’s as close to interesting as that loser ever got (I kind of hoped they’d keep it up and have him adopt a different origin next time and kill a whole bunch of other people).

My head hurts. Leave it to Bendis to make Claremont appear simple, humble, and brief. What is so hard about Good writing + Good editing= Good comic?

Have I mentioned that using ‘Bi-Polar’ as a pejorative is rather tacky?

I’ll say this in defense of Bendis. He has written some good stories, and there is precedent for Marvel editors letting writers come up with nonsensical retcons that end up being much stupider than the stories they replaced. Probably not that strong of a defense, though.

Phred, I thought the same thing about the use of “bipolar.” And it doesn’t even describe her accurately.

Going back to the question of confusing origins, if that was really a character-killer, why would Ghost Rider still be around? Despite all the origin revamps and retcons and convolutions he keeps coming back.
Speaking of which, did they ever explain how all his previous origins fit with the Jason Aarons agent-of-Heaven theory? And did that get retconned out or is it still canon? Hmm, perhaps there’s an abandoned/forsaken legend somewhere in all those changes?

Spider woman is like one of those ever changing never clear characters that made me think the writers thought no one was paying attention anyway – and I really wasn’t, to be honest.

Is that Steve Leialoha’s art on the first few pages? Something about the way he draws womens’ faces, like on the last page by the ocean, makes me think so, though I usually like his work much better than this. It looks a bit rushed. Maybe he was just inking it? In Viper’s closeup on the first page, her left eye looks WAY out of place and her ear too low, if you were to sketch in her opposite eye the result would look more like the Leader or something! Her skull would look really weird.

As text-heavy and over-expository as the earlier pages are, at least stuff is happening! The more modern pages are the exact opposite, pretty much wasting two whole pages on someone getting out of a car, only 14 words on 2 pages. That’s why we have Bendis stories that grind along for eight months or more (quite an investment) for a story that could have fit into one or two issues of a “classic” Marvel book. This is why I could not stay interested in his Captain America — not much happens in any individual issue, and they each take about 4 minutes to read.

Ganky, when I reread my old books, it often amazes me how much they cram into an issue.

It’s a dying art. Guys like Roger Stern, Len Wein and Bill Mantlo knew the strengths and weaknesses of the sequential storytelling art of comics, something that the current screenwriters-turned-comics writers know nothing about.

Something like the original Secret Wars (though I’m not holding that up as an example of stellar writing but TONS of stuff happens in each issue) would have taken about five years for most of today’s writers to tell. The “52” series from a few years ago was a lot of fun though! It was amazing that they could pull that off as a weekly.

When I was a kid my mom was briefly dating a guy who read comics and gave them to me when he was done with them. When I showed him the ad featuring the new character Spider-Woman he pretty much laughed his head off and said “huh-huh-huh — what’s next, Hulk-Woman?!?”

Little did he know….

So yeah, kind of a cash-in character. Also at the time I remember hearing a Stan Lee interview somewhere (or maybe I read it in the newspaper), when asked what his favorite character was, he enthusiastically started plugging Spider-Woman. Oh Stan, such a huckster. Maybe he really did like the character a lot, since she got her own (terrible) animated show only a few years after her first appearance, which might be some kind of record.

Aha- let’s not forget web-Woman! From Wikipedia:
Spider-Woman (TV series): The Spider-Woman cartoon should not be confused with Web Woman, a Filmation superheroine cartoon launched at around the same time, which reportedly prompted Marvel Comics into creating a Spider-Woman character to secure the copyright.

I think every character Claremont wrote had a secret involving a long-lost parent or sibling, or a dangling plot line involving their past that another writer would have to resolve or retcon because god forbid Claremont resolve a dangling plot line he created.

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