Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Danny Fingeroth
Penciler: (#125) Jim Mooney, (#126) Alan Kupperberg
Inkers: (#125) Vince Colletta, Art Nichols and co.
Letterer: Rick Parker
Colors: (#125) Bob Sharen, (#126) George Roussos
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor In Chief: Jim Shooter

It's Spider-Woman! She's as good as Spider-Man! Honestly!


Whether or not Spider-Woman started out as just a female rip-off of Spider-Man, by the mid-1980s she'd arguably developed an original identity of her own.

On the one hand, inside the costume she wasn't even Jessica Drew anymore.

By 1987 we were onto the second Spider-Woman - Julia Carpenter. She was a single mum on the run from the law, while trying to earn a government pardon by going on top secret missions for them. (a bit like Alias Smith And Jones, or the final series of The A-Team)

However the US government, as everyone knows, is corrupt, and was determined to milk her desire to see her daughter again for as many missions as they could blackmail out of her.

If this super-heroine wasn't a tragic enough character already, although she generally appeared quite small and friendly, on occasion she could also look unintentionally terrifying.

That hair must prove really cumbersome in a battle. What if she gets into a fight with another girl who pulls it? I think Spider-Woman should wear a hairnet.

Still, on the other hand, despite all these attempts to make her so different to Spider-Man, one just can't help but notice that black costume she's wearing above. Although in the storyline it was retconned into having inspired Spider-Man's one, the inescapable truth is that, production-wise, it was published six months after his.

I guess it didn't help that she also could stick to walls and weave webs.

In fact, and now I feel like I'm just being cruel, the woman with the ripped-off name wearing the ripped-off costume and displaying the ripped-off powers didn't even have her own comic.

Her entire two-year storyline was lived-out in guest-appearances in other heroes' series. If you were into this new Spider-Woman, then chasing-down all her episodes was a bit like trying to watch any US TV series on BBC-1. The next part could show up anytime.

So despite Marvel's best attempts, in 1987 Spider-Woman was still a somewhat half-hearted character.

For which we all liked her anyway. She was brilliant. Precisely because of all of the above.

In fact, this two-parter in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man fairly sets the scene for her very own long-awaited upcoming mini-series.

More than anything else, it's clear that she's driven by her love for her daughter, and this is nicely juxtaposed here with the villain's (Dirk Garthwaite - The Wrecker) relationship with his mum.

When he learns that she's passed-away without ever having heard that he was considering going straight, it absolutely destroys him. Although not quite the same thing, the similarity with Julia's continued passivity to her bosses is that they have both been letting their respective situations remain unresolved for too long. A tricky thing to maintain across several different titles.

As you may have gathered above, I think that author Danny Fingeroth does a first-rate job of wringing-out the angst here.

It is, however, a shame that the plot also depends upon the Wrecker accidentally dropping his diary on a rooftop, and Peter Parker coming-into a completely unforeshadowed $2,000 at the end. Just skip that last page and a half.

Finally, three words about the artwork.

1. Does the Wrecker look just a tad like David Hasselhoff to you?

2. And is this doctor's name meant to be McCoy?

3. The covers. They're exceptional. Or they were in the UK anyway.

Normally the regular US distribution of Marvel Comics featured a bar code added into the bottom left-hand corner of each cover:

However when shipped to specialist comic shops and overseas, including to here in the UK via distributor Comag, these white boxes would instead be filled with a black-and-white image of a potentially appropriate Marvel character. For example, Spider-Man in his black costume got particularly well-used, regardless of his outfit or even appearance in the issue:

However just occasionally, as with these two issues, the cover artists (Bob Hall and Al Milgrom) got a bit inventive. Faced with only being able to print a monochrome image in that box, just look at how creatively they got round it...



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