Issue(s): Spider-Woman #17, Spider-Woman #18
It's hard to say which Spider-Woman issues are the weirdest, but these are definitely contenders. The set-up is normal enough and has implications for later issues. After her encounter with Nekra last issue, Jessica isn't sure what to expect when she arrives to work at the Hatros Clinic. But as far as her supervisor is concerned, everything is normal, so she puts in a regular day at work and then sees her doctor, who gives her pills that will suppress her pheromone problem.
Jessica doesn't think they'll work thanks to her body's ability to develop an immunity to any poison that she's already been exposed to. But on her doctor's advice, she goes to a nightclub to test out the pills.
And things seem to be working. The woman aren't automatically repelled by her. She does attract the attention of a (she says) "not bad looking" guy and he takes her out to dance.
Another woman accidentally takes her purse to the bathroom, and when she discovers her mistake she comes out wearing Jessica's Spider-Woman costume.
Spider-Woman gets it back after rescuing the woman when she falls off a cliff after slipping on a mysterious pink slime.
It's interesting to remember that Jessica has led a really sheltered life. Wundagore, Hydra, and then on the run from everyone until recently. So she doesn't know how to dance, for example. And it's all in how you read it, but i imagine that Jessica legitimately doesn't know why she's being taken to a secluded little make-out spot. She obviously figures it out pretty quickly, in any event.
But that's when the weirdness really starts.
The guy runs off after his face starts to melt, and Jessica follows him. She catches up to him as he's pulling himself back together.
They start making out again...
...but then he once again starts melting and, well, splooges all over her.
She runs, and he chases for a bit, but then flees the scene. As Spider-Woman, Jessica follows him back to the club. She sees a guy with a completely different face bring a woman to his car and drive home with her. Since he's got a different face, she's not sure if it's the same guy and feels creepy about looking in the window (which, let's face it, doesn't really give her a lot of credit in the brains department) and so she goes home. She finds out the next day that the woman is dead, smothered with pink slime.
She spends the next few nights hanging out at the club and eventually he hits on her again. She brings him to the now abandoned Mrs. Doll's house.
She tells him she needs to slip into something more comfortable, but when she returns as Spider-Woman, he doesn't put 2 and 2 together. He explains his origin to Spider-Woman (a scientist with a rare skin disease that wound up covering himself with single-celled organisms that now force him to seek out sexy woman to smother?) ...
...and then he, heehee, runs upstairs and gets in a bed and hides under the covers.
But then he morphs into Jessica...
...and attacks Spider-Woman with slime.
However, Spider-Woman's bioelectric stinger completely destroys the creature.
In typical blob story fashion, we see the pink slime monster reforming itself at the end of the book, but we'll never see "Waxman" again.
Carmine Infantino's angular, stylized art works well for the tone of these issues (and the series). But there's been a cheesecake tendency that seems to be getting worse.
A (female) letter writer asks why they have to do that, and here's the response:
...to address your objection to Jessica's casual mode of dress in the privacy of her home, Mark maintains that the question is whether it was realistic or exploitive. Mark obviously felt that it was the former, that Jessica was clad naturally for that given the situation; you obviously felt that it was the latter, just an excuse to flash some more flesh for the more prurient readers. In a way, you're probably both right. (Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Equivocation?)
This seems to be a common trap, but you really can't have it both ways. Readers interested in strong female characters are just going to be turned off by this sort of stuff. And the idea that women spend their alone time constantly coming out of showers and lounging sexily in skimpy nightgowns is fantasy, not reality.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Gruenwald is obviously going for the full-out horror angle here. It's not a bad decision to go with a theme that her villains have a horror theme. However, this character does not work. Gruenwald needed to do a better job than simply taking old horror movies and reinterpreting monsters as supervillains.
Spider-Woman needs more than just new villains, she needs villains who can reappear and give her a hard fight. The Brothers Grimm could, but Gruenwald's new villains really can't. Nekra was a good choice, but unfortunately her learning Jessica's secret identity presents complications as a recurring villain.
The pills angle for the pheromones is a good out. We already know her pheromones sometimes work and sometimes don't depending on the person. We have the unknown that this is a new drug. We also have the unknown that her own bio-chemistry may treat them. Writers now have the option of ignoring this element, or using it depending on what they need. However, I think it is just forgotten about after this which is a shame. It was one of the more interesting things about the character.
Posted by: Chris | December 6, 2015 12:42 PM
Even if it is "realistic" to show off Jessica's skin, that doesn't really excuse you for showing it off.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | December 7, 2015 1:13 AM
I liked these issues, but Waxman is a note-for-note rip-off of the Batman villain Clayface 3.
Posted by: Andrew | December 7, 2015 8:49 PM
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