Marvel Spotlight #32
Issue(s): Marvel Spotlight #32
For what it's worth, i like the art here a lot better than its eventual replacement in the Origin series. Nick Fury, especially, looks like he's supposed to here (although he could use a haircut) and not like an 80 year old man with no chin.
However, the writing is just terrible. Melodramatic and expository and just exhausting to read. I've read that this character was initially created just to maintain a copyright and ensure that another company couldn't create a Spider-Woman character, so maybe a lot of effort wasn't put into it.
The plot is that a super-Hydra agent named Arachne infiltrates a SHIELD base...
...to kill Nick Fury and rescue her boyfriend and fellow Hydra agent, Jared, who it turns out has only been pretending to love her.
Fury is able to convince her that Hydra is actually evil, and Arachne returns to destroy them.
Their leader, Count Otto Vermis, reveals to her that she was evolved from a spider by the High Evolutionary, and that not even the other New Men could tolerate her...
...so she left to live a life in an Eastern European village until she accidentally killed someone with her powers and was rescued from an angry mob by Hydra.
Despite these revelations, she goes ahead and destroys the Hydra base and seemingly kills Vermis.
No one actually calls her Spider-Woman during this issue.
The MCP lists Mentallo as appearing in a flashback in this issue, presumably based on revelations in Spider-Woman: Origin. There is a Hydra agent who says he is helping to remove some mental blocks, and he's possibly wearing Mentallo's cool glasses, but there's no real indication that it is him.
It's cool to think that it is, though, since he was supposed to have been a member of Hydra originally. The guy also looks similar to the guy in the MODOK origin flashback in Captain America #133, who was part of AIM, not Hydra, but they were all one group at one point. It's probably all a coincidence, though.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've pushed this back into 1976 to accommodate some dependencies around the Fantastic Four that relate to Spider-Woman's next appearance in Marvel Two-In-One.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Giant-Size Spider-Woman #1
This issue was supposedly created almost overnight to secure the copyright on the name, as it wasn't listed in any upcoming previews in fanzines.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 24, 2011 1:55 PM
Marv Wolfman later stated that nobody at Marvel believed that Spider-Woman would continue beyond this appearance, but sales were surprisingly high for this and it couldn't be ignored. Critics immediately slammed the character as an example of a DC-type knock-off.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 1, 2012 10:08 PM
Why couldn't they have made a different origin for her.
Posted by: doomsday | July 3, 2013 8:01 PM
From what I read somewhere, the situation for Spider-Woman is the same one that Shulkie had a few years later: someone else wanted to use the name for something and Marvel did something to prevent it from happening. Yeah a "mutated spider" just sounds ridiculous and does get retro-out, but I guess they were just in a rush and, as someone said above, their philosophy was probably just "well she is a knock-off so no one really should care about it, even with the 'spider' name".
Then again they made Carol into Ms. Marvel the previous month.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 9, 2014 6:46 AM
Ah, call him Mentallo. That's what the handbooks would do. (e.g Turk)
Posted by: kveto | March 18, 2015 5:38 AM
I figured that since I did the same thing with Natasha in her "evolution" of her hair from first appearance to classic look and this was talked about recently, it seems worthwhile to do the same thing for Jessica. (at least I'm not doing Betty Ross...) With that said, here's what I got:
-Marvel Spotlight 32: Jessica is a brunette
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 4, 2015 6:35 AM
The dye is so darned effective that I would not find it excessive if a continuity implant revealed that it is nanotechnological in nature or something.
Jessica is just inexperienced enough at this point that the thought balloon would not be out of place; for all she knows of the world hair dye is supposed to be permanent. Maybe she was given this wonder dye by the High Evolutionary, HYDRA or even SHIELD.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 4, 2015 6:46 AM
Possibly she was called Arachne here so Marvel could still use the story if it lost the race to trademark the Spider-Woman name. I can't recall if I've read this somewhere.
Sometimes counterpart characters have the same powers as their originals, but in other cases the creators partly differentiate them (as with the post-CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS Supergirl and Superboy). Spider-Woman has some of the same powers as Spidey, but her venom-blasts and air gliding build on aspects of spiders that Spider-Man doesn't reflect. Small spiders fly using a technique called ballooning. (Wikipedia has a page on it.)
The MARVEL SPOTLIGHT origin is probably a conscious inversion of Spidey's. He's a human who gained spider characteristics. Here Spider-Woman is a spider who gained human characteristics. Perhaps when the character was being brainstormed someone facetiously suggested making her a spider bitten by a radioactive human, and the origin grew out of that. A similar inversion was used in the Spider-Ham origin.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 4, 2015 7:28 AM
On the other hand, Brian Cronin argues at http://goodcomics.blogspot.com.au/2005/12/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-28.html that Spider-Woman's origin was borrowed from the reported early intended origin of Wolverine.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 4, 2015 8:15 AM
fnord, you have Jared Kurtz listed as Jared Gold.
Canonically his name is definitely Kurtz: https://67.media.tumblr.com/ef23d675080e847cd3294cd6ece7127b/tumblr_o7hx2wl8GJ1tms107o1_250.jpg
Based on Google searches for "Spider-woman jared gold", which mostly just turn up your site, it seems to be the name he was given in the barely in continuity Bendis origin mini (where Otto Vermis is also now known as High Evolutionary's name, and Miles Warren is there).
But easy fix: Gold is an Americanized alias?
Posted by: AF | May 20, 2016 6:01 PM
I got the name following the MCP, but interestingly the MCP don't seem to have (or no longer have?) any character listings from Spider-Woman Origin. So i'm not sure if the MCP got the name from Origin or somewhere else. I notice that Fury calls Jared "Goldilocks" in this story; maybe somewhere someone thought it would be cute to therefore named him Gold. I saw in the original Marvel Handbooks he was just referred to by his first name in the Spider-Woman entry. I found your scan in the Deluxe Handbook under the Hydra entry.
Anyway, as you noted on the Origin entry, he only appears in flashback here, and this was his only other appearance, so i've removed the tag.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 22, 2016 11:37 AM
When did it become established that Jessica is not a spider New-Woman created by the High evolutionary, but the daughter of a human scientist?
I like the angle that she was originally a spider, but Marvel likely decided it created problems for any future romantic interests and had to make her fully human.
Posted by: Chris | May 22, 2016 1:59 PM
Her very next appearance in Marvel Two-in-One established it wasn't true. In MTIO #33, we had her find out she was born a human from Modred of all people, and the issue ended with her and him departing to learn of her past. It wasn't until Spider-Woman #1 that we got specific details and got to see a flashback origin sequence.
Posted by: AF | May 22, 2016 2:15 PM
When Archie Goodwin wrote this, he characterized Arachne as the first female to emerge from the High Evolutionary's experiments. About a year later, Gruenwald/Grant/Michelinie retconned Bova into that position.
Posted by: Darci | May 27, 2016 6:49 PM
Not quite- we first saw Bova in a flashback in Giant Size Avengers 1, which came out in 1974, and Bova was described as a "midwife"- that's an odd term to use if Bova was supposed to be male. (I know there are male midwives today but in 1974, they were usually assumed to be women.) Goodwin apparently missed that scene when he wrote Jessica's origin.
Posted by: Michael | May 27, 2016 6:56 PM
The Saga of Spider-Woman's Hair Color:
Young Jessica Drew is depicted as having black hair all along during the Saga of the High Evolutionary story.
Posted by: Rick | December 4, 2016 9:47 AM
Hey, I just realized that Count Otto Vermis is who Nick Fury was fighting when Dum Dum Dugan got killed, according to the Original Sins retcon. I never made the connection before, because that fight was supposed to take place in 1966 and the recap art is Steranko-ish, but this is the guy who SHIELD had to stop from destroying Fort Knox eleven years before. Guess he's come down in the world.
Posted by: Andrew | December 31, 2016 6:09 PM
There’s a retcon/fan fix just waiting to happen with Vermis, whose name is the Latin for “worm.” Makes you wonder just who is really a hyper-evolved creepy-crawly in this story.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 26, 2018 10:36 PM
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Nightcrawler. And now this. Apparently, European villages are among the most dangerous places on the planet for budding super heroes....
Posted by: Peter Niemeyer | April 1, 2018 3:49 PM
"Spider Woman" was also the title to a song by Uriah Heep from their 1972 album "The Magician's Birthday".
Posted by: Brian Coffey | April 8, 2018 11:23 PM
Spider-Woman was supposedly created to secure copyright to stop a cartoon using the name Spider-Woman, the cartoon ended up changing its name to Web Woman when Marvel got there first.
Similarly, She-Hulk was apparently created out of a fear that the popular Hulk TV series might spin off a female character into their own series, in the same way Bionic Woman had spun off from Six Million Dollar Man. Presumably the thinking was that creating their own She-Hulk would ensure that the TV company didn't own the potential spin-off character.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 9, 2018 1:59 PM
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