A KC Column by KC Carlson
You may want to read my previous column about Spider Woman before reading this one. This one might not make much sense without that material.
1. In her first appearance (in Marvel Spotlight #32, cover-dated Feb. 1977) she was originally non-human — a New-Man “created” by the High Evolutionary’s “genetic accelerator”. She was also apparently the first “New-Man” who was a woman and the first not “evolved” from an animal species. (Which, in the story, is why she was first called Arachne.) Further, a footnote states that this is the earliest appearance of the High Evolutionary — before his original debut in The Mighty Thor #134. Subsequent stories over the decades would pretty much rewrite most of these details.
2. Spider-Woman’s creators are presumed to be Archie Goodwin and Marie Severin. Goodwin wrote the character’s first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #32, but that issue’s artist (Sal Buscema) is not always mentioned as a co-creator. Severin gets the nod for her extensive design work and sketches of the character — one of Marvel’s first stand-alone female characters.
3. Carmine Infantino was the first regular artist on the Spider-Woman series, pencilling the first 19 issues. His biggest contribution to the character’s design was getting rid of the costume’s hood from the origin story, letting Jessica’s long hair flow (a suggestion from new writer Marv Wolfman). He might have stayed longer on Spider-Woman, because he really enjoyed drawing the character, but he ended up leaving the series because he was asked to return to DC Comics to again draw The Flash — the series that pretty much defined his career as an comic book artist.
4. The photo cover for Spider-Woman #50 includes Marvel staffers as Marvel characters. Confirmed are then-writer Ann Nocenti (as Tigra), and writer/editors Mark Gruenwald and Mike Carlin (specific characters unrevealed).
5. Spider-Woman #50 was also the last issue of the first regular series, and at editor Mark Gruenwald’s request, writer Ann Nocenti wrote the character into an actual “limbo” at issue’s end. Roger Stern eventually wrote her out of limbo in Avengers #240-241 in 1984. However, she wasn’t used much after that, because a new Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) was introduced in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars in 1985.
6. After her return from “limbo”, abandoning her Spider-Woman identity for a time, Jessica and her roommate Lindsay McCabe become private investigators. They take a job delivering a package to Madripoor and encounter an underworld figure named Patch, whom Jessica recognizes as Wolverine. At this point, Jessica and Lindsay move their business to Madripoor, effectively becoming supporting characters in Wolverine’s first ongoing series. Jessica never appears in costume in these stories, but she did often use her powers to aid Wolverine.
7. In 1996, Mark Gruenwald returned to write a new short Spider-Woman story called “The Return of Spider-Woman” as a back-up in Sensational Spider-Man Annual ’96. It featured Jessica Drew in costume for the first time in over a decade and ended with a teaser for future stories. Tragically, later that year, Gruenwald died suddenly before these stories were written. Subsequent Spider-Woman stories moved in a different direction, making “The Return of Spider-Woman” a non-canon story.
8. During the wrap-up to the Spider-Verse event, despite great personal loss, May “Mayday” Parker (Spider-Girl) realizes she’s not a girl any more, dons her father’s (that world’s Peter Parker) costume, and declares herself the Spider-Woman of the MC2 Universe. As published earlier in the pages of Spider-Verse Team-Up #3, a new story by the original Spider-Girl creative team (Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz) seems to indicate that this “Spider-Girl” (as seen in the Spider-Verse event) may not be the original Spider-Girl. Hmmm…
9. The now-famous Saturday Night Live sketch “Superhero Party” (originally broadcast March 17, 1979) featuring Bill Murray as Superman, guest host Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Dan Aykroyd as The Flash, and famously, John Belushi as The Hulk also features an unknown actress as Spider-Woman as a background character.
10. In 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a set of ten Marvel Comics Super Heroes commemorative postage stamps, featuring their most popular characters. Spider-Woman was one of those ten stamps.
KC CARSON SAYS: #7 made me weep. I was present at Mark’s wake that year. Fortunately, there was not much crying there because of all the hysterically funny stories being told. Commemorative Whoopee Cushions were also provided to all present.
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Hi, Mark.