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Spider-Woman / Jessica Drew
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) is a superheroine, a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. The character first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977), and 50 issues of an ongoing series titled Spider-Woman followed. After its conclusion she was depowered, and fell into disuse, supplanted by other characters using the name Spider-Woman.
Comics creator Brian Michael Bendis, unabashed in his enthusiasm for the character (Wizard #171; Jan 2006, p. 82), added Spider Woman to the roster of the high profile New Avengers.
After her debut in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977), Drew was featured in her own self-titled on-going series which lasted 50 issues, from April 1978 to June 1983.
On December 21, 2005, Marvel released the first issue of Spider-Woman: Origin, a five part miniseries co-written by Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers, Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man) and Brian Reed (Ms. Marvel, Ultimate Spider-Man: The Video-Game), illustrated by the art team of the Luna Brothers, Jonathan and Joshua Luna.
Spider-Woman's 1970s adventures were collected in an Essentials trade paperback (released December 21, 2005); she is the first female character to be published in this series.
Jessica Miriam Drew, daughter of Jonathan and Merriam Drew, was born in London, England. At a young age, Jessica was lethally poisoned by radiation while living near Mount Wundagore in Transia. In an attempt to save her life, her father injected her with an experimental serum based on irradiated spiders' blood. Because the serum did not have any apparent effect on her, the man who would come to be known as the High Evolutionary (Herbert Wyndham) placed her in a genetic accelerator. While in the accelerator, she aged at a decelerated rate. When she was finally released, decades later, Drew was only seventeen years old.
Jessica grew up on Mount Wundagore under the care of Lady Bova, one of the High Evolutionary's New Men. She was cared for and received the equivalent of a high school education. She eventually left when she did not appear to fit in. Her first few years were confusing as she adjusted to life among other humans. Eventually, HYDRA, under the control of Count Otto Vermis, found and recruited her as a HYDRA agent.
Through brainwashing and manipulation, she was convinced she was not human but actually an evolved spider. During this time, she went by the alias of Arachne. As a HYDRA agent, she battled Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., until Jessica learned HYDRA's true nature. She quit HYDRA and turned on them, and was responsible for the fatal rash of HYDRA head Otto Vermis.
Origin does away with the spider-blood serum and genetic accelerator elements of the character's previous origin story. Instead, Jessica's powers derive from her mother's womb being hit by a laser beam containing the DNA traits of several different species of spiders while she was carrying Jessica (the Drews were trying to splice and harness spiders' environmental adaptive capabilities, in order to graft them into the human genome).
After Jessica's parents disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Jessica was recruited into HYDRA (under false pretenses), where she was made into a formidable fighter/assassin. She was trained and mentored by Taskmaster, who schooled her in many martial disciplines and more than seven different fighting .
In this re-telling, Otto Vermis, who had originally recruited her into HYDRA, is rather an old, retired HYDRA agent who Jessica seduces in order to gain information that will lead her to her mother.
Now going by the name Spider-Woman, Jessica used her new identity to track down her father's killer, starting her search in London. During this time, Jessica was recaptured by HYDRA and brainwashed into working for them again. This brought her into direct conflict with Ben Grimm. After HYDRA's brainwashing was reversed, she battled magical elements alongside the Thing and Modred the Mystic.
Jessica battled Excaliber, agent of Morgan Le Fay, and then came into contact with Morgan's arch nemesis, the sorcerer Magnus. Magnus would become one of her strongest allies, and provided information that would lead Jessica to relocate with him to Los Angeles where she began her career as a costumed crime fighter. She encountered Morgan Le Fey's ghost. Jessica also tracked down her father's murderers.
Jessica was pursued at this time by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jerry Hunt, who followed her to Los Angeles to begin a romantic relationship with her.
In her early days as Spider-Woman, Jessica chose to keep her presence in Los Angeles a secret. She met super-powered foes such as the Brothers Grimm, Hangman, the Enforcer, The Needle, Hammer and Anvil, Nekra, the Silver Samurai, Viper, Gypsy Moth, and the Waxman, as well as allies such as Werewolf by Night and the Shroud.
Jessica also sought to discover the true nature of her pheromones, which appeared to produce a strong sexual attraction from men and repulsion from women. Her search led her to the Hatros Institute and her first true job. Working as a secretary, she was able to gain free medical treatment to suppress her pheromones so that she could move effectively among people without producing any unwanted side-effects. Alongside the Shroud, she battled the above mentioned Nekra and the cult of Kali, and learned of her pheromone secretions. The culmination of her time at the Hatros Institute led Jessica to her encounter with Nekra, and the loss of her job.
Unemployed, Jessica briefly considered stealing, but at the last moment decided against it. She came into contact with Spider-Man, who advised her to use her unique talents to help others in need. Jessica chose to heed his advice and become a bounty hunter. She worked closely with former FBI specialist, Scotty McDowell, who later became the Hornet. When their working relationship failed, Jessica moved with her best friend Lindsay McCabe to San Francisco where she set up a practice as a licensed private investigator. On her first assignment, she battled Siryn, Black Tom Cassidy, and the Juggernaut alongside the X-Men. She also battled Morgan Le Fey once again.
While working as a P.I., Jessica encountered the Viper and the Silver Samurai in a battle. Two main revelations came out of it. The first was that Lindsay McCabe finally learned that Spider-Woman and Jessica were one and the same (although Lindsay claimed that she had known all along). The other was Viper's claim to be Jessica's real mother, of which she tried to convince Jessica. Whether this meant she was actually Miriem Drew remains unknown, but the resemblance between the two was uncanny and even fooled other HYDRA agents. The Viper was shown to be a pawn of Chthon however, and ultimately betrayed Chthon rather than hurt Jessica. Jessica later encountered and battle the Viper again, although now the Viper believed Jessica had brainwashed her into believing that she was her mother. Not long after that, Jessica gave up her immunity powers to save Giant-Man.
Jessica traveled in astral form with Magnus to the Sixth Century England to free her friends' souls in a showdown with Morgan le Fey in the 6th century. She managed to vanquish Morgan, but Jessica's human body died while her spirit was gone from it. Jessica was believed dead and the sorcerer, Magnus, placed a spell over humanity to remove all traces of Jessica's existence. However, this spell was faulty, and Tigra and the Shroud discovered Jessica's dead body and contacted the Avengers and Doctor Strange. It turned out that Jessica was in fact trapped on the astral plane, and was attempting to make contact with her body again. The Avengers and Strange traveled to the astral plane to battle Morgan Le Fay, who was also trapped on the astral plane. Morgan attempted to foil the Avengers' attempts to revive Jessica, bringing Morgan in direct conflict with both the Avengers and Dr. Strange. Eventually, Doctor Strange was able to reunite Jessica spirit with her human body and trap Morgan, but it was not without a cost: Jessica's bioelectric powers were eliminated and Magnus sacrificed his astral form to help restore her to life. Jessica was nevertheless grateful for returning to the land of the living, and abandoned her Spider-Woman identity. She continued her life simply as a private investigator in San Francisco, assisted by Lindsay McCabe and occasionally by Tigra, The Shroud and during their brief time in the city, the X-Men.
Jessica Drew frequented Madripoor as a private investigator, partnered with Lindsay McCabe. During this time she had lost her ability to discharge bioelectricity, but found that her super powers were slowly returning. She still possessed superhuman strength and agility, and the ability to cling to walls. At one point, she became ensorcelled by the Black Blade, and battled Wolverine. However, she became an ally and confidante of Patch (an alter-ego of Wolverine), and developed a friendship with pilot Archie Corrigan, who helped her return to San Francisco, where Jessica worked to sort out her life.
Jessica Drew's life settled down until Charlotte Witter, a villainess going by the name of Spider-Woman, stole her powers. After the theft, Jessica returned to her life as a private investigator and served as a teacher and mentor to Mattie Franklin, a young woman who had assumed the Spider-Woman identity. Jessica began to regain her powers at this time; while investigating two cases with Mattie, she made use of her restored superhuman strength and agility. Although she regained the bulk of her spider-powers, they were unstable. For example, her "venom blasts" worked efficiently in one fight, and then would fail her unexpectedly on another occasion.
When Mattie Franklin was drawn into a highly abusive and parasitic relationship with a New York-based drug dealer who cannibalized her tissue to make the "Mutant Growth Hormone" (commonly known as "MGH"), Jessica didn't hesitate to investigate (despite the instability of her powers). An initial misunderstanding with local P.I. Jessica Jones—who shared many surprising similarities to Drew—turned into an alliance when the women teamed up to rescue Mattie from her captors.
One day, a HYDRA agent known as Connely attacked her and offered her powers back as long as she rejoins S.H.I.E.L.D. and acts as a double agent. Knowing Connely would kill her if she said no, Jessica agreed and contacted Nick Fury, who confronted her securely and urged her to accept the offer as he will feed her limited info until S.H.I.E.L.D. can analyze the HYDRA cell and then use the info to take it down.
However when she went undercover to regain her lost powers, she was ambushed by the Skrulls and replaced by their current Queen Veranke, who takes her place in the New Avengers and assumes her role as Fury's spy, in preparation for the upcoming Invasion.
In the conclusion to Secret Invasion, Jessica is revealed to be alive when Iron Man finds a Skrull ship in orbit with all the replaced heroes. Carol runs up to her and gives her a hug. Unaware of Queen Veranke's actions, Jessica asks why the other heroes have been giving her strange looks, to which Carol responds that "No one knows what to think."
In the aftermath of Secret Invasion, Jessica is invited by Wolverine to join the New Avengers, having nowhere else to go. She's the one who informs the other Avengers that S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer exists and later helps search for Luke and Jessica Jones's baby, Danielle. Along with Iron Fist, they attack a HYDRA base to see if the Skrull Jarvis has contacted any Earth villains seeking a way to leave New York, possibly Earth. She also joins the Lady Liberators along with the Invisible Woman, Storm, Valkyrie, Thundra, Tigra, Black Widow, She-Hulk, and Hellcat who are trying to discover the identity of the Red Hulk.
As a result of a combination of a special serum derived from spider blood and a certain radiation treatment, Jessica possesses superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and speed. She can focus the bioelectric energy that her body generates into "venom blasts" sufficient to stun or kill normal humans, and she can also adhere to almost any surface by excreting an unknown adhesive substance from her palms and soles. Jessica rapidly forms an immunity to all poisons and drugs, and is totally immune to radiation. Her body also exudes a high concentration of pheromones which elicit pleasure in most human males while eliciting fear in most females, though she uses a chemical "perfume" that can nullify this effect. She has also demonstrated superhuman senses in her solo series. Jessica has lost and regained her powers more than once, but has recently emerged with her powers restored greater than ever. She was once only capable of gliding with the help of the glider web extensions on her costume, but now possesses the power of full flight. Her top speed is still not known.
In addition to her powers, Jessica is also a superb hand to hand fighter, and has trained in several styles of fighting including boxing, judo, karate, and capoeira, learned under the training of the Taskmaster. She has also had training in fencing and the use of many other weapons. Jessica was trained by HYDRA (and later on by SHIELD) in covert operations, stealth, espionage, and information gathering and is a superb athlete. She speaks several foreign languages, including Korean, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Jessica also received vocational training in undercover detective work and sometimes carried a Walther PPK handgun.
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