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Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter‘s weekly Comics Watch, a dive into how the latest books from Marvel, DC and beyond could provide fodder for the big (and small) screen. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead for Spider-Woman No. 1.
Spider-Woman, Spider-Woman, she does whatever a spider can — and more. OK, so she doesn’t have her own catchy theme song but Jessica Drew is still an integral part of the Marvel Universe, even if she does play second fiddle to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, to whom she is no relation. This week saw the release of Spider-Woman No. 1 by Karla Pacheco and artists Pere Perez and Paulo Siqueira.
Drew has been many things over the years, a HYDRA agent, a Skrull hostage, an Avenger and a private investigator. Her latest series finds her trying to balance being a new mom and making a living — being an Avenger doesn’t pay. And so, she finds herself in the private security sector, equipped with a new costume, and dealing with a hidden threat that promises to send her already unstable life crashing down around her. A one-time cult character who has emerged as one of Marvel’s best-loved heroines, thanks in part to her long-running stint as part of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers, Jessica Drew has been on many fan wish lists to make her onscreen debut. And whether it’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, now seems like the right time to capitalize on her 43-year history.
While unconnected to Spider-Man by lineage or power-set, both heroes are connected through the Web of Life and Destiny that makes up the Spider-Verse. Jessica Drew’s intersection of personal and superheroic struggles in the latest Spider-Woman ongoing are naturally reminiscent of Peter Parker’s own struggles, providing a greater thematic link between the two characters whose adventures often set them apart. But Pacheco’s Jessica is very much her own character, driven by a different sense of responsibility and desire than Parker, even if her new costume does do more to visually connect the two.
The relaunch issue is broken into an A story and B story, with the first part, drawn by Perez, focusing on Jessica’s new gig providing private security to a billionaire’s daughter during her yacht-based birthday party. What seems like a low-stakes job for the former Avenger becomes a real challenge when French mercenaries arrive and Jessica begins to feel a loss of control over her body and emotions. The B story, drawn by Siqueira, takes places a few weeks before the first, and showcases Jessica’s job search, and her acquisition of a new costume, one that comes from a mysterious source and may be the cause of her present-day illness. Both stories deftly balance Jessica’s characterization with a sense of humor and intrigue that stems from the her secret agent/detective background.
Jessica Drew’s cinematic rights aren’t entirely clear in terms of whether she belongs to Marvel Studios or Sony. Either way, there’s plenty of potential for her character in either universe. And if we’re lucky, maybe there’s a deal to be made, like the case of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, so that the character can exist in both worlds, which seem to be more closely related than originally thought based on the trailer for Morbius. In any case, Jessica Drew’s history as a former HYDRA agent is an interesting one. She was brainwashed and ordered to assassinate SHIELD director Nick Fury, but eventually she escaped from HYDRA and emerged as a superhero and bounty hunter.
In terms of the MCU, the HYDRA connection puts her in an interesting position, given that the terrorist organization has seemingly been wiped out. There’s a story to be told there about a woman who has spent her whole life indoctrinated with certain ideals who suddenly finds herself in a world of new heroes post-Endgame.
In the comics, Jessica develops a close friendship with Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, something fans are keen on seeing play out in the MCU. And Jessica plays a significant role in Secret Invasion, where the Skrull Queen Veranke replaces her for a time, and the aftermath sees Spider-Woman joining the extraterrestrial counter-agency, SWORD, which we may have gotten a glimpse of at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
With the MCU’s own version of Secret Invasion seemingly in the works, also hinted at in Far From Home, it would make sense to see Jessica show up sooner rather than later. And as for her place within Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, it’s always possible she could appear in the sequel or spinoff to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). Her recent involvement in the Spider-Verse storyline in the comics — which saw her battling Morlun and his Inheritors alongside Spider-Men and Spider-Women from across the multiverse — puts her in closer proximation to Spider-Man’s film world than ever.
With a new comic series, and two cinematic universes expanding, across mediums, the time for Jessica Drew’s cinematic debut feels just right. All she needs now is a theme song of her own.
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