Spider-Woman Jessica Drew made her first Marvel Comics appearance in an issue of Marvel Spotlight from 1977, and though the character fell out of popularity for a while, she’s returned over the past two decades in fantastic stories that highlight her compelling character.
The character had her own self-titled animated series, Spider-Woman, which ran from 1979 to 1980, but she’s largely been absent from onscreen adaptations since. This is set to change with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, in which Jessica will be voiced by Issa Rae. Until then, there are some important aspects of her character that only comic book readers know about.
Updated on January 19th, 2023 by Stacie Rook: As Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s June 2023 release date approaches, more information is being revealed about its story and characters, including Spider-Woman Jessica Drew. She can be seen in the movie’s first full trailer (via YouTube), where it’s revealed that the character is pregnant, drawing from one of her recent comic book storylines.
Spider-Woman Has 2 Origin Stories
Spider-Woman has had two distinct origin stories in her comic book history, a practice which remains common in the Marvel world as stories are modernized and characters are revisited. Both origins are still tied to the character to some extent.
The first saw Jessica become seriously unwell as a child because of exposure to uranium, which led to her father (geneticist Jonathan Drew) giving her an experimental serum containing the blood of irradiated spiders and placing her in a genetic accelerator, healing her but also granting her powers. This origin was replaced in 2006’s Spider-Woman Origin, which had Jessica’s powers come from a scientific incident involving spider DNA when her mother was pregnant with her.
Spider-Woman Has History With HYDRA
Both of Spider-Woman’s origin stories see the character connected to the villainous organization HYDRA, which she comes into contact with after her parents are gone, whether missing or otherwise.
In both instances, Jessica is taken into the HYDRA ranks under false pretenses, being captured or lied to about their true purpose. She trains within HYDRA for a number of years, developing the fighting skills she will later use as a superhero before eventually escaping the terrorist organization.
Spider-Woman Wields Unique Powers
Spider-Woman has many of the powers associated with her fellow Spider-Verse heroes, including superhuman strength, stamina, speed, and agility, as well as the ability to crawl on walls.
These are not Jessica’s only powers, as she can also use what she calls “venom blasts,” controlled bursts of bio-electricity that she channels through her hands to stun or otherwise debilitate her enemies. Additionally, though she doesn’t have the ability to fly, she can glide through the air, helping her to navigate diverse environments with ease.
Spider-Woman Was Involved In Secret Invasion
Jessica Drew, or at least an imitation of the character, plays a vital role in the comic book storyline Secret Invasion, acting as the narrative’s main villain.
While the real Jessica Drew is trapped by Skrulls within HYDRA, the Skrull Queen Veranke assumes Jessica’s identity and joins the New Avengers. In one of the best Avengers comic issues of the 2000s, this deceit is revealed, kickstarting a worldwide Skrull invasion. When Jessica returns she joins the New Avengers in earnest but remains rattled by the harm that was done in her name.
Spider-Woman And Hawkeye Were A Couple
Jessica Drew has had several romances over the decades of her on-the-page life, one of which was with fellow Avenger Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye. The two start a relationship while they are Avengers teammates, during the story of the Fear Itself comic event, which sees Asgardian villain the Serpent taking over the Earth, fueled by the fear he generates.
Although the pair aren’t together for too long, and there’s temporary friction between them, they’re later shown to be friends who still check up on (and hang out with) one another, as shown in one of the best Hawkeye comic books, the 2012 run by Matt Fraction and David Aja.
Spider-Woman Is Friends With Captain Marvel
Over the last decade or so, Jessica Drew has been one of Carol Danvers’ best friends in Captain Marvel comic book stories, both within and outside their superhero careers.
The pair can talk to each other about anything and understand one another’s superpower-related struggles, as well as the complicated histories that they share with other teammates. Though they haven’t always seen eye to eye, as shown when Jessica confronted Carol during the events of Civil War II, their friendship has ultimately remained intact, and stronger for the tests it’s survived.
Spider-Woman Was Part Of The Spider-Verse Event
Serving as inspiration not only for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse but also for aspects of the recent MCU movie Spider-Man: No Way Home, the Spider-Verse comic event brought together spider-themed heroes from many realities.
As a part of this, Spider-Woman teamed up with both Silk and Spider-Man Noir in a heroic effort to stop the villain Morlun and his family, the Inheritors. During this time, Spider-Woman had to confront her doppelgänger, who was Morlun’s lover and was able to gather critical intel that helped the Spider-team win their fight. Though she was successful, this ordeal affected Jessica, and ultimately led to her quitting the Avengers.
Spider-Woman Has Been An Avenger And An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Since her debut, Spider-Woman has often been associated with the Avengers, but in addition to holding a position on that team’s roster, she’s also been a part of several Marvel teams who deserve their own movie.
Aside from her Avengers, New Avengers, and Secret Avengers roles, Spider-Woman has acted as an agent for not only S.H.I.E.L.D. but also S.W.O.R.D., combating extraterrestrial threats. Beyond this, she’s joined lesser-known teams like the Lady Liberators, the Order of the Web, and Strikeforce. All the while, Jessica has shown she works well in team-based combat and has used her HYDRA training for the side of good.
Spider-Woman Is A Mom
Jessica Drew is not only confirmed for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but will also be pregnant in the movie. This is inspired by a storyline that took place in the Spider-Woman Vol. 6 solo run by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, Javier Rodríguez, and Álvaro López, which followed Jessica Drew’s journey to becoming a mom.
Though initially there was much buzz both in the world of the story and online from comic fans about who the baby’s father was, it was revealed that Jessica had gone through the process of artificial insemination to become a parent. The storyline showed how Jessica’s priorities had shifted after years as Spider-Woman, but still showed the hero taking on villains and showcasing her talents as much as ever.
Spider-Woman Has Worn Multiples Cool Costumes
For most of her comic book run, Spider-Woman’s outfit has been a tight-fitting, one-piece bodysuit, and while it’s an iconic look, it’s never seemed the most practical.
The 2014 Spider-Woman Vol. 5 solo series gave her a new costume, designed by Kris Anka, consisting of a jacket that can be switched from casual to hero mode in a few clicks, black pants, two-toned gloves, and sunglasses that echo the imagery of her original mask. A seemingly more comfortable and functional outfit, it ushered in a new age for Spider-Woman, and though she’s used her original costume again in later runs, this style added a much-needed modern alternative to Spider-Woman’s collection.