Marvel Comics Group (November, 1979; as reprinted in Spider-Man Family)
WRITER: Mark Gruenwald
PENCILER: Frank Springer
INKER: Mike Esposito
CO-SCENARIO (whatever that is): Steven Grant
COLORIST: Nelson Yomtov
LETTERER: John Costanzao
EDITOR: Jim Shooter
I should note those last four and the publishing date I looked up on the Grand Comic Database. The credits don’t have first names while Spider-Man Family doesn’t tell me when the comic came out. I’ll have to look that up for all the reprints I’m reviewing from this book.
Fired from her job at the Helos Institute due to new management and a clerical error, Jessica’s day gets worse when learning her apartment’s lease hasn’t been updated by her ex-boyfriend when he left and she’s about to lose that as well. In anger, Spider-Woman returns to the Institute to claim her back wages but then feels bad and seeks to return the stolen money. Unfortunately for her Peter Parker is in LA as a photographer with another reporter doing a story on the place and he stumbles on her returning the money, mistakenly believing this is the theft. Being the Marvel universe he chases her and they fight briefly before she has to save him from falling to his death and the truth is revealed. Realizing she’s actually a good person undoing a mistake and knowing his own life issues he lets her go. Except that Spidey forgot to ask her who she was.
What they got right: Granted, I know little about Spider-Woman in this period (I watched the cartoon as a kid and that’s about it) so take what I say about this with that mind. However, it was a good story. From what Jessica says it sounds like she’s not the crimefighter Spider-Man is, but simply deals with “costume crazies” in Los Angeles. From that perspective I do buy that she would steal the money out of frustration but have her conscience get the better of her. Spider-Woman and Spider-Man don’t do a lot of fighting as it’s mostly chasing, comparing their various powers though apparently Spider-Woman is feeling physically weaker than normal at the moment. It’s not a bad story.
What they got wrong: Feel free to correct me since I’m not well versed in Spider-Man’s lore but why is the newspaper that sent him and Mike out here called The Daily Globe and not The Daily Bugle? It could be a career change (and he’d be smart to work for a good boss instead of old skinflint, Spidey-hating JJ) but if that’s the case he should have stayed there. I’m also curious why even in LA Jessica wouldn’t know who Spider-Man is even when he introduces herself, but Spidey not knowing who Spider-Woman is may make sense if she’s not in the news as much and he does state that he doesn’t follow superheroes outside of New York nearly as much.
Other notes: I can see why this issue was chosen for this collection and not her first issue. By then most of her past had been figured out so you get her origin proper at the time. Since this is Spider-Man Family it also makes sense that they would choose their first meeting. Spider-Woman was mostly created so nobody else would capitalize on Spider-Man’s success by making a female derivative, the same reason She-Hulk was created, at least not with that name. If you’re going to rip off their heroes you’ll have to be more creative. However, Spider-Woman isn’t just a girl Spidey like Spider-Girl or Ghost Spider (Spider-Gwen is a dumb name, sorry). In fact none of the Spider-Woman in the Marvel universe have been, which I appreciate. She has her own powers and her own motivations making her a unique character that just shares the name based on a shared but vague connection of spiders in their origin.
Recommendation: This was a good issue and it makes me curious about the character in those days. This story is worth checking into.