Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Blog: A Spider-Woman for the 1980s Part 2

By Jef Willemsen  
An avid fan of Chris Claremont and Marvel comics in general, Jef Willemsen blogs about the many, many, many times Chris Claremont has resorted to mind control in his 40+ years in the business. Check out his reviews at: http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com

Everybody was kung fu fighting
Claremont’s fondness for the martial arts resulted in it becoming a recurring theme in many stories. While foiling a Yakuza plot, Spider-Woman fought Deathstroke and his shadow ninjas in issue #39. This earned her a spot on the crime syndicate’s hitlist. They sent the super powered assassin known as Flying Tiger after her in issue #40, who left her for dead after an ambush.

Barely surviving this confrontation, Jessica sought out a local sensei who taught her martial arts and self defense which allowed her to overcome her foe. During her time in the dojo, she discovered a disturbing secret about San Francisco police detective Sabrina ‘Bree’ Morrell.

It pays to plan ahead
Despite his reputation for improvisation and writing on the fly, Claremont had a clear vision of where he wanted the book to go. The Bree Morrell/Yakuza plot thread for instance was introduced in issue #40, and took a full year before it finally played out in issue #46 (by then the book had become bi-monthly). Yet, all the dangling storylines got neatly tied up, resulting in a satisfying pay off.

Saying goodbye
Ann Nocenti took over the book with issue #47. She prefered slightly darker, creepier stories in the style of one of Claremont’s predecessors Michael Fleischer. Sales dropped significantly and the book was fatally cancelled six months after Chris’ departure.

Apocryphal arachnid envy
Spider-Woman´s solo book ended with Jessica dying, which was quickly undone by Roger Stern in an issue of Avengers. But for some unknown reason she had lost her powers after her resurrection, forcing her to retire from superhero life. Yet, Marvel soon introduced a new Spider-Woman during the first Secret Wars who went on to become a member of Freedom Force. She was part of the team that tried to apprehend the X-men during their stay with Jessica in San Francisco and thís happened.

I can’t help but think that’s a little stab at the powers that were…

Here we go again…
Never one to let a good character languish in comics limbo, Claremont established Jessica Drew as a private eye on the rogue island of Madripoor when he started the first Wolverine soloseries. Jessica had even regained a measure of her former Spider-Woman powers, but she wouldn’t don her familiar red and gold costume until late 2004… even though, in retrospect, that was the Skrull queen Veranke posing as Spider-Woman.

“He loves you…” was the mantra all the Skrulls uttered during Secret Invasion. And yes…Chris Claremont sure loved Jessica Drew during the 1980s.

1 comment:

  1. Spider-woman was the first series I ever "completed". Never bought it when it was being published. Not sure why I got so into her nor what my first issue was of her series (which I usually know with other titles), but it was a fun read...



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