Current Reviews


Spider-Woman: Origin #4

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2006
By: Shawn Hill

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed
Artists: The Luna Brothers

Publisher: Marvel

Plot: Jessica is still tangled in Hydra’s arms, and Nick Fury’s allegiance just complicates things further. When she finds out her parents still live, she impulsively takes off on a solo undercover mission.

Comments: There’s one thing missing from this story, despite the respectful acknowledgement of the “works of Goodwin, Romita Sr., Buscema, Wolfman and Infantino” on the title page. In setting their story in mundane and familiar spy territory, Bendis and Reed undercut the sci-fi aspect of Spider-Woman’s origin. As her conception as a meta-human is the result of an accident by her scientist parents, there’s no place left in the story for the High Evolutionary.

He’s the sort of high-concept entity Bendis just doesn’t do; can you imagine him writing Galactus, or even the Watcher? A character like the Evolutionary is aloof and removed from normal reality, a comic book convention that drives and creates other characters, but is barely more than an idea himself. Here he’s so aloof as to be little more than a rumor, or a memory.

Instead, Bendis and Reed focus attention on Jessica as a dupe, pawn and victim of Hydra’s clandestine machinations and cultish zeal. Fury’s no-nonsense offer of assistance to Jessica cuts through their illusions, but with strategic manipulation of information rather than simple honesty. Jessica has no one to trust, and so she struggles to come to terms with her identity and origin, and with those missing years of her life where she was totally at Hydra’s mercy. She also has a badass streak, and a tendency towards final solutions, as her seducer Jared and her teacher the Taskmaster learned last issue.

Add that to her penchant for disguise and her ability to disappear into deep cover, and she’s formidable; it’s clear why Fury wants her on his side.

Visuals: Joshua Luna does the layouts, and Jonathan Luna does everything else, including colors. The mood has been remarkably consistent on this series, matching Jessica’s grim situation with a generally low-key, muted world, punctuated by odd visionary moments. Even the horrible revelations, like the murdered body of Jessica’s mother, are more lurid than disgusting. There’s a simple, storybook quality to the art (despite frequent gunfire) that is in synch with Jessica’s stunted growth, with a child that woke up one
day in a powerful adult body, surrounded by enemies.

Summation: This has been a compelling, coherent if downbeat series that has followed a main character and a limited supporting cast through escalating predicaments. It looks fit to make sure all the guns left on the mantelpiece during the story will be fired in the final chapter.

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