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History of Spider-Woman
History of Spider-Woman:
Spider-Woman started life in comic books. She made her first
appearance in the comic book series "Marvel Two-In-One" #29 (not #30 as
is commonly believed) in 1977. "Marvel Two-In-One" was really a
title for The Thing, the rock-man member of the Fantastic Four
superhero team. It paired the mighty man with other superheroes
both popular and fledgling. This issue paired The Thing with the
fairly popular hero Shang Chi, Master of Kung-Fu. Spider-Woman,
who makes only a brief appearance in this issue, is actually a
villainess under control of the evil terrorist group Hydra.
Spider-Woman made several appearances in this title, transforming from
straight villainess to a "gray area" heroine. Also, her costume
was slightly different at this time. The mask completely covered
her head; you did not see her long black hair. In truth, her hair
was blonde. It was not until she got her own comic series in
1978, "Spider-Woman", did Jessica Drew dye her hair black and let it
flow free from her mask. THIS is the Spider-Woman we know best.
In the early issues, Spider-Woman was not a
fully-fledged superheroine. That was finally established several
issues into it. Spider-Woman was an interesting experiment for
Marvel. They wanted to play off the name of their most popular
character, Spider-Man, but create a completely separate
character. Besides occasional team-ups, Spider-Man and
Spider-Woman had no relationship to each other. Their powers were
By 1979, a "Spider-Woman" TV cartoon series was put
into effect. This cartoon series gets hammered a lot by critics
for not following the comics. There are a number of reasons the
cartoon wasn't altogether faithful to the comics. First off, the
comic character of Spider-Woman had too complicated of back story to be
explained in a fun little kiddy cartoon. Secondly, the
Spider-Woman comic series never really established itself. It
changed it's format and supporting cast very regular. The premise
laid down in the cartoon series probably would have been a good one for
the comics. At least it was grounded.
The cartoon series lasted only one season, despite
the fact that it was well-produced and one of the better superhero
cartoons of the 1970s. The comic book series ran until 1983,
ending with issue #50.
In the cartoon "Spider-Woman", young Jessica Drew
was bitten by a poisonous spider. Her father injects her
with a life-saving spider-serum. The treatment worked, but the
side effects were extraordinary. She has the ability to fire
concussive "venom blasts", shoot webs, and has enhanced
hearing. Add these things to the standard superhero
qualities like super-strength, super-agility, and near-flight (she
"glides", actually), and you have the scrumptious super-babe
Spider-Woman. Now an adult, Jessica Drew works as editor of
Justice Magazine and fights evil on both fronts. Her
boyfriend/photographer is Jeff Hunt, and her little nephew Billy Drew
just kind of hangs around.
In the comics, there is no Justice Magazine or
anything like that. As a matter of fact, Jessica Drew was more of
a vagabond. She really never had any set occupation. At
least not for long. She didn't have any relatives that we hear
about other than her father, who was murdered. Also, her
boyfriend Jeff Hunt was not a photographer, but a spy for
anti-terrorist agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. He didn't stick around in the
comics too long, either. As far as powers go, the comic
Spider-Woman cannot shoot webs. That was Spider-Man's
thing. Spider-Woman could only shoot venom blasts, either to stun
or kill. Also, there is really nothing in the comics about
Jessica Drew, in the cartoon, spins around to become
Spider-Woman. This was definitely NOT in the comics, and is a
very obvious tip-of-the-hat to the live-action TV series "Wonder
Woman". In various episodes, we will also see rare, one-shot
Spider-Woman super powers that we'll never see or hear about
again. These things include, but are not limited to:
protective spider bubble, shallow spider-breathing, and spider
telepathy. But her "spider sense" power is perhaps the most
fantastic of all her non-comic powers. Spider-Man's "spider
sense" is very limited, only warning him of some impending doom, and
nothing more than a tingling sensation. Spider-Woman's "spider
sense", exclusive to this series, is a powerful psychic ability that
tells her exactly what wrongdoing is being committed.
All in all, the cartoon Spider-Woman is shown far
more fantastic than her comic book counterpart. It was a
respectful, albeit very farfetched adaptation of the character.
This is a fun little superhero cartoon, definitely made for very young
children, but not without its charm for older audiences.
Joan Van Ark, voice of Spider-Woman, was just
starting out in TV's night-time soap opera "Knots Landing" at the time
this cartoon was on the air, and achieved her greatest success as the
character of Valene Ewing in an impressive 319 episodes (1979-1993).
Bryan Scott, voice of Billy Drew, has done a number
of things in voicework over the years. His most popular part was
probably as the voice of Kidd Video in the cartoon series, "Kidd Video"
This was the last series for DePatie-Freleng
Enterprises before the company was reincorporated as Marvel Productions.
Studio: DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
- Pyramids of Terror (September 22) GUEST-STARRING
- Realm of Darkness (September 29) GUEST-STARRING
- The Amazon Adventure
- The Ghost Vikings
- The Kingpin Strikes Again GUEST-STARRING THE
- The Lost Continent
- The Kongo Spider GUEST-STARRING SPIDER-MAN!
- Games of Doom
- Shuttle to Disaster
- Dracula's Revenge GUEST-STARRING MARVEL'S DRACULA!
- The Spider-Woman and the Fly
- Invasion from the Black Hole
- The Great Magini
- A Crime in Time
- Return of the Spider-Queen
- A Deadly Dream
2. Realm of Darkness:
Dormammu, the evil demon "Lord of Darkness" wants to permanently
eclipse the sun and put the Earth in darkness. A rare
Spider-Woman power we see in this episode is "shallow spider-breathing"
that allows her to not breathe in hypnotic gas. This power was
used again in the "Games of Doom" episode. Another rare
Spider-Woman power is her "spider shriek", a sonic scream that causes a
In Marvel Comics' titles, Dormammu was really more a
villain for the occult superheroes like Dr. Strange. Plus, he
looks a bit different in this cartoon than he does in the comics.
Still, this is probably one of the series' better episodes in terms of
writing and believability. The animated "spider shriek" sequence
is hilarious! It looks so funny!
3. The Amazon Adventure:
Amazon women steal gold to build their hidden city.
4. The Ghost Vikings:
Viking ghosts raid the present-day. Another rare Spider-Woman
power we see in this episode is a "protective spider bubble" that
allows her to breathe underwater.
5. The Kingpin Strikes Again:
A criminal mastermind known as The Kingpin steals an invisibility
ray. The Kingpin had been a popular Marvel Comics villain for
some time. He first appeared as a Spider-Man foe, then became
Daredevil's top enemy. But Spider-Woman really shared no
association with the villain in the comics.
7. The Kongo Spider: An
insane German film director known only as C.B. uses a giant spider and
a giant robotic spider to wreak havoc and make a movie. Another
rare Spider-Woman power we see in this episode is "spider telepathy"
that she uses to communicate with the giant spider. Marvel's most
popular superhero, Spider-Man, makes a guest appearance.
8. Games of Doom:
Olympic athletes from every country are kidnapped and replaced with
lookalike robots. The rare Spider-Woman power, "shallow
spider-breathing", returns in this episode and allows her to not
sleeping gas. We last saw this power in the episode, "Realm of
Darkness". A lot of people get ticked with this episode when
they see the title, "Games of Doom", because they think popular Marvel
Comics villain Dr. Doom is going to be in it. That's never
bothered me, but I do have one complaint: I don't get the
miniature man at the end of this episode. What's that
about? Besides that, this is a fun little kiddy cartoon like all
the others in the series.
Joan Van Ark as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman
Bruce Miller as Jeff Hunt
Bryan Scott as Billy Drew
Dick Tufeld as Narrator