Jessica Drew never had a chance. Before she was born an accident gave her spider-like powers, and her parents were members of the terrorist organization called Hydra. Another accident places Jessica in a coma for 11 years and when she wakes up, her training as a Hydra agent begins; with the mind of a 7 year old girl, she's given a crash course on a version of the world Hydra wants her to see. This soon puts her at odds with Nick Fury. -summary
In New Avengers Volume 3: Secrets and Lies, it was revealed that Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman was in fact a double agent working for both the terrorist organization Hydra and the peace-keeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. In the case of Hydra, she was forced into their fold due to them reactivating her powers. In order to keep herself alive, she had to constantly feed them information, but when she was found out by Nick Fury, her loyalty swayed more towards him, and he was the only one who knew she was playing for two teams, so he fed her just enough very good info while she gave him the best Hydra secrets. This story written by Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed covers her true beginnings with a slight bit of retconning. It's a very good origin tale that will more than likely help Spider-Woman fans get to know the character further, in which she did develop a rather strong following when Bendis re-introduced her as a member of the New Avengers. This TPB collects Spider-Woman: Origin 1-5.
Bendis managed to drag two rather obscure characters from the 70's being Luke Cage and Spider-Woman into the here and now, and develop them so well along the way in the pages of New Avengers to the point where they felt just as important as A-listers Spider-Man, Captain America, etc. I'm still happy to see the use with Spider-Woman, especially when looking at how the character was stripped of her powers and subjected to bit roles during the 80's and such. This story did a fantastic job in making her into a sympathetic character. Her plight reminds me of a crack baby; she was dealt a very bad hand from the day she was born, with no real choice whatsoever on the road she had to take. Her fate was never truly in her hands.
The story covers the details on how Jessica got her powers, how it effected her parents, especially her father who saw her as just another science breakthrough, and how it destroyed her parents marriage. The story is paced very well with a cinematic like flow delivering good portions of action, drama, and suspense. Most of the characters who are given an ample amount of time are very well developed. Even though Jessica is the star of the book, you also get a very good idea on how cruel Hydra can be. They truly are evil incarnate and they are very resourceful, with their influence reaching very deep into military ranks. In fact, even Nick Fury learns much later on they had a solid foothold in S.H.I.E.L.D. for years even while he was running it. The story also reaches into Spider-Man territory, and sheds a good amount of light on just how Miles Warren aka the Jackal even began to learn the basics of cloning, in which this knowledge caused Spider-Man many years of grief. Bendis as usual delivers with the dialog, as his characters act and say things that would likely come from real people. I love how he handles the sarcastic side of Nick Fury.
While the book does cover a great amount of ground, at five issues it does feel like you're not getting the whole entire story. There was plenty of potential for a whole lot more. I would've appreciated had the book left the world of superheroes and villains for even a brief moment, and got straight down to Jessica trying to live a normal life. At least a single issue of this would have balanced out her character just a bit more, and certain story elements would have felt more believable.
Jonathan Luna's glossy artwork isn't exactly to die for, yet it's nothing to look down on either. His character designs resemble paintings a little bit more than traditional comic characters. This wouldn't be an issue at all, but the facial designs seem to look too much alike. If Jessica's parents were bald-headed you probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart. On the other hand, Jessica looks great in her Spider-Woman outfit despite the fan service being quite tame. There aren't an over abundance of crotch shots which I have no problem with. The action panels are fun to watch as she goes up against multiple Hydra foot soldiers, as well as the Taskmaster using some good strikes and even energy projection, but don't come into this expecting over the top Spider-Man like action. Backgrounds aren't lazily done as several settings manage to stand out, such as the night time clearly appearing to be the right time to get a kill on.
This is a very solid origin story overall though, had it gone that extra mile and attempted to deliver more of a drama it could have been a truly excellent work. I'm satisfied for the most part though, and if you're already a fan of the character this book is for you. If you know nothing of Spider-Woman, then this isn't a bad place to give her a look.
Pros: -Solid narrative for the most part with good artwork
Cons: -Felt quite short, as if more could have been told.
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Serious gamer and hardcore comic reader.
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