When Spider-Woman originally launched a little over a year ago, we were given a super sexed-up superhero who didn’t have any agency in her own book. These issues weren’t the worst comics I’ve read, but they didn’t encourage me to keep reading. Since then, Hopeless and his team have pulled a complete 180. Jessica Drew is now a character who stands out, takes action, and proves herself worthy of a solo series. It isn’t perfect, but Spider-Woman is one of the very few Marvel books that I am proudly picking up in 2016.
With my last review, I questioned Hopeless’ ability to write a pregnant Jess smoothly; however, those worries are put to rest with issue #3. Jessica’s primary concern is her baby, but she also leads a life that makes that challenging. She probably didn’t plan to spend the end of her pregnancy in a black hole surrounded by Skrulls, though she handles it with her classic charm. If this book were only concerned with Jessica worrying about her baby, it wouldn’t be about the sarcastic hero we’ve come to know in this title. Spider-Woman uses her fists and sticks up for what she believes. Now, she’s just learning how to be herself while also taking care of a small human. It’s a process, but it’s one that highlights how much our titular character is growing.
Jessica is in a completely different situation than she was before Secret Wars, and with that comes some changes in supporting cast. In previous reviews, I’ve mentioned how the relationship between Jessica, Ben Urich, and Porcupine allows the book to shine, and while I do miss these guys, I enjoy how female-centric the comic is right now. I don’t think Ben or Porcupine need to be with Jess during this part of her story, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to help Spider-Woman with her Skrull situation the way Captain Marvel can. Jess’ best friend is just as sassy, yet she’s also aware of how there needs to be a balance between Jess’ role as Spider-Woman and soon-to-be mom. She is a fantastic foil for her friend now that there’s a baby on board. Not only does she want to protect Jessica and push her to do what’s best, she also feels any failures keenly. There’s a sensitivity that comes with the relationship between Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman that adds some emotional depth to the story in addition to the funny moments.
Despite the fact that our superhero has a baby in her belly, Javier Rodriguez still showcases her in motion spectacularly. Spider-Woman has always been and hopefully always will be a woman who takes action, so she needs an artist who can create that in his/her artwork. Rodriguez is able to do his best work on several full-page spreads that depict Jessica moving throughout the hospital. The art is as fluid and believable as anything on a piece of paper can be, which pulls you right into the action. While I love the art, Rachelle Rosenberg‘s coloring is not quite as eye-catching as what I’ve come to expect from Spider-Woman. Some panels are vibrant and pop, while handfuls are so dark them seem muddied. It’s not bad; still, a few tweaks here and there would have made the book flawless.
This isn’t the street-level comic we had before Secret Wars, but the new direction is exciting all the same. Managing to balance action with the task of portraying a pregnant superhero, Spider-Woman #3 is my favorite issue of any Jessica Drew comic I’ve read. The relaunch has been consistently enjoyable, and it continues to promise great things to come. Even if you’re not a fan of Jessica Drew or only ever read the main Spider-title Marvel puts out, you should be reading this comic.