As someone who didn’t read any “Secret Wars” titles outside of Renew Your Vows, I began Spider-Woman #1 with no clue what was going on. I had seen all the teasers for a very pregnant Jessica Drew months ago, yet outside of that, I didn’t know what to expect. I went into my comic shop filled with trepidation, but thankfully Spider-Woman #1 is a book that shakes things up for Jessica Drew in an novel way and unveils the beginning of a new journey for this heroine.
Upon first peeling back the first several pages of the comic, I have to admit that I didn’t click with what I was reading. The first few pages highlight how Jess never wanted to be a mom, never liked kids, and how all that changed when she found out she was pregnant. As a young woman who is reaching that age where I get asked at every family gathering when I want to have kids, I rolled my eyes throughout all of these pages. Nevertheless, I will be the first to admit that I’ve heard people say that everything changed once they got pregnant. So I tried to keep my own issues from coloring my opinion of the book as a whole, certainly Jessica shouldn’t be forced to adhere to my own trepidation’s about pregnancy. Even with such a pessimistic outlook, I can admit that a pregnancy story for a superhero that is so independent is an unlikely and inspired choice.
Though I was wary, there is a lot to praise in #1. The strength here lies in the group dynamic. Before, Ben Urich and Porcupine were stealing the limelight from Jess’ journey, but this issue captures their roles perfectly. Ben and Porcupine are intriguing characters on their own, but they’re really there to showcase Jess’ own qualities. She’s a stubborn woman used to being on her own, and this pregnancy, combined with their determination to keep her safe, underscores that perfectly. While Jess may want to run right into the middle of the action and stop the bad guys, she can’t do that for the time being. It’s a new situation that she has to adjust to, which actually invested me more in this new story and dynamic. Instead of being the heroic crime solver who knows it all and can render her villains punch-drunk effortlessly, Jess is forced to stand on the sidelines and let someone else bumble around with the bad guys.
Not only do the two men in Jessica’s life add something to her story, many of Spider-Woman’s other friends enrich this narrative as well. Carol Danvers is the one who is able to get Jess to open up the most about her pregnancy, but she also makes sure her friend stays as sarcastic and sassy as ever. This wouldn’t be a Spider-Woman book if it wasn’t funny. Carol also understands Jessica in a way Ben and Porcupine never will, and their interactions help me appreciate the different aspects of her personality in new ways. In addition to Carol, a handful of other big Marvel names pop up to help illustrate and redefine Jessica’s role in this new Marvel universe. Thankfully, Hopeless is able to feature all of these characters while ultimately focusing on Spider-Woman, which highlights his ability to tell an intriguing story without straying too far from the main character. I came to this book to learn more about Jessica Drew, and that’s what I got.
As always, Javier Rodriguez’s art only amplifies the script Hopeless has put together. The movements of the characters are spot-on and the coloring adds vivid depth to everything on the page. Though I love the art, the panels are not as fluid as usual. However, since this book is lighter on action than the average Spider-Woman issue, it doesn’t detract from the work. There’s a vibrancy that Rodriguez brings to the table that augments the street-level story, and this partnership between Hopeless and Rodriguez is what brings Spider-Woman to life.
After Marvel’s big event, this is the perfect reintroduction to Jessica Drew. She may be pregnant and trying to stay on the safer side these days, but Hopeless and Rodriguez understand that she’s still a superhero. Instead of just throwing her into a big Marvel event, Jess has agency in this relaunch and Hopeless is able to answer just enough questions to keep us guessing. Issue #1 is the comic that truly changes the status quo for Spider-Woman, and that’s what makes me want to come back for more.