Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew is in a dark place, having been kidnapped by Skrulls and had her guise adopted as the figurehead of the Skrull invasion. SWORD, the planetary-defense agency, has recruited her as an agent, with a standing assignment to track down and remove aliens on Earth… by any means she deems appropriate.
Her first assignment has taken her to Madripoor, where she engaged a Skrull in the guise of Spider-Man. As far as we readers can tell, the Skrull died in the fight, but Jessica lost consciousness.
Jessica awakes in a prison cell. Assessing her options, she reasons that while she could break out of the cell easily, she prefers not to; if she bides her time, she may learn something about what is going on in Madripoor with the Skrulls.
After she sweats for a bit, Detective Chong of Madripoor law enforcement approaches her cell and escorts her to an interrogation chamber. He has questions for her, like What is this watch? What is this cell phone? Jessica tells him the truth - they are an alien detector and a conduit to an external intelligence agency - and Chong is not pleased. He tells Jessica that, as a foreign superhero, traveling on a fake passport, who has killed a space alien in public, she will not be released and will instead be extradited to the USA… for which read ‘Norman Osborn’.
Jessica decides she’s learned all she can, and so plays her high card. No, not her spider-strength, nor her venom blasts, but rather her pheromone emissions. In the chamber’s close quarters, the pheromones (which, though invisible, are rendered as a swirling green mist) throw Detective Chong for a loop. Unable to resist, Chong disables the surveillance camera, unlocks the door, and takes Jess to the parking garage.
In an interesting aside, we readers are privy to Jessica’s stream-of-consciousness regarding this power. She doesn’t like using it, because she doesn’t like the moral implications of forcing people to do things against their will. What’s more, it’s physically uncomfortable (“it feels a little… like peeing”); it doesn’t turn off right away; and it affects everyone in range, not just her target.
This reverie is broken when a sniper’s bullet fells Detective Chong. Certain the bullet was meant for her, Jessica snaps her handcuffs with a single flex and pursues the killers, who are escaping in their souped-up sports car… so souped-up, in fact, that it can fly.
Jessica had thought the attackers were Skrulls, but now reasons they're SHIELD. Who else would bring a flying car to an assassination? But Jessica’s wrong about this. She gets the message when a squad of cops, who have found Chong’s body, arrive to arrest her. The flying car swings around, a machine gun emerges, and budda-budda-budda, the cops are dead.
So it wasn’t Jess the sniper was after, but Chong. But who would come to this place to rescue Jessica in such a manner? Only one organization; and sure enough, the door opens to reveal Viper, the once – and present? – Madame Hydra.
It’s Bendis, the king of decompression, writing a motion comic that’s been converted into print.
It’s a fast read, is what I’m saying. There are lots and lots and lots of wordless panels. That’s good, because you can revel in Maleev’s art, but it does mean it reads fast. I mean, my summary above could have gone like this:
Jessica wakes up in jail. A cop interrogates her, so she whammies him with pheromones so he’ll take her to the garage. There, a sniper kills the cop, and drives away in a flying car to the roof. Jessica follows, and when more cops try to arrest her, the flying-car driver shoots them too. Jessica realizes that this means the killer is HYDRA, and it is – it’s Madame Hydra.
It’s a good read, but I’m glad I’m only paying $2.99 USD for this.
A good read, yes, but it feels awfully short. Artwork is beautiful, though, and Bendis’ ear for noir dialogue is still perfect, so I’ll bump it up half a web.
The only place Jessica appears in her Spider-Woman garb in this issue is on the cover. Oh, and in the background image on the introduction page. No complaints, though: T-shirt and jeans is practically a standard superhero costume these days.