Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew is in Madripoor, on a mission for the alien-hunting agency SWORD. Picked up by local law enforcement, Jess was in the midst of escape when Viper, i.e., Madame Hydra, showed up and slaughtered a whole bunch of cops. Having ‘freed’ Jess from the police, Viper now expects Jessica to flee the scene with her.
“No,” says Jessica.
Viper, whom Jessica’s internal monologue describes as “one of the most bipolar wacked out terrorists that has ever lived,” is mildly put out as her daughter’s defiance. “Yeah, little factoid,” Jess remarks to herself, “in her most crazy moments – she actually thinks she’s my mother.
Viper may be crazy, but she knows how to push Jessica’s buttons. Another squad of cops is coming, and Madame Hydra threatens to kill them all unless Jessica gets in the flying car. Not seeing a good way out of this – like, for instance, stunning the terrorist with a venom blast – Jessica gets in the car and Viper flies it away.
“Hop on my lap, sweetie.”
“You look nice.”
“…Yes. Let’s go home.”
Madame Viper chats aimlessly about how healthy Jessica looks, and mentions that she even had a deal in place with the Skrull-Jessica, but always knew something was wrong. Meanwhile, she’s nonchalantly using her flying car to swoop around skyscrapers and shoot down police helicopters. Jessica silently fumes, furious that police officers and other innocent bystanders are getting killed and there’s nothing that she can do about it.
Anyway, all of this is prelude to Viper making The Offer, namely to come back to HYDRA. Viper thinks she knows what is best for her ‘daughter,’ which is to rejoin the one agency where she was most “alive,” most “successful.”
I guess Viper is crazy, because all Jess ever did for HYDRA was to go on one mission to assassinate Nick Fury, and she didn’t pull it off. Ah well.
By this time the pair has reached the roof of HYDRA’s Madripoor base, and Jessica has had enough. She (finally) lets Viper have it with a venom blast. No dice, though. “You like my new personal energy shield? It’s the latest. Stole it from your good friends at SHIELD. Good stuff. I can get you one.”
Viper waves off the HYDRA agents who are itching to shoot Jessica and continues her sales pitch. “It’s called faith. But girl, I’ll tell you, you need it. You need to belong to something stronger than yourself. Come on, Skrull hunter. I want to show you something.”
Viper leads Jess to a cell hidden deep within the HYDRA base. Locked inside is a Skrull prisoner. “You want closure. Here’s closure. He’s all yours… I’ll wait outside.”
The song remains the same with this title. Because it’s a motion comic adapted into print, it’s filled with Alex Maleev’s lush visuals but only wisps of story. At least that story comes with lots of Bendis’ trademarked internal monologues and sharp noir-style banter.
The key point we readers get in this story not captured in the main line (reproduced above) is that HYDRA has agents everywhere, and maybe even in SWORD. Viper does know all about what Jess is up to, and even has some of SWORD’s tech. And she professes to be on-side with Jessica’s mission to eliminate alien influences on Earth, because – says Viper – these aliens are disturbing the equilibrium of Madripoor, which HYDRA wants for itself.
This forces Jess to wonder whether the whole ‘Agent of SWORD’ set-up was a HYDRA initiative to begin with. Is she simply doing HYDRA’s dirty work for it?
Maybe, if she gets to kill Skrulls, she doesn’t care either way. Next issue’s confrontation with the Skrull should be interesting.
I’ll give it the same grade as last time, as the strengths and weaknesses of the title haven’t changed: strong visuals, relatively slight story.
Another issue where Jessica only appears in costume on the cover. Huh.