Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew has become an agent of SWORD, the anti-alien espionage agency. She came to Madripoor to hunt a particular Skrull, name of Koru Kaviti, and was happy to do it, given that the Skrulls kidnapped her and stole her identity during the Secret Invasion. What she found instead was HYDRA. Viper, a.k.a. Madame Hydra, coerced Jessica into accompanying her to HYDRA’s local base. The terrorist leader wishes to bring Jessica back into the HYDRA fold, and has bribed her with a captive Skrull. Viper expects Jessica to kill the Skrull in cold blood.
This is supposed to be how she’ll achieve closure.
Madame Hydra is a persuasive saleswoman, I’ll give her that, but she doesn’t know when silence is her friend. It’s pretty clear to us readers that Jessica is eager to get alone, up close, and personal with this Skrull that Viper has offered up, but Viper keeps talking and talking for three whole pages – her monologue constantly interrupted by Jessica’s pleas to “shut up” – before she closes the door on the cell.
We the readers don’t know what Jessica’s intentions are. Is she going to rip this Skrull up, or interrogate him?
I guess the brighter side of her nature prevailed, because she chooses the latter. “What’s your name?”
He’s not even the one I’m looking for, Jess thinks.
“Can we go home now?” Natu asks.
See, this Skrull has been locked up for so long, he doesn’t know the Secret Invasion failed. He thinks Jess is actually the Skrull Queen in disguise. Jess brusquely explains the facts to him; he doesn’t take it well. He shapeshifts from a (deliberately?) small and pathetic body into a gigantic musclebound one and begins throwing punches.
A multi-page fight scene ensues. Jess takes the worst of it, receiving blow after blow. We the readers aren’t terribly impressed… until we get a glimpse of what Jessica is thinking.
You think I can’t take this?
I can take it.
I can take anything you got.
I was born broken.
Damn, that’s good.
Jess knows who she is. A trained agent of HYDRA and SHIELD; an Avenger; a super hero. She’s tough enough to beat this Skrull to death, I guess, because she also knows she now is an official agent of SWORD.
I dunno, is this how super heroes behave? Eh, I guess Wolverine does. I prefer my heroes to aim a little higher.
Maybe Jess does too. As Madame Hydra opens the cell door, Jess runs like a bat out of hell, knocking Viper down, dodging the bullets of HYDRA agents, and right off the roof. All the while, she’s thinking I did do it again. I did… I can’t be one of those people who keeps making the same mistake over and over and over again. Never learning. Never growing. I can’t let that be me. I can’t!
I take this to mean that she understands that going along with HYDRA, and killing things they want you to kill, was a mistake. Good – maybe she is going to aim higher.
Unfortunately, her moment of clarity distracted her sufficiently that she forgot she can only fly when she’s wearing her Spider-Woman costume. Maybe jumping off of the roof was a bad idea.
It’s a very consistent title so far. Beautiful art, dialogue that – at its best – is spare and sharp and hypnotic, and a story that seems so brief it’s over before you know it. That’s the series as a whole to this point, and that’s this issue as well.
I’m giving it a slightly higher grade than its predecessors, because that “I was born broken” sequence is so well done.
Add another number to the big board: that’s three issues in a row in which Jessica only appears in costume on the cover. Actually, three-and-a-half: if memory serves, she’s only in costume in issue #1 for the first couple of pages.