Spider-Woman (Vol. 4) #5

 Posted: Jan 2010


Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew went to Madripoor to track down Skrulls. While there, she was arrested by the local cops. In the midst of her escape from custody, HYDRA appeared and spirited her away, killing a number of cops in the process. So Jess had to escape from HYDRA too, which she achieved by jumping off of the roof of their skyscraper hideout.

The problem is, Jess can only fly when she’s wearing her Spider-Woman costume… which is still back at the police station. Oops.

Story Details

Well, sure, she can only fly when in costume. But the costume doesn’t give her the power of flight; rather, it boosts her native ability to maneuver in mid-air. Without the costume, as she says in her internal monologue, at least I can decide what I’m going to fall on…

What she decides to fall on is a fountain. A pretty shallow one, from what I can see, no more than a foot. I wouldn’t think that would help much. Maybe Jessica doesn’t weigh very much? I guess not, if she can glide on air currents. So that would mitigate the damage some. And she did grab a cable of hanging lanterns on her way down which pulled her pretty far to the side – I guess that could have bled off some of her kinetic energy.

Or maybe a wizard did it. The point is, she’s pretty banged up. In fact, she just has enough mojo to climb out of the fountain before she passes out. This is becoming a habit for Jessica: she just passed out a few hours ago, at the end of Spider-Woman (Vol. 4) #1.

She wakes up in hospital, but is immediately escorted back to the police station by the officers guarding her room. Jess doesn’t resist, but it sure looks like she should have. All the cops see her as the cop-killer who murdered their friends. I can feel the hate on my skin.

Back in the interrogation room, just like in Spider-Woman (Vol. 4) #2. The interrogating officer, Detective Wang, begins by revealing that he is well aware she didn’t have anything to do with the killings. But he’s still got questions: why was HYDRA looking for her? Why is she in Madripoor? Whom is she working for?

Jess smells a rat. Are you kidding me with this? HYDRA just killed a dozen of your officers and you’re giving me the runaround? Asking me questions you already know the answers to?

No more Ms. Nice Guy. One flex of her muscles and a touch of venom, and she bursts her handcuffs. One blast of pheromones, and Detective Wang’s emotions are pushed askew. If I focus for a second I can pretty much scare the piss out of anyone. Chemically.

Wang is gibbering. Jess asks “Who’s here for me?” See, she’s remembered what she was told in her previous interrogation, that the Madripoor cops gave her up to Norman Osborn. But if it is Osborn, Wang isn’t saying. Whoever it is, it’s someone scarier than me.

Oh well. Jess takes the opportunity to grab her SWORD spycraft gear – which Wang conveniently brought into the interrogation room – and takes off through the ventilation shaft to the roof. There she changes into costume, for the first time in four issues. This is done with surprisingly little fanfare. Normally, a superhero getting into costume is a big production. You know, a six-panel page, each with a tight focus on glove, a boot, a mask, and so on, culminating in a splash page of the hero springing into action. Not this time, though. Maybe that’s because we’re almost out of room in the issue. Or maybe because there’s no way to do it without being salacious: except for the mask, it’s a one-piece outfit, and she doesn’t wear it over her street clothes.

Good thing Wang brought her costume into the interrogation room along with her other things, or we’d have had to wait another issue.

Anyway, Jess is in mufti just in time, because the Thunderbolts have just arrived by Quinjet. Striking a pose on the ship’s exit ramp, the T-Bolts –the Black Widow, Ghost, Paladin, Headsman, and the current Ant-Man (thanks, Wikipedia!) – make it clear they’re here to rumble.

General Comments

Sorry to say, but this issue is duller than its predecessors. The only exciting development is in the first two pages, when Jess survives her great fall. After that, we’re just killing time until the Thunderbolts arrive – pages and pages of silence, featuring Jessica walking around a hospital room, or close-ups of scowling cops, or Jessica repeatedly yelling “who’s here for me?” to Detective Wang.

That said, it’s still got all of the merits of this title. Maleev’s art is as beautiful as ever, for instance. And Bendis’ ear for dialogue is as strong as ever. When Jess observes that Wang must know she’s hunting Skrulls, since they have the corpse of one she killed in the police station’s basement, he says in undertone “We have many bodies in our basement since you came here.”

It’s the undertone that sells it. It tells us a good deal about Wang that he says this softly to himself instead of loudly to Jess.

Overall Rating

Two webs, because it’s notably inferior to previous issues of this title.

That’s relative to the title as a whole, though. It’s still better than most stuff on the racks right now. If I was grading relative to, say, “Blackest Night” tie-in books, this issue would be an easy three-and-a-half to four webs.

 Posted: Jan 2010