Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew has joined the alien-hunting agency SWORD. While on a mission to Madripoor, Jessica had some public and prominent run-ins with a Skrull warrior, the Madripoor police, and HYDRA agents. All of this caught the attention of Norman Osborn, who at present is head of the U.S. peacekeeping agency HAMMER. Osborn sent his Thunderbolts team to subdue Jessica and bring her into custody, and they’ve just tracked her down...
Instead of coming out, guns blazing, the Thunderbolts choose to strike a pose on the entry ramp of their aircraft. The team consists of the Ghost, the Headman, Paladin, Ant-Man (not Hank Pym; it’s the jerky Ant-Man), and the Black Widow (not the redhead, who’s good, but the blonde, who’s not). The Widow orders Jessica to come quietly aboard ship, while Ant-Man brags that Jess is lucky they’re not here to kill her, or she’d be already dead. “We have strict orders to bring you in alive!”
Little tip for those of you looking to get into this line of work, Jessica thinks. If you don’t intend on killing your opponent... don’t actually tell them. It gives your opponent a huge advantage.
She fires off a venom blast, and while the T-Bolts take cover, Jessica runs.
A hop, skip, and glider-flight later, and Jessica hides in an alleyway. Did she make it away unseen? No: all of a sudden electric bolts are frying her and she can’t see where they’re coming from. Jessica falls down, and the shooter, triumphant, becomes visible. “This is the Ghost. I got her. You’re welcome.”
Love these invisible guys, Jess thinks. They always want to show you that they can turn invisible... if you can turn invisible, stay invisible. Being visible completely negates the effectiveness of the invisibility.
Spider-Woman illustrates her point by kicking the Ghost hard in the crotch. CRACK! goes the sound effect. “Oh God! Oh God!” whimpers the Ghost. A venom blast and a sock to the jaw, and the Ghost has had it, and turns intangible. And of course, he has to stay intangible, or else get beaten up some more. With the Ghost neutralized, Jess is able to get away a second time: she hides in a dumpster while he’s distracted. Back at the ship, an enraged Black Widow sends out the rest of the team for reconnaissance, while in the dumpster, Jess texts Agent Brand on her iPhone.
I guess Jessica’s gloves have those little bumps that allow you to use a touchscreen while wearing them. Living in Toronto as I do, I would love to have some gloves like that.
Anyway, Brand coolly informs Jessica that she can’t call off the T-Bolts, and Jessica will have to handle this problem herself. Jessica, of course, is a big-time super hero, and is capable of doing just that. As the Headsman passes by her alley, Jessica sneaks out of the dumpster and ambushes him. As he’s taken by surprise, only a few venom-infused punches are necessary to knock him out. Deprived of their eyes-in-the-sky, the T-Bolts are caught completely off-guard when Jessica flies up to their ship and sets off the auto-destruct. She gets away in time, as depicted on a splash page (earlier used as the cover to Spider-Woman (Vol. 4) #4), but the T-Bolts are stuck without a command centre... or a ride home. And Jessica uses the explosion to get away a third time, eluding the Thunderbolts for good.
I recently reviewed an issue of Spider-Woman’s first volume – Spider-Woman #21, if you’re curious – and I observed how refreshing it was to read an issue where Jessica comes off as an effective professional rather than a blundering amateur. I felt the same way after reading this one. Because we’re privy to Jessica’s thoughts while she’s dealing with her opposition, we see just how effective she is at this cloak-and-dagger (costume-and-dagger?) stuff. It’s an important counterpoint to her turbulent personal and emotional life.
Beyond the specifics of this issue, the general points on this title remain valid: because of its original incarnation as a motion comic, it reads fast, with lots of silent panels... sometimes even silent pages. People who read Ultimate Spider-Man and complain about Bendis’ logorrhea should be reading this book for balance: the man doesn’t need tons of words to tell a story.
And Alex Maleev’s art is as great as ever.
A fun issue, with the most straight-forward, done-in-one story we’ve seen yet on this title: Jessica has to escape from the Thunderbolts (p. 1) so she does (pp. 2-23). It’s well-written and well-drawn. Good show, everyone.