Jessica Miriam Drew’s parents were Jonathan and Miriam Drew, two scientists whose life's work was dedicated to harnessing the environmental adaptive abilities of spiders by grafting elements of their DNA into the human genome. Prior to Jessica’s birth, the pair moved to Wundagore Mountain to conduct their research with funding from HYDRA, under the auspices of General Wyndham. While working on these experiments Jessica's mother was hit by a laser beam containing the DNA, and subsequent physical traits, of several species of spiders. The unborn Jessica, still in her mother's womb, took on these traits giving her a variety of spider powers. Jessica's parents disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving her to be raised on Mount Wundagore by a woman named Bova. Jessica was later recruited by HYDRA under the false pretense or HYDRA being a force for good in the world. There she was trained by Taskmaster in martial arts and the effective use of her powers to become a deadly assassin.
Spider-woman made her first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #32 in 1977. She was created by Archie Goodwin, Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney. She had a brief run of popularity in the 1970s, including her own regular comics-series Spider-Woman (lasting 50 issues) and a cartoon-series based, but was later depowered and fell into disuse for many years until a revival in the early 21st century as a member of the New Avengers and then the full Avengers team.
The original story of Jessica's origin cast her as the daughter of Jonathan and Merriam Drew, in this story she was born in London, England. At a young age, Jessica was lethally poisoned by radiation while living near Mount Wundagore in Transia. In an attempt to save her life, her father injected her with an experimental serum based on irradiated spiders' blood. Because the serum did not have any apparent effect on her, the man who would come to be known as the High Evolutionary placed her in a genetic accelerator. While in the accelerator, she aged at a decelerated rate.
Eventually, HYDRA, under the control of Count Otto Vermis, found and recruited her as a HYDRA agent. They manipulated her, even going so far as to give her a fake boyfriend and then have him die. She was trained rigorously (and abusively) under Taskmaster. Through brainwashing and manipulation, she was convinced she was not human but actually an evolved spider. During this time, she went by the alias of Arachne. As a HYDRA agent she battled Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., until Jessica learned HYDRA's true nature. In the new re-telling, Otto Vermis, who had originally recruited her into HYDRA, was now instead an old, retired HYDRA agent who Jessica seduced in order to gain information to lead her to her mother. Other changes included that Jessica's father was never possessed by the spirit of the Sixth Century magician Magnus which created some confusion over why Magnus, decades later, would help Jessica in many of her adventures.
Several other characters have held the mantle of Spider-Woman. Julia Carpenter appeared during the first Secret Wars crossover and held the title for a while. Mattie Franklin also acquired powers and became Spider-Woman for a time. A villain named Charlotte Witter genetically modified by Dr Octopus also named herself Spider-Woman and Queen Veranke posed as Spider-Woman during the Secret Invasion storyline.
Major Story Arcs
Becoming the Spider-Woman
Going by the name Spider-Woman, Jessica used her new identity to track down her father's killer, starting her search in London. During this time Jessica was recaptured by HYDRA and brainwashed into working for them. This brought her into direct conflict with Ben Grimm. After HYDRA's brainwashing was reversed, she battled magical elements alongside the Thing and Modred the Mystic.
Jessica battled Excalibur, an agent of Morgan Le Fey, and then came into contact with Morgan's arch nemesis, the sorcerer Magnus. Magnus would become one of her strongest allies, later providing information leading Jessica to relocate with him to Los Angeles and begin her career as a costumed crime fighter. While in Los Angeles Jessica encountered Morgan Le Fey's ghost and also tracked down her father's murderers. Jessica was pursued at this time by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jerry Hunt, who followed her to Los Angeles, to begin a romantic relationship with her.
In her early days as Spider-Woman, Jessica chose to keep her presence in Los Angeles a secret. She fought super-powered foes such as the Brothers Grimm, Hangman, the Enforcer, the Needle, Hammer and Anvil, Nekra, the Silver Samurai, Viper, Gypsy Moth, and the Waxman, and made allies such as Werewolf by Night and the Shroud.
Jessica also sought to discover the true nature of her pheromones, which appeared to produce a strong sexual attraction from men and repulsion from women. Her search led her to the Hatros Institute and her first true job. Working as a secretary, she was able to gain free medical treatment to suppress her pheromones so that she could move effectively among people without producing any unwanted side-effects. Alongside the Shroud, she battled the above mentioned Nekra and the cult of Kali, and learned of her pheromone secretions. The culmination of her time at the Hatros Institute led Jessica to her encounter with Nekra, and the loss of her job.
Bounty Hunter and P.I.
Unemployed, Jessica briefly considered stealing, but at the last moment decided against it. She came into contact with Spider-Man, who advised her to use her unique talents to help others in need. Jessica chose to heed his advice and became a bounty hunter. She worked closely with former FBI specialist, Scotty McDowell, who later became the Hornet. When their working relationship failed, Jessica moved to San Francisco with her best friend Lindsay McCabe, where she set up a practice as a licensed private investigator. On her first assignment, she battled Siryn, Black Tom Cassidy, and the Juggernaut alongside the X-Men. She also battled Morgan Le Fey once again.
While working as a P.I., Jessica encountered the Viper and the Silver Samurai in a battle. Two main revelations came out of it. The first was that Lindsay McCabe finally learned that Spider-Woman and Jessica were one and the same (although Lindsay claimed that she had known all along). The other was Viper's claim to be Jessica's real mother. Whether this meant she was actually Miriem Drew remains unknown, but the resemblance between the two was uncanny and even fooled other HYDRA agents. However, the Viper was shown to be a pawn of Chthon and ultimately betrayed Chthon rather than hurt Jessica. Jessica later encountered and battle the Viper again, although now the Viper believed that Jessica had brainwashed her into believing that she was her mother. Not long after that, Jessica gave up her immunity powers to save Giant-Man.
Death of Spider-Woman
Jessica traveled in astral form with Magnus to the sixth century England to free her friends' souls in a showdown with Morgan Le Fey. She managed to vanquish Morgan, but Jessica's human body died while her spirit was gone from it. Jessica was believed dead and the sorcerer, Magnus, placed a spell over humanity to remove all traces of Jessica's existence. However, this spell was faulty, and Tigra and the Shroud discovered Jessica's dead body and contacted the Avengers and Doctor Strange. It turned out that Jessica was in fact trapped on the astral plane, and was attempting to make contact with her body again. The Avengers and Strange traveled to the astral plane to battle Morgan Le Fay, who was also trapped on the astral plane. Morgan attempted to foil the Avengers' attempts to revive Jessica, bringing Morgan in direct conflict with both the Avengers and Dr. Strange. Eventually, Doctor Strange was able to reunite Jessica spirit with her human body and trap Morgan, but it was not without a cost: Jessica's bioelectric powers were eliminated and Magnus sacrificed his astral form to help restore her to life. Jessica was nevertheless grateful for returning to the land of the living, and abandoned her Spider-Woman identity. She continued her life as a private investigator in San Francisco, assisted by Lindsay McCabe and occasionally by Tigra, the Shroud and (during their brief time in the city) the X-Men.
Jessica Drew frequented Madripoor as a private investigator, partnered with Lindsay McCabe. During this time she had lost her ability to discharge bioelectricity, but found that her super powers were slowly returning. She still possessed superhuman strength and agility, and the ability to cling to walls. At one point, she became ensorcelled by the Black Blade and battled Wolverine. Despte this Jessica became an ally and confidante of Patch (an alter-ego of Wolverine) and developed a friendship with pilot Archie Corrigan, who helped her return to San Francisco and sort out her life.
A Normal Life
Jessica Drew's life settled down until Charlotte Witter, a villainess going by the name of Spider-Woman, stole her powers. After the theft, Jessica returned to her life as a private investigator and served as a teacher and mentor to Mattie Franklin, a young woman who had assumed the identity of the Spider-Woman (the third person to become Spider-Woman). Jessica began to regain her powers at this time while investigating two cases with Mattie, making use of her restored superhuman strength and agility. Although she regained the bulk of her spider-powers they were unstable. For example, her "venom blasts" worked efficiently in one fight then would fail unexpectedly on another occasion.
When Mattie Franklin was drawn into a highly abusive and parasitic relationship with a New York-based drug dealer who cannibalized her tissue to make the "Mutant Growth Hormone" (commonly known as "MGH"). Jessica didn't hesitate to investigate, despite the instability of her powers. An initial misunderstanding with local P.I. Jessica Jones, who shared many surprising similarities to Drew, turned into an alliance when the women teamed up to rescue Mattie from her captors.
A HYDRA agent, known as Connely, attacked Jessica and offered her powers on the condition that she rejoined S.H.I.E.L.D. and acted as a double agent. Knowing Connely would kill her if she said no, Jessica agreed and contacted Nick Fury, who confronted her securely and urged her to accept the offer. Nick offered to feed her selected safe information, allowing S.H.I.E.L.D. to use Jessica to research the HYDRA cell and take it down. However when she went undercover to regain her lost powers, she was ambushed by the Skrulls and replaced by their current Queen, Veranke, who took her place in the New Avengers and assumed her role as Fury's spy in preparation for the upcoming Invasion. In the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion, Jessica and many other superheroes were found on an orbiting Skrull ship by Iron Man. Sadly, Jessica's homecoming was rather cold, until her old friend Carol Danvers ( Ms. Marvel) ran up to her and gave her a hug. Unaware of the Skrull Queen's actions, Jessica asks why the other heroes have been giving her strange looks, to which Carol responded that "No one knows for sure.".
In the aftermath of Secret Invasion, Spider-Woman returns to the city of her birth, London, where she was approached by Agent Brand to become an agent of SWORD. SWORD provide her with a new mission, to hunt down any remaining Skrulls from the Secret Invasion. Equipped with an alien activity detector, Jessica sets out for Madripoor to track down the first name on their list. After fighting and killing a Skrull posing as Spider-Man, Jessica wakes up in a filthy jail cell, but refrains from breaking herself out with her powers. She is brought out for questioning and interrogated about her alien detector device. Norman Osborn requests she be taken back to the US for questioning.
She uses her emotion influencing power on the man, but as they leave, he is shot in the head. The assassination was carried out by HYDAR, specifically a group led by Madame Hydra /Viper who threatens to kill all the pursuing policemen forcing Spider-woman to follow along reluctantly. Viper wants her to rejoin Hydra, who know of her mission to hunt Skrulls through their inside connection to SWORD. Arriving at the Hydra base, Jessica tries to kill Viper, but fails as she's protected by a SHIELD force field. Viper brings her to a cell containing another Skrull, Koru Kaviti.
Not the one she's tasked with finding, but all the same she asks for and gets time alone in the cell with it. The confused Skrull still thinks Jessica is Queen Veranke in disguise and begs her to take him home. Jessica fights it with bare fists and kills it, escaping when Viper opens the door to the cell. Unable to fly, Jessica breaks her fall on a wire and crashes into a fountain. Back in hospital Jessica is taken and questioned again. She turns the tables on the detective using her fear inducing powers. However, this backfires as the guy is too terrified to tell her anything and crumples to the floor. As the police burst into the room, Jessica pulls on her costume and escapes to the roof, only to be confronted by the Thunderbolts who want to bring her back to Norman Osborn. Jessica is able to beat them off and escape. She contacts Abigail Brand, who advises her to run.
Brand is annoyed that Jessica is not keeping a low profile and was open about her mission with the police, but gives her information about the Skrull who posed as Spider-man and attacked her when she arrived in town. Jessica finds the Skrull's human girlfriend who tells her about the bar where the fake Spider-man met with his associates. Jessica goes there and provokes Koru Kaviti into breaking cover, revealing himself to be a huge Super-Skrull. As they fight Koru tells her that Queen Veranke picked her to be her disguise because no-one really cared about her enough to notice. As the fight proceeded to go downhill for Jessica (as Koru was a veteran warrior regarded as fourth in command below Veranke), the Avengers arrived to provide assistance. At first, Jessica, in a warrior-rage, thought they were Skrulls. After coming to her senses, she managed to locate Koru, who had shape-shifted during the chaos. Wolverine then promptly impaled Koru from behind. Jessica was then comforted by Carol Danvers, a long time best friend of hers, and Jessica apologized for isolating herself from everyone.
During the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn's control of law and order in the US, Jessica was invited by Wolverine to join the New Avengers, having nowhere else to go. She informed the other Avengers that S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer existed and later helped search for Luke and Jessica Jones's baby, Danielle. Along with Iron Fist, they attacked a HYDRA base to see if the Skrull posing as Jarvis had contacted any Earth villains seeking a way to leave New York, possibly Earth. She also joined the Lady Liberators, who were trying to discover the identity of the Red Hulk.
With the New Avengers, Jessica encountered The Hood and his gang and Dormammu /Hood before joining the Siege of Asgard where Norman's reign finally came to an end. She subsequently joined the newly reformed Avengers, alongside the three core members: Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.
- Height: 5' 10"
- Weight: 130 lbs.
- Eyes: Green
- Hair: Auburn
- Defining Features: Though Jessica's natural hair color is auburn, she prefers to keep it dyed jet-black. The black hair was originally a wig she used to hide her identity as Spider-Woman, but, now it is her natural hair.
- Citizenship: British, American
- Born in: England
- Marital Status: Single
- Occupations: Adventurer, Private Investigator, Espionage Agent, Secretary, Teacher
- Known Relatives: Jonathan Drew (father, deceased), Miriam Drew (mother, deceased)
Powers and Abilities
As a result of a combination of a special serum derived from spider blood and a certain radiation treatment, Jessica possesses a number of superhuman powers. She has superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, agility, endurance and durability. As well as possessing the ability to focus the bioelectric energy that her body generates into "venom blasts" sufficient to stun or kill normal humans and adhere to almost any surface by excreting an unknown adhesive substance from her palms and soles. Jessica rapidly forms an immunity to all poisons and drugs and is totally immune to radiation. Her body also exudes a high concentration of pheromones which elicit pleasure in most human males while eliciting fear in most females, though she often uses a chemical "perfume" that can nullify this effect. She has also demonstrated superhuman senses in her solo series. Jessica has lost and regained her powers more than once, but she has recently emerged with her powers restored greater than ever.
In addition to her powers, Jessica is also a superb hand to hand fighter and has trained in several styles of combat, including boxing, judo, karate, and capoeira, which she learned under the training of the Taskmaster. She has also had training in fencing and the use of many other weapons, including most firearms. Jessica was trained by HYDRA and later on by SHIELD in covert operations, stealth, espionage, and information gathering, and she is also a superb athlete. She speaks several foreign languages, including Korean, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Jessica also received vocational training in undercover detective work and sometimes carried a Walther PPK handgun.
Whilst not on the same physical level as some of the other Avengers, such as Spider-man, Jessica has shown to be more than capable of using her improved dexterity and reflexes to give more powerful combatants a very difficult time. During her time with S.W.O.R.D, she was locked in a chamber alongside a Skrull Warrior (albeit, it was malnourished and exhausted). She managed to trade blows with it, eventually coming out on top and killing it in the process. Koru Kaviti, the Skrull that originally captured her, on the other hand, was fourth in command below Queen Veranke and near the pinnacle of the Super-Skrull warriors. Jessica, out of costume, traded blows with Koru, holding her own in a losing battle. She took a variety of heavy hits, yet still refused to go down. The fight escalated, smashing through a bar and outside into the city of Madripoor. Whilst the outcome of the fight would most likely have ended in Koru's favor, Jessica held her own until the Avengers arrived, whereupon Koru was impaled by Wolverine.
In the MC2 universe, Jessica Drew was never able to regain her powers, which forced her to settle down and eventually get married. The couple had a son named Gerry, who inherited Jessica's spider powers. However, Jessica's radioactive blood also gave Gerry a disease. Her husband blamed her for their son's condition and the couple divorced soon after. Gerry decided to use his powers to become the next Spider-Man. He would eventually meet Spider-Girl. However, with his disease, it caused him to weaken quickly. Jessica asked Peter Parker to convince Gerry to stop being Spider-Man, and Peter later found a cure for Gerry.
Earth-58163 (House of M)
In 1931 Jessica Drew was poisoned by uranium radiation and was put in suspended animation until a cure could be found. They finally developed a Spider serum and used it to cure her, she was then placed in a genetic accelerator. However, the world that Jessica woke up in was the mutant-dominated House of M reality, under the control of Magneto. It's unknown what happened to Jessica, as Queen Veranke under Jessica's disguise was the one who was recruited into SHIELD where she worked her way up to an active role on Wolverine's Red Army Squad. The House of M reality finally crumbled when a girl named Layla Miller was discovered to have the ability to restore memories. She then restored the memories of Earth's superheroes and the heroes fought and won an epic battle with Magneto at the House of M, and reality was restored to normal.
Earth-2149 (Marvel Zombiverse)
In this reality, Spider-Woman was one of the remaining uninfected superheroes assembled by Nick Fury on a SHIELD helicarrier, where he briefed them on their dire situation. They were then sent to New York to fight the zombie superhumans, but Spider-Woman was later seen turned into a zombie.
Earth-9997 (Earth X)
In this reality, Jessica Drew was a member of SHIELD and wore a green and purple variation of her Spider-Woman costume. She and other SHIELD agents were being hunted down by the Hydra, a biological creature created by Norman Osborn (now the President of the United States) to kill those who did not support Osborn's presidency. Jessica was later killed and her soul was sent to the Realm of the Dead, where she helped Captain Marvel fight Death in that dimension.
Little is known about the Jessica Drew of Earth-1815, other than that she is African-American. And she can cling on walls. She had lost her sense of Smell and taste in the prison and also was blind from one eye. She was with the X-Men who just had all broken out from prison by Charles Xavier. But they were quickly defeated by the Exiles.
In the future of 2020, Commander Jessica Drew is Arno Stark a.k.a. Iron Man 2020's boss.
Earth-1610 (Ultimate Universe)
In this universe she is a clone of Peter Parker, created by Doctor Octopus, whose chromosomes were manipulated to make her female. She resembles Peter, and appears to be the same age. Originally created to act as an agent for the CIA (code name: Spider-Woman), but after escaping followed in Peter's footstep as a hero and now is a member of the Ultimates, she retains Peter Parker's memories.
Earth-11326 (Age of X)
In the Age of X alternate reality Jessica Drew is called Redback and is one of Americas top killers. She is part of the Avengers team set up to find rogue mutants. She gave her life to protect the inhabitants of Fortress X.
- A Spider-Woman cartoon, featuring Jessica Drew, launched on ABC's Saturday Morning Cartoon block in 1979 (produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Marvel Comics Animation).
- Spider-Woman has made two live action appearances on TV:
- A cameo role on the short-lived TV series, Once a Hero, about a comic strip hero who leaves his "world" to find his creator. Near the end of one episode Captain Justice returns to the "Real Earth", and a crowd of comic book characters can be seen cheering him on, including Spider-Woman.
- The Saturday Night Live sketch, "Superhero Party", originally broadcast March 17, 1979. The sketch featured Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, with Superman, Flash, Lana Lang, Hulk, Thing, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Ant-Man, and Invisible Woman.
- Spider-Woman will appear in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey.
- Spider-Women will appear in The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Catherine Disher.
- Spider-Woman is a playable character in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance voiced by Tasia Valenza. She possesses all of the powers she has in the comic book except super-strength. She has a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent variant costume (a navy blue and black unmasked version of her classic costume, with white glider webs and a silver belt). In addition, she also has unlockable Julia Carpenter (Secret War edition) and Spider-Girl costumes, and faces the Wrecker in her simulator disc mission. If a player were to ask her a question revolving around Spider-Man, she tells the player that she's not related to Spider-Man (though she seems to show a slight attraction to him, stating that he's "kinda cute in a geeky sort of way"). Spider-Woman has special dialogue with Black Widow, Jarvis, the Grey Gargoyle, the Enchantress, and Doctor Doom (while in Doctor Doom's castle).
- Jessica Drew appears in the PlayStation 2 and PSP versions of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Spider-Man encounters her on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and saves her from infected S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Following the path of her downed Helicopter, Spider-Man encounters Jessica who has become infected and trying to fight the symbiotic control. Spider-Man manages to defeat Symbiote-Jessica Drew and obtain the S.H.I.E.L.D. plans.
- Spider-Woman appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 voiced by Elizabeth Daily. She is allied with Captain America's Anti-Registration movement. She is a boss in the Pro-Registration side, and an ally on the Anti-Registration side who also assists you during a mission. Spider-Woman first appears in Stark Tower after the events in Washington and tells the heroes she doesn't plan on signing the SRA. If the player chooses Anti Registration, she assists the heroes in the first mission but is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D agents. Spider-Woman is one of the many heroes presumed deceased after the battle in the Negative Zone prison. She later gets taken over by The Fold and attacks the heroes outside of the Repeater Tower alongside Wonder Man.
Marvel: Avengers Alliance
Spider-Woman appears as an unlockable character in the Marvel: Avengers Alliance video game on Facebook. She is a Scrapper Class character.