With a slate of movies and a heavily publicised appearance in Captain America: Civil War as his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, by this point even those amongst us who aren't super Marvel Comics fans likely know just what exactly Spider-Man is all about.
But how much do you know about Spider-Woman?
Who Is Marvel's Spider Woman?
In terms of the comic book history poor Spiderwoman has had a pretty rough time of things, suffering through death, cancelled franchises, and drawn in (literally) back-breaking poses with a painted on Spider-Woman costume.
The first Spider woman was Jessica Drew, brought into existence on the pages of Marvel comics in 1977, 15 years after Spider-Man was first realised. Other characters have taken up the mantle of Spider-woman over the years, such as Julia Carpenter who later becomes the successor to Madame Web, and Mattie Franklin, a currently deceased Spider-Man wannabe.
Jessica Drew was originally conceived as a one off character for the pages of Marvel Spotlight #32, but the issue sold so well that she was carried over into her own ongoing series. Marvel's Spider-Woman's origin was originally that of a human who evolved from an actual spider, but her origin was retconned for her own series into something Marvel felt was more believable.
Re-envisioned as a former HYDRA assassin who gained spider-powers by exposure to spider-DNA whilst in the womb, Spiderwoman in the comics has traditionally been kept pretty separate from Spiderman. This decision was made in the early days by Marvel, as they didn't want readers to view her simply as a female Spider-Man.
When her solo series started to falter under a high turn-over of writers she was killed off in issue 50, but reader outrage prompted her return a year later in The Avengers #240-241. From then on she became relegated to guest appearances until 2005's New Avengers launched with her as a member of the team, though she was later revealed to be a Skrull imposter during Secret Invasion, the real Jessica Drew held captive during this time.
Do Spiderman And Spiderwoman Meet?
The first noteable contact between Spiderman and Spider woman came during her original series run, shortly after Jessica had lost her secretary job — the position of which she used to gain access to a treatment to dampen the effect of her pheromones. Jessica's spidey-pheromones had the effect of inducing a strong sexual attraction in men and a repulsion in women, and she sought to negate the effects.
Unemployed and downtrodden, Jessica came into contact with Spiderman, who encouraged her to use her Spider woman powers for the benefit of humanity. Operating off his advice she decided to become a bounty hunter, working closely with the FBI before moving to San Francisco to become a Private Investigator.
With these credentials it's no surprise then that she would later appear in the Jessica Jones' series Alias during a time when her powers were unstable — slowly returning after having them stolen previously by another Spiderwoman, the super-villain Charlotte Witter.
Spiderman and Spider woman have met up a number of times since then, perhaps most notably in the 2014 Spider-Verse event, which sees every variation of Spider-Man ever published in any Marvel media coming together from across numerous universes and timelines to combat the threat of the multi-verse hopping super-villain Morlun.
A Spiderman / Spider woman Relationship?
You might think from the nature of their names that there was some Spider-Romance going on between the two characters, but they've never been romantically involved in the main series comics, Spider woman isn't just a cute name for Spider-Man's girlfriend (you're thinking of Spider-Gwen in that case... sort of). As mentioned earlier, Marvel have done their best to keep the two more of less unrelated.
Rather Spider woman has had partnerships with other notable heroes — she was trained by Taskmaster in her early days, fought alongside the X-Men, saved the life of Giant-Man, been a long running friend of Carol Danvers, and teamed up with Jessica Jones to find missing the Spider woman Mattie Franklin in Alias, who was being drugged and having her soft tissue removed to create the Mutant Growth Hormone drug.
More recently a great dynamic has been developed between her and Natalia "Natasha" Romanova — Black Widow — in the Secret Avengers relaunch, the two becoming unlikely friends as Jessica attempts to navigate being the rookie of the team.
Jessica also dated Clint Barton — Hawkeye — in Brian Michael Bendis's run on The Avengers, shortly after he and his wife Mockingbird — Barbara "Bobbi" Morse — broke up. Hawkeye gets around in the comic books, in case you didn't know that already.
Spiderman vs Spider Woman
So how do the two compare? By now we're all pretty familiar with Spider-Man's powers: when he was bitten by a radio-active spider he gained heightened strength, speed, agility and endurance as well as the ability to stick to and climb walls.
His famous web-shooters are those of his own design, mechanical wrist-devices that project super strong and flexible tensile threads Spider-Man uses to swing around and subdue bad guys. And don't forget the Spidey Sense.
As for Jessica, her physiology was mutated as a child — either by a spider-serum she was injected with to cure radiation she was exposed to as a child, or as a baby in the womb when her mother was hit with a spider-DNA lazer beam, depending on what continuity you like.
Her DNA was alerted and she gained spider-powers similar to Peter Parker's as a result, including the wall-clinging for which the web-slinger is known for. She's also been shown in some cases to have a limited flying ability, but it's unclear whether this is canonically part of her skill-set.
This mutation gave her superhuman strength and endurance, as well as a bio-electric ability generated from within her own body. Additionally she has a natural resistance to toxins and radiation, drugs and alcohol, but she later lost the majority of her immunity factors during a transfusion designed to save the life of Giant-Man.
Her past training as a HYDRA assassin under the eye of Taskmaster could give her an edge here, as she's well versed in the skills of the deadly assassin and an experienced martial artist. Thanks to these skills she provides a formidable foe, even if she's not physically as strong or as powered-up as Spider-Man is.
Should Spider Woman Join The MCU?
Well, let's face it. We could do with some more ladies kicking butt in the MCU, and it would be great to see Spider-Woman joining the fray.
Despite recent and pretty successful efforts to bring Marvel's Spider-Woman back into the main stories of the comics, she's historically been pretty underused in the canon. She also has several different histories — some of which we've covered already — so her character background is a little muddy.
But this is actually a very good thing should her character be brought over to join the new Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe though, as this gives the screenwriters a lot of leeway with her character, one already in possession of a very changeable backstory.
And then of course there's her involvement with the Secret Avengers, the likelihood of which shot up after the ending of [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409). If you haven't seen the movie yet we won't spoil it too much, but the ending did seem to suggest that the Secret Avengers team is now on the cards on the run up to the Infinity War two-parter, though in what capacity we'll have to wait and see.
The previously mentioned dynamic between Jessica and Black Widow would be an excellent jumping off point for an on-screen Spider-Woman too, as charted in the Secret Avengers relaunch.
Secret Avengers writer Ales Kot described his Black Widow to Marvel.com as "sort of an older sister to Jessica Drew", and that's a dynamic between the two characters we'd pay to see in the MCU. It's about time Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff got some more development, and this would be an excellent way by which to do so.
And of course, as previously mentioned, she also featured heavily in the major event that was the Spider-Verse crossover saga. Unfortunately the likelihood of seeing anything along those lines in the MCU is pretty slim, at least until the writers start to run out of ideas for Spider-Man stories that is.
Do you want Spider Woman in the MCU? Who else would you like to see joining The Avengers in the future? Tell us in the comments below!