Comic Book: Spider-Woman

One of them is not a Spider-Woman.note 

Spider-Man: I didn't say you could lend [the name] out. There's, like, ten of you now.
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew): There's three, and they are ripping me off.
New Avengers

Spider-Man was a huge success to Marvel Comics, so obviously, later on a Distaff Counterpart would be inevitable. No, we're not talking about his daughter from The Clone Saga, Spider-Girl. We're talking about the one Distaff Counterpart conceived way before The Clone Saga. These are what we'd like to call... The Spider-Women.

Compared to other Distaff Counterparts, Spider-Women are rarely an accurate one for Spidey. Most of the time, they possess a set of unique abilities on their own, instead of web-shooters. They also form a small form of Legacy Character pool (while not exactly a big one like Venom or Robin), and occasionally, each form possesses different names, including even Spider-Girl. Although the Spider-Girl in question is NEVER the Alternate Universe version of the original Spider-Man's daughter.

General Tropes

  • Action Girl: All of them, naturally. But special mention goes to Jessica, Julia, and Anya who are also natural fighters on their own. Jessica's trained by Taskmaster, a Badass Teacher himself. Julia is good in hand-to-hand combat for being a government agent. Anya is skilled gymnast and S.H.I.E.L.D. provided her further combat training.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Spiders, obviously.
  • Chest Insignia: Spider symbol on the costumes for Julia, Mattie, and Anya. Jessica's new costume also has this.
  • Crossover: Often with Spider-Man, at times; it's also pivotal to Spidey's development (it created Venom).
  • Distaff Counterpart: Subverted since none of the Spider-Women have any relation to Peter Parker whatsoever apart from acquaintance, all getting their powers from completely different sources. At least that's how it goes in the main canon...
  • Most Common Superpower: Except for Mattie and Anya.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mainly Jessica, but even Julia could be this. Stripperiffic Charlotte also counts.
  • Mythology Gag: Jessica was at first assigned with the name "Arachne", then changes it to "Spider-Woman". The reverse happened to Julia (who wanted to be called Arachne from the start).

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    Jessica Drew 

Jessica Drew

The first and probably most well known is Jessica Drew. She was created at the last minute when Marvel found out that Filmation animation studios was going to create their own super heroine by the name of Spider-Woman; since the comic version managed to come out first, Filmation was forced to change their character's name to "Web Woman". The character first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February, 1977), created by Archie Goodwin, Sal Buscema, and Jim Mooney. Jessica was the star of Spider-Woman vol. 1, which lasted for 50 issues (April, 1978-June, 1983).

When Jessica was little, she was infected with uranium radiation and was in danger of dying. Her father used an experimental spider serum to save her, and put her in a tube to accelerate the serum's growth, saving her life but aging her rather rapidly to the point that she looks, and acts, much younger than she is. She was raised in Wundagore by the cow-woman Lady Bova, eventually left to make her way in the human world, fell in love... then accidentally killed her first love with her latent superpower: bio-electric blasts. Accused of being a witch, Jessica fled Wundagore and was taken in to HYDRA, tricked into thinking that it was a good place for refugees, even though it's actually a terrorist group. She was trained in martial arts and learned to harness her powers more effectively. These include the discovery of her other powers such as Wall Climbing and Pheromones, which attract men and women. Oh, and she was given her codename, first Arachne, but quickly changed to Spider-Woman. (It should be noted that the preceding paragraph is the result of decades of Retconning with at least two complete origin changes, including one where she was a hyper-evolved spider. Jessica rivals Hawkman in the Continuity Snarl category.)

On her first mission to assassinate Nick Fury, Jessica came to realize that HYDRA was wrong, so she rebelled and was left on her own to cope with her power and with her daily life. It was tough, but eventually she managed to overcome her problems, especially after the Crossover with Spider-Man, who advised her to use her power for good; she later became a bounty hunter and a private detective. She also gained a Rogues Gallery, the most notorious being Morgan le Fay, whom she eventually finished in her book's finale, at the cost of her soul being separated from her body, and she requested her magician friend cast a spell that would erase her from the memories of everyone that ever knew her.

However, the spell was faulty and eventually her body was found by The Avengers, which led to a story arc where they tried to get her soul back to her body. They succeeded, but with a cost: Spider-Woman's powers are gone. Jessica later led a normal life with her friend Lindsay McCabe, moving to Madripoor and briefly getting involved with the adventures of Wolverine. Of course, her powers slowly started to come back, but they tended to be fluctuous and unstable. She was also attacked by Charlotte Witter, a supervillain taking the same code name, and for a time, along with the 2nd Spider-Woman Julia Carpenter, mentored the third Spider-Woman Mattie Franklin.

Over time, however, Nick Fury once again contacted Jessica in order to stabilize her power as Spider-Woman by infiltrating the HYDRA. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a trap by the Skrulls, who ambushed and captured her. The Skrull Queen Veranke chose to replicate Jessica to kickstart her eventual invasion, while Jessica was held prisoner in the Skrull ship. Veranke joined the New Avengers, participated through House of M, Civil War and even World War Hulk, until it was time for the invasion of Skrulls. The Avengers defeated Veranke and she was killed by Norman Osborn, with the ship carrying Jessica and the other Skrull prisoners crashing on Earth. While there were few who welcomed her back (such as Ms. Marvel and in a way, Wolverine), the rest of the world's heroes looked at her funny, the image of her face seemingly becoming synonymous with Veranke, and she ended up being vilified by the world.

On Wolverine's suggestion, Jessica joined the New Avengers, despite some members still being highly suspicious of her. While she did her job as an Avenger well enough, she was still haunted with her time of capture and vilification by the world, causing her to take on jobs offered by SWORD in order to hunt down any remaining Skrulls, whom she now hated. An encounter with a particularly strong Skrull eventually overpowered her and revealed the reason why Veranke chose her as the person to impersonate: because she was completely alone and thought to be insignificant, so the rest of Earth's heroes wouldn't care about what would happen to her. Just in time for the New Avengers, even those who were formerly suspicious at her, to come to her rescue and remind her that people care about her, that she's got friends, and that she's not alone. With this, Jessica defeated that particular Skrull and resumed being a full-time New Avenger, declining further jobs by SWORD.

She participated in the Siege of Asgard and her efforts eventually cleaned her image of "having Veranke's face". Despite her doubts, she's handpicked as one of the members of the mainline Avengers, and has fought on their side ever since.

In 2014, Jessica received another solo series again as part of the Spider-Verse Bat Family Crossover, written by Dennis Hopeless (of Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover fame), and with Greg Land as primary artist. Also she's due to receive a costume redesign somewhere in the future.

The Ultimate Marvel version of Jessica Drew is an Opposite-Sex Clone of Peter Parker created by Doctor Octopus. She is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and later a member of the teenage Super Team the All-New Ultimates. After the Cataclysm Crisis Crossover, she now goes by the Black Widow identity.

Jessica has appeared in these other medias aside of the Marvel comics:

Video Games

Western Animation
  • Spider Woman: An old cartoon starring her. Also features a cameo by Spider-Man himself.

Tropes for Jessica

  • Ambiguously Bi: In the mainstream universe Jessica's had a steady relationship with men but she's also had a lot of Les Yay with some female characters, especially her "best friend" Carol Danvers. Blurring this further is that her Ultimate Marvel self is openly lesbian.
  • Arch-Enemy: Back in the day, Jessica's was Morgan Le Fay.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insinuate Jessica being a Skrull or try to control her mind. She'll try to kill you for that.
  • Big Sister Mentor / Cool Big Sis: Towards Anya, see here and here.
  • Bound and Gagged: Hoo boy, does Jessica get to this situation often in her early runs. Even Skrull Queen Veranke experienced this once while impersonating Jess.
  • Broken Bird: Some incidents turned her into this, such as Skrull Queen impersonated her, among others.
  • Call Forward: The Origin mini-series features one Miles Warren as a colleague of Jessica's father. Warren eventually leaves their project to pursue cloning research.
  • Dark Mistress: Earth-001's Jessica Drew is in relationship with Morlun. Earth-616's Jessica once impersonated her.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Subverted in Hawkeye #9; Jessica finds out that Clint cheated on her and slaps him twice, but when she tries to hit him a third time he stops her and tells her that she's not allowed to do that, no matter how mad she is. The ending does have Clint talking to a neighbor and strongly hints that he wants to get back together with her, but that apparently isn't happening.
  • invokedDye Hard: Jessica was naturally Red-Headed Heroine. She dyed her hair black. In fact, Jessica's villainous alternate reality counterpart from Earth-001 in Spider-Verse keeps her auburn hair.
  • Expy: Jessica Jones, aka Jewel, began life as basically Jessica Drew in all but name. Alias was originally to star Drew, but that didn't work because over in Avengers, Drew was going to turn out to have been impersonated by Queen Veranke for some time, and she was just generally going in an entirely different direction. Brian Michael Bendis changed her last name and Alias went ahead as planned.
  • Fan Disservice: While on a mission for S.W.O.R.D., Jessica is ambushed by a supervillain team known as The Intelligencia who take her as a prisoner. She later wakes up naked and is interrogated while she's still naked. On the other hand, Skrull Queen Veranke also had similar experience while impersonating Jess.
  • Flight: She can fly, although it is unclear as to the range and extent of this power.
  • Guy Magnet: Jessica, literally; one of her powers is to produce pheromones that makes men want her (and cause women to be repulsed by her). Unfortunaetly, she can't really direct it; it's either on or off, so she relies on a perfume to correct it.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Just to show just how messed up Jessica's life is, this is her past (being an ex-agent of HYDRA) and present life (still being thought of as the Skrull Queen). Who knows if this'll change in the future.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jess is this with Carol Danvers. Sometimes the "heterosexual" part can be questionable.
  • It's Personal: Jessica really hates Skrulls after Secret Invasion. Part of the reason why she joins SWORD is because it gives her more opportunities to kick Skrull ass.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Ultimate Jessica Drew revealed that she was gay in All-New Ultimates, ending years of speculation by fans. Her main complex about it was that since she was a clone of Peter Parker (who is straight), she couldn't tell if she shared the same attraction because she shared his genes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In this case, mother. Merriem Drew, Jessica's mother, was supposedly killed in a werewolf attack decades ago. In Spider-Woman (vol. 1) #44 (June, 1982), Merriem was revealed to be alive and unaging, in the person of Viper/Madame Hydra, the latter being a long-established super-villainess. Jessica and Viper were also stated to be "mirror images" of each other. This was retconned away in "Captain America" (vol. 1) #281 (May, 1983), "revealing" that both ladies had been manipulated by Chthon into thinking they were related.
  • Maternally Challenged: Jessica apparently doesn't care for kids. When the other Avengers are cooing over the newborn Danielle Cage and Mary Jane tells her to "look at this baby", Jessica's only response is "That is a baby. Get it away from me."
  • Power Incontinence: Jessica had to learn to keep her pheromones in check, at first. She still can't quite do it.
  • Rogues Gallery: Jessica fought a surprising number of villains during her initial 50-issue series, including the Brothers Grimm, the Needle, Daddy Long Legs, Turner D. Century, the Flying Tiger, the Waxman, Gypsy Moth, Morgan le Fay, the Human Fly, Hammer and Anvil, the Hangman, Nekra and Dr. Karl Malus.
  • Shock and Awe: Jessica's bio-electric blasts.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Jessica is British and has her moments.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: When dating Hawkeye, Jessica fell into this. A woman connected to S.H.I.E.L.D., who is great at hand-to-hand combat, traumatized by Skrulls, and smarter than him? Does this describe Jessica or Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Hawkeye's ex?

    Julia Carpenter 

Julia Carpenter

The second Spider-Woman is a mother named Julia Carpenter. She first appeared in Secret Wars #6-7 (October-November, 1984), created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck. She mostly appeared in team books, but was the star of Spider-Woman vol. 2, a 4-issue mini-series (November, 1993-February, 1994).

Carpenter got tricked into entering a program to create a superhero, under the guise of "Athletic Study", and was accidentally injected with a different spider serum, granting her super strength, wall-climbing and the ability to project psychic webbing from her fingerprints. She was given the identity of Spider-Woman by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, although she preferred "Arachne" (suggestion overruled). Her first major involvement was the Crossover event Secret Wars, in which she met Spider-Man and gave him the inspiration of the design for his Alien Symbiote black suit (which would later become known as Venom). She was then roped into joining the newly-formed Freedom Force (Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, pardoned and given a government sanction, although other heroes would be added to the roster). Julia didn't make any friends on the team, however, when she helped free the Avengers from the Vault after the Force had arrested them on trumped-up charges. However, instead of locking her up, CSA director Valerie Cooper (Julia's college friend, who'd been responsible for turning her into Spider-Woman) gave her a second chance to serve her country, although she'd be officially classified as a rogue agent. Julia eventually got caught up with the West Coast Avengers, joining that team and severing her ties with the CSA. While with the Avengers, she was caught in a conflict with the criminal trio Deathweb, whose powers were derived from the same source as Julia's, and whom she defeated when they threatened her daughter Rachel and her parents. Soon afterward, when the Avengers shut down the West Coast branch, she joined Iron Man's new team, Force Works, but after that team folded, she retired from superhero activity to continue raising Rachel.

The retirement, however was cut short when she, along with Jessica, was attacked by Charlotte Witter, and she was rendered wheelchair-bound. However, she still took a resistance and mentored the 3rd Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin. Some time later, she was involved with the Civil War, joining Iron Man's Pro-Registration side, and taking the name "Arachne", but eventually she reveals that she was The Mole for the Anti-Registration side. Before she could change sides, however, she was beaten down by Ms. Marvel and was forcefully separated from Rachel as her punishment. The loss of Rachel caused Julia to nearly slip into insanity; she broke out of the prison in the Negative Zone, and went into Colorado to search for Rachel. In a fit of rage, she attacked a superpowered girl named Arana, but her instability cost her victory and she was beaten, whereas she met Ms. Marvel again who apologized and promised to search for Rachel. But despite so, and even the success of reuniting with Rachel, it was clear that the friendship between Julia and Carol was strained.

Julia eventually moved to Canada and joined Omega Flight. She would end up unused for a while, until the Spider-Man story arc Grim Hunt, in which she was captured by Kraven the Hunter, who wanted to destroy every trace of the Spider family. Julia ended up being picked as the successor of Madame Web and the process of the inheritance made her blind. She eventually passed on her Arachne costume and powers into Arana, as she becomes the next Madame Web as the original is dead.

Julia has appeared in these other medias aside of the Marvel comics:

Video Games

Western Animation

Tropes for Julia

  • Action Mom / Mama Bear: Harm Rachel at your own risk.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Julia goes around with orange hair, red hair or blonde, depending on who drew her.
  • Astral Projection: As Madame Web, she has ability to project her consciousness outside her body and travel.
  • Berserk Button: Harming Julia's daughter means you put a "Please Kick Me" sign on your butt.
  • Blind Seer: As Madame Web.
  • Civvie Spandex: As Madame Web and after she gave her old costume to Anya Corazon, Julia wears new spandex costume which is covered with either Badass Longcoat or shorter trenchcoat, such as this.
  • Cool Shades: After she became Madame Web, she wears sunglasses most of the time.
  • Happily Married: Averted. Her husband doesn't take her superhero career well, and they were eventually divorced. He's eventually killed by Deathweb.
  • Healing Factor: Julia is able to recover from mild to moderate injuries somewhat faster and more efficiently than an ordinary human. She is capable of fully healing on her own in a matter of days that would require an ordinary human to undergo surgery. Julia is also physically immune to all known types of poisons.
  • Insistent Terminology: Call Julia Spider-Woman or Spider-Girl after she gets to use her intended alias, and she'll correct you that "It's Arachne."
  • Legacy Character: Julia gave her old costume to Anya so she can continue her superheroing as Spider-Girl, as Julia succeeds the late Madame Web.
  • Psychic Powers: Her webbing is psychokinetic. As Madame Web, she has ability to perceive aspects of the future, sensitivity to psychic energies in her environment allows her to see her immediate area and events taking place far away, and telepathy: ability to read minds and project thoughts.
  • Red-Headed Heroine: Although her hair colour sometimes changes Depending on the Artist, her hair is mostly drawn as strawberry blonde.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Julia during her stint with Freedom Force. She was also the Token Good Teammate, at least until they added Crimson Commando, Stonewall and Super Sabre to the team.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Just like the original Madame Web, she can teleport herself to any location.

    Mattie Franklin & Charlotte Witter 

Martha "Mattie" Franklin & Charlotte Witter

The third Spider-Woman is less known and more into the mythos of Spider-Man. Martha "Mattie" Franklin (2 o'clock on the top picture, don't worry, she got her own distinctive costume later) is the niece of J. Jonah Jameson, who thinks Spider-Man is cool. Mattie first appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #262 (November, 1998), created by John Byrne and Rafael Kayanan. She assumed the Spider-Woman identity in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #5 (May, 1999).

Mattie attended the Gathering of Five - a mystical ceremony that bestows the five people gathered with power, insanity, immortality, knowledge, or death - in place of her father, giving her Spider Limbs when she was chosen to receive power. Later, Spider-Man had a 10-Minute Retirement, so Mattie donned a costume similar to his and called herself Spider-Woman, taking his place in crime-fighting. Spider-Man realized this and helped her a bit after he got out of retirement.

Around this time, Doctor Octopus created a new villain named Spider-Woman using Madame Web's daughter Charlotte Witter; she attacked Jessica, Julia and Mattie and absorbed their powers. Both Jessica and Julia eventually guide Mattie to become the next Spider-Woman and defeat Charlotte, also getting parts of their Spider-Woman powers. Charlotte first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #5 (May, 1999), created by John Byrne and Howard Mackie.

Mattie became the star of Spider-Woman vol. 3, which lasted for 18 issues (July, 1999-December, 2000). Charlotte made regular appearances as an opponent for Mattie.

Unfortunately, the next time Mattie appeared was during the Grim Hunt arc and she was less lucky than the rest. She was one of the first characters sacrificed by Kraven and ended up dead. Charlotte hasn't been heard from again.


  • Ascended Fangirl: Martha is Spider-Man's fangirl.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Although Charlotte wasn't a saint to begin with as she's also involved with black markets, what really drives her into villainy is because Doctor Octopus, conditioned her through torture, sensory deprivation, and starvation until she obeyed his every command so long as he provided her with a steady diet of human blood. She initially refused his order and even attempted to kill him.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Charlotte is blonde and evil.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Charlotte's power has been absorbed by Mattie. She's not dead, but she's never been heard again afterwards.
  • Combat Stilettos: Aside from the fact it's a pair of Thigh-High Boots, Charlotte's boots are also high-heeled.
  • Dark Action Girl: Charlotte, the only villainous Spider-Woman.
  • Flying Brick: Martha's original powerset to an unknown level sans the spider-powers, until she got them.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Charlotte was just a fashion designer and practitioner of black markets until Doc Ock kidnapped her and conducted genetic testing using spider DNA, altering her physical appearance and transforming her into a spider-human hybrid.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Charlotte's costume.
  • Leotard of Power: Charlotte is easily the least modest of all Spider-Women.
  • Mind Rape: Charlotte can hypnotize males using eye contact.
  • Opera Gloves: Charlotte wears green ones on both of her arms.
  • Power Parasite: Charlotte can absorb the powers of other Spider-Women, until Mattie Franklin absorbed all her powers and the powers she had absorbed.
  • Psychic Powers: Charlotte has strands of psionic force that could be woven into adhesive "psi-webs" and psionic spider legs that emanated from her back. She also has inherent precognitive abilities, telepathy and psionic detection.
  • She's Got Legs: Charlotte, thanks to her outfit of choice.
  • Shock and Awe: Charlotte has ability to generate bio-electric "venom blasts".
  • Spider Limbs: Originally belonging to Charlotte Witter, Martha possessed four psionic spider-legs growing from her back. Having them grown out was their natural state, but Martha could conceal them in her back with concentration, though this left her with feelings of pressure. On occasion, Martha was shown firing brilliant bursts of energy from the legs that left her enemies stunned.
  • Thigh-High Boots: As a part of her Stripperiffic costume, Charlotte also wears these.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Mattie went through nine costumes before settling on one.

    Gwen Stacy 

Gwen Stacy

Nope, not that one. This Spider-Woman was introduced as part of the 2014 high-profile Spider-Verse event, in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez. This Gwen Stacy is from an Alternate Universe where Peter Parker was never bitten by the radioactive spider, but Gwen was - and used her powers to go into music. Peter, inspired by Spider-Woman's example, turned himself into the villainous Lizard, which resulted in Peter's death and Spider-Woman taking the blame, leaving her wanted by the police and a recruitment target for the underworld. She received a solo ongoing by Latour and Rodriguez, Spider-Gwen, beginning in 2015.

For tropes regarding her, see her own page.

    Anya Corazon 

Anya Corazon

While not starting out as a member of the Spider-Family, Anya was a member of the mystical part of the Spider Society and usually acted as their hunter. However, a crossover with Spider-Man eventually made her renounce her allegiance and pursue her own path.

She was amongst the Pro-Registration heroes in the Civil War, acting as Ms. Marvel's Tagalong Kid, and while questioning her worst moments, she continued to be on Carol's side, the two helping each other out, despite her father's misgivings. Carol once saved her from the mind control of Puppet Master, solidifying their relations.

Like the rest of the Spider-Family, she wasn't heard from any more until Grim Hunt, where luckily for her, Arana managed to survive the events and helped Spider-Man defeat Kraven. In the aftermath, she was handpicked by Julia Carpenter as the successor of the Arachne suit and becomes Spider-Girl as Julia succeeds the late Madame Web.

For tropes regarding her, see her own page.

Alternative Title(s):

Spider Woman