REVIEW: SPIDER-WOMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

 

CAST (VOICES)

Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Bryan Scott (Kidd Video)
Larry Carroll (Rocky)
Vic Perrin (The Incredible Hulk 80s)
Paul Soles (Spider-Man 60s)

untitledIn the 1970s, Marvel Comics created a handful of female versions of some of Marvel’s popular male characters (allegedly, just so no one else could lay claim to the names): Spider-Woman, the She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. Of those three, Spider-Woman quickly became a prominent marketing co-mascot (along with Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America), appearing on various Marvel-branded licensed merchandise, and serving as their de facto representative for lady superheroes (rival DC Comics owned longtime icon Wonder Woman). Marvel’s first animation production house (in cooperation with the DePatie/Freling, firm, who pioneered the “Pink Panther” toons) developed this show.

'Dedicated to fighting evil while weaving her web of justice...' ('Spider-Woman,' 1979)

The show alters the backstory for Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman. The comics had an arguably complicated origin story, which posited her as being born in the 1920’s, struck by radiation poisoning, then placed in suspended animation where she slowly grew to adulthood over several decades (while periodically being injected with life-preserving drugs based on spider-proteins). The producers wisely jettisoned this origin, and simply state that a pre-teen Jessica was bitten by a spider when fooling around in her father’s research laboratory. A hasty antidote is created, based on the spider’s venom, which ends up giving Jessica her trademark powers. As an adult, Spider-Woman can crawl on walls, has super-strength, can mentally communicate with spiders, has a spider-sense that borders on true clairvoyance, can cast webbing from her fingertips, and can glide on air currents with her web-wings (the webcasting, spider-sense and spider-telepathy were not from the comics). Curiously, she transforms into her Spider-Woman costume simply by spinning around in place (and weaving a thin web around herself)– this was seemingly taken directly from the “Wonder Woman” TV show.

The adult Jessica is now a magazine publisher (Justice Magazine), though apparently she often serves as her own reporter, along with pilot/photographer Jeff by her side, as well as her nephew Billy.The Kingpin and Dormammu are among the Marvel comics villains used here, though the portrayals are not exactly as the comics origins. Spider-Man is a guest in two episodes– though in both, Spider-Woman is clearly the main star, and viewers never see Spider-Man out of costume. It’s  great to have this series on DVD to relive the classic cartoon time and again.

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