I was only one issue off of talking about Skrulls!
Welcome to issue #1 of Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.!
On to the review!
So…we’re halfway through the Twelve Days of Bendis. I guess it was about time we came across something that I didn’t like that much. I’ve been giving away way too many 5/5s.
This issue isn’t horrible, alright? That’s why it’s a 4.
HOWEVER, I have a couple of problems with it. Three, actually.
The first problem I have with this issue is continuity. For once, Bendis is actually USING continuity to tell the story. For long-time Marvel fans, I’m sure this is no problem (and heck, since he does this so rarely, maybe it’s a treat for you), but for someone completely new? Uhhh…
I had to have Pinkie fill me in on some of the blanks for this one. Part of this is because I know next to nothing about Spider-Woman. She’s not a character I’ve seen much of outside of the Ultimate Alliance hero roster, and I’ve never really felt compelled to check out any stories about her. Pinkie did get me a trade of one of her best story-lines (apparently), but my reading list is long and I just haven’t gotten around to it.
Now, this isn’t because Spider-Woman isn’t an interesting character. Quite the contrary. I would actually like to learn more about her – I’m certainly curious about her, and I think her powers are cool. It’s just, there are so many other characters that I really like, I just haven’t brought myself to do this just yet.
For anyone else who is like me, and knows nothing about Spider-Woman, DO NOT READ THIS FIRST. Just don’t do it. Unless you have your own little encyclopedia-brained lab assistant who you can call on at any time, day or night, to answer questions for you, just don’t do it. This issue is so deeply nestled in other comics that it’s honestly just confusing to newcomers. And considering Bendis has been so delightfully easy to read for someone who hasn’t been reading Marvel comics since the 1960s, I’ve appreciated that his stories thus far (even ones that involve continuity to some degree) have been easy to digest.
Before I attack my other points against this issue, let me tell you what it’s about:
This issue focuses on Jessica Drew out-of-costume, dealing with the repercussions of Secret Invasion (the story I thought I was going to be covering last night). Basically, what this issue eventually tells you is that Jessica Drew was body-snatched by the Skrull Queen (Pinkie says its because she has, like, no loved ones so no one would notice she was gone/body-snatched). It’s implied that, while the Skrull Queen was pretending to be her on Earth, the real Jessica Drew was being tortured as well.
Needless to say, she’s pretty fucked up about it.
One day, Drew gets a creepy note, and decides to meet the sender. It’s a green haired woman (we find out it’s Abigail Brand; Pinkie says she’s basically Nick Fury) offering her a job to kill aliens – specifically Skrulls who are still on the planet Earth. She works for an organization called S.W.O.R.D. whose sole purpose is basically to wipe out all unwanted alien life on Earth. It’s kinda shady, but Drew takes the job since she’s got some serious anger issues to work out, so why not murder, and is sent to Madripoor, which is I guess the seediest underbelly of seedy underbellies. She’s been sent to fish out a Skrull suspected of living there, and potentially get intel from them.
While in her hotel room, Drew tries to sleep and instead just thinks about her sad history, including the stuff with the Skrull Queen. Her dark thoughts are interrupted by Spider-Man, who warns her that she’s in danger and she needs to come with him quickly.
Drew doesn’t buy the act and punches Spider-Man, who then tackles her out the window. They land, Drew having been able to get on top of Spidey during the fall, and punches him until his Skrull face starts to show.
And that’s the end of the issue.
And here’s where I’m going to talk about my second problem with the issue: it’s boring.
It has the same “boring” feeling that the Iron Man issue I covered on the Third Day of Bendis suffered. It’s just not interesting as a stand-alone issue. I’m sure if I continue reading (and I probably will, to be fair), it’ll contribute well to a larger story, but on its own I just really don’t care about what’s going on. I’m not really given a reason to care.
My final point against this issue is exactly that, though. I don’t care. And I don’t care because I don’t care about Jessica Drew. Because the way Bendis writes her in this issue is BORING.
For one, nothing about Jessica Drew’s character, the way she talks and thinks, or the way her trauma has effected her differentiates her from a certain other PI named Jessica we all know, and who I’ve already talked about. Seriously, this feels like Diet Jessica Jones. I’m not sure whose Bendis story came first, but even IF Jessica Drew was Bendis’ first Jessica PI, I’m afraid he just did it better with Jones.
Part of this is because Jessica Jones seems to handle her depression and angst in a more interesting way. She’s angry. She’s an alcoholic. She’s violent. She’s snarky and sarcastic.
How does Jessica Drew deal with her trauma? By moping and comparing her plight to that of Wolverine’s…and coming to the conclusion that her sob story is somehow worse than his.
I’m sorry, but no. Wolverine will ALWAYS be a more pathetic, shit-upon being than Spider-Woman.
YES she was tortured for months, YES she feels like her friends and the world hate her, YES she is allowed to be depressed about all of these things.
However, DO NOT compare this momentary shittiness to Wolverine’s literal CENTURIES of torment.
Everyone he loves withers and dies in front of him. He was tortured and experimented on for MUCH longer than Drew was. And after having forgotten all this for years, Bendis’ own House of M reversed that so now Wolverine remembers EVERYTHING. He also has a son who wants nothing more than to kill him, who Wolverine then had to drown because he wouldn’t fucking stop. Hell, the fucking love of his life was married to another and when she discovered her husband was unfaithful, when he had his chance to steal her away and show her what love really is, he turned her down. Because he’s a good guy. Then she died and he built a school in her honour, while that good-for-nothing husband of hers hooked up with his mistress and killed Professor X.
Shut. The. Fuck. UP.
The ONLY people who hold a candle to what he’s been through are X-23 and Magneto.
Framing Jessica Drew’s torment around the idea of, “wahhh, this is so much worse than Wolverine’s miserable existence” – since this is what the issue opens with – immediately turns me off her character. It makes her seem whiny and self-centred and stupid. I SHOULDN’T FEEL LIKE THAT FOR SOMEONE WHO WAS TORTURED FOR MONTHS.
And all this self-pity nonsense stems from the fact that she thinks all her friends hate her because of what the Skrull Queen did.
Who didn’t come rescue her.
Who didn’t even notice she was fucking missing.
She thinks that, since her friends have been kind of weird around her lately, they must hate her. I mean…did you never consider that JUST MAYBE they think you hate them? That you are angry that they left you in space to rot while they had fun with your imposter? And MAYBE they’re weird around you because they are ashamed and guilty about that?
Or that MAYBE they don’t know how to talk to you because you were tortured for months and are most definitely suffering some PTSD and don’t want to hurt you?
I dunno. That just…bothered me.
In the end, though, this wasn’t horrible. These things were annoying in hindsight (and while reading it, a little bit), but it’s not badly written and it held my interest long enough to finish the issue. It also ended up sparking my curiosity just enough that I’ll probably read the rest of it.
I know I’ve just complained a lot, but most of this stuff is just complaint-in-hindsight. It’s like, the more I think about it the more it bothers me…
We’ll stare into the real face of night-time crazy.
If you think Batman is a little nutty dressing up like a bat every night to fight costumed criminals, how do you think you’re going to handle someone just like him?
Only instead of wearing black, he wears white. He doesn’t want to torment you from the shadows, he wants you to know he’s coming and know you can’t do anything to stop him. He purposefully hurts himself in combat as an act of terroristic psychological warfare to fuck with his enemies. And he gets off on it. This is the guy that, during the first Civil War, Iron Man couldn’t handle and Cap told to take a hike AFTER letting in the Punisher.
Welcome to Moon Knight.
Until next time.
- Interesting mystery behind S.W.O.R.D.
- The continued hunt for Skrulls is mildly interesting
- Jessica Drew tries to claim a bigger victim card than Wolverine... just no. Bad Spider-Woman. Bad.
- Continuity heavy (not for beginners!)
- Kind of boring to read; clearly meant to be binge-read with the rest of the story.