Spider-Woman #1 Bites With a Purpose!

According to Abigail Brand, the woman who approaches our heroine Jessica Drew, everyone's favorite female arachnid-powered hero Spider-Woman, everyone loves an acronym. In her career as a superhero, most of the time, Drew has been a member of letter-loving groups such as SHIELD and HYDRA, not to mention the Avengers. Enter issue one of the much-anticipated Spider-Woman, penned by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Alex Maleev. Brand introduces another alphabetical offer to Drew's newly complicated life, that of an agent of SWORD, a group dedicated to tracking down rogue alien beings on Earth, those pesky Skrulls included. Spider-Woman #1 starts out with our heroine, still recovering from the events of Secret Invasion which saw Jessica replaced by the Skrull queen as they launched their campaign to take over the Earth, effectively making Jessica the "face" of the Skrull invasion. You can understand then her lack of popularity with most humans after the heroes' victory over the aliens. This is where we pick up the story, in this post-invasion world, with Drew feeling pretty dejected and rudderless as she narrates to us her thoughts on her current disconnectedness. Bendis does a nice job of keeping dialogue to a minimum to allow us to really see into the current psyche of this woman, so used to being manipulated and controlled for others' purposes. This first issue is the first opportunity we've been allowed to see Jessica's deepest thoughts and feelings on her situation, and coupled with the scenes of quiet introspection are some very darkly drawn panels from Maleev, accenting the loneliness and self-imposed exile in which Drew currently finds herself. Brand's approach to her about taking the job as a sort of "alien hunter" is an intriguing new direction for her, given that her first solo series in the 1980's dealt so much with magical foes, mystery solving and encounters with costumed criminals. Brand's offer sparks Drew to take off to, of course, Madripoor, the epicenter of shady characters and criminals in the Marvel universe. A cursory bit of backstory on her origin as she begins her time in Madripoor is nice, but may not be enough for those who are just joining in on Drew's journey with this issue, but for fans already well-versed in her recent trouble this should be a non-issue, and the origin doesn't feel forced, as is sometimes the case with first issues for already established characters. What does feel a little forced (perhaps on purpose?) is Jessica's encounter with a current "bounty", who comes to her in unconvincing garb as one of her fellow Avengers. The issue shows us their interaction, and there's a bit of ambiguity in Jessica's reaction to her encounter with this being in the last panel, which is an interesting piece to show, knowing that she was a bit ambivalent about taking this job in the first place. This first issue jumps out to an impressive start, and the pacing is quick and immediate, with the reader able to be engaged throughout. Maleev's art is the perfect compliment to the narrative, and there's a great amount of tension in what Drew tells us about her current life. Perhaps her new journey will reinspire her to carve out her destiny and identity, free of any other organization's machinery.