spider-woman 1 cover from marvel comics

Jessica Drew is back in SPIDER-WOMAN #1, and our sassy superhero is facing one of her biggest challenges yet, maternity leave! (Yes, I’m serious.) Let’s find out if Jessica’s foray into the world of motherhood is worth a read, shall we?

SPIDER-WOMAN #1 by Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and VC’s Travis Lanham

We begin with Jessica working from the sidelines because, much to her own chagrin, she and the rest of her team, Ben Urich and Roger Gocking, have decided that she is not going into the field during her pregnancy.  Jessica pokes some fun at both Porcupine and Ben before we are flown into a few flashbacks of Jessica’s pregnancy. The question still remains though: who is the father and is there anything strange about Jessica’s pregnancy?

spider-woman 1 marvel comics javier rodriguez

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First things first, the comedy in this issue on point. Dennis Hopeless has really added a nice sense of dry wit to Jessica’s situation, and her responses feel very humorous and entertaining. This humor transitions over into one of the favorite scenes of the issue, Jessica’s maternity leave party with the Avengers. Carol Danvers, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Jessica Drew, and Clint Barton all play off of each other in a very entertaining fashion that was extremely fun to read. (“Why do we hang out with these people?” From Carol is a personal favorite.) However, outside of these very fun and enjoyable moments, there was something a little off about this comic.

This comes from the way that pregnancy is handled in the issue. For a superhero to ever have anything additional to their superpower included and focused on in a story inherently makes me as a reader worried. I remember when the cover was first announced; I was immediately concerned. We discussed this on a podcast that has yet to be released because we were concerned that the artist’s portrayal of a woman’s body during pregnancy was not anatomically accurate. While this issue was nowhere near as worrisome as the famous SPIDER-WOMAN cover with her butt presented up in the air like a heart, there were still some concerns raised there.

spider-woman 1 with art by javier rodriguez

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However, after reading the issue, I have to say that my main problem is not that Jessica is pregnant, but instead with the way that this pregnancy is handled. Mostly because Jessica seems, and it is joked about often, that she doesn’t truly want this baby or this lifestyle. The question that provokes to me as the reader is: why wasn’t there ever a discussion of abortion? I understand that making Jessica pregnant was a controversial decision initially, but it is odd to have her constantly complaining about her pregnancy without at least alluding to a conversation that she might have had in the past with Carol. I’m not even concerned with issues of pro-choice; I am more concerned that if Jessica so clearly didn’t want to be pregnant, than why didn’t she ever consider this is one of the flashbacks we saw.

This relates to another problem I had, for the first half of the issue I wasn’t really enjoying the book because it fell into so many stereotypes of being pregnant as a woman that I couldn’t tell if it was being serious or joking. The idea of a woman being kept from the fight has been so prevalent in the world of comics that it felt as though a very direct inversion was needed outside of Jessica complaining and being told to stop talking. For some reason to me this didn’t come across as well as a more direct approach to the stereotype could have.

spider-woman cover from marvel comics by javier rodriguez

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Despite these issues and questions that I have, I still enjoyed this book on the whole. One of the many reasons for this, outside of the humor, was the beautiful pencils and colors by Javier Rodriguez. Not only are the panels and characters beautifully crafted but also the construction around the panels, like the terrace party scene above, is quite inventive and, honestly, just plain cute. Jessica and Carol also look amazing, and I just can’t help looking at how cool they are drawn.

While Jessica’s pregnancy might be a little odd and mishandled, I have to say that this change leaves the possibilities for some very interesting stories, and if they are handled with the same lightness that Dennis Hopeless does in this issue, it will definitely be worth a look. I’ll come back next week, Jessica. Don’t drink any coffee regardless of what galaxy it comes from.

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