First Published: August 2007
Contents: Spider-Woman #26 (May 1980) to #50 (June 1983), Marvel Team-Up #97 (September 1980), and Uncanny X-Men #148 (August 1981).
Key Creator Credits: Michael Fleisher, Chris Claremont, Ann Nocenti, Steve Leialoha
Key First Appearances: Dr. Karl Malus, Turner D. Century, Theresa Cassidy/Siryn, Caliban, Flying Tiger
Story Continues From: Essential Spider-Woman Vol. 1
Overview: The adventures of Jessica Drew continue in this second volume of Essential Spider-Woman. We seen Spider-Woman working as a bounty hunter in Los Angeles in partnership with her friend Scotty McDowell. Their friendship and working relationship is drifting apart, leading to both of them going their separate ways. That path leads Jessica to move to San Francisco, where she becomes roommates with Lindsey McCabe, ²and Jessica sets up office as a private investigator.
Spider-Woman fights numerous unmemorable villains from issue to issue. The highlight of these is an encounter against the Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy. This gives Chris Claremont to bring in his X-Men for a crossover appearance. Spider-Woman returns the favor by making a guest appearance in Uncanny X-Men #148.
Throughout the series, Spider-Woman has been tormented by Morgana le Fay, who wants Jessica’s soul. This comes to a climatic conclusion with issue #50. Jessica fights for her soul in the astral plane, and finds a way to defeat her with the aide of Magnus. However, Jessica is surprised to find that her body has died while her spirit was outside of it. Magnus casts a spell to make everyone that has known Jessica to forget her, so that no one has to mourn for her. The series ends with the spirits of Magnus and Jessica Drew fading off into limbo.
What makes this Essential?: Well, quite honestly, I don’t know that this is truly essential. The Spider-Woman shown here from the early 1980s is far different from the Spider-Woman shown in comics in the 2000s. I’m looking for a positive on why this should be read, but I am not coming up with one. Conversely, I’m not finding a negative as to why this should not be read. If you want to consider this an essential, that’s fine, but it should probably be low on your list.
Deathstroke²: In Spider-Woman #39 (August 1981), a new villain is introduced who goes by the name of Death-Stroke, and his henchmen are known as the Terminators. Death-Stroke is a masked assassin-for-hire who uses blades, and claims to be the best in his business. Sound familiar? Take a look at New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980). A new villain is introduced who goes by the name of Deathstroke the Terminator. Deathstroke is a masked assassin-for-hire who uses blades, and claims to be the best in his business. The DC Comics’ Deathstroke has become a mainstay since then. The Marvel Comics’ Death-Stroke made only one other appearance, in which he was killed off.
Footnotes: Uncanny X-Men #148 is also reprinted in Essential X-Men Vol. 3.
Marvel Team-Up #97 is also reprinted in Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 4.
If you like this volume, try: tracking down Avengers #240 and #241 from 1984. While Roger Stern was the regular writer of Avengers at this time, Ann Nocenti co-wrote these two issues to tie up the final plot threads left dangling at the end of the Spider-Woman series. We discover that Jessica’s friends discovered her body in time to revive it, but she is still in a coma in a San Francisco hospital. The Avengers enlist the help of Dr. Strange, who leads the Avengers into the astral realm to battle Morgana Le Fay for the soul of Jessica Drew. Not to spoil the ending, but the heroes win out, and Jessica Drew awakens, ready to start a new life. If I was running Marvel, I probably would have pushed to include these two issues in this Essential volume, since they do help wrap up the final storyline. These issues have not been collected yet, so search for them in a back issue bin at your local comic store.