At a point in the not so distant past, the Skrull Empire was one of the most powerful of the Marvel Universe’s intergalactic cultures. Then came the first “Annihilation War” during the course of which many of the planets that made up the Skrull Empire were decimated or destroyed. That was followed almost immediately by the Skrull’s failed “Secret Invasion” of Earth, resulting in even more Skrulls perishing. Now, it seems like the alien shapeshifters are an endangered species.
Despite all of that, there’s at least one Marvel hero who doesn’t believe that the Skrulls have suffered enough. Her name is Jessica Drew, and she’s the titular character of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev’s “Spider-Woman” comic book and motion comic series. CBR News spoke with Bendis about “Spider-Woman” and the future of the motion comic series now that its initial run has wrapped.
Jessica Drew hates the Skrulls for a simple reason: their leader, Queen Veranke, had the heroine abducted and personally impersonated her during the “Secret Invasion.” When the invasion was over, Jessica was freed from the clutches of the Skrulls only to discover that much of the world feared and distrusted her thanks to Veranke’s actions while wearing Drew’s face. In “Spider-Woman” #1, Jessica was in the grip of these feelings of alienation and anger when she was offered a job by Agent Abigail Brand, the leader of S.W.O.R.D. – an intelligence organization tasked with keeping tabs on and countering alien threats. Brand offered Drew the chance to be one of her agents on Earth, hunting down and eliminating any and all alien threats she encountered. Drew eagerly accepted.
The initial arc of “Spider-Woman” tells the story of Drew’s first mission for S.W.O.R.D., one which finds her confronting several personal demons. She began by traveling to the island nation of Madripoor to hunt down a cell of fugitive Skrulls. When she arrived, Spider-Woman quickly became entangled with the forces of Viper, a terrorist who believes that she’s Drew’s mother.
“This is one of those books where I’m getting a lot of e-mail from people going, ‘I thought you liked her.’ They don’t understand that if you like a character you don’t throw a party for them. You throw their demons at them, and Spider-Woman is a character with a lot of demons. She’s a character based in these demons,” Bendis told CBR News. “This is a character who feels that no one trusts her and no one loves her. She’s completely disconnected. The premise that all the relationships of your life have changed without your interaction is a big one. It’s not an easy thing get over.”
“She’s different from any kind of character that I’ve written before,” Bendis continued. “Writing ‘Spider-Woman’ made me realize that. I’m trying to capture the conspiratorial-noir feeling that she had in the Carmine Infantino issues of the “Spider-Woman’ series from the ’70s, but at the same time balancing that with the completely new look of Alex Maleev who is doing the work of his life.”
Spider-Woman” #5 is in stores this week and features guest appearances by the Thunderbolts. “I think this is a first arc that where it starts, where it ends and what’s going to happen next are all defined by the character’s choices. By the end of this arc, she’ll have to come to grips and forge her own status quo or put one of her venom blasts in her mouth,” Bendis remarked. “This first story arc will help determine who Jessica Drew is in the larger framework of the Marvel Universe and what kinds of stories we will be able to tell with her afterwards.”
The first arc of “Spider-Woman” comes to an end in March with issue #7. “It was going to be issue #6, but there were a few things about that issue that made that difficult to do,” Bendis explained. “Because of the ‘Spider-Woman’ motion comic, we plan out this series differently. Alex knows all the art he has and we script the comic accordingly. Alex felt there were seven issues there. So it will be seven issues.”
While the first arc of “Spider-Woman” the comic book is seven issues long, the initial run of “Spider-Woman” the motion comic series was only five episodes. Both series are telling the same tale, but in “Spider-Woman” the comic book, Bendis and Maleev are free to expand certain elements and make the story richer.
“The frustrating thing about ‘Spider-Woman’ the comic is that a lot of people have seen the motion comics on iTunes and Hulu.com. I believe it’s still free on Hulu, so you should definitely check them out, but those who’ve seen the motion comics think they know the whole story. So they’re not buying the comics,” Bendis said. “I can understand that, but if you really like the motion comics, you should check out the [printed] comic because Alex’s art is a completely different animal and there’s completely different artwork. Plus, the story has been completely rewritten for comics. For those who love both mediums and want to compare and contrast, I can’t stress enough how interesting you might find each of them. I like that people can compare and contrast them. I also feel that people may not have realized that we were going to have so much different material in the comic book.”
After the first arc of “Spider-Woman” the comic series wraps, the Marvel Universe will be a very different place thanks to the current event mini-series “Siege,” which Bendis is also writing. “The entire Avengers franchise, which includes ‘Spider-Woman,’ will be rocked and reeling because of ‘Siege.’ You’ll find out how and why very shortly when the solicitation for ‘Siege’ #4 hits, which will be followed by some shocking announcements for the publishing line. [Editors note: CBR has the solicitations here] Then, the month after that, you’ll find out what it all means,” Bendis said. “And those who saw the last second of the last ‘Spider-Woman’ motion comic got a glimpse of some of the possible storylines to come.”
One thing that Bendis definitely plans on doing in upcoming story arcs is expand the series supporting cast. “Right now we’ve got Agent Brand, Viper, and the Avengers. Jessica’s friends on the team, like Carol Danvers, will be entering the book,” Bendis stated. “She’ll also be receiving some friends that people who have the ‘Essential Spider-Woman’ collections will find familiar. It won’t matter if you don’t know who they are, though. Also there will be some new characters appearing as well.”
“Spider-Woman” the comic series will continue, but it hasn’t been decided yet if there will be more episodes of the “Spider-Woman” motion comic. Bendis would love to do more episodes, but there are several mitigating factors involved in whether or not this happens.
“It took so much time that we have to decide if we want to stop the comic temporarily or keep going. Plus, Alex and I are embarking on a creator owned series soon. So expect announcements about that as well,” the writer remarked. “Also it’s not up to me. So I’m going to go with whatever Marvel wants to do next, but I do know there was a feeling that the motion comics were going to be a hard sell and they weren’t at all. People were really interested in trying them, and I think we have to thank all the people who made motion comics before us. They paved the way a bit, because this wasn’t a hard sell at all. What’s funny, though, is now it’s the opposite, because the comic is a hard sell. People think they saw everything, but I just want to put it out there that maybe you didn’t!”