Over the course of her tumultuous life, Spider-Woman (AKA Jessica Drew) has been an agent of HYDRA, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a super hero, a private investigator, and most recently she’s worked as both a member of the Avengers and an agent for the extraterrestrial monitoring agency S.W.O.R.D. In other words, she’s no stranger to all manner of Marvel Universe conflicts, but this fall she’ll be plunged into the middle of a strange, dimension-spanning struggle.
The “Spider-Verse” event, which brings together every version of Spider-Man ever, will thrust Jessica onto the front lines of the story’s main clash in a new “Spider-Woman” ongoing series by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Greg Land announced yesterday at Marvel’s “Spider-Verse” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. CBR News spoke with Hopeless about the series, its opening storyline that teams Jessica with the mysterious Silk, recently introduced in the relaunched “Amazing Spider-Man” series, and discusses how the “Spider-Verse” tie-in arc will drive the series moving forward.
CBR News: Dennis, it seems like most of your Marvel work so far has been on team books. How does it feel to move to a solo title with “Spider-Woman?” Is it easier or more difficult to really focus on one protagonist?
Dennis Hopeless: I don’t know that it’s necessarily easier writing a solo series but it’s definitely a refreshing change of pace. Team books are a lot of fun because you get to mix and remix several different personality types into all sorts of dramatic situations. It also allows for narrative variety, bouncing back and forth between smaller groups of your cast within a single issue. But at the same time, there’s always a lot of juggling and plate spinning to make sure everyone is getting some spotlight time.
I’m really excited to get to focus on a single voice for a while. This will be the first time since “X-Men Season One” that I’ve had a true lead character who gets to dominate all the caption boxes. I can’t wait to really start digging around in Jessica’s head.
The “Spider-Woman” ongoing kicks off with a tie-in to “Spider-Verse,” which also means it’s your first Marvel event tie-in, correct? What’s it like launching a book and tying it into such a large-scale event at the same time?
Yeah, this is my first big event.
I think the biggest challenge of launching during an event is trying to make sure the story works on two levels. Jessica is an integral soldier in the war and we’ll be seeing important Spider-Verse beats play out in “Spider-Woman.” But we also want these first few issues to stand on their own. Jessica Drew fans who may not be as invested in “Spider-Verse” deserve an exciting adventure with its own beginning, middle and end.
That balancing act definitely made the plotting stage a little trickier than usual but I’m really happy how it all came out. These “Spider-Verse” issues are shaping up to be very cool.
Let’s move to the title character of “Spider-Woman,” Jessica Drew. What made writing her solo adventures a compelling assignment for you? What do you find most interesting about her which aspects of her character will you explore across the series?
I’ve been a fan of the character for a while but I think [Brian Michael] Bendis and [Alex] Maleev’s post-“Secret Invasion” series really made me fall in love with Jessica Drew. I like survivors and Jessica has survived plenty. She’s been through so much terrifying nonsense in her life but always steps up and takes what’s coming next. Complicated and grumpy as she may be sometimes, Jessica’s a hero through and through.
I understand one of the major supporting characters in your initial story is one of the newest Spider characters, Silk. What can you tell us about her role in the story? How would you describe the initial dynamic between her and Jessica?
I think ordinarily Jessica would find Silk amusing in an eye-rolling sort of way. Silk has this straight-out-of-the-box infectious enthusiasm for super heroing that makes her easy to love. Unfortunately for both of them, they’re meeting in the absolute worst of circumstances. “Spider-Verse” is a big ugly war and Jessica has been tasked with keeping Silk alive. This dynamic makes Silk’s bombast and inexperience pretty dangerous. As a world-worn soldier who knows how these things tend to play out, Jessica spends a lot of our story wanting to grab Silk by the ears and shake her.
I know you might have to be a little vague here because plot details about “Spider-Verse” are still largely under wraps, but in terms of plot and themes what is your inaugural arc of “Spider-Woman” about? You referred to “Spider-Verse” as a war story earlier — does that mean we’ll get to see Jessica employ some of her espionage skills in this arc?
Yeah, we’re telling a couple of different “mission” stories within the larger “Spider-Verse” war. Issue #1 is a little bit “Saving Private Ryan” with a frustrated Jessica doing everything in her power to keep Silk alive as they jump between crazy alternate universes. Then starting with #2 we’ll be trapping Jessica behind enemy lines to try and steal important intel. It’s crucial to the overall war effort that these missions succeed so our story will have big repercussions across “Spider-Verse.”
What can you tell us about the antagonists of your initial arc? How much danger are Jessica and Silk in during this story?
Well, there’s a damned good reason our plot hinges on running and hiding. These villains are bad, bad news. In a straight head to head fight, Jessica and Silk wouldn’t last ten minutes.
Artist Greg Land is bringing “Spider-Woman” to life. What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?
Greg loves drawing powerful female characters kicking ass and it shows. I think Jessica is the perfect character for Greg. That amazing red-and-yellow ’70s costume just pops off the page in an old school, 4-color kind of way. At the same time, Jessica doesn’t mess around when push comes to shove. She will absolutely beat the teeth out of out of a fool’s mouth. I can’t wait to see what Greg does with her.
Let’s wrap up by chatting a bit about the status quo of “Spider-Woman” in the wake of “Spider-Verse.” What can you tell us about that? Where will Jessica be living post-“Spider-Verse” and what will she be doing with her life? How deep will the book’s supporting cast be?
It’s tough to say without spoiling because everything in Jessica’s life hinges on how this war plays out. She’s been through so much apocalyptic crap lately and now she’s fighting just to survive. This war and everything that happens in it will very much affect who Spider-Woman is coming out of it. Sorry to be vague but all of this is a big part of our long-term plan and that roulette ball is still rolling.
Fair enough. Finally, what can you tell us about the types of stories and structure you have planned for “Spider-Woman” following “Spider-Verse?” Will we see any specific tone or genera, or will you be playing with story types? And since your last two Marvel books, “Avengers Arena” and “Avengers Undercover,” have been long form stories, will “Spider-Woman” also feature a similar larger story told over the course of several arcs?
The coolest thing about Jessica is that she has such a deep, dark history, just about anything goes. She was abducted and replaced by an invading Skrull Queen. She worked for both HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s spent time as a private eye, a super hero and a Skrull-hunting Agent of S.W.O.R.D. The sky is pretty much the limit. All she has to do is survive this war.
“Spider-Woman” debuts later this year as part of Marvel’s “Spider-Verse” event.