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Spider-Woman Costume: The Evolution of the Marvel Heroes' Iconic Looks

One of the superheroes within the Marvel Universe with the greatest variance in personas and designs is Spider-Woman. The mantle has been held by several different figures in the main Marvel Universe in the 40 years since the character was first created, each with their own distinct look as Spider-Woman uses her powers to fight crime either on her own or as a member of superteams like the Avengers.

Now, CBR is taking a look back at the three most prominent characters to hold the mantle of Spider-Woman in the main Marvel Universe and how their respective costumes compared to one another.

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Jessica Drew

Spider-Woman Jessica Drew Greg Land

First created in 1977's Marvel Spotlight #32 by Archie Goodwin and Marie Severin, Jessica Drew was the first Spider-Woman introduced into the Marvel Universe, initially just created as a means for the publisher to copyright the name. Exposed to uranium in her father's lab as a child, Jessica's father saves her life by injected her with a serum made from irradiated spider blood and placed into an accelerator to let the serum incubate and cure her, resulting in her being put into stasis for decades.

This would be retconned decades later as Jessica's pregnant mother being hit by a laser containing spider DNA in a gene splicing accident. As she entered adulthood, Jessica was recruited into HYDRA and tasked with killing Nick Fury until learning of HYDRA's nefarious agenda and becoming the heroic Spider-Woman.

After ditching her HYDRA costume which reflected the organization's complete head encompassing mask, Jessica Drew's classic costume is primarily colored bright red with yellow accents, including yellow gloves and boots, with a mask that obscures most of her face except her nose and mouth and letting her long hair flow out.

Underneath the suit's arms are webbed wings that allow Jessica to glide while the suit's gloves and boots are permeable enough to allow Jessica use her superpowers to cling and climb hard surfaces while the gloves can withstand the electricity blasts that Jessica can fire from her hands. Later, Jessica revised her costume to a much more pragmatic black and red design with removable gloves, golden belt and googles, while retaining the webbed wings.

Julia Carpenter

The second Spider-Woman Julia Carpenter was created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck in 1984's Secret Wars #6 as a new superhero initially based out of Denver. While in college, Julia had unwittingly participated in a secret government genetic experiment that injected her with a mix of spider venom and extract from rare plants giving her superpowers.

Transported to Battleworld as part of Secret Wars, Julia aided the heroes and continued her superhero career after returning to Earth. Years later, after she is mortally wounded by Kraven the Hunter's daughter Sasha, Madam Web transfers her clairvoyant powers to Julia to make her the new Madam Web.

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In her original costume, Julia wore a black and white ensemble, with a large white spider logo across her chest and a mask that extended up on her face similar to Jessica Drew's mask. Spider-Man would later speculate that the symbiote costume he obtained during Secret Wars was subconsciously influenced by Julia's outfit owing to their noticeable visual similarities.

As Madam Web, Julia covers her eyes with red sunglasses while wearing a long red trench coat, matching gloves, and a black turtleneck underneath.

Mattie Franklin

The third Spider-Woman Mattie Franklin was created by John Byrne and Rafael Kayanan in 1998's Spectacular Spider-Man #262. An obsessive fan of Spider-Man, Mattie steals spider powers intended for Norman Osborn and poses as Spider-Man during a temporary period of retirement for Peter Parker.

Adopting the mantle of Spider-Woman after Spider-Man's return, Mattie would receive a power boost by inadvertently gaining Jessica Drew and Julia Carpenter's abilities for a time before returning them to the original Spider-Women.

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Spider-Woman Mattie Franklin

Initially posing as Spider-Man, Mattie's original costume strongly resembles Peter Parker's usual ensemble though it lacks the webbed line work across the costume and has a long, black ponytail emerging from the back of the mask.

Mattie would change up her costumes frequently after Spider-Man's return, ultimately settling on a dark blue and red costume with four protruding metal legs not unlike what Tony Stark would design for Peter as the Iron Spider shortly before Civil War. With these legs, Mattie can use them to climb walls while keeping her hands and feet free or in combat.

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