There have been many Spider-Women over the years. The original hero to have that title, Jessica Drew, has had a distinct design since even her earliest appearances. However, the costume has shifted slightly over the years, all the way until the modern-day when she got a modernized incarnation of the basic classic design.
Since Drew recently returned to her most famous Spider-Woman costume in the pages of Marvel's Strikeforce, we're taking a look back at the history of the character, and how her costume has evolved along with her role in the Marvel Universe.
Spider-Woman's Original Look
Jessica Drew was first introduced in Marvel Spotlight #23 by Marie Severin and Archie Goodwin. Her initial costume featured the basic identifying markers of all of her future looks: a red costume with yellow flourish. However, there were some distinct differences to how she would eventually look. The color scheme wasalready red, yellow and black, but the arm-wings were much smaller in her original form. She also wore a full mask over her head, covering her hair and giving her a more villainous appearance.
This coincided with her original appearance, partly done so Marvel could trademark the name "Spider-Woman" and treated her as a villain. At an early age, Jessica's parents mysteriously disappeared from their home at Wundagore Mountain. Left adrift in the world, Jessica was recruited by HYDRA under false pretenses and initially went by the name Arachne before becoming Spider-Woman, a gifted assassin and skilled fighter. Brainwashed by the evil organization, she targeted Nick Fury and Alicia Masters. During a battle with the Thing, she was released from much of the control HYDRA had on her.
Spider-Woman became a surprising success, leading to her redesign into a superhero. Part of that included modifying her costume to make it less overtly villainous. The mask was removed to only cover her eyes, allowing her hair to flow freely whenever she was in-costume. The updated costume allows Jessica to have a clearer sense of motion in action sequences thanks to her flowing hair. The eyes from the mask were likewise softened slightly to coincide with her development into a more heroic figure.
Jessica learned how to develop her powers, briefly turning Spider-Woman into a superhero before briefly retiring for a more normal life. She briefly worked as a private investigator and worked alongside other Avengers and heroes within the Marvel Universe. She wore the costume for decades, well into he modern era when she became a major player on teams like the New Avengers.
In 2015, Jessica received a major character redesign for a new series where Spider-Woman was a private investigator in New York City. Her costume was heavily redesigned by Kris Anka for the new Spider-Woman series by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez. The new costume maintains the overall color scheme of the earlier costume but modernizes it. The yellow is reduced somewhat, focusing more on a stealthier red and black. Her mask is also made into a more practical form, becoming overtly goggles.
This has coincided with a new role for Jessica Drew. She's left the larger place in the overarching superhero teams and has been operating from a more street-level. She's teamed up with other spider-heroes from across the multiverse during the events of Spider-Verse, fully embracing her place as one of their team. Drew also found a new place in the world as a solo hero, becoming a single mother and opening up her own agency within New York City.
In her most recent appearance, Jessica has returned to a slightly modified version of her classic costume in Tini Howard and German Peralta's Strikeforce, where finds herself on an unlikely team with several other veteran Avengers.