What You Need to Know About Marvel's First Animated Series, 'Spider-Woman'
Catch up with the show now on Disney+!
Modern fans know Spider-Woman as a one-time Hydra operative turned hero with a complicated past who eventually joins the Avengers. But, that's not exactly the character fans met when the Spider-Woman cartoon debuted in 1979.
Jessica Drew first appeared back in 1977's MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #32 and owes her incredible powers to a spider-infused procedure that her father, Dr. Jonathan Drew, developed to stop radiation poisoning she had absorbed after he moved the family to Mount Wundagore.
Two years after her comic book debut, Jessica became the first female Marvel hero to headline her own animated series when Spider-Woman premiered. Though the series only lasted one season, it left a lasting impact.
With the show now streaming on Disney+ on November 12, Marvel fans will have the opportunity to binge the entire run. Here's what you'll want to know before meeting the hero, "Dedicated to fighting evil while weaving her web of justice!"
The Marvel Comics Animation series ran for just one season on ABC from September 22, 1979, to January 5, 1980. Over the course of those five months, 16 episodes came out starting with “Pyramids of Terror” and ending with “A Deadly Dream.” Actress Joan Van Ark played the part of Jessica Drew and her heroic alter ego Spider-Woman! She was joined by series regulars Detective Miller (Larry Carroll), her nephew Billy (Bryan Scott) and photographer Jeff Hunt (Bruce Miller).
The series also featured a pair of appearances by Spider-Man, who was voiced by Paul Soles (he also portrayed the webhead on the 1970 Spider-Man series). Meanwhile, Dick Tufeld, who famously voiced the robot on Lost in Space, recorded the opening narrations of this series, a role he also filled on the 1978 Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoons!
An Altered Origin
As a child, young Jessica was bitten by a poisonous spider while visiting her father's lab. To try and save her life, he gave her Spider Serum #34. This gave her the ability to stick to walls, fly, and shoot webs and electrical Venom Blasts from her hands.
She also exhibited a Spider-Sense that alerted her to dangers near and far. Now an adult, Drew runs Justice Magazine as the editor, but can quickly change from her civvies to her crimefighting togs with a spin. She often uses the magazine's resources to get her closer to the action, while also covering her secret identity.
Her Daring Debut
In the first episode, “Pyramids of Terror,” Spider-Man witnesses a pyramid appearing out of nowhere in Egypt. While investigating the wild occurrence, he gets captured by a mummy. Around the world, Jake Hunt is shooting Jessica Drew in a museum next to another mummy for the next Justice Magazine cover. Her Spider-Sense warns her of danger as the nearby mummy comes to life!
Hunt tries to play hero, but winds up falling out the window, which allows Drew to quick-change into Spider-Woman! She saves her photographer, stops the threat, covers for her alter ego, and soon flies off to Egypt under the auspices of covering the story for the magazine thanks to some help from her precocious nephew Billy.
Upon arrival, they're warned about the new pyramid, but keep up the investigation. Feigning "urgent business," Drew goes off to change into her alter ego so she can take on an army of mummies. Back at the newly risen pyramid, Spider-Man's captor explains that he's actually an alien planted there ages ago with the mission of colonizing Earth.
Having captured Spider-Woman as well as her companions, the mummy in charge commands his minions to hop into their pyramid ships and start mummifying Earth's population! After utilizing some nearby sand spiders, Drew manages to free the fellas. During the climactic battle, Spider-Woman used her smarts — along with some help from her fellow arachnid hero — to stop the invasion by using geometry!
Bring On The Bad Guys
Over the course of the series' 16 episodes, Spider-Woman and the Justice Magazine crew only came across two established Marvel villains. After taking on those space mummies in the first episode, Spider-Woman surprisingly battled Dr. Strange's usual nemesis Dormammu!
From there, she faced an Amazonian named Shanna and Vikings from the past before mixing it up with Kingpin in the fifth episode! After that, she traveled to the Bermuda Triangle and then confronted a giant spider (with some help from Spider-Man), robotic athletes, a villain named Steeljaw, a horde of monsters lead by Dracula (not the one from the Marvel comics), a human fly, aliens from the planet Graviton, an evil magician called The Great Magini, a group of time-traveling creatures, spider-like aliens and another group of aliens who make everyone sleepy!
Though Kingpin had appeared in the previous Spider-Man series, Spider-Woman marked Dormammu's very first on-screen appearance!
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