© 2006 Marvel Characte rs, Inc.
. l Characters, Inc © 2006 Marve
© 2006 Marvel Characte rs, Inc.
Initially, Spider-Woman wasn’t intended to be anything more than insurance. “The only reason that Spider-Woman was created in the first place was to prevent another company from ripping off Spider-Man with a female version for a Saturday-morning cartoon series,” explains Roger Stern, who served as the character’s editor for a brief time. “The other character eventually turned up as Web Woman. [Editor’s note: See this issue’s “Backstage Pass” for Web Woman info.] Someone—it might have been Stan Lee— found out that a rival Spider-Woman cartoon series was in the works, and to protect the name for Marvel, Archie Goodwin quickly came up with our own Spider-Woman character for Marvel Spotlight #32 (Feb. 1977). It was basically a case of Marvel ripping itself off to prevent someone else from doing so.” While Goodwin took charge of developing Spider-Woman’s origin, it fell to a member of the Marvel Bullpen to create the look of the Arachnid Adventuress. One of the tasks that went into researching this article was putting on my detective cap to uncover the identity of the artist responsible for Spider-Woman’s look. BACK ISSUE is delighted to give credit where credit is due—finally—to Marvel’s reallife superwoman, Marie Severin, for designing Spider-Woman. “So many people were freelance then,” explains Severin about her role in the character’s creation. “Johnny [Romita] and I would be in on the innovative things, to start off [new characters], and then they would be assigned to an artist for a story. [That story artist] might embellish something else in [the costume] and if it was approved, that was it. Very often, if something was innovative, Marvel might put it on a cover, you know, ‘So and so new character,’ and the artist who was doing the story would follow the costume [from the cover]. [The costume designs] weren’t written into stone. The artists could change anything they wanted as long as they discussed it with Stan. When I was on staff, and before he
A comic-book house ad for ABC’s Spider-Woman cartoon. Spider-Woman © 2006 Marvel Characters, Inc. Scooby-Doo © 2006 Hanna-Barbera.
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went out to California, it all flowed through Stan.” Severin’s role in Spider-Woman’s genesis was brief, but important. It speaks volumes about Severin that she is very modest about her contribution. “When it was that long ago, you don’t think you’re making history when you’re doing these things,” reveals Severin. After Severin designed Spider-Woman, the art chores for Spider-Woman’s first comic-book adventure fell to Sal Buscema on pencils and Jim Mooney on inks. If the first Spider-Woman story was nothing more than an effort to protect a copyright, you couldn’t tell it from the work of the men involved. Her origin story was jammed packed with action and mystery. It recounts how Spider-Woman, referred to here only by that moniker and the name Arachne, has no memory of her life before being recruited by Hydra and tricked into trying to kill Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. By the end of the story, Spider-Woman learns that she has been manipulated by the criminal organization. She discovers that Hydra has hidden her connection to the New Men, the evolved animal beings created by the High Evolutionary. The end of the story sees SpiderWoman believing that she is nothing more than a spider that has been evolved into a woman. “Archie was a terrific guy,” says Buscema. “I always thought he was one of the best writers in the business. He was very, very intelligent, and I thought that intelligence was reflected in his stories. This was one of the few projects that we did together, but it was a pleasure working with him.” Buscema also believes that this origin story went above and beyond being just a matter of establishing copyright. “[All the details in that story] were probably done deliberately. Maybe Marvel had thoughts of making this a permanent book.” Whether or not Marvel had plans for Spider-Woman beyond this one appearance is debatable, but there was
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