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Spider-Woman (I)

Real Name: Jessica Drew
Occupation: Form agent of HYDRA, former bounty hunter, private investigator, adventurer
Identity: Publicly known
Legal Status: Naturalized citizen of the United States with no criminal record
Other Aliases: Arachne
Known Relatives: Jonathan (father, deceased), Merriem (mother, deceased)
Place of Birth: London, England
Group Affiliation: Former agent of HYDRA
First Appearance: MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #32

History: Jessica Drew was the daughter of American anthropologist Jonathan Drew and his British wife Merriem. When Jessica was still under two years of age, her parents moved to the small Balkan nation of Transia. Her father and his colleague, geneticist Herbert Edgar Wyndham, bad purchased a parcel of land on Wundagore Mountain within the Transian borders, and intended to build a small scientific research center there. After discovering uranium on the property, the two scientists became wealthy and poured their riches into the building of a citadel of science. Coinciding with the completion of the Wundagore citadel five years later, Jessica Drew became deathly ill due to her exposure to the radioactive uranium. To save her life, her father injected Jessica with an experimental serum composed of irradiated spider's blood, since his experiments showed that spiders possessed greater immunity to radiation than did human beings. Jessica did not immediately respond to treatment, however, and Wyndham placed her in a genetic accelerator of his own design for further treatment. When Merriem Drew mysteriously died several days later, Jonathan became so despondent that he left Wundagore for his previous home in England. (Drew returned to Wundagore years later possessed by the ghost of the Sixth Century magician Magnus, who had sensed Drew's troubled thoughts about Wundagore and recognized the place as the site where he had helped entrap the demon Chthon centuries before).

Jessica Drew remained in partial cryogenic suspension for decades, aging at about 1/7 the normal rate, and was educated by learning tapes. When released from the tube after Wyndham determined that her radiation poisoning had been cured, she was physically 14 years old. Wyndham, who now called himself the High Evolutionary, tested her and discovered that the treatment had mutated her cellular structure, giving her vast strength, an immunity to all toxic substances and radiation, and the capability to generate bioelectric energy which she could discharge as sparks. The High Evolutionary placed her in the care of Boys, a cow artificially evolved by Wyndham's science. The citadel of Wundagore left Earth about a year later, but Bovo and Jessica remained behind. When Jessica was 17, Bova sent her to the village below to learn to live among humankind. Jessica soon became involved with a young villager named Wladyslav. When startled by his father while in the midst of a passionate embrace, Jessica accidentally discharged her bioelectricity, apparently killing her lover.

Fleeing from an angry mob, Jessica was rescued by Count Otto Vermis, then head of the European splinter group of the subversive organization HYDRA. Recognizing the young woman's unique abilities, Vermis put her through rigorous espionage and martial arts training to become a special agent of HYDRA. To insure her loyalty, Vermis had her subjected to special brainwashing techniques to make her believe she was actually a highly evolved spider rather than a real woman, and assigned an agent named Jared to engage her in an amorous relationship. Given a special costume with glider-wings and codenamed Arachne, Jessica was sent on her first mission: to assassinate S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury. Upon learning HYDRA was evil; Jessica betrayed the organization and fled.

Now called the Spider-Woman, Jessica encountered Modred the Mystic in London and the magician ended the effects of HYDRA's brainwashing. With the realization that she was human, Jessica became obsessed with finding her parents. On the trail of her father, she met Magnus, the magician's ghost who had possessed her father's body briefly decades before and who now occupied the body of an eccentric tailor. Magnus felt he owed Jonathan Drew a small debt for the loan of his body and wished to pay him back by helping Drew's daughter. Magnus and the Spider-Woman journeyed to Los Angeles, and eventually learned that Jonathan Drew had been slain months earlier by a subversive organization he had gotten involved with, Pyrotechnics, Inc. After capturing her father's killers, Jessica Drew decided to settle down in Los Angeles. There she confronted a number of bizarre foes, chief among which was the Sixth Century sorceress Morgan Le Fey. Concerned that he was getting too emotionally involved with Jessica, Magnus abruptly left her to return the body he had borrowed back in London.

Jessica Drew floundered for a time, trying to decide what to do with her life and her special abilities. She could not bear to give up the sense of freedom that being Spider-Woman provided her, and she tried to keep the knowledge of Spider-Woman's existence from becoming widespread. Finally, in association with criminologist Scott McDowell, she became publicly known as a bounty hunter. After severing ties with McDowell, she moved to San Francisco and with the assistance of Nick Fury, acquired credentials enabling her to get a private detective's license. Although she sought clients as Jessica Drew, she invariably became Spider-Woman in the course of an assignment.

Not long after setting up in San Francisco, Jessica was revisited by Magnus, this time in his true ghostly form. Magnus explained that his former lover and Spider-Woman's old nemesis Morgan Le Fey was planning to kill her, and the only way they could end her threat forever was by traveling back to Morgan's time period and fighting her there. Using his magicks to free her astral body from her physical self, Magnus took Spider-Woman back through time to Morgan's castle in Sixth Century England. After a rigorous battle, Spider-Woman caused Morgan's physical body to be destroyed. Morgan, like her pupil Magnus before her, mystically preserved her astral body and used her magic to travel to Jessica's time era before Jessica could return. With a powerful spell, Morgan placed a mystic barrier around Jessica's physical self, barring her astral self entry. Magnus had insufficient power to breach the barrier and could only console his young friend, now trapped in astral form. At Jessica's request, Magnus attempted a spell to make the world forget Spider-Woman's existence, but due to the ghost's weakened state after journeying through time, the spell was ephemeral.

Tigra, an acquaintance of Spider-Woman, discovered Jessica's lifeless body and summoned the Avengers for aid. The Avengers brought in Dr. Strange, who attempted to breach the barrier around her physical form erected by Morgan. This led the Avengers into battle with Morgan Le Fey's astral form itself. Through the sacrifice of Magnus's astral existence and by Dr. Strange's magic, Jessica Drew was reunited with her physical form and brought back to life. However, since Morgan had interlocked her mystic barrier with Jessica's bioelectrically charged nervous system, Strange was forced to remove her bioelectric powers in order to thwart Morgan's barrier. Having lost Spider-Woman's major power, Jessica Drew decided to retire her costumed identity and remain a plainclothes private investigator in San Francisco.

At one point, Jessica set up operations in the east-Asian city of Madripoor. She was later ensorcelled by the Black Blade to battle the X-Man, Wolverine, where it was revealed that Jessica's powers may not have been permanently lost. She would then assist Wolverine on several adventures.

Later still, having somehow become trapped in a magical dimension, Jessica was rescued by Lindsey McCabe, Spider-Man, and the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter.

Some time later, Jessica Drew was attacked by a costumed villain calling herself Spider-Woman, stealing Drew's (apparently fully regenerated) powers for herself. Drew joined with the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, a recently-rejuvenated Madame Web, and a new hero calling herself Spider-Woman to track down this villain, who had been stealing powers from these women as well. Ultimately, the newest Spider-Woman stole all the powers back from the villain, leaving Jessica Drew without her powers yet again.

Drew remained in New York, and, alongside Madame Web, often helped the new Spider-Woman, a youth named Martha "Mattie" Franklin, in her nascent adventures. Eventually, Jessica Drew began to notice that different aspects of her superhuman powers were returning. Nevertheless, Drew remained reluctant to return to full-time costumed adventuring.

Height: 5 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 130 lbs.
Eyes: Green
Hair: Black (dyed)

Strength Level: Unknown. Jessica Drew's physiology was mutated when she was a child, giving her the capacity for superhuman level strength. When Dr. Strange removed her bioelectric powers, Drew's enhanced musculature may not have been totally affected.

Known Superhuman Power: The original Spider-Woman possessed superhuman strength and endurance, an immunity to all toxic substances and radiations, and a metabolism which produced excessive bioelectricity which could be released in powerful discharges. These powers were the result of body-wide adaptations to the accelerated spider's blood, which had been injected in her as a child. Spider-Woman could lift (press) about 7 tons, and exert her maximum strength for about a hall hour before fatigue would begin to impair her performance. She was immune to all forms of metabolism-altering chemical substances, including non-corrosive poisons, alcohol, and other drugs. After a single exposure to a given substance (which would induce in her a short period of sickness or weakness), her body would metabolize and immunize itself against the foreign substance. Similarly, she became immune to radiation (at any wavelength higher than infrared) She scarified these immunity factors during a blood transfusion to save the life of Giant Man.

Spider-Woman's body constantly generated bioelectricity, which usually discharged itself from her skin in neglible amounts. She could, however, tap her body's total store of energy to emit a directed, bioelectric beam she called her "venom blast." This visible blast of electricity carded at maximum strength about 1/10 the charge of a lightning bolt of an equivalent length. After every discharge, she would have to wait a period of time (dependent upon the quantity and power of the "venom blasts" she had used) before having sufficient strength to discharge another. The maximum distance at which she ever could direct a bioelectric charge is about 25 feet. At close range, she could release sufficient energy to kill an average-sized man or woman.

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