Jessica Drew is a woman with a complicated history – S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra double agent, Avenger, impersonated by a Skrull infiltrator, single mom – and of course, through it all, Spider-Woman.
Now, after some time without a solo title, writer Karla Pacheco and artists Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata are bringing her back in her own solo series that puts her in the sights of the daughter of one of her oldest foes, and challenges her place as a hero in new ways.
Newsarama spoke with Pacheco prior to Spider-Woman #1’s March 18 release to get the skinny on how Jessica Drew swings back into the spotlight and into a new era, complete with a new costume, new enemies, and more.
Newsarama: Karla, how did this return to the spotlight for Jessica Drew come about? What’s her status quo as this new Spider-Woman volume launches?
Karla Pacheco: Spider-Woman has been popping up in some really great books like Strikeforce and Captain Marvel, but it’s been a long time since she’s had her own solo series. She’s a great teammate, a friend, and a single mother, but we wanted to show what Jess can do when she’s on her own, and doesn’t feel like she can rely on anyone else.
This is still the Jessica Drew we know and love, but she’s going into some darker places, and about to discover some pretty shocking secrets about her past - while also handing out huge amounts of ass-kickings and exploding things, and maybe punching some dinosaurs.
Nrama: Spider-Woman’s been off the grid as a solo character for a little while. What makes this the perfect time to put her back in a starring role?
Pacheco: When I started this series, I knew Jess was one of my favorite characters, but I (quite foolishly) didn’t realize just how important she is to so many other people, despite not having a stand-alone series for several years. The reaction to the book has been really exciting, and proof that a lot of readers have been eagerly awaiting a Spider-Woman return for a long time now!
Nrama: Spider-Woman’s immediately going up against the progeny of an old foe – Octavia Vermis. What can you tell us about Octavia?
Pacheco: I love Octavia. [Laughs]
She’s the daughter of Count Otto Vermis (whom Jess exploded at one point), and she’s created a bit of a blackmarket empire, presumably using her father’s old underworld connections. She and Jess meet in our second issue when Jess desperately needs something Octavia has, and it’s a pretty epic showdown. Octavia most definitely is more than she seems, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet her!
Nrama: And on that note, who rounds out this supporting cast?
Pacheco: The series kicks off with Jess taking a security job for a pharmaceutical company billionaire, Michael Marchand, to protect his daughter Rebecca. Michael and Rebecca both play a large part in the story, and there’s someone from Jess’s past who will have a huge impact - but I’m not telling you who that is yet.
We also have appearances from my personal fave, Night Nurse, Jess’s Strikeforce teammates, and yesss...we will see Roger and baby Gerry...though for how long…hmm.
Nrama: Spider-Woman has a long history with the Skrull – and considering you’re launching this series in lead up to Empyre, will they be a factor as the story goes on?
Pacheco: I promise Jess is not a Skrull.
Nrama: Spider-Woman has a new suit for this story – an evolution of her classic look, created by Dave Johnson. What were the goals behind the revamped look? How do you feel about the finished product?
Pacheco: I absolutely love the Dave Johnson design. We wanted something that really exemplified Jess’s\ headspace right now, and this nails it. It’s elements of the iconic suit, with a dark twist. And the suit actually does play into the story!
Nrama: Speaking of art, you’re working with Pere Pérez on Spider-Woman, who seems like a perfect fit. How has it been developing your working relationship?
Pacheco: Working with Pere (and Frank D’Armata on colors) has been amazing. I tend to come up with some...well, pretty ridiculous scenarios, and he knocks it out of the park with great enthusiasm. This is a very action-heavy series and what Pere has come up with is just incredible. Big, blockbuster, page-turning action.
But he also excels at the quiet moments and facial expressions and ahhh...it’s just all so good! I think we’ve hit a really good rhythm in how we collaborate. Some pages are pretty close to the old school “Marvel style” where I trust Pere to go ham on an action scene, and then I customize the dialogue afterwards. It lets both of us stretch to get the absolute best out of the story.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing he’s drawn for Spider-Woman so far?
Pacheco: Spider-Woman #1 is all about Jess doing bodyguard duties for Rebecca Marchand’s superhero-themed birthday party, and I was basically like “I need a yacht full of teenagers dressed as everyone from the Marvel Universe” and every panel is a hilarious Easter egg hunt. Also the fight scene between Octavia and Jess in #2 is *chef’s kiss*
Nrama: Spider-Woman is an important but sometimes overlooked character in Marvel lore. What do you see as the core of who Jessica Drew is, and the niche she occupies?
Pacheco: For me, Jess is a survivor, a goofball, a woman who values her friendships, and is valued by her friends...but maybe doesn’t fully know or embrace who she is, herself. Yet.
Some of that is about to change, and it’s gonna be a very interesting ride for both Jess and the readers. I've been honored and humbled I get to explore who Jess is on her own, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!