Women supporting women is one of the biggest factors of feminism and in this new column I’d like to discuss some incredible characters that leave me in awe on a regular basis starting off with the highly-talked about Spider-Woman.
Since the Milo Manara variant debacle hit the web people have been going on and on about Spider-Woman but it seems like not enough people actually know what a complex and interesting character she is. Jessica Drew has grown to be one of my favorite superheroes and a lot of it starts with her super weird, tragic back story. It’s been retconned a couple times but the basic factors come down to three things: 1. Her parents were scientists, 2. She was infected with spider genetics as a baby and 3. She is tricked into joining HYDRA.
There are a lot of characters who lose their families to some devastating incident (or if you look at DC’s Villains Month last year they all have that back story!) But instead of turning to a life of crime or crimefighting Jessica Drew is left with the ugly scar of trust issues. She doesn’t trust herself much less anyone claiming to help her. That is something I have no problem relating to.
She is constantly being used and lied to and yet I never found that offensive or stunting. Because time and time again I would watch Jessica step out of the rubble of her life and start over. Parents mysteriously disappear? Start over. Find out you’ve been duped into joining a terrorist group? Start over. Wake up to discover your identity has been stolen by a malicious Skrull queen? Start over. Jessica is astonishingly resilient.
Reading about the hardships that are constantly thrown in Spider-Woman’s face doesn’t aggravate me, it’s sort of empowering. She’s not an unstoppable force like Wonder Woman, she’s so human and that makes me feel for her a million times more. She’s an underdog and I want to help her and hold her and protect her. During Brian Michael Bendis’ first run on New Avengers I was blown away by how much depth her character had. She wasn’t just a pair of boobs and flawless hair, she was integral to the team.
Later in her Agent of SWORD mini-series when she is convinced that no one will ever trust her again she goes to work for Abigail Brand. Marvel excels at showcasing the importance of female friendships and displayed throughout a number of titles are the interlocking lives of Jessica and other strong women.
Almost instantly she forms this power-couple friendship with Carol Danvers which is basically a match made in heaven. Jessica is stoic and sarcastic, Carol is disciplined and commanding. Together they can eviscerate any sign of the patriarchy by just looking at it. And in a weird twist of fate even though she started dating Clint Barton she managed to still befriend Bobbi Morse, how is that even possible you ask? Well because they are two adults not two teenage frenemies. What about the ever imposing Black Widow? Yup, friends with her too. Once Jessica got past her trust issues she happily welcomed relationships back into her life and it was so beautiful.
As someone who has struggled with depression and has a very prominent fight or flight complex, watching this woman prevail against all odds and come out stronger than ever is damn inspiring. Life will throw buckets of shit at you but that doesn’t mean you just give up and shake your fist to the sky and scream, “I knew it! I’m worthless!” No you stand up and run at your problems because nothing can break you any more than you already are. These scars aren’t shameful, they are reminders of past battles.
The real question comes down to whether I would rather be Jessica Drew or be with Jessica Drew. The more I think about it the more I wish she was my girlfriend. She would be my ideal superhero significant other. She’s intelligent, reliable, loyal and a complete smart-ass. I’m blushing just thinking about it. She wouldn’t think twice about leaving me alone to fight crime because she would understand that I can take care of myself. I would never get wishy-washy about her safety because I know she’s capable of saving the world.
Since Jessica appreciates the beauty of “me time” she wouldn’t nag me if I wanted to just spend the day by myself reading or being lazy around the house. She wouldn’t throw a fit if we couldn’t agree on what movie to watch and she would think it’s cute when I get exasperated after we finish binge-watching a show. She would be the best girlfriend for someone who still doesn’t quite have their shit together because she’s in the same boat. Her patience and compassion make her serious wifey material. Oh yeah, and she’s drop dead gorgeous but whatever. More importantly is how satisfying it would be to cuddle up to her and just know that even when life gets in your face you have this strong woman at your side.