Writer: Karla Pacheco
Art: Pere Perez, Frank D’Armata, and VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 12th, 2022
Spider-Woman #18 kicks off with Jessica desperately trying to get her friend Lindsay to the hospital, having to fight her way through two (thankfully) Grade Z villains, Puff Adder and Coachwhip. I wasn’t familiar with these two villains, but apparently, they hung with the Serpent Society for a while, and Coachwhip faced off with Moon Knight in the past.
It’s a quick battle that’s just the appetizer for a buffet of great fight sequences, culminating in an extended showdown with Kingpin.
I never expected to see heavy martial arts action in a Spider-Woman comic, but this issue felt like I was watching an old Shaw Brothers Kung Fu film, complete with high-flying kicks and some killer leg sweeps. The only thing missing was bad dubbing and an evil guy with a long grey moustache.
You can really feel Jessica’s rage throughout the issue, she’s not holding back and she’s gunning for Kingpin, even as Kingpin’s “police force” is looking for her. It makes you feel like the world’s closing in on Jessica, and in the end, there’s a surprise return of a villain we haven’t seen in a while, raising the stakes even higher in Jessica’s crisis.
Jessica Drew has always been a fascinating character. She’s kind of like DC’s Hawkman, in that her origin and characteristics have changed multiple times over the years. I like this current version of her, her past as a spy is merged just right with her hero sensibilities.
The only thing that didn’t make sense was how she didn’t know Kingpin was behind the attack on her and Lindsay. Just like Kingpin’s appearance on the recent “Hawkeye” Disney+ show, it was so obvious Kingpin was involved, the only thing missing from the story was huge neon arrows flashing everywhere saying “Look for the bald fat guy”. But within the framework of Jessica’s world, danger could have come from any direction, so it’s not a huge suspension of disbelief that she wouldn’t know.
Pere Perez’s art in Spider-Woman #18 captures the martial arts sequences wonderfully, reminding me a bit of Paul Gulacy’s art on the old Shang-Chi book back in the ’70s and ’80s. The fights are well choreographed and the fight with Kingpin is as brutal as you would imagine a fight with that behemoth would be. Spider-Woman’s venom blasts look powerful, crackling and sizzling across the panels.
Spider-Woman #18 is a great action-heavy issue, with lots of furious conflict and Jessica’s race against time to keep her friend alive. With the surprise villain that appears at the end, it looks like things are going to get even more complex for Spider-Woman, and I look forward to seeing how she handles this new threat.