Comics : Santa's World: Origin Of Spider-Woman

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

These Santa's World mini-book comics are roughly 2.5" x 3" in size. Thick padded card covers, only twelve actual pages. They were packed in plastic bags ready to be hung as a Christmas Tree treat, or put into the stockings of nice children.

In Detail...

Santa's World: Origin Of Spider-Woman
Year 1980 : SM Spin-Off
Publisher:  Cadence Industries Corp.
Editor:  Marv Wolfman
Writer:  Marv Wolfman
Pencils:  Carmine Infantino
Inker:  Tony DeZuniga
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Review

Each of the eight pages in this story is a single panel taken from the re-told Spider-Man Origin from Spider-Woman (Vol. 1) #1. The first of the twelve is a splash panel which I think is from a later issue, since it shows her with a mask that reveals her hair. But then we're into the real tale.

Page Two: Jonathan Drew (with wife and daughter) and The High Evolutionary (Herbert Edgar Wyndham) tell each other how much they love each other's work.

Page Three: Jonathan is an arachnid scientist, Herbert studies evolution.

Page Four: Jonathan is a nutcase who wants to infuse mankind with spider DNA.

Page Five: They move to the mountains, and discover uranium.

Page Six: They construct Wundagore, a metallic city that would fall over in the slightest gust of wind.

Page Seven: Jessica (the baby) is sick. She's a baby, even though months ago she looked like a four-year old child. Clearly Meriem Drew is being inaccurate in her speech, most likely a by product of anxiety and stress caused by concern for her child's condition.

Page Eight: Jonathan does what any father would do, inject his sick daughter with spider-serum.

Page Nine: Herbert helps too - he shoves Jessica into an untested genetic accelerator. What a pal. Meanwhile, Meriem (hitherto completely healthy) dies for unexplained reasons. Bad luck for her!

Page Ten: Jonathan Drew vanishes mysteriously, but Herbert keeps Drew's young daughter's ever-maturing but comatose body for performing his own bizarre experiments. Are you concerned? Is this the kind of thing impressionable kids should read about in Christmas Tree treats? I don't think so. This is all... just... very wrong!

Page Eleven: Herbert now wears pink armor, and Jessica emerges as half spider. Both are rather disturbing events.

Page Twelve: Jessica is the Dark Angel of the Night... Spider-Woman. She wears red lycra, probably because Herbert asked her to.

In General...

This is all very, very concerning. It's also rather confusing unless you are previously familiar with the story. Clearly, young kids in the seventies didn't ask too many complex questions.

Most of the panels in this tale have been reworked... art and script/plot from Spider-Woman #1 has been used for all except the first and last panels. But even then, the dialog has been cut and pasted to support the 10-panel version of the story. Doubtless the editing was a well-meant attempt to render the origin story down to the most compact form possible.

Overall Rating...

Spider-Woman's origin fares no better than her male equivalent did with Santa's World: Origin Of Spider-Man. In both cases, the necessary editing leaves us with a mangled and confused story. It's a terrible travesty of an already confused and muddled origin (Jessica's origin story is a mess already, without this kind of treatment).

But once again the very charm of the collectible is undeniable. There's no way I can give this a poor rating. It's obscure, it's trite and terrible, and it hangs on a tree. Four webs is the lowest I dare go.