Comics : Spider-Woman (Vol. 6) #2
This review was first published on: 14 Feb 2016.
Jessica ‘Spider-Woman’ Drew is pregnant, with approximately two weeks to go before she’s expected to give birth. More from boredom than from medical need, she went to get a obstetrics check-up from an off-world clinic that specializes in unusual births. Moments after she teleported in, some armed Skrulls appeared to seize control of the facility!
Spider-Woman (Vol. 6) #2
Feb 2016 : SM Spin-Off
Summary: Skrulls in the ob-gyn ward
Jessica really, really hates Skrulls, as the late Skrull Queen Veranke was fond of using Jessica’s form and visage during the Secret Invasion. For whatever reason, these Skrulls don’t recognize Jessica’s face, so they are simply relaxing and eating donuts, guarding a ward full of placid pregnant beings, while Jessica seethes. Jessica, however, is playing it cool. “With great baby”, she reflects, “comes the crushing weight of parental responsibility.” Rather than take matters into her own hands, she simply texts her BFF Carol ‘Captain Marvel’ Danvers to come take care of business.
At least, that’s what she does until the Skrulls start getting aggressive, for no reason I can see. Unable to restrain her desire to do something, she fakes a contraction, and when one of the Skrulls gets too close, she snaps his neck, grabs his gun, and perforates his companion with it.
A few cut-scenes establish that Captain Marvel is aware of the situation and is coming to the rescue with all due speed, and that the main Skrull force has subdued internal security and taken control of the whole hospital. They are looking for “the prince”, but their search is delayed because of, and I quote, “a kerfuffle in obstetrics.”
In response, the Skrull commander growls, and again I quote, “What kind of kerfuffle?”
Words fail me. Like they failed writer Dennis Hopeless, I guess.
Jessica and the other pregnant beings in the ward quickly make a plan, and when a Skrull force arrives to investigate, they find the women (not sure that’s the right term, but bear with me) sitting in darkness, alone. Where did their guards go? Off in search of “cheddar bugles” and “fizzy red”. The commander isn’t buying it. Maybe Jessica should have let someone else do the talking, because as he listens to Jess’s snark, her face begins to seem familiar.
“What is your name?” he asks.
“Jessica Drew,” she replies, unwisely.
“The Slaughterer!” he cries. “The Spider-Woman!”
As he raises his laser sword, which really looks like a lightsaber, because I guess Disney won’t have two parts of its empire sue each other, the women launch an ambush. Between the sidearms taken earlier from the two dead Skrulls, and Jessica’s venom blast (“kazat!”) the Skrulls fall, with no casualties among the women.
Cue Captain Marvel, who calls with bad news. The Skrulls represent, in all likelihood, a rogue faction in the Empire that is searching for the exiled heir Prince Klundirk, who is being treated for cancer (space cancer, one presumes) in the hospital. What’s worse, they’ve sealed off all of the portals. Jessica seems to have missed the part where she teleported last issue, because she’s under the impression she’s still in Manhattan, or at least far below it. But she’s not: she’s not in any place Captain Marvel can reach by digging, or indeed by any other means. It seems this hospital is located inside a black hole.
Jessica, who didn’t know this, is not pleased.
There are some strong points to this issue. Jessica takes down a group of Skrulls, twice, and each encounter is interesting and fun. The violence provides added suspense because of Jessica’s pregnancy, which simultaneously makes her more rusty, vulnerable, and precious. And Javier Rodriguez’ art remains superlative, as we’ve come to expect.
The bad points typical with this run remain, however. Jessica remains surly and snarky to the point of unlikeability. Her spy training apparently doesn’t run into knowing when to shut up, or when to use a fake name. And writer Dennis Hopeless removes any gravitas the Skrulls might have had when he associates them with cheese Bugles or the word ‘kerfuffle’.
I’ll withhold judgment on why anyone thought it was a good idea, or even possible, to build a hospital inside a black hole. Or how it’s possible to communicate with the world outside, when even light can’t escape a black hole’s event horizon.
Given Jessica’s history with Skrulls, there’s real potential here. In fact the subtext, or even text, of Spider-Woman (vol. 4) was the post-traumatic stress Jessica’s abduction and impersonation by the Skrulls inflicted upon her. But sadly I don’t think Hopeless has any interest in exploring that terrain further, or indeed the writing skill to do it any justice.
Great art and some fun suspense set-pieces make the issue good, but poor writing holds it back. Two webs.
I will note for the record that, the cover notwithstanding, neither Roger ‘the Porcupine’ Gocking nor Ben Urich appear in this issue.