SPIDER-WOMAN #3. Marvel Comics, June 1978. Writer: Marv Wolfman. Pencils: Carmine Infantino. Inker: Tony DeZugina. Cover: Not credited. Reprinted in Essential Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel, 2005)

   As I understand the story, Marvel Comics’ Spider-Woman came into existence for one reason: to make sure no other comic book company would come along and steal the name. Her first appearance was in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977). This one shot appearance was successful enough — perhaps surprisingly so — that they gave her her own magazine, the first issue of which was in April 1978. There were 50 issues in all.

   At this stage of her existence — there have been several other Marvel characters also named Spider-Woman — she was named Jessica Drew, and her superhuman powers came from “…her mother being struck with a beam of radiation containing the DNA of several different types of spiders while she was in-utero.” [Quote from her Wikipedia page.]

   Not having issues #1 and 2 handy when I read #3, I did not know any of this, but did it matter? Not all that much. She seems to be wandering around trying to find herself in this one, accompanied by a Merlin-like sorcerer who shows her the grave of her father, who was mysteriously killed several months before.

   Trying to hunt to down the killer, Jessica’s path crosses that of a super-villain who calls himself Brother Grimm, who first appears at a theater where the play being performed is Hansel and Gretel. Things get suitably complicated from there, including some foreshadowing that there may be more than the one villain called Brother Grimm.

   The story doesn’t stop with just this one issue, in other words, and if I had the next one, I’d want to read it right away. Marv Wolfman does a good job melding at least two, maybe three, story lines together. I’ve always thought that Carmine Infantino’s characters were too angular looking, but inker Tony DeZugina, a favorite of mine, does well in softening them up a lot.