BIOGRAPHY - page 3
Ever since becoming an Avenger, Spider-Woman’s days of being labeled a fugitive were over. Nevertheless, she had not completely severed ties with her old handler, Mike Clemson, so when he summoned her to a meeting Spider-Woman felt obliged to comply. By happenstance, Spider-Woman had her daughter Rachel with her when they met, the result of Julia’s ex-husband new job as public relations with the new “Liberty Party” limiting his time. When Clemson chastisement of Julia bringing her daughter became more than verbal, it gave Spider-Woman the excuse to sever all ties, effective immediately. Even when Clemson retorted that she was under contract, Spider-Woman remained steadfast and dared the Commission to sue her. She might lose her secret identity, but the Commission would blow its own cover in the process.
Little did Spider-Woman know but Mike Clemson had been about to recruit her into an even more secretive organization than the Commission, a shadow cabinet group call the Conclave. Composed of members from every U.S. governmental organization, the Conclave was dedicated to secretly controlling the policies of the whole country. Their latest tool in their control was a spider-themed team of assassins called Deathweb, which had been monitoring Spider-Woman for the last few weeks. [Avengers West Coast #84]
Unaware as she was in avoiding possible recruitment, Spider-Woman was likewise unaware that she was heading toward their latest scheme. Following several seemingly political related deaths, the Avengers West decided to investigate and monitor the Liberty Party rally being held on behalf of its candidates for president and vice-president, Michael Galavan and Wilson Lambert. Having nowhere else to take her, Spider-Woman took Rachel to the rally as well, providing her a spare mask to wear while there. Sure enough, Deathweb crashed the rally and, as the Avengers went into action (coincidentally joined by Spider-Man), Spider-Woman was assigned to watch the two candidates. Things became complicated for her when Larry appeared in his job as PR consultant and Spider-Woman did her best to conceal her identity from her ex-husband.
When the battle turned against them, Deathweb teleported away, but not before taking Rachel hostage. Knowing that the kidnapping of her daughter would affect her judgment and performance, Iron Man ordered her back to the Avengers Compound. Refusing to do so, Spider-Woman instead sought out Mike Clemson, finding him in teleconference with the Conclave and in the company of the true mastermind behind the whole affair, the Manipulator. The Manipulator proceeded to show via the monitors Spider-Woman that his assassins Deathweb were in possession of her daughter Rachel and would do her harm, unless she killed Spider-Man, who had followed Spider-Woman into the chamber.
At first, Spider-Woman seemed to do as the Manipulator bid, but even Spider-Man could tell that she was pulling her punches. Instead, their battle caused the place to catch fire and bring the building down around them all. After the Manipulator and Deathweb fled, the two heroes tracked down Rachel, thanks to the spider-tracer Spidey had affixed to her earlier. The two then returned to the rally, reuniting Rachel with her father. Julia then decided to come clean herself and unmasked to her astonished ex-husband. Furious, Larry grabbed their daughter and warned Julia that by the time he was finished she would be lucky a judge allowed her to see her daughter once a year. For her part, Julia seemed resigned with Larry’s threats and even confided to Spider-Man that it might be best for Rachel if they never saw each other again.
It was moments later that Deathweb teleported back in, quickly moving to kill Michael Galavan, the Liberty Party’s presidential candidate. Unfortunately for them, the Avengers were ready and Deathweb were quickly defeated and captured. Galavan’s running made, Wilson Lambert, wasted no time in rallying the crowd, promising to take up the mantle of Galavan and winning the election. However, a curious comment from the Deathweb member Arachne made the crowd realize that they had had specific instructions not to attack Lambert, implying that the assassination was always planned to gain Lambert and the Liberty Party sympathy votes. In short, they had been in league. The deception revealed, the Manipulator decided to tie up loose ends and obtain a possible bargaining chip. Taking advantage of Larry’s heart problems, the Manipulator induced a heart attack and was intent on taking Rachel until he was again thwarted by Spider-Woman and Spider-Man. Deciding to cut his losses, the Manipulator teleported away but the damage was done. Spider-Woman rushed over to Larry, who died in her arms. [Avengers West Coast #84-86]
Following Larry's death, Spider-Woman brought Rachel to live with her at the Avengers West Compound. This came as a surprise to the rest of the Avengers, who had not been consulted. Nevertheless, it seems that the decision was never countermanded. [Avengers West Coast #88]
When the Avengers discovered that the USAgent was still working with the Commission, even taking a Quinjet for a mission for them, the team angrily confronted him. Spider-Woman voiced her own opinions, noting that, with the Avengers being paid by the United Nations, working for a US governmental body was a conflict of interest. [Avengers West Coast #89-90]
Following a battle with Ultron, the Avengers West Compound was badly destroyed, so Rachel was sent back to Newport Beach to live with the Avengers West's housekeeper, Consuela Sanchez, who had also become Rachel's nanny. [Avengers West Coast #92] In need of some additional support due to several members leaving the team, Spider-Woman contacted Darkhawk, with whom she previously worked alongside on another mission and nominated him for Avengers membership. He was granted reservist status. During this mission, Spider-Woman once again fought the Pacific Overlords. [Avengers West Coast #93-95]
Soon after, Spider-Woman was chosen by Dr. Strange for a team of Secret Defenders that he was assembling. This saw Spider-Woman working alongside not only Darkhawk but also Wolverine, Nomad and Dr. Strange himself as they battled the mystical Viral Swarm, a sentient plague invading from another dimension. [Secret Defenders #1-3]
As Julia's membership with the Avengers continued, she began forming closer ties with her teammates. In particular, she started a close friendship with the Scarlet Witch and had become fond of the Living Lightening, who had joined the team around the same time as had she. She also found the balance she had long sought in her dual roles as a mother and a superhero, coming to the realization that the best way to help her daughter was fighting to keep her world safe.
One such threat to the world came in the form of the Goddess, the embodied “good” side of Adam Warlock, given form and near-omnipotent power by multiple cosmic cubes. When three of her teammates, USAgent, the Scarlet Witch and the Living Lightening, fell under the influence of the Goddess, Spider-Woman found herself in battle against them. Fortunately, she was aided in her fight against the Goddess’ “crusade” by Darkhawk. Ultimately the Goddess was defeated and her teammates returned to normal. [Avengers West Coast #96, Darkhawk #30-31]
Just as things seemed to be best for Spider-Woman with the Avengers West, tragedy struck. Following his defeat by the Avengers West months before, the demon Satannish set out for personal revenge, resurrecting damned souls into a new Lethal Legion. After nearly killing the USAgent, the Legion kidnapped Mockingbird, prompting the Avengers to use the Scarlet Witch’s magicks to send them to the demon’s realm to rescue her. Matters became more complicated when the Avengers’ entry into the realm allowed another demonic entity, Mephisto, to gain entry as well. The souls Satannish had used for his Legion had been stolen from Mephisto, who wanted revenge. With a wave of his hand, Mephisto bound the Avengers to a giant rock while the battled. Although she was unable to move, Spider-Woman’s psi-webbing did not require movement and she was able to topple the two demons and secure their release. While the demons continued to battle, the Avengers made their escape, fighting through the Lethal Legion on their return to Earth and the mortal realm. Unfortunately, Mockingbird was fatally injured during their escape and left her mortal coil upon returning to the mortal realm. [Avengers West Coast #98-100]
As the team took stock at the personal loss of their lives as heroes, Spider-Woman’s personal life as Julia Carpenter reared its head. After having not seen them in a long while, Julia’s parents decided to come visit from their current life in the Peruvian Amazon. Maintaining her secret identity, Julia did her best to evade discussion of her current job and how she might afford such a spacious house. That night, however, deception was no longer possible. Julia’s parents had mentioned a colleague was to meet them at her house. The friend turned out to be Dr. Napier, the scientist who had experimented upon Julia so long ago, turning her into Spider-Woman. More shockingly, he died moments upon arriving, felled by what seemed to be a poisonous bite. Recognizing the effects of Therak of Deathweb, Julia donned her Spider-Woman costume and confronted him outside. She ultimately turned back the assassin but her identity as Spider-Woman was revealed to her parents. [Spider-Woman (2nd series) #1]
Having learned from Therak that Deathweb had received their own powers from the same serum as did she, Spider-Woman decided to investigate her own origins and flew to Commission HQ in Washington DC. Intending to break into Val Cooper’s files, Spider-Woman instead was discovered by Val, who was more than willing to provide her old friends with her answers. Bluntly, Val stated that she had assembled a scientific team to create a new breed of her super-beings the government could control, as opposed to unsupervised vigilantes. Led by Drs. Napier and Yaqua and grad student Hashi Noto, the team focusses on special plants and spider-venoms found in the remote Peruvian Amazon, a location for which they had expert guides, Walter and Elizabeth Cornwall, Julia’s parents. As Val had happened to know Julia, whom she thought to be a perfect subject, Val had invited her into the program under the cover of a job interview. The events that followed, leading to her becoming Spider-Woman, had progressed as Julia knew them, although less coincidental and more deliberate than she had ever suspected.
When Spider-Woman then informed her about Deathweb’s recent actions, Val continued, explaining their role. After Spider-Woman had defected, the Manipulator had bribed the scientists into using new variants of the spider-serum on others, creating first Therak and then transforming Napier’s colleagues, Dr. Yaqua and Hashi Noto into Arachne and Trapdoor. With Dr. Napier then bribed into silence, the Manipulator controlled Deathweb through control of an antidote they needed at regular intervals to avoid death. Val then theorized that Dr. Napier had been killed when he moved to warn Julia’s parents that they would be pressured into guide Deathweb back to the Amazon to find the rare herbs they would need to create their own antidote. To her horror, Julia realized that this was just where she had sent her parents and daughter, thinking it was a place of safety rather than the danger it actually was. After dealing with Val and her guards to prevent them from following, Spider-Woman departed for South America. [Spider-Woman (2nd series) #2]
Arriving at her parents resort in the Amazon, Spider-Woman discovered that Deathweb had beaten her there, killing all but her family, who were no doubt being forced to lead the assassins into the jungle. Sure enough, Spider-Woman found them in the jungle, right at the location for the plants for which they were searching. Spider-Woman did her best to foil Deathweb but was overpowered and captured. Spider-Woman awoke in the laboratory of the Manipulator, who still held Rachel as a hostage. All seemed lost until help the sound of helicopters and the blaring warnings of the FBI for those within to surrender gave Spider-Woman hope. It was only after the Manipulator and Deathweb teleported away, including Rachel who was still captive, that Spider-Woman learned that it was not the FBI at all, but Mike Clemson. Still an agent of the Conclave, Clemson intended to end the threat of the Manipulator and Deathweb, even if it meant working with Spider-Woman. Fortunately for them, during her brief captivity in the lab, Spider-Woman had gained clues from Rachel as to the Manipulator’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. En route, Spider-Woman finally learned from Clemson why he had long hated Julia Carpenter: he had been in love with her mother, Elizabeth, only to have lost her to her father, Walter. All the trouble he had given her was due to jealousy.
Although the arrival of Spider-Woman, Clemson and the private Conclave armed forces took him by surprise, the Manipulator was not unprepared. He had finished his revised formula and injected the three members of Deathweb, each of whom found their powers greatly enhanced. At first, the augmented Deathweb seemed more than a match for Spider-Woman but the assassins soon discovered their powers were unstable and quickly began to betray them. With his forces now felled, the Manipulator intended to use his hostage Rachel as his final trick, only to be struck behind by the dying Therak, who used his last moments to end the life of his tormentor. In the aftermath, Clemson fled, possibly to the safety of the Conclave. For Julia, after assuring Rachel that they would see to their parents in Peru, she asked if Rachel would like to go into witness protection for safety, now that her identity was exposed. To her surprise, Rachel emphatically declined, noting that she loved watching her mother “cream those jerks” who wanted to hurt them. [Spider-Woman (2nd series) #3-4]