Spider-Woman (1st series) #37

Issue Date: 
April 1981
Story Title: 
Who am I?

Chris Claremont (writer), Steve Leialoha (layouts), Terry Austin, Bob Wiacek, Alan Weiss, Alan Milgrom, Frank Springer (Inkers),Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Gaff (colorist), Denny o’ Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Spider-Woman enters the Heli-carrier to ask her old friend, SHIELD director Nick Fury, for a favor: She needs a recommendation of a law enforcement official to apply for a private investigator’s license. He’s glad to help and, during their conversation, she starts to complain about her past, which has left her wondering who she truly is. Fury gives her the advice to not let the past rule her – her life is what she makes of it. On her way home to San Francisco, Spider-Woman is attacked by an image of her archenemy, Morgan le Fay, but survives. Back home, she finds that her flatmate, Lindsay, has organized an impromptu housewarming party. Reluctant at first, Jessica starts to warm up, especially to their new landlord, David Ishima. However, their conversation is interrupted as she finds herself assailed by a sonic scream, which only she can perceive. She follows the trail as Spider-Woman to the San Francisco Mint, where a trio of criminals led by Black Tom are about to steal a load of vibranium. Spider-Woman quickly dispatches most but has a hard time beating his protégée, a teenager called Siryn. The young girl is wearing a costume similar to that of the X-Man, Banshee, and possesses sonic powers like his, though she uses them more creatively. Spider-Woman finally manages to trick and beat the girl, only to find herself attacked by the third member of the group, the invincible Juggernaut, who quickly knocks her out. While Spider-Woman falls unconscious, the trio leaves with the vibranium they came for. When she wakes up, Spider-Woman finds herself surrounded by hostile policemen. Meanwhile, in New York, Professor Xavier calls the X-Men to him. Cerebro has detected a powerful mutant in San Francisco and they are to contact him or her.

Full Summary: 

Colonel Nick Fury, director of SHIELD, enters his office on SHIELD’s heli-carrier. Noticing he’s not alone, he quickly drops his files and draws his gun at the intruder. Spider-Woman, clinging to the ceiling, jokingly asks him if that’s a way to greet an old friend.
Fury puts away his weapons. Visibly relaxed he asks Spider-Woman how she got aboard undetected. She reminds him that she was trained to be a secret agent long before she became a super-hero. He remembers too well, he jokes. Nevertheless, he’ll have a… chat with his chief of security afterwards.

Fury asks if she likes his new toy, as a holographic simulation starts making it look as though they were surrounded by scenic Washington D.C. He then asks what he can do for her.
Spider-Woman explains her situation. A… friend of her has applied for a private investigator’s license and needs a recommendation from a reputable law enforcement official. Nick feels flattered, but he’d love to know the name of Spider-Woman’s “friend.” She asks him not to try and find out. He agrees and gives her his recommendation, leaving a blank space for her to fill out the name.

Fury confides that he’s glad she’s out of the bounty hunter game. He had the feeling she wasn’t the type. Because she’s a woman? she asks. Nonsense, he replies. A bounty hunter has to be ruthless, cruel and vicious. She couldn’t be those things, except perhaps ruthless. Such a career would destroy her eventually.

“Blank” Spider-Woman muses, considering the empty space on the recommendation. She has had so many lives and identities. She wishes she knew who she truly was. She doesn’t remember her parents or much of her childhood.

Flashback to Spider-Woman’s past:

The first concrete image she can recall is seeing herself at the age of 10. She was told by the High Evolutionary that she’d been in cryogenic hibernation since infancy and that both her parents were gone. He promised to raise her at his own daughter at Wundagore. He also developed intelligent animal-people and hoped to recreate Camelot with them. But those New Men shunned Jessica and the High Evolutionary became absorbed in his work.

Eventually, the loneliness became unbearable and Jessica left Wundagore and moved to a local village, where she got a job and fell in love with a young man. One day when they were picnicking, friends played a joke on her and her lover. She reacted without thinking, inadvertently killing her love when she lashed out with venom blasts she didn’t know she possessed.

The village mob would have killed Jessica but she was rescued by Count Otto Vermis, an agent of the crime organization Hydra, who offered Jessica a place in their ranks. Jessica proved to be more than he expected, though. Instead of being a simple barmaid, she had received an education during her hibernation second only to the High Evolutionary himself.

At Hydra, she discovered the full extent of her powers: super strength, speed, agility, acute senses, the ability to cling to walls, the gliding and her venom blasts. She designed a unique costume to help control those abilities - a sign of her growing rebelliousness. Vermis disapproved and tried to tie her to HYDRA by having her assassinate Nick Fury. Instead, that caper crystallized her growing doubts. She spared Fury and destroyed Vermis instead, turning against HYDRA. Fury knows the rest.

Jessica complains that she knows really nothing about her life. Everybody had good motives for lying to her. Nothing about her past is certain. So what, Fury shrugs. Her past may be a mystery but it’s also irrelevant. She should learn from her past, but not be ruled by it. Life’s what you make of it from moment to moment. Nick Fury, secret agent turned zen philosopher, Spider-Woman jokes. They are interrupted as Nick’s colleague and lover, Contessa Valentina Allegro deFontaine, enters carrying a cube with a glowing object. Cattily she tells Nick she wasn’t aware he had a visitor and throws him the cube, telling him the fate of civilization as they know it depends on determining what it is. Just another day for SHIELD. Nick turns back to Spider-Woman, only to find that she has already left. With the help of a holo-field, he sees her diving off the Heli-carrier’s gleaming hull. Silently, Nick wishes her luck.

Spider-Woman glides downwards towards her new home, San Francisco. She and her flatmate, Lindsay McCabe, moved there recently from Los Angeles. As she’s thinking, fog gathers around her and the face of her archenemy, Morgan le Fay, appears in the fog, warning her that she should enjoy her calm moment – it may well be her last. Morgan’s image disappears as quickly as it appeared and Jessica remembers that her image already appeared during her battle with Angar the Screamer a short while ago. She had hoped it was a hallucination caused by Angar but, apparently, she was wrong. Morgan still exists. At that moment, the fog gathers around her, effectively blinding her and, in addition, she enters a negative air pocket. Spider-Woman finds she can no longer glide and falls. Close to the ground, she finds an updraft and manages to break her fall, crashlanding in some shrubbery. She gets up, sore but alive. A painful reminder that she has no proper flying power, but glides only – which makes her vulnerable to any foe who can control the winds like Morgan.

Angrily, she swears she will be ready for the sorceress next time as she glides past the San Francisco Mint, unaware who’s in the cable car beneath her: Cain Marko, aka the Juggernaut, his partner in crime, Black Tom Cassidy, and, finally, a strawberry-blonde young woman in her late teens named Theresa, who refers to Tom as her uncle. A hundred kilo of pure vibranium are in that veritable fortress, Black Tom explains, to be picked up the next day by Fury’s SHIELD agents. But they are going to steal it tonight and they will either ransom it back to the USA or make a fortune on the Black Market. She’ll like being rich, he tells the girl and asks if she’s nervous. She admits to it and he commends her: Fear is healthy and helps sharpen the wits. Theresa promises that she won’t let her uncle down.

A continent removed in upstate New York at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the computer called Cerebro comes alive. It has identified a mutant of considerable power in San Francisco. He or she must be contacted, Professor Xavier decides. Further upstairs in the attic, the X-Men’s leader, Storm, carefully waters the one plant left to her, after a demon recently devastated the mansion. She mourns for her other plants and thinks that it has taken her weeks of scrubbing to rid the room of the stench of the creature. Her train of thought is interrupted, as Xavier telepathically contacts her and asks her to come to his study.

Meanwhile, in the Danger Room, Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Sprite and Wolverine are busy repairing the damage caused by Sprite’s battle with the demon. Wolverine is just cutting loose a module hanging from the ceiling, unaware that Kitty’s beneath him. The others warn her and she quickly phases as the module comes crashing down. She tells them she is okay and wishes they would stop yelling at her – she can take care of herself. Xavier’s astral image appears before them, asking them to come and get themselves ready for a contact mission.

In the meantime, in San Francisco, Spider-Woman reaches her new home at 1, Yarbro Court. She and her flatmate, Lindsay McCabe, rented the top floor and attic of a lovely Queen Anne Tower house. The place came rather cheap, as the entire block is supposed to be haunted. As she enters her room through a roof window, Jessica wonders to herself, if she ever ran into a ghost, who would be more spooked? Tired, she changes into her dressing gown, hoping for a quiet evening. Fat chance, as Lindsay calls for her. Jessie finds her outside the room, along with a bunch of other people. Lindsay had intended to throw an impromptu housewarming party. She had tried to call Jessie and left messages on the answering machine, which unfortunately so far she hadn’t checked.

In deference to Jessica, Lindsay is just about to throw the would-be-partiers out, but Jessie tells them that since they’ve gone through so much trouble, they should hold the party. Taking Lindsay aside, she confides that she has nothing to wear. All her outfits are in the wash. Lindsay cheerfully informs her that even if they weren’t, she’d still have nothing decent to wear and lends her an outfit from her seemingly bottomless closet.

After her shower, Jessie finds the party has already started. It’s an eclectic mix of neighbors and Lindsay’s colleagues from the theater. Lindsay introduces her to David Ishima, their landlord who lives on the ground floor. David gives Jessie a housewarming gift: a bonsai tree. Admiring the gift, Jessie finds a little spider on the branches. David apologizes, but Jessie tells him it’s a good omen. She’s rather fond of spiders.

Lindsay calls for Jessie: she wants to introduce her to Ben Disraeli, her boss at the theater, but Jessie is already accompanying David downstairs to take a look at his garden. Both of them resting on a bench, Jessie asks what it is David does. He’s a construction worker, he explains, crew boss on high steel. His family had wanted him to become a professional, like them, but he likes using his hands (which he proves by massaging Jessica’s shoulders). He enjoys the beauty, the danger of working high steel. The two of them kiss but, suddenly, Jessica screams in pain, from a sonic blast. David wonders why, as he hears nothing. She tells him that her hearing is exceptionally acute and asks him for a glass of water.

As he leaves, she slips away, races up to the roof and grabs her costume, all the while wondering where the scream is coming from. If it keeps up, it could cripple her, she worries, so she’s going to look for the source. She floats around in the air, noticing that dogs are barking – feeling the effect as well. Flying over a police car, she eavesdrops on the officers’ conversation: apparently burglar and fire alarms all over the city just got activated. They have no idea which calls are legit and which aren’t. They’ll have their hands full checking them all.

Spider-Woman is luckier- gauging the strength of the scream from different positions, she can triangulate its position – the Mint – the muni-metro tunnel to be exact. She finds a hole in the wall towards the mint and realizes that, thanks to the criminals’ diversion and the fact there are no trains on the weekend, there’s little chance of them being disturbed. She’s furious about their ruthlessness though.

Spider-Woman waits in the shadows until Black Tom passes her by. Tom thinks to himself that, in a matter of minutes, their job will be done and that Siryn is holding up magnificently. He couldn’t be prouder if she were his daughter. It’s a pity his cousin, Sean, knows nothing of her. It would break his heart…

Jessie grabs him and silences him with a nerve pinch. She enters the Mint through the hole and finds the employees unconscious, probably stunned by the sonic attack. Nearing the source of the scream, she finds that it s no device, but a young woman dressed in a costume similar to that worn by the former X-Man, Banshee. Siryn is focussing her power on the vault door and, as a result, the door finally opens. Noticing that it isn’t her uncle behind her, she attacks Spider-Woman with a sonic lance. Jessica retorts with a venom blast, but Siryn protects herself with a sonic forcefield and Spider-Woman marvels at her control over her powers despite her youth. She asks Siryn to surrender before she gets hurt.

Taking flight, the girl arrogantly replies that she doubts that she is going to get hurt. She attacks with another sonic lance, slashing through the chains restraining massive sheets of copper and silver, sending them down on Spider-Woman. She manages to evade most of them, but still gets hurt. Jessie throws one of the coils back at Siryn, but the girl stops it in mid-air with a burst of sonic energy. With Siryn focussed on the coil, Spider-Woman takes her out with another venom blast.

Too bad that somebody else just enters the scene – namely the Juggernaut. Spider-Woman attacks with a venom blast to no avail. The Juggernaut simply and effortlessly slaps her aside, nearly pulverizing her. Jessica crawls up a wall, trying to get away, but Juggernaut tears out that section of the wall. He grabs her and tells her that she’s out of her league, she’d better not hassle him or his friends again. With that, he knocks her against the wall, leaving her too weak to do anything.

Tom and Siryn have come to in the meantime. Juggernaut asks Tom if he should kill her; she can finger them. Tom decides against it – A federal larceny rap is one thing, murder quite another. She can no longer harm them. Siryn adds admiringly that Spider-Woman isn’t giving up. She’s still trying to rise. Yes, she has courage, Tom agrees. But they have what they came for, so they should leave. Siryn wonders who she is, while the men neither know nor care. Spider-Woman finally falls unconscious. The moment awareness returns, she finds herself in big trouble, surrounded by the police who mean to arrest her.

Characters Involved: 

Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman

Lindsay McCabe (Jessica’s flatmate)

Colonel Nicholas Fury/Director of SHIELD

Contessa Valentina Allegro deFontaine / agent of SHIELD

Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Sprite, Storm,(all X-Men)

David Ishima (Jessie and Lindsay’s landlord)

Ben Disraeli (Lindsay’s boss at the theatre)

Neighbors and Lindsay’s colleagues


Black Tom Cassidy



Image of Morgan leFay.

In Spider-Woman’s memories:

Young Jessica Drew

The High Evolutionary

The High Evolutionary’s “New Men”

Jessica’s lover

Count Otto Vermis and other Hydra agents

Nick Fury

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Siryn.

Morgan le Fay is one of Spider-Woman’s deadliest foes, who last tussled with Spider-Woman in Spider-Woman #6.

Spider-Woman fought Angar the Screamer in #35.

The X-Men are busy repairing their headquarters after Kitty Pryde’s battle with a N’garai demon (Uncanny X-Men #143), which devastated most of it.

Black Tom Cassidy is the cousin of Sean Cassidy aka Banshee, the former X-Man.

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