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A Look Back At Marvel’s First Spider-Woman

A Look Back At Marvel’s First Spider-Woman

Written by: Jason Owsley

This summer, Spider-Woman will make her cinematic debut in Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse. Although there are a few characters to use that moniker, Jessica Drew is arguably the most famous. Making her debut in 1977’s Marvel Spotlight, Jessica Drew has proven quite popular. This version of the character will be featured in Across The Spider-Verse.

However, she wasn’t the first Spider-Woman. That honor belongs to a Black woman named Valerie. Valerie was a librarian and made her comic debut in 1974 as part of a special collaboration between Marvel Comics and the PBS series The Electric Company.

Valerie protected the library from small-time crooks and villains. Unlike Spider-Man (and Jessica Drew) Valerie had no superpowers. Instead she relied on her knowledge and wits to outsmart criminals. She admired Spider-Man for the way he protected the city and she wished to do the same.

Her tenure as Spider-Woman begins when she finds Spider-Man’s costume. After a battle with The Vulture, Peter accidentally dropped it from a rooftop while napping. Seizing the opportunity to become the hero she always wanted to be, Valerie gets down to business.

After some quick tailoring and adjustments to the costume, she adds suction cups to her hands and feet that enable her to climb walls. With her costume complete, she practices her web shooting game and ventures out into the city as “Spider-Woman”. 

As luck would have it, when Spider-Man falls into a trap set by The Vulture, it’s up to Spider-Woman to swing in and save the day! After rescuing Spider-Man, the two team up to take down The Vulture! 

Although this was Valerie’s only Spidey adventure, it officially was the first time Spider-Woman made a splash onto the pages of comic books. Interestingly enough, Issa Rae provides the voice of Jessica Drew in the upcoming Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, bringing us another Black Spider-Woman nearly 40 years later.

With the enduring legacy of Spider-Man and Spider-Woman, it’s only fitting that Valerie gets some recognition…it’s long “overdue”. (Come on, there HAD to be a library pun!)

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