Spider-Woman (TV Series 1979–1980)
|Genre||Animation, Action, Family, Fantasy|
|Content Rating||TV-Y7 (TV-Y7)|
|Company||DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (DFE), Marvel Productions|
Spider-Woman (TV series)
Spider-Woman is an animated television series, based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Woman. The series was produced by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises and Marvel Comics Animation (both owned by Marvel Entertainment), and aired from September 22, 1979 to January 5, 1980 on ABC. It was also DePatie–Freleng's final series before its reincorporation as Marvel Productions.
According to the title sequence, Jessica Drew (voiced by Joan Van Ark) was bitten by a venomous spider as a child; her father saved her life by injecting her with an experimental "spider serum," which also granted her superhuman powers. As an adult, Jessica is editor of Justice Magazine, with two other employees featured; photographer Jeff Hunt (a cowardly braggart who nonetheless fancied himself as a quick-witted and resourceful crime-stopper) and Jessica's teenage nephew Billy. When trouble arises, Jessica slips away to change into her secret identity of Spider-Woman.
The Spider-Woman cartoon should not be confused with Web Woman, a Filmation superheroine cartoon launched at around the same time, which reportedly prompted Marvel Comics into creating a Spider-Woman character to secure the copyright.
Differences between cartoon and comic book
The cartoon differs considerably from the comic book in its premise and supporting cast. Billy, Jeff, and Justice Magazine never appear in the comic book in any form. Nor do the darker elements of the comic book (the heavy use of Arthurian legend and the occult, Jessica's feelings of alienation) enter into the much brighter world of the cartoon. The origin of her powers is also altered somewhat; at the time of the series' production, the threat to her life in the comics was radiation poisoning (though her published origin has since been altered).
The animated Spider-Woman's powers are noticeably modified; her enhanced strength in particular seems entirely missing, as she is shown in several episodes being restrained by means (such as ordinary rope) that her super-strong comic-book counterpart could easily break. In addition to the ability to cling to walls:
- Spider-Woman retains the ability to fire bursts of energy from her hands called "venom blasts", but they are white instead of green. The episode "Realm of Darkness" seems to imply that Venom Blasts can be fired as long as Spider-Woman has enough strength.
- Spider-Woman has powers vaguely similar to ones possessed by Spider-Man that her comic book incarnation lacks: A clairvoyant "spider-sense" that allows her to see dangers as they happen; no matter where she is, she can close her eyes and see the event, shown to the viewers as an image outlined by a spider-web. She can also project spider-like "weblines" from the palms of her hands or an individual finger. This appears to be naturally generated, as opposed to Spider-Man's mechanical web-shooters, but she is similarly prone to running out of "web fluid" ("The Ghost Vikings"). She is able to control the direction in which her weblines move; "The Kingpin Strikes Again" shows her casting a web in a descending spiral to disorient and then restrain a criminal.
- A clairvoyant "spider-sense" that allows her to see dangers as they happen; no matter where she is, she can close her eyes and see the event, shown to the viewers as an image outlined by a spider-web.
- She can also project spider-like "weblines" from the palms of her hands or an individual finger. This appears to be naturally generated, as opposed to Spider-Man's mechanical web-shooters, but she is similarly prone to running out of "web fluid" ("The Ghost Vikings"). She is able to control the direction in which her weblines move; "The Kingpin Strikes Again" shows her casting a web in a descending spiral to disorient and then restrain a criminal.
- The animated Spider-Woman also had the ability to change into costume merely by spinning around, an idea borrowed from the live-action Wonder Woman television series starring Lynda Carter. In the episode "The Spider-Woman and the Fly", where Jessica had been momentarily stripped of her powers, her costume reverted to the everyday civilian clothes she wore for work.
- While Spider-Woman could (at the time) only glide on air currents in the comics, the animated version appears able to fly at will, though her costume's glider wings were apparent whenever she took flight. (The comic book incarnation has since gained the power of true flight as well.)
- The animated Spider-Woman would occasionally display previously unknown "spider"-powers, conveniently able to assist her in random situations, such as: "Spider-telepathy", allowing her to mentally communicate with spiders and ask them for assistance ("Pyramids of Terror") A protective "spider-bubble" allowing her to function underwater without diving gear ("The Ghost Vikings")
- "Spider-telepathy", allowing her to mentally communicate with spiders and ask them for assistance ("Pyramids of Terror")
- A protective "spider-bubble" allowing her to function underwater without diving gear ("The Ghost Vikings")
- Spider-Man in this series was again voiced by Paul Soles who previously voiced him in the 1960s Spider-Man series, some similarities in the two series still remained. Perhaps the most noticeable similarity is "animated stock footage", where – before any episodes were completed – an animated sequence was created. This sequence would be used with an appropriate background added, whenever the need would arise. One example is Spider-Woman turning around, from back to front. Another example is where Jessica Drew gets a "spider-sense", turns her head while she closes her eyes, and then the location of danger appears using an editing technique.
|1||"Pyramids of Terror"||September 22, 1979|
|Guest-stars Spider-Man. The Justice Magazine crew investigate an alien invasion in Egypt led by the mummy Khufu.|
|2||"Realm of Darkness"||September 29, 1979|
|The powerful demon Dormammu emerges on a Pacific island, threatening to enslave mankind.|
|3||"The Amazon Adventure"||October 6, 1979|
|Stolen gold from Fort Knox leads the Justice Magazine team into the Amazon, where they uncover a plot by the Amazon leader Shanna to take over the world.|
|4||"The Ghost Vikings"||October 13, 1979|
|A "ghost" Viking ship emerges off the coast of Norway. The crew plan to steal the riches of the world, before returning to their own time. Spider-Woman travels back to AD 952 to defeat them.|
|5||"The Kingpin Strikes Again"||October 20, 1979|
|Spider-Woman confronts Kingpin and his henchmen as they rob a bank, but after taking out two of his men, one of Kingpin's minions manages to turn the tables and lock Spider-Woman up, allowing Kingpin to get the loot. Humiliated, Spider-Woman as Jessica Drew tries to get back at the Kingpin by writing up a maligning news article about him. Angered by her recent Justice Magazine article, the Kingpin steals an experimental invisibility ray and seeks revenge on its editor Jessica Drew. However, while invisible, he witnesses her transforming into Spider-Woman, and opts for a blackmail plot instead.|
|6||"The Lost Continent"||October 27, 1979|
|After United States Air Force planes vanish in the Bermuda Triangle, the team from Justice Magazine investigate. They soon find themselves thrown into a hidden dimension, where dinosaurs roam the Earth.|
|7||"The Kongo Spider"||November 3, 1979|
|Guest stars Spider-Man. While covering the filming of a movie, the Justice Magazine team encounter a giant spider (in a plot inspired by King Kong).|
|8||"Games of Doom"||November 10, 1979|
|Athletes in the World Athletic Games in Moscow are being kidnapped and replaced by android doubles. Jessica Drew goes undercover as a long jumper to investigate.|
|9||"Shuttle to Disaster"||November 17, 1979|
|The Justice Magazine team find themselves on a hijacked space shuttle, heading towards the moon, where the villain Steeljaw intends to enslave mankind and put it to work digging for valuable gems.|
|10||"Dracula's Revenge"||November 24, 1979|
|The world's population are threatened with being turned into vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein's Monsters. Spider-Woman discovers that Dracula is behind this.|
|11||"The Spider-Woman and the Fly"||December 1, 1979|
|Jessica confronts a former research assistant to her father, who has been mutated into the Human Fly after a lab accident. Deducing her secret identity, he creates a formula which will rob Jessica of her spider powers.|
|12||"Invasion of the Black Hole"||December 8, 1979|
|A UFO attempts to swallow the Earth in a black hole, in readiness for an invasion by aliens from the planet Graviton.|
|13||"The Great Magini"||December 15, 1979|
|Magician "The Great Magini" attempts to steal the world's most famous landmarks.|
|14||"A Crime in Time"||December 22, 1979|
|An experimental time machine unleashes an invasion of Wookiee-like creatures. Jessica is forced to reveal her secret identity to her fellow magazine crew in order to save mankind.|
|15||"Return of the Spider-Queen"||December 29, 1979|
|Spider-Woman is brainwashed by an alien race of human spider creatures, who believe she is their long-lost queen.|
|16||"The Deadly Dream"||January 5, 1980|
|An alien threatens the world with her sleep-inducing powers.|
- Joan Van Ark as Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman
- Bruce Miller as Jeff Hunt
- Bryan Scott as Billy Drew
- Larry Carroll as Detective Miller
- Lou Krugman as Police Chief
- Vic Perrin
- Tony Young
- John Milford
- Paul Soles as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
- Ilene Latter
- Karen Machon
- Paul Winchell
- Dick Tufeld as Opening Narrator
In 1982, a 100 minute Spider-Woman VHS tape was released, containing several episodes. Three episodes of Spider-Woman were originally released as part of the Marvel Comics Video Library VHS series in the mid 1980s. Volumes 6, 13, and 23 contain the Spider-Woman episodes The Spider-Woman and the Fly, Games of Doom, and Pyramids of Terror, respectively. Volume 6 was re released in 1991, minus the bonus Spider-Man episodes. In 2008, volume 6 was released on DVD as Spider-Woman vs. the Fly.
In 2008, this series was planned for release on Region 2 DVD in the UK in by Liberation Entertainment as part of a release schedule of Marvel Animated series. However, the release never came to be due to Liberation going bankrupt. The complete series of Spider Woman was finally released on Region 2 DVD format on 20 July 2009. The series is released in a 2-disc set from Clear Vision Ltd.
Spider-Woman was made available on the Disney+ streaming service at its U.S. launch on November 12, 2019.