The Spider-Woman is Helpless...
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
This (in)famous Spider-Woman cover is probably one of my favorite comic book covers. Beyond the #DiD element, I think it is well done art wise, perspective, dramatics, and even the fonts and titles. It is, by all account, a nearly flawless artwork. That is why I am spending the time to talk about it here in my blog because it obviously inspired me. I have also asked some prominent figures in the #DeviantArt realm to give me their insights and their feelings in regards to this. You'll find their words peppered throughout the post! But let's get into this cover; how, why, when, and who's will be somewhat explored. I kind of want to take a quick walk to memory lane and see how Dark Angel of San Fransisco got herself in this mess to begin with and why her peril is worth such a fine art that is nothing short of being the front page!
"Sometimes, when I want to look at this cover, in order to try and recreate that jolt of excitement I got when I first saw it, I will look at the covers leading up to it, in order. The first several covers are all Spider-Woman looking heroic and completely on top of things. And then suddenly this. It puts in me a bit of the shock one might get as a kid, genuinely frightened that the bad guy might win this time because you're naive enough to think that could happen in serialised media."
Now let's get to the facts. The ironic thing is that this comic book, Spider-Woman vol. 1 issue 6, does not contain any kind of perilous scenario for Spider-Woman. The werewolf does appear but Jess ain't exactly sitting down enjoying the chafing feeling of the ropes on her gorgeous bod. So, why do we have a Damsel in Distress in the cover with a very specific peril when there ain't none to find? There are tons of speculations in my mind, but there is one indisputable fact: the tale of Spider-Woman's #DiD scenario starts in this issue:
It all started with the Brothers Grimm and a sneak attack from the one called The Hangman. The Hangman is a pretty respectable guy. He makes sure his point comes across eloquently by repeating his point. His point of view will also give the SJWs in this climate a good reason to start a parade.
"I think mainly, however, it's that, as the years have gone by, we know the creators of this comic totally did this to cater to the bondage crowd."
Apparently he dragged Spider-Woman throughout that fiery commotion, talked her ears out, and somewhere along the way he got annoyed of her constantly asking the same questions and gagged her. Then he proceeds to give her the same answers and offers his way of 'protection'. And it ends on a very dramatic cliffhanger!
So this concludes issue 4.
Now issue 5 has all the "goods" in regards to that famous DiD scene. I think the shocker in this issue is that the cover is not Jessica bound and gagged to a chair but it has her stalking an unsuspecting male who decided to play the role of a fly.
"Peril: I am a turbo sucker for scenes of peril (superheroines even better) where they are faced with a certain dire situation (death traps usually) and they have to struggle fiercely to get out quick. Here the cover itself gives that sense of "oh shit gotta get free quick before werewolf in here becomes a problem". Which makes the cover better than the comic.... because this scene doesnt happen on the comic at all."
The moment someone flips the comic book open, the reader will be treated with an ominous picture of a haunted house and a horror style peek through one of the windows. Instead of seeing a woman-like apparition glowing in white, we see a woman in red. And instead of haunting scenario, said woman is bound and gagged to a chair and left with (supposedly) no way out. It's easy to conclude that the unfortunate woman is none other than Jessica Drew and she is, as the large text in the top left hand declares: in a NIGHTMARE. Now I just sort of led that on but honestly, I'm more than positive that most people, like myself, would focus on the bottom panel. The image of The Mysterious Spider-Woman unconscious and in lovely bondage.
But it's hard not to point out that the writers and the artist spent time really building it up. The combination of the wording and the order of the panels definitely has a mystery/haunted ambiance to it. But as I mentioned earlier, for most people, that would be hard to catch at first glance when the bottom panel is so potent and dare I say, arousing for any DiD lover.
But the entire build up is completely watered down when she just breaks free of the ropes without any problems. The great thing is that we are treated with Jess having flashbacks that narrates how she got in this situation.
We are also treated with a very in-depth look into the Hangman's perspective on life and how he sees the opposite gender. I kind of enjoy his super hero antics, to be honest with you. Well, the villain side of me, anyways.
"I don't even know where to start. It's dark, it's intimate, it's dangerous, it's intense. The contrast, threat in the picture, contrasted pretty starkly with her costume. The way her mask tends to hide her face, and expression, so there aren't so obvious tells, so you read the sense of urgency in her body language. Except that too is limited because she's tied up."
And when we get to this page, we find out that for some strange reason, Spider-Woman's strength vanished and just recently returned to her. Darn. Was hoping that she can be held for a longer periods of time against her own accord. But this is where the story goes into a convoluted mess. We get into Morgan Le Fay and all the magical things that Spider-Woman had to deal with at that time. Honestly, had they just put Hangman as a main villain and perhaps fed into the DiD side more... or at least have Jessica just deal with Hangman after freeing herself, this would have been less of a fumble. Instead they treated Spider-Woman's first five issues like a melting pot of plot points, which didn't really mix together coherently. BUT they made sure to give us a fantastic DiD scene so I can appreciate that.
This concludes issue 5; least the DiD scenes of it.
"Peril. Our heroine is about to get savaged by a werewolf, and said critter is obviously hostile.
Overall, this cover takes an attractive woman who by no rational means should be in this peril and puts her there."
Now we circle back to Issue 6. This is where this infamous scene is embellished in terms of Jessica's helplessness. She's bound to a chair, unable to fight back, and unable to get away. Also, her ability to cry out for help is taken away from her due to the gag tightly tied between her mouth. She is, as the title stated, helpless. Incapable to do anything as the Werewolf By Night is lunging at her through the window. But as we all know, Jess wasn't so helpless, least not at that moment. Heck, that moment didn't even happen.
While there was no werewolf peril and the whole thing was just a convoluted mess, can't take away the fact that it is an amazing comic book cover. One that has obviously inspired and pulled some creative minds to make their own version or use the idea as a reference for other things. These are just some of the ones I found online and decided to show:
Then there's also Jess in her new duds in the same kind of Distress. Guess who commissioned it? Planning on doing more!
Of course, as I mentioned, Jessica's situation also spawned some awesome artwork involving other characters in the chair-tie position.
And then there's the ever so popular character drawn by NONE other than Adam warren, Empowered:
She's practically a parody version of Jessica Drew from the get-go. And then there's this drawing that mirrors Spider-Woman's infamous cover. It's also quite aware of the scenario and the lack of happenings!
"A gratuitously titillating image of a Hot Chick in Bondage, yo!"
By Adam Warren
I'm sure there are more out there that I missed but these are the ones that really strike my fancy.
The ironic thing in regards to this cover, my first real introduction to Spider-Woman was her animated series. This episode to be specific:
And after that cheesy and just downright below mediocre animation, I started checking out throughout the years if Jess had gotten herself into some situations. Lo and behold, I run across issue 6.
On a closing note, I don't think I can say anything else about this cover that hasn't been said already. It means a lot to me and it's beyond nostalgia. It's simple but still very dynamic. It tells a few things and the blatant use of bondage to sell a comic book just adds more icing on the cake. I love it this cover and the issues before it and I'm more than positive I will continue to replicate, be influenced, and praise issue 6 for what it represents. So to the others who feel the same way and have taken the time to express their art, thank you. I don't think we'll ever get anything like this in mainstream comic book these days so it's good to celebrate the past because that's when things had its finest moments. Well, that's about it.
Until Next Time!