If you were a Marvel editor in the late 70s/early 80s and you were tasked with coming up with the adjective for the Spider-woman series a lot of possibilities might come to mind. 'The Sultry Spider-woman' could work or even 'The Slinky Spiderwoman' would be a good choice, even 'The Bitchin' Hairdo of the Spider-woman' would be perfectly valid. Adjectives that might not immediately spring to mind might be 'vicious', 'brutal', 'savage' or 'ass-kickingest'. Unless of course you had read Spider-woman #16.
You see in Spider-woman #16 the normally sleek, sophisticated and demure Miss Jessica Drew beats the ever-loving shit out of albino, vampire-looking, bad girl Nekra (remember Nekra? She used to date Marvel's best, baboon-based bad guy the Mandrill). I mean she really whomps that chick's ass like there's no tomorrow. That kind of savage beatdown is pretty shocking to see from someone who has trouble taking out the likes of Turner D. Century.
What exactly did Nekra do to inspire such extreme brutality? Well let's see:
First in her guise as entrepreneur Adrienne Hatros she gave a desperate for work Jessica Drew a job in her clinic.
She didn't fire Jessica despite her tendency to constantly show up late and instigate fistfights with Death Cultists in the middle of the office on busy workdays.
Then she gave her a free medical and invited her to a swanky cocktail party in her luxury manor home.
What a bitch right?
Okay, okay so maybe the fact that the cocktail party was a ruse to which Nekra showed up wearing a painted on outfit, proclaiming her love for Jessica before trying to tear out her throat had something to do with it.Before you jump on your judgey high horse, you need to understand something about Nekra.
Nekra loves hate.
That's right. She loves it the way regular people love puppies or sunrises or the smell of freshly cut grass. Hate gives her the tingles....as well as super-strength and invincibility.
Then along come this skank Spider-woman with her mind-warping pheromones giving people the chemically induced hots for her! Making Nekra feel all skeevy and cheap for get 'the feelings' for someone other than her one true love....hate. Personally I think it's totally understandable that she might want to strangle the slutty, toxic bitch that caused her to feel that way.
I mean really, what kind of woman uses her hypnotic musk to cause her boss to indulge in some half naked sexual harassment then gets all upset and serves the monumental ass-kicking of a lifetime when her boss tries to murder her for it?
I mean she slings the poor woman over a balcony then drops a hundred pound chandelier on her head for crying out loud! It's just not right!Luckily Nekra had the good sense to pop a pill before the fight that nullifies the effects of Spider-woman's mesmerising stench. So while all drugged up and full of hate Nekra is invincible and safe from Jessica's super-powered hissy fit.
Unfortunately for Nekra the Spider-woman is as cunning as she is violent. Once she learns that it is merely a pill keeping her from busting up foe apart like a nude piñata she conceives an ingenious plan to guarantee a blood soaked victory.
Well it's as simple as it is psychotic. Just repeatedly slam your opponent's head into the marble floor until the medication wears off and your love-stink saps them of their hate and invincibility.I have to admit Jessica isn't all bad though. Having pulped Nekra's skull on the marble floor she finds herself wracked with remorse and in the end does the right thing. She calls an ambulance, changes back into her snazzy cocktail dress and blames the whole thing on burglars. Classy!
Aside from the horrific, unprovoked violence and the stupidity of Marvel Universe EMTs(how jaded are they that they don't wonder why one of the victims is a half naked, albino vampire while the other is dressed for the prom) this is one of my favorite issues from Marvel's original Spider-woman series.
I always thought Spider-woman was a totally under-rated series though. The stories, while sometimes a bit clunky, were always enjoyable and the art nine times out of ten was phenomenally good (I mean look at the gorgeous cover for this issue). I guess in the days before Wizard and Previews having savage violence and half-dressed albino chicks in your book didn't guarantee you sales.
Anyway Spider-woman #16. Mind-altering pheromones, cocktail dresses, skanky albino vampires in love and pulped skulls - you should check it out.