This article was originally published at Comics Bulletin on November 18, 2015.
When I read Spider-Woman #1, I instantly thought of my own mom. I was her first child and she carried me to term during one of the busiest periods in her life. She was unable to walk down the aisle when graduating with her Masters degree, which took her less than two years, for fear of her water breaking. The fast-paced life style, dedication to goals, and partnership with one of the most reliable men in Marvel comics all reminded me of my own mom and made me wonder if she might relate to this superhero book, even though cape comics have never been her thing. Unsurprisingly, she decided to do far more than just read the comic. She wrote a review and, despite this being her first time writing about comics, it turned out very well. I may be a bit biased, but this one is worth reading (both the review and the comic). – Chase Magnett
Jessica’s story resonated with me. Like Jessica, children were never one of my priorities. As the oldest granddaughter, with many cousins, I knew the sticky, stinky, screaming reality of babies. Maybe this made it harder accepting a role never planned for.
As Jessica’s pregnancy progresses, we witness her inner battle to remain who she was and to become what she will be. She eloquently surmises, “Pregnancy has been an exercise in giving things up…..a lot of other things, too. Little things. Things that make me me.” We witness the gradual progression of Jessica’s willingness to step out of harm’s way; kvetching at every step. The ubiquitous symbol of maternal protection, clasping one’s belly, almost as well-known as your mother’s arm flung across your body when the brakes were applied too sharply, becomes a common pose in the story.
Jessica is in a battle with herself, her battle against a new life. At first, she doesn’t feel that different but the earliest changes are the hardest. You aren’t used to changing for others, at least not in ways you would for a child. All views, values, and ethics are now open again for debate.
We witness her fight against the changes in her life because of the pregnancy. First, giving up her motorcycle, she’s never questioned its safety before. Next, intervening with Roger and Tiger Shark, everyone question’s the choices that seemed so easy for her before.
Jessica and Roger’s interactions serve as an early portent of parenting. Jessica pushes Roger to distraction and reveals her growing maternal instinct exclaiming her feeling’s at Roger’s win, “with an embarrassing momma bear pride lump rising in my throat”. She continues to grasp at a shared universe hugging Ben, to his mixed pleasure and dismay, as she begins maternity leave.
We share in her growth, witnessing her attendance of the Maternity Leave Party, even though she makes it clear “these horrible gatherings are why I quit the Avengers”. As life grows within her, her ability to encompass humanity grows, celebrating friends who may one day protect your child. This makes Tony Stark’s flaying by Jessica all the more appealing…we can change only so much. Though why ANYBODY would ever fuck with a near term mom, is completely beyond me.
As Jessica wishes to maintain total control of her life, thoughts of the child spur her actions…even if what she says to others reflects the opposite. Jessica talks with her child as the due date looms. Whether she realizes it or not, every change, every decision, has been made to protect the life within her.
Jessica is becoming aware that the heart beating within her body will never actually stop beating within her. All of her life, every joy and pain her child feels, she will feel; regardless if naturally born or not. You will never know a love stronger or deeper than that you have for your child; not your parents, your siblings, or your spouse. It’s different, it’s organic, it transcends anything you will ever do again. Creation…it’s a miracle.