Avengers West Coast #84

Issue Date: 
July 1992
Story Title: 
Along Came a Spider…

Roy Thomas (Writer), David Ross (Penciler), Tim Dzon (Inker), Steve Dutro (Letterer), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Richard Ashford (Assistant Editor), Nelson Yomtov (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor in Chief)
Special Thanks to Danny Fingeroth for inspiration on Spider-Woman II’s Origin

Brief Description: 

It’s election time, and there is a lot of interest around liberal candidates of the Liberty Party, so when two people who supposedly have some revealing information about the party are murdered, there is even more publicity for the Liberty Party, who are appearing at a convention center in Los Angeles. The Avengers West Coast discuss their own feelings on the murders and the Liberty Party in general, and decide to go to the convention center to keep an eye things, while Spider-Woman is supposed to have a day off with her daughter, until she is called in to the convention center. On the way, Julia tells her daughter Rachel about her origin – how she became the second Spider-Woman and what she did in the early days of her career. Julia also stops off to tie up some loose ends with her “handler” Mike Clemson, informing him that she is not going to be doing any work for him anymore, which he isn’t too happy about. Several of the Avengers scold Julia for bringing Rachel to the convention, but what else was she supposed to do? Michael Galvan, the Liberty Party’s leader and presidential candidate gives his speech, when the lights go out. The Avengers West track who they think might be the murderer, only to discover it is Spider-Man, who came out West tracking the trail of the murderers, when the real enemies show up – three spider-like beings dubbed Deathweb.

Full Summary: 

Century City: Once it was a movie studio’s back lot. Now it’s all high rises and parking lots. Henry Drummond likes looking down on where Shirley Temple danced and Sonja Henie skated. In fact, the only thing he doesn’t like about having his law office on the 25th floor is when he’s working late…and the lights go out. ‘Not again!’ Drummond exclaims when suddenly he hears a loud noise. ‘Who’s there?’ he calls out in the darkness. Turning, Drummond sees three sets of eyes peering at him from the darkness. ‘You’ve got no business here!’ he exclaims, reaching for the phone he threatens to call security, when suddenly one of the intruders fires a sticky substance onto the phone.

Drummond gets up from his desk and rushes out of his office, ‘Stay back!’ he shouts, when suddenly one of the mysterious intruders grabs him from behind, and tosses him hard against a wall. Drummond begs his assailants not to hurt him, and asks them what they want. ‘I’ve only got a couple of hundred on me, but it’s all yours!’ he pleads, when the intruder holding him puts a sharp claw against his neck. ‘Hey! That’s sharp!’ Drummond complains, before screaming ever so loudly as the claw is placed into his neck.

Henry Drummond’s cries are heard further down the floor, by security guard Luis Velasco. Velasco is a man who really hates it when the power goes out. After all, it could mean a break in, and he’s not wild about risking his life in the dark for minimum wage. With his flashlight lighting his way, Velasco enters Drummond’s office, calling out to him. But as it turns out, it is not Luis’s life that anyone was interested in tonight, as Velasco shines his torch against a wall, revealing to him Henry Drummond, dead, and strung up to the wall in a massive spider web.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a place that has had sky-scrapers and mammoth parking garages for decades, it only looks like a movie set. Living legends once walked the streets near Broadway and Times Square. Now, only some of them barely hang around long enough to read the paper. A living legend of the super hero variety, one Spider-Man swings past a newsstand, managing to glimpse at the front page of the N.Y. Globe-Recorder, which reads “We’ve got the dirt on one of the Presidential Candidates! Documents to be released to the press today!”

‘So they’re really going through with it!’ Spider-Man exclaims, while remarking that he thought there was no tabloid sleazy enough to make Jameson’s look good. ‘I didn’t know they sold trash like that so far from a checkout counter!’ Spider-Man wonders what that makes Peter Parker, his true identity; after all, he cashes Jameson’s checks – when he can get his employer to spell his name right that is. Spider-Man thinks that some new scandal sheet sets up shop and announces a press conference to prove that one of the men after the Presidential nomination is on the mob’s payroll – and everybody in the media sets their alarm clocks!

‘Speaking of which – if I don’t get down to that press feeding-frenzy pronto, I can massage my conscience while I’m standing in the unemployment line! Spider-Man swings down into an alley way – and emerges as Peter Parker. Adjusting his tie, Peter admits that he is no better than anyone else, as those tabloid-teasers even stroked his curiosity. Entering the hotel lobby where the press conference is being held, Peter thinks that this morning’s revelation will be bad news for one of the front-runners – democrat, republican or perhaps even that whacko third bunch, the so-called liberal party.

Parker decides that since all three men are on vote-hunting swings out west, then that will definitely be the place to be if that trashy paper drops a real bombshell. Peter thinks that since his esteemed publisher has not paid for a freelancer’s plane ticket since “Kittyhawk” that means he will be back on the crime beat here, taking pictures of himself as Spider-Man. A guard checks Peter’s Press Pass and tells him that he can go on through.

Peter goes up to a man he addresses as Walt and asks if things are running a bit late, as no one from the Globe is here yet. Walt replies that word is the paper’s spokesman and some surprise mysterious informers are off in a “green room” somewhere but will be out any second. Walt asks Peter if he has any idea what the news will be about, to which Peter replies that he doesn’t, but that you can be sure of one thing – if the Globe is involved, a wad of money is likely to have exchanged hands.

Meanwhile, a corridor away, a blonde woman tells a man named Weston that she is anxious to hear what is in those papers he lifted from his former employer – whichever one it was, adding that up until now, no one knows but him. ‘And your paper’s lawyer’ Weston points out. The blonde woman replies that the lawyer has flown to California to help them start up a paper out there. The woman points out that it is time to “feed the beast” so to speak and turns to head out of the room, when suddenly she hears a noise be her. ‘What was that?’ she asks, turning towards Weston – who isn’t there.

Back in the lobby, Walt tells Peter that he is only waiting for another minute then he is going, before wondering if the Globe got cold feet. Peter doesn’t reply, as his Spider-Sense begins to tingle like mad. He wonders if he should do something, when suddenly, Weston appears out of nowhere on the stage. ‘Huh? Where’d he come from?’ someone in the press crowd asks. Another calls out to Weston, asking him if this is some kind of stunt that the Globe is trying to pull. Disorientated, Weston asks if they are the reporters he was going to talk to, and introduces himself as Walt Weston.

Weston informs the press that he was in a room with his documents, when he heard this sound, and then suddenly he was out here. He asks the press to excuse him for a moment while he gathers his thoughts. Someone in the press whispers ‘Look at his neck!’ Indeed, Weston’s neck is swelling up large, and Weston thinks that he should sit down, as he doesn’t feel well, but instead he falls off the stage into the press. ‘What a shot!’ a cameraman exclaims, catching the fall on film.

The press all gather around Weston, taking photos and so on, when someone announces that they are a doctor, and asks to be let through. Turning to a camera, the doctor checks Weston then declares that he is dead. Peter motions to the swelling on Weston’s neck and asks the doctor what it could be. ‘How about looking at him instead of the cameras?’ Suddenly, ‘Let me by!’ exclaims the blonde woman that was with Weston moments ago. She introduces herself as Mavis Reilly of the Globe-Recorder and informs everyone that Weston vanished from the green room. Mavis is shocked when she sees the swelling on Weston’s neck, and a reporter asks her to tell their viewers if Weston looked like that when she last saw him.

Moments later, ‘Okay, okay! Ain’t you guys took enough photos?’ a paramedic asks as Weston is lifted into an ambulance. ‘Are you kidding? There’s no such animal!’ a cameraman exclaims. Peter begins to walk away from the hotel, remembering that Weston mentioned that he had documents only he wasn’t holding any when he appeared on the stage. Peter supposes that from here on in he will have to watch Dan Rather on CNN just like everyone else, and wishes that he could interview the candidates about this business, but since they are all out in California, he has got about as much chance of doing that as he has being nominated himself.

An hour later, a plane takes off, and someone inside thinks to themselves ‘”My fellow Americans”…’

Meanwhile, Dawn in Palos Verdes, California and at the Compound which serves as home and headquarters to the Avengers West Coast, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes of the West are gathering for breakfast. Reading a morning paper, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton remarks that it is weird about that guy back in New York and informs those at the breakfast table that from what he knows about the Globe-Recorder if it said it was raining, he would slap on some sun tan lotion, before supposing that they must have had something on somebody to cause someone to murder their source. ‘After all, where there’s smoke…’

‘…there’s a smoke-making machine’ Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch interjects before thanking Consuela, the Avengers West Coast’s housekeeper, who puts some coffee onto the table. John Walker a.k.a. the USAgent remarks that Hawkeye heard it on the news at the same time they did, so there cannot be anything about it in this morning’s Times. Clint turns the paper to Walker and replies that some of them do read once in a while, informing him that he was just checking where the democratic and G.O.P. front runners will be today, and also that guy Galvan who has already been nominated by the “liberty” crowd, adding that Galvan is making read inroads here in California with his law-and-order speeches.

Hawkeye remarks that USAgent probably likes Galvan, to which Walker replies ‘Yes, if you’ve gotta know!’ The handsome Walker points out that with the gang situation in L.A. law-and-order is every bit as legitimate an issue as the economy. Clint replies that he is not arguing that, but he thinks that Galvan is the next thing to a Nazi. ‘A bleeding-heart type like you wouldn’t know a Nazi if you tripped over his jackboot!’ Agent snaps back. Wanda interrupts her squabbling friends, reminding them that they had agreed not to talk politics over breakfast, before noticing Living Lightning enter the kitchen.

Wanda greets Miguel Santos, who yawns as he greets Wanda back, before motioning to the young woman standing beside him, ‘You remember Mona’ he remarks. ‘Of course, hello Mona’ Wanda replies. Mona replies ‘Hi’ before Agent turns to them and asks them which of the candidates they think that the New York paper was going to expose. Mona adjusts her shirt asking if they haven’t had that press conference by now. Clint informs her that someone killed the mystery source. By injecting what is presumed to be some kind of poison into his neck.

Clint then asks Miguel if he has any idea, to which the Living Lightning replies ‘Nah. Who cares?’ adding that one politician is as dirty as another and revealing that he doesn’t think he will vote. Suddenly, ‘For shame on you, Miguel Santos!’ exclaims Consuela as she marches up to Miguel, declaring that there are so many problems for his people, and yet he won’t vote? ‘Por favour, Consuela!’ Miguel exclaims, to which Clint suggests that the radio might help Miguel catch up on current events and switches it on.

The newsreader on the radio announces that, in a possible related development, Henry Drummond, the attorney for the Globe-Recorder was found murdered in his Century City offices this morning, with his neck broken and tied up in what appeared to be an enormous spider’s web. The newsreader adds that the New York tabloid would neither confirm not deny that Drummond was the only other person who had seen the now missing documentation of Weston’s charges or who even knew which candidate it charged with having mob ties.

The Avengers are shocked. ‘First poison – now a spider’s web?’ asks Agent. Clint wonders what is going on, when suddenly, ‘That, Hawkeye, is precisely what the Avengers West Coast are going to figure out!’ exclaims Tony Stark in his Iron Man guise as he and the handsome Simon Williams, a.k.a. Wonder Man enter the room. Simon jokes that, in case any one is wondering, al days off are cancelled. ‘Translation – put your shirt on, Lightning!’

In an almost equally fashionable Newport Beach, an hour or so to the South East. ‘It’s blasted well about time, Julia!’ exclaims Larry Carpenter angrily to his ex-wife as he answers the door to his large home. Julia apologizes, informing Larry that there was a pile-up on the freeway. Larry turns his attention back to his telephone, telling the person that he is talking to, Vic, to hang on a minute, as his ex-wife has showed up to take Rachel for the day, believe it or not.

‘Well, don’t just stand there, come in!’ Larry snaps at Julia. Julia follows her ex into his extravagant home, informing him that she tried to call, but his phone was engaged. Larry replies that he hasn’t had time to get call-waiting yet, before informing her that he just signed on to do some P.R. for the Liberty Party, and then this double-murder thing broke out. ‘Mom!’ exclaims Rachel Carpenter as she sees her mother and rushes over to her. Julia Carpenter, a.k.a. the second and current Spider-Woman crouches down to hug her beloved daughter, apologizing for being late yet again. Rachel replies that it doesn’t matter, as she knew she would come.

Soon, Julia and Rachel head off in Julia’s car, and Julia remarks to Rachel that her dad seems pretty excited about his new job. Rachel replies that her dad says it will make him a lot of money. Julia points out that he just wants enough so that he can take good care of Rachel, but Rachel replies that she thinks her dad just likes money and feeling important. Julia tells Rachel that she doesn’t want her speaking that way about her father. Rachel apologizes and asks where they are going. Julia explains that is another reason why she tried to phone, because the Avengers called an emergency meeting, and asks Rachel not to tell her father if she takes her to the Compound.

‘Is that where we’re going? Hooray!’ exclaims Rachel excitedly, before asking her mother if she can tell her a story while they are driving. Julia replies ‘Sure’ and asks Rachel if she would like to hear about how she became Spider-Woman. ‘Great! I’ve asked you that a million times!’ Rachel reminds her mother. Julia replies that today she finally feels like talking about, and asks Rachel if she remembers meeting her “Auntie Val” once before….

(Told in the first person, shown with various flashback images including many prior to Julia’s first appearance):
Julia informs Rachel that Valerie Cooper was working on her PH.D. ‘While I was a lowly undergrad’ and that they played tennis a few times. Julia adds that it was about this time also that she met Rachel’s father, who was a student at the time also, and they fell in love, so she dropped of college so that she could work Larry’s way through college.

Julia informs Rachel that her father went into public relations work after graduation, and he was pretty busy back then too. Julia reminds Rachel that when she was five, they got divorced and the court gave her custody. ‘Because my Dad had those other girlfriends, right?’ Rachel asks. Julia asks Rachel how she knows about that, to which Rachel reveals that she heard her father talk about it to some men, when he didn’t think that she was listening. Julia advises her daughter not to ever tell her father she knows about that, or he would be very upset.

Carrying on with her story, Julia reveals that a few years ago Val Cooper passed through Denver while Julia and Rachel were still living there and phone her from the airport. Julia let it slip to Valerie that she was trying to get a better paying job, and Valerie informed Julia that since she had always been fairly athletic she might have something for her, provided Julia could fly out to Washington for a few days, and naturally, Julia jumped at the chance.

Arriving in Washington, it was then that Valerie revealed to Julia that she worked for a top-secret government Commission that did research on super-heroes. Julia pauses before continuing, asking Rachel to promise her that she will never tell anyone any of this. ‘You know I won’t, Mom’ Rachel replies. ‘Yeah, I do, don’t I’ Julia replies back, before informing Rachel that at the Commission they had already done some checks on her to make sure that she wasn’t a security risk, then they started some experiments, with Julia as a guinea pig. Julia adds that it is funny to think about being stuck with all those needles, considering how she had always been afraid of them, before explaining to Rachel that she wasn’t sure what Val and the others wanted to find out, and that she wasn’t sure that they themselves even knew.

However, one day, two injections got mixed up somehow and one of them had extracts from spiders in it as Julia was told later – heaven knows why. But when she was told, she was mad as, after all, they could have killed her, all because they couldn’t keep a couple of vials straight, and Julia just hit out at whatever was closest to her – which happened to be the laboratory wall. Julia, Valerie and the other doctors all saw that Julia had nearly punched her hand all the way through it – and it didn’t even hurt.

It was then that Val and the scientists realized that they had made a breakthrough, and when they convinced Julia to lift a sports car over her head, even she began to be impressed. Julia adds that it was a Daytona Spider, somebody’s idea of a joke she assumed. By then, she was feeling pretty good about what had happened and figured if the mix-up didn’t kill her, then she was going to come out of this thing on top, so when Val and the top scientist, Dr. Napier asked her to try jumping as high as she could, Julia really gave them their money’s worth.

Julia had no idea that she could will herself to stick to a wall, until she instinctively did it, and additionally, learned she could create webs just by thinking about them, of course though it took time and concentration. Julia remarks to Rachel that at least she doesn’t have to make them the way spiders do, before explaining that Val’s group of eggheads didn’t need a house to fall on them to notice she was now a lot like a guy named Spider-Man – so guess what they decided to code-name her? ‘I wanted to be called Ariadne. I would have settled for Arachne. What I got was Spider-Woman!’.

Nevertheless, it was a job, and the pay was pretty good Julia explains to Rachel, before informing her that before she started work, she insisted in a trip back to Denver, where she had left Rachel with her father, only Julia had barely arrived in Denver when their whole suburb was zapped into outer space. Once Julia was sure Rachel was safe in Denver proper, she went on the prowl as Spider-Woman for the first time – and promptly ran into nearly every super hero on Earth. Julia explains to Rachel that it turned out they were fighting some kind of “Secret Wars” against an alien called the Beyonder, and surprise, surprise, Julia was able to pull her own weight with the likes of the Avengers, Fantastic Four and others.

But, as a “reward” Val stuck Julia in a group she had put together called Freedom Force – a collection of mutant ex-hoodlums. Larry didn’t take kindly to Julia relocating to Washington and taking Rachel with her, not to mention her being so vague about the job she had landed there. So, Larry Carpenter sued for custody, and since Julia could not tell the court about the Commission or her being Spider-Woman, she knew she would lose. But what hurt Julia the most, was not being able to tell Rachel why she was gone so much.

Rachel tells her mother that she did get lonely sometimes, but now that she knows why, it is okay. Julia thanks her daughter for that, and explains her that while the lawsuit was going on, she buried herself in Freedom force business to keep from going crazy. Julia reveals that it worked, but only until the Commission decided the Avengers were criminals and ordered Freedom Force to capture them. However, Julia had met some of the Avengers and knew that they were not a menace, so after a fake trial, the Avengers were locked up in the Vault, a prison for super powered beings, and for Julia, that was the last straw – so she broke in and set the Avengers free – which put her in real mess with Valerie.

So, Julia became a fugitive from justice for a while, until Iron Man went into bat for her, and Val agreed to give her a second chance, which Julia thinks is rather amusing, considering that Iron Man is one of the Avengers Val locked up. Valerie decided that Julia needed a control person who had no personal connection to her, so Julia was put under a guy called Mike Clemson, and would stay on the “most wanted” list, while actually still working for the Commission.

Julia tells Rachel that she has never trusted Clemson any further than she could throw him – and Julia could throw him pretty far if she tried. Nevertheless, Julia did a few jobs for him, including one involving Spider-Man and the Wrecking Crew. Valerie then approved Julia’s move to California when Larry got custody and moved with there with Rachel, then after the mess with the Pacific Overlords, Julia got invited to join the Avengers West, and effectively ending her fugitive days – but she still has a few things to settle with Clemson.

That is another reason Julia was hoping Larry could keep Rachel for today, and as they pull up by a run-down old factory, Rachel motions to a man standing in a long coat and asks if that is Mike. Julia replies that it is and tells Rachel to stay in the car while she goes and talks to him, revealing that she has her costume on underneath. ‘Boy, if Dad had spotted that!’ Rachel exclaims. ‘Don’t even think that, Rachel!’ Julia replies, once again telling her daughter to stay in the car.

Spider-Woman goes over to Clemson and asks him what he wanted to see her for, adding that he needs to make it snappy as she is in a hurry. Clemson begins to tell Spider-Woman not to get uppity with him, when he sees Rachel in the car, and asks Spider-Woman what she thinks she is doing brining her kid along. ‘If you bust my cover!’ he begins, when suddenly Rachel runs out of the car shouting ‘I’ll bust you if you don’t leave my Mom alone!’ and begins whacking Clemson’s leg.

‘What is this? Attack of the shrimp people?’ Clemson asks, before telling Rachel to get back in the car and shut up, as he has got business with her mother. Clemson then shoves Rachel backwards. Spider-Woman grabs Clemson and holds his entire body up over her own, calling him a creep and warning him that if he lay another hand on her daughter, then he will be wearing a splint clear up to his foster-grants. ‘Hey! Put me down!’ Clemson declares, to which Spider-Woman remarks that it is the first order he has given her that she doesn’t mind carrying out, and tosses him against the factory wall. ‘Way to go, Mom!’ Rachel exclaims as Clemson hurls abuse at her.

Spider-Woman goes over to Clemson and tells him to keep his mouth shut and listen to her, adding that she doesn’t know why he insisted on this meeting, and nor does she care, but that she has given the Commission good service and planned to help him on whatever he called about if she could, but after this run-in she is handing in her notice – effective yesterday. Clemson warns Spider-Woman that she cannot quit as she has got a contract. Getting back into her car, Spider-Woman tells Clemson that he can sue her, even though it will cost her her secret identity the Commission will really blow is cover. Spider-Woman informs Clemson that she is an Avenger now, and that she is already late meeting them at the convention center. She adds that she will contact Val Cooper as soon as she gets the chance, and warns Clemson that from now on he needs to just keep out of her face.

‘Stupid cow’ Clemson mutters as Julia speeds away and he gets to his feet. Entering the run-down warehouse, ‘Clemson here, reporting to the Conclave!’ he exclaims to a series of monitors on the wall, all with various people’s images on them. ‘Uh, about recruiting Spider-Woman to our cause…’ Clemson begins, to which one member of the Conclave informs him that their sensitive microphones monitored his conversation with Spider-Woman outside. Another member of the Conclave remarks that Spider-Woman had marginal potential as an employee of theirs, as well as of the Commission, but that she is hardly essential to their plans.

Another of the Conclave informs Clemson that what matters is he didn’t tell Spider-Woman about the Conclave, and another remarks that if Spider-Woman learned of the existence of a grouping even more secret than the Commission, one composed of members of every governmental organization and dedicated to secretly controlling the policies of the country…their voice trails off as Clemson declares ‘Well, she didn’t, did she?’ and adds that if she did, then he would have shot her right then and there.

Changing the subject, another member of the Conclave asks if today’s agenda has been set in motion. Clemson replies that it will be, as soon as he places the call to their special operative, adding that the American public is about to learn that death has eight legs…!

Back in the car, ‘Boy, you really told him off, Mom!’ Rachel exclaims. Julia informs her daughter that she is not proud of what happened back there, but she supposes that it had to be done, before telling Rachel that they are off to the Liberty Party’s convention now. ‘Me too?’ Rachel asks. Julia replies that she has no choice, and hands her daughter a spare mask in case anyone snaps any photos. ‘A mask? Wow!’ Rachel replies, before pointing out that her father will be there, and wonders if he will recognize her. Julia is worried, ‘I hadn’t thought of that!’ she exclaims.

Entering the sprawling complex, Spider-Woman carries Rachel and asks a security guard if he can direct her to the convention, then hands him her identification. The guard points down the hall and informs her that the Avengers are down the hall, then take the escalator and it is the first door on the right. Another guard asks if she is really Spider-Woman, before asking who the little girl is, as she is not mentioned on his list. ‘I’m with her!’ Rachel exclaims, her face hidden by one of her mother’s masks which are too big for her. Julia tells the officer that is the only answer he will get, before asking if they can both go through now. The guard smiles and tells Spider-Woman to keep an eye on the little one though, as there is a lot of people in there. Spider-Woman thanks him, and a minute later, arrives at the location of her teammates.

Iron Man is telling everyone that the lawyer killed in Century City was the only other person who knew which candidate the murdered source had planned to name, when Spider-Woman makes her presence known, ‘Uh, you guys all know Rachel…’ she begins. Rachel says hi to everyone, and the Living Lightning says his back, but the USAgent points out that although he is al for family values, this is ridiculous. Iron Man is also not keen on the idea, and Wanda tells Spider-Woman that she must surely realize that this is no place for a child.

‘So what was I supposed to do with her? Put her in a locker?’ Julia snaps back, before exclaiming that if Rachel being here is not all right with everyone, then both of them will leave. Iron Man tells Julia that they can discuss this later, admitting that he knows they are all here on short notice. Hawkeye turns to Rachel and addressing her as “Spider-Girl” assures her that she will be all right in this room. Julia goes over to Iron Man and apologizes for getting uptight, when a convention center worker enters and informs them that they are needed on the floor.

Moments later, amid the din in the main auditorium, Iron Man tells his teammates to fan out, and that they will have to wing it since the authorities want more than just security guards here today after the recent killings. Hawkeye asks his dear friend Wanda if she doesn’t think she was too hard on Julia back there, to which Wanda reminds Clint that she knows what it is like to lose a child.

Up on a podium with banners and plaques all around, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Liberty Party declares that he is proud to stand here today and introduce everyone to the next president of the United States – Michael A. Galvan! Galvan thanks his deputy, Wilson, and greets those in the auditorium, remarking that a lot of people didn’t think he should come here today because of the brutal murders, one of which was right here in Los Angeles, but explains he insisted on coming both to underscore that he is not the candidate whose “exposure” was threatened by a sleazy New York tabloid, and because he will not be intimidated by the possibility of violence.

Galvan declares that the economy is an important issue in this election, as is health care, but that the most important issue of all is the fear that grips Americans when they step out of their own front doors, which is why he is so happy to see amongst everyone here today the famous Avengers West Coast – champions of law and order, which is the Liberty Party’s main concern. Iron Man whispers that he doesn’t like this, as they are not here to endorse Galvan’s platform. USAgent replies that perhaps they should be, for law and order is what the Avengers are all about, right? ‘Not necessarily’ Iron Man begins to reply, when, suddenly the lights go out.

Iron Man orders the Avengers to get to Galvan pronto, while Wonder Man exclaims that this could just be a power failure, or else they could be in for real trouble. Wanda urges Wonder Man and Spider-Woman to come with her, but Julia is more concerned for her daughter. Up in the air, Iron Man beckons Living Lightning to follow him, for with his spotlight and Miguel’s electricity they should be able to see Galvan. Indeed they can, and Galvan calls up that he is all right. Iron Man assures Galvan that the Avengers are going to make sure he stays that way.

Hawkeye gets Wanda’s attention and motions to the back of the auditorium, asking her if she sees what he does. ‘Yes – and I can count to seven as well as anybody by Iron Man’s beacon’ Wanda replies, meaning that all seven Avengers are accounted for, so whoever is behind them is not an Avenger. Clint calls up to Iron Man that there is somebody hoping around on the ceiling, so Iron Man tells Miguel to keep the auditorium lit while he checks it out, and asks Spider-Woman to stay close to the candidates on the ground while the rest of them give chase to the intruder.

USAgent shouts out that they have him on the run, ‘He’s taking a powder – and we’re right on his tail!’ Wanda, Clint, Simon and Iron Man follow the USAgent into another room, and Iron Man informs everyone that his beam didn’t give him a clear picture of whoever it is. In the new room, USAgent grabs the intruder; I’ve got him by the foot!’ Walker calls out as he is kicked in the face. Hawkeye warns everyone to shield their eyes as he lets loose a flare arrow. ‘What you’ve go, Agent, is Spider-Man!’ Wanda announces as the room lightens up.

‘You know those flare arrows could blind a fella!’ Spider-Man jokes as he fends off the USAgent, who is about to punch him. Walker asks if Spider-Man didn’t cause the black out, then who did, to which Spider-Man explains that he was trying to find that out, and around that time his spider-sense pulled him in this direction. Suddenly, the doors to the room slam behind the Avengers, trapping them, and three menacing spider-like beings appear. ‘The name…is Deathweb!’ one of them exclaims. ‘No relation, guys – honest!’ Spider-Man exclaims to the Avengers West.

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Living Lightning, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Rachel Carpenter

Larry Carpenter
Mona (Living Lightning’s girlfriend)


Mike Clemson
The Conclave (seen in shadows on monitors only)

Antro, Arachne II, Therak (all Deathweb)

Michael A. Galvan (Presidential candidate for the Liberty Party)
Wilson (Vice Presidential candidate for the Liberty Party)
Henry Drummond (The Globe-Recorder’s lawyer)
Mavis Reilly (The Globe-Recorder’s spokeswoman)
Walt Weston (The Globe-Recorder’s informant)
Luis Velasco (Century City security guard)

Reporters and camera crew at Hotel in New York
Security guard at Hotel in New York
Medical Personnel in New York
Security guards at the convention center
Reporters and camera crew at the convention center

In Spider-Woman II’s Origin Flashback:
Julia Carpenter / Spider-Woman II
Dr. Valerie Cooper
Rachel Carpenter
Larry Carpenter

Mike Clemson

Dr. Napier and other scientists

Avalanche, Blob, Destiny, Mystique, Pyro (all Freedom Force)

Captain America, Hawkeye, Human Torch II, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, Thing, Thor (all Marvel Heroes)



Story Notes: 

Much of Spider-Woman II’s origin is told for the first time this issue, everything up to her first appearance during Secret Wars.

Julia first appeared as Spider-Woman II in Secret Wars #7.

Julia was forced into Freedom Force in off-panel in between Secret Wars and Uncanny X-Men #206 (her first Freedom Force appearance).

Julia betrayed Freedom Force and freed the Avengers (West and East) in Avengers (1st series) Annual #15.

Valerie Cooper placed Spider-Woman II under the control of Mike Clemson in Iron Man (1st series) #214.

Spider-Woman II teamed up with Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man (1st series) #125-126.

Julia began helping out the Avengers West Coast in Avengers West Coast (2nd series) #70, and remains with the team until it’s disbanding in Avengers West Coast (2nd series) #102. From there on she joins Force Works, yet when that disbands during the uber-saga “The Crossing” she pretty much fades into obscurity, making a few appearances irregularly.

It should be noted that though they share the same name, Julia Carpenter and the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, are unrelated characters. They first met (briefly) in Uncanny X-Men #204, and have teamed up on occasion. They are later joined by Spider-Woman III (Mattie Franklin) and Spider-Woman IV (the villainess Charlotte Writer).

Deathweb first appeared briefly in Avengers West Coast (2nd series) #82. They go on to appear in Julia’s very own mini series, [Spider-Woman (2nd series)] and Therak appears in Iron Man Annual 1999.

Deathweb’s Arachne is of no relation to Julia Carpenter, who wanted that name originally, and later takes it in Ms. Marvel (2nd series) #6, as Jessica Drew became active again.

The Scarlet Witch’s comment about knowing what it is like to lose a child refers to the loss of her twins, Billy and Thomas, who turned out to be figments of her imagination mixed up with Mephisto’s soul. [Avengers West Coast (2nd series) #51-52]

Spider-Woman II’s origin is developed further in Spider-Woman (2nd series) #2.

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