ULTIMATE BLACK WIDOW (2015)
In my recent review of Hobgoblin I told you how I had to buy six figures I didn’t necessarily want in order to get all the pieces required to assemble Hobgoblin. The figure I wanted the least from that assortment was this one, Ultimate Black Widow; or Spider-Woman as the packaging states. I don’t think she’s ever actually gone by the name Spider-Woman but there are so many spider powered girls swinging around these days and they’re constantly changing their names and costumes so it’s easy to get confused. Let’s recap:
First there was Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) who first appeared in 1977. For a long time she was the only spider-powered lady so things were easy to keep straight. Then there was a second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) introduced in 1984. Two characters with the same name, a little confusing but manageable. In 1996 a third Spider-Woman was introduced (Mattie Franklin). Then in ’98 we got our first Spider-Girl (May Parker). She was Spider-Man’s daughter from an alternate reality but just to confuse things further she recently travelled to the mainstream Marvel Universe and changed her name to Spider-Woman. A second Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon who went by the name Arana for a while) was created in 2004. Meanwhile, in another alternate reality known as the “Ultimate” Universe there existed a teenage version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He died in battle with the Ultimate Green Goblin but prior to his death (and later resurrection) Ultimate Peter got cloned into a girl. The clone took the name Jessica Drew (not to be confused with non-Ultimate Jessica Drew) and started superheroing under the name Black Window (not to be confused with other Black Widows Natasha Romanov or Yelena Bolova). New additions to the spider lady roster include a chick named Silk and a web-slinging version of Gwen Stacy called Spider-Gwen (but only we readers call her Spider-Gwen, people in the comic world refer to her as yet another Spider Woman).
So you see how it can get confusing.
The spider hero concept has been absolutely beaten to death ( Don’t even get me started on the dozens of male variations) but I can usually still find something to like about each character. But in the case of Ultimate Jessica Drew/Black Widow I can find nothing. The fact that she’s a clone of Peter just seems creepy to me. If I remember correctly she even has all of Peter’s memories so she’s quite literally Peter Parker in a girl body. It’s just weird. Mind you, her strange origin could lead to some interesting stories about cloning and gender identity but I don’t believe any writers have bothered to delve to deep into her character. The fact that she’s super boring to look at doesn’t help her case.
It’s clearly tough to design an iconic costume for a female spider character. Most of the ladies mentioned above have changed their costumes numerous times. My favorite of the bunch is probably the black and white costume worn by Julia Carpenter. Spider-Gwen’s is pretty cool too and I’m a fan of May’s costume even though it’s the exact costume Ben Reilly (another clone of Peter) wore when he was Spider-Man for a while. Of all the many various spider lady costumes I think Ultimate Black Widow’s is one of the worst. It’s just so damn dull. A solid maroon unitard with white eyes and a white spider on the chest is just lazy. It’s essentially a rip-off of Spidey’s black costume.
I’m sorry to say this but I think Marvel needs to kill this character off. There’s absolutely nothing original about her. Her DNA is lifted from Peter, her name is lifted from Jessica, her codename is lifted from Natasha, her costume is lifted from Venom, and her origin is lifted from Ben. There are too many spider women running around and somebody needs to go. Marvel already took Mattie off the board and Jessica should be next.
As for the actual Marvel Legends figure, its fine but nothing to call home about. The body is made up of the exact same parts as the the previously released Arana. From the neck down they’re identical. It’s a well-proportioned body and it has lots of articulation. It actually has so many joints that it can be a little tough to make her look normal when just standing upright. The left leg in particular is quite awkward. The head sculpt is the only new piece. It’s satisfactory but I just don’t like the character so it’s hard to get excited about her flowing brown hair, as nicely sculpted as it may be.
I probably should’ve just bought the Hobgoblin leg I needed loose on ebay for $10 rather than wasting $30 buying this figure to get it but the die-hard Marvel fan in me kind of wanted this figure. The reason being, despite all that stuff I said bout her not being original, she is technically a unique character who has never been made into a toy before and I can’t resist adding unique characters to my Marvel Universe. What can I say, I’m a sucker. 4 out of 10.