Peach Momoko shows why she deserves to be a household name for comic fans with this gorgeous (but creepy) Spider-Woman variant cover.
Peach Momoko might be the most acclaimed cover artist working in comics today, and her take on Marvel’s Spider Woman is one of her best covers yet. Some artists lovingly refer to Peach Momoko as a cottage industry, with her unique style having generated an increasingly large fan-following who will buy any book that her art graces the cover of. Momoko even won a coveted Eisner Award for best cover artist in 2021. So it’s no surprise that when it came time for Momoko to bring her beautiful and grotesque skills to Spider-Woman, the results would be something to remember.
Spider-Woman made her debut in 1976’s Marvel Spotlight #32 written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Sal Buscema, with the visual appearance of Spider-Woman designed by Marvel Bullpen superstar Marie Severin. While Jessica Drew doesn’t have any connection to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, his fame did lead to her creation. According to Stan Lee in a 1978 interview he gave in The Comics Journal #42: “I suddenly realized that some other company may quickly put out a book like that and claim they have the right to use the name, and I thought we’d better do it real fast to copyright the name. So we just beat one quickly, and that’s exactly what happened.” Thank goodness it did, as Spider-Woman has starred in many fantastic comics, acting as a central figure in major Marvel event Secret Invasion.
The stunning Peach Momoko variant to Spider Woman #20 by writer Karla Pacheco and artist Pere Perez is a classic example of why Peach Momoko is as sought after as she is. With beautiful brushwork and expressive watercolor, Momoko creates an image that is dreamlike, and like dreams features imagery that would feel strange in reality. Spider-Woman and the spider crouched on her face feel almost at one, establishing a peaceful scene that verges on the disturbing. Momoko also makes excellent use of negative space and white within the picture, which imbues the would-be sparseness with fullness and purpose and – paired with her expert control of line-weight – imbues Spider-Woman’s face with a three-dimensional fullness.
Spider-Woman gained her powers from an experimental serum that included spider DNA (a concoction created by her scientist parents) and has had a hard life ever since, initially recruited by Hydra before working for SHIELD, only to be kidnapped and used as the face of the Skrull invasion of Earth. Jessica is a powerful hero with a hardcore attitude to crime-fighting, and so while her abilities shunted her onto a path no-one would ever have chosen, they’ve also empowered her to do incredible good – a metaphorical balance that shines through in Momoko’s art, where the spider is an apparent danger that Jessica nevertheless seems to accept.
Momoko initially broke through to comic audiences in the pages of Heavy Metal #288. Momoko went on to illustrate anime-inspired trading cards in 2019 for Marvel until 2020 when, during lockdown, she started producing upwards of 20 covers a month, quickly making a name for herself in the comic industry. In 2021 Momoko launched her own unique spin on Marvel comics with the miniseries Demon Days: X-Menwhich has become its own little corner of the Marvel Universe known as the Demon Days Saga.
For fans of Peach Momoko and Spider Womanthis variant is a striking and memorable image and yet another example of why Peach Momoko remains one of the freshest artists in mainstream American comic books, and a truly unique creator working almost exclusively with Marvel.
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