The First Spider-Woman

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t know who Spider-Man was, even as a child. Before I was an X-Men fan, I was a Spider-Man fan. The first time I saw Spider-Man on television was on PBS, on the show, The Electric Company. The Skit was called “Spidey Super Stories.” To the best of my knowledge, that was the first live-action Spider-Man ever on television. It was clearly made for kids. That Spider-Man didn’t speak but used live-action action word balloons that the audience had to read. He even had theme music. I watched it as a kid and loved it. Later, Marvel collaborated with PBS, and created a Spidey Super Stories comic series. It was the same Spidey, written for the same audience but this comic allowed those stories to continue and even involve other Marvel Superheroes. It was in those pages that the first ever Spider-Woman made her debut.

Her name was Valerie and she was a librarian. No last name was ever provided. The character was inspired by Spider-Man and through sheer luck, or by way of Spidey’s negligence, she came across one of Spider-Man’s actual costumes. Through the magic of sewing, she tailored it to fit her. She never had any powers and how she mimicked some of Spidey’s abilities can only be explained in comics. (I’ve included an image below.) In this issue, she helped Spidey defeat the Vulture. She earned her rookie card and retired in the same issue. I guess superheroing is hard. The character never showed up as Spider-Woman in the comics again. What she has going for her is that she was not only the first Spider-Woman in Marvel Comics, but she debuted as a non-Spidey character before Storm did in the X-Men, making her one of the pioneers.

Valerie as Spider-Woman debuted in Spidey Super Stories #11. The comic is dated August 1975. That may be her on the cover in the bottom right corner but I can’t be sure. You decide and let me know your thoughts. There have been other Black Spider-Women since but Valerie was the first. For that, she deserves her flowers.

This Spider-Woman never made it to the actual TV show but if you’re unfamiliar with the Electric Company Skit, here’s an episode for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy True Believers!

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