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Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.



Believing herself to have been “born broken,” she’s given purpose when recruited by the titular agency, whose acronym stands for Sentinent World Operation and Response Department, a secret counterterrorism and intelligency agency dealing with extraterrestrial threats.

As Jessica’s told, 32 alien races exist on Earth, all of them unwelcome. It’s her job to help rid the planet of these foreigners unwanted visitors.

She does just that in this five-episode series, really motion comics based of Brian Michael Bendis’ run. That she does it by mostly staying in her human guise is the surprising part for Spider-Woman fans of old. After wrongly branded a cop killer, Jessica hits often and hits hard, using her emotion-altering powers more than her web-shooting ones to locate those filthy Skrull invaders.

“I wish I was cute and dumb,” she says, in an English accent, which is new. “Just for a day.”

Instead, she’s gritty and dark, which is why this is the best so far of Shout! Factory’s “Marvel Knights” line. Like those — including “Black Panther” and “Iron Man: Extremis” — this is not for kids, as talk of getting one’s “ass kicked” and needing “a little chemical romance” strongly hint. That’s a good thing, since so little animation is made specifically for adults.

Those who also are followers of comics — and Bendis’ groundbreaking work in particular — will enjoy this most, as it includes cameos by Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and Black Widow, among others. —Rod Lott

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