By Alex Wiggan (Ryan the work experience lad and R.Y.A.N II)
Welcome once again fellow followers of knowledge, we’re back to deliver you more information rich in animal goodness and this week we’re looking at Spider-Woman and spiders! We’re currently trailing outside the Black Lion, in Salford, on the hunt for spiders, but in the meantime you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve spent many an hour fiddling under the hood of R.Y.A.N II and so he should finally be able to give us detailed analysis on everything that we cover.
Anyway, here we go…
WHO IS SPIDER-WOMAN?
Spider-woman is the Marvel Comics super heroine (are you spotting a theme with the superheroes in the first five chapters?) who was created by Archie Goodwin, Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney for Marvel Spotlight #31, waaaaaaaaaaay back in 1977.
HMMM...SO IS SHE A SPIDER...OR A WOMAN?
Jessica Drew is definitely a woman. Have you not seen the size of her boobs?!? Depending upon which version of her origin you’ve read (there were a couple), Jessica has increased strength and reflexes; the ability to stick to surfaces and is able to produce bioelectric energy that she uses as a weapon in order to incapacitate her foes! Oh and Jessica can also secrete ‘pleasure’ pheromones!!!
OH, SO TELL ME, WHAT MAKES SPIDERS SO SPECIAL?
Spiders are from the order Araneae; they have eight legs and pointy appendages (or ‘fangs’ if you will) that are used to inject venom into prey. There are approximately over 40,000 species of spider, they live between two and 25 years and just like when we looked at ants in Part 1, spiders can be found pretty much all over the world on every continent except Antarctica. The oldest know arachnid dates back over 420 million years ago, they’re pretty good at camouflage and they have a variety of senses – spider senses! One of these senses is a series of bristles called setae which respond to the change in air currents, whilst another is a sense on the joints of their limbs, which detect vibrations. They’re even good at modifying their behaviour and developing their bodies like ant-mimicking spiders, who mimic ants to protect themselves from predators like other spiders, birds and lizards – oh my!
Now when you think about spiders no doubt the first thing that pops into your head is the fact that they can produce webs (something we looked at in the original Science Of Superheroes) and this is due to their abdomens containing spinnerets that produce silk, which in turn is used to create webs to catch prey. You see practically all spiders are predators, mostly preying on their own kind or other insects; however some brave buggers even take on birds and lizards! Now you might want to grab a barf bag at this point because once they’ve caught their prey (aka their food) spiders liquidize it by covering it (usually from the inside) with digestive enzymes. The reason for this is because spiders have narrow guts, so the only way to eat their food is to pump it full of the enzyme, which in turn liquefies the tissue… and then they suck it out! Yes it does sound gross, but don’t worry they only do it to creatures that they are of equal (or less) size to, and usually only bite humans as a self defence mechanism. When they do bite humans not all bites kill (although some do) and the amount of reported deaths resulting from spiders is very, very low. So although they might get a bad reputation, you’ve probably got more chance of being eaten by a shark in the Sahara desert than you have of being bitten by deadly spider. I wouldn’t fancy my chances if I was a male spider though, as female spiders tend to eat their mates!
SO YOU'RE SAYING I SHOULDN'T WORRY ABOUT SPIDER BITES THEN?
No, not really. In fact science boffins (geekier versions of us) are currently testing spider venom in the hopes that they can use it in the field of medicine for ways to combat strokes and…
Anyway… those science guys are also trying to genetically engineer spider silk (because it’s so damn strong) in the hope that it can be reproduced, so you can see that spiders are quite interesting creatures!
THEY DO SEEM QUITE IMPRESSIVE, BUT HOW ALIKE ARE SPIDERS AND SPIDER-WOMAN?
Well both your average spider and Jessica Drew can stick to walls, both have good reflexes and both have defence mechanisms in place in order to fight off enemies. Jessica’s are in the form of bioelectric energy, where as some spiders (like certain tarantulas) have ‘stinging hairs’ that they flick from their legs to act as an irritant to whoever is threatening them. Also, as previously mentioned spiders are good at camouflage and although Jessica’s red and yellow outfit is hardly inconspicuous, strong colours like red in the animal kingdom usually act as a warning to others that trying to eat them is not a good idea. Although I can’t confirm that an encounter with Jessica will leave a bad taste in your mouth, a costume like hers certainly could help her evade enemies. There certainly are similarities between the two (although Jessica doesn’t lay 3,000 eggs in a single egg sac like a female spider) the big question is who is the most powerful? Now thankfully I’ve managed to fix R.Y.A.N II, so hopefully we should get a bit more information than his usual response.
OK R.Y.A.N II, IS SPIDER-WOMAN MORE POWERFUL THAN A SPIDER?
R.Y.A.N II SCIENTIFIC READOUT: A spider’s web is so strong that if it were the size of a human, the web alone would be more powerful than it already is.
Erm… right… that’s great… thanks R.Y.A.N II. It looks as if I may have to adjust a couple of circuits on R.Y.A.N II, but until next time keep thinking science!