Jessica Drew has a darker backstory than most other superheroes, but Octavia Vermis brings a whole new level of villainy to the world of Spider-Woman.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Spider woman # 9 by Karla Pacheco, Pere Pérez, Frank D’Armata & VC’s Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Jessica Drew has been making a lot of bad decisions recently, but the last one may be the worst. Due to the radiation sickness ravaging her body and the Marchand Serum affecting her mind, Spider-Woman has her priorities out of control, to say the least. Her condition has led her to join forces with Octavia Vermis. Although Jessica herself was once part of the villainous Hydra organization, Octavia is especially cruel and should not be handled carelessly.
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Spider woman # 2, by Karla Pacheco, Pere Pérez, Frank D’Armata and Travis Lanham, introduced Octavia Vermis to Jessica and the world. While Jessica was searching for an extremely rare spider to help cure her illness, she encountered a formidable opponent who was chasing the same spider: Octavia. Octavia revealed that she knew exactly who Jessica was and explained their sordid connection. Octavia is the daughter of Otto Vermis, a lustful Hydra commander who brainwashed Jessica and kept her among the villains, even making her think that she was a highly evolved spider rather than a human female. When Jessica realized Otto’s deception, she searched for answers about his past, but ended up killing him in a boat explosion.
After a few different encounters, Octavia told a desperate Jessica that they could help each other and cure Jessica of her illness. The two set out on a scavenger hunt for various ingredients for the alleged cure before heading to the High Evolutionary’s secret lair. Jessica was surprised to find the High Evolutionary there, but almost more surprised to meet Octavia’s daughter, Ofelia, who regarded the High Evolutionary as an uncle. While in hiding, Jessica discovered that the High Evolutionary had cloned her mother several times, as well as Octavia, creating Ophelia.
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High Evolutionary clones have a flaw where they need to be exposed to “the source” regularly or else they will decompose. This makes Octavia and Ofelia dependent on him. After creating a laser beam “cure” for Jessica, the High Evolutionary spoke his access code aloud, just what Octavia had been waiting for. She had used Jessica’s illness as a way to get in, Octavia was able to get what she needed to keep her daughter safe and attacked the High Evolutionary. Ofelia begged her mother not to kill him, but Octavia asked Jessica to help her murder the villain, saying that revenge against the man was better than a simple cure. Jessica agreed and the two women killed the High Evolutionary. Clones of Jessica’s mother attacked them and during the fight, Jessica was hit by the laser beam that may or may not be her cure.
When Jessica opened her eyes again, they were no longer blue, but the same shade of green as Octavia and Ophelia. In front of her, Ofelia attacked Octavia. The two exchanged blows before Octavia admitted Ophelia was her only weakness and snapped her daughter’s neck. Watching the scene in horror, Jessica realized how vicious Octavia was. Both women were raised in pain and suffering to become the ruthless fighters that they are. Jessica had worked the rest of her life trying to undo Hydra’s damage and start a family of her own. Octavia’s life is a dark mirror version of Jessica’s, showing a more unsettling path that Jessica could have taken. Now that the two have bonded, it might be harder for Jessica to find the right path again.
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