Marvel’s Dennis Hopeless and Nick Lowe Talk Writing a Single Mom Superhero in Spider-Woman
Mild spoilers for Spider-Woman #4 to follow.
Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Javier Rodriguez’s run on Spider-Woman has been pretty darn groundbreaking (or, uh, water-breaking, as the case may be). The series began with Jessica Drew heavily pregnant, and, after giving birth in Spider-Woman #4, she’s now a single mom and “parent by day, hero by night.” Over email, I talked to Hopeless and Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe about what it’s like as cis men to write a pregnant protagonist, and what we can expect to see from Spider-Woman in the future.
The Mary Sue: I really appreciate that this issue showed Spider-Woman breastfeeding. Can we expect to see the series to continue to be so open about representing women’s bodies?
Nick Lowe: Well, I can say that we are trying to be as honest about the pregnancy/child-birth/infant care. I’ve got a two year old and a ten month old, so my life is dominated by naps, breastfeeding (my wife, I haven’t made a Junior-esque breakthrough) and changing diapers. Dennis has one-year-old twins so he he’s finally getting three hours of sleep instead of the tiny-infant-twins-one-hour-sleep-nights. Last year we had a story-summit planning the SPIDER-WOMEN event and I wouldn’t shut up about the amount of times Jess would have to pump, find a fridge to store the milk, etc… while on the mission they go on… We’re doing our damnedest to make sure that we’re representing all of this in a mature and adult way.
Dennis Hopeless: Absolutely. We may be fudging the bounce-back timeline a bit to get Jess in costume sooner rather than later (she is a genetically altered super hero), but parenthood has a profound effect on a person’s life. We want the series to reflect that fact as accurately and sincerely as possible.
That nonchalant breastfeeding sequence is a good example. I’m thrilled Marvel has been so cool about letting us reflect reality like that.
TMS: What was the process of writing the birth scene like? How did you navigate that as an all-male creative team?
Lowe: Not to quibble, but our colorist Rachelle Rosenberg is a card-carrying female! But you make a very good point. As I mentioned before, I’ve got two small kids, Dennis has his twins, Javier has an infant daughter, Rachelle has two boys and a girl, Travis has an infant daughter… Only Editor Devin Lewis is childless. But most of us have either recently either been witness and support crew at a birth and Rachelle has given birth thrice. And the men have been asking our wives A LOT of questions. Specifically, I know that Dennis worked very close with his amazing wife Jessie (who’s an incredible tattoo artist whose done all of Jason Aaron’s tats which are works of art) and I’m pretty sure Javier has used his wife as a model for Jessica since he came on the book and before either were pregnant. SHORT ANSWER- VERY carefully and with the knowledge that we’d better get it right.
Hopeless: That scene is based on my wife’s cesarean delivery. I was there for it and will never forget how cold and bright and terrifying that stainless steel operating room felt… Or the look on my wife’s face when she saw our sons for the first time. Describing those things were pretty easy for me. For Jess’s perspective I just asked my wife Jessie (She didn’t have to fight any Skrulls after the boys were born. I made that part up).
Jessie has been an amazing help with this story from the very beginning. I’ve had an incredible front row seat for her journey into motherhood, but she lived it. I couldn’t have pulled this story off without her.
TMS: Spider-Woman is a single mother now. How will her arc reflect the double standards mothers still face in the workforce and elsewhere in society?
Lowe: Read #5. We’re sending it to the printer today and deal with a lot of issues there, as well. We know these are important issues and we’ve discussed a lot with people and are trying our hardest not to screw it up. It weighs VERY heavily on us. Maybe we can talk again after #5 goes on sale next month!
Hopeless: We deal with some of that fairly directly in issue #5 and it’s a big thematic element for Jess during Spider-Women. We’re all passionate about the the subject and definitely won’t be shying away.
Spider-Woman #5 hits shelves March 16th. We’re hype to see what happens next!
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