After being Spider-Woman, and later, Arachne, Julia Carpenter inherited the powers of Madam Web from Cassandra Webb. Changing her costume to that of a red trench coat and sun glasses, Julia only appears as Madam Web when her precognitive powers show her that she is needed. The rest of the time she is able to live a normal life taking care of her daughter.
At one time, Morgana Le Fay used her magical powers to create a reality distortion wave which converted all of reality into a medieval setting. It even affected how people spoke and thought. Julia Carpenter became Arachne, a knight of the Queen’s guard, or at least she believed she was. Eventually reality was set back correctly, but even so, this instance is known as Earth-398. Perhaps on Earth-398 the Avengers really are in the Medieval time period and really are all knights. Or perhaps it’s just that the world was never set back to normal after Morgana Le Fay changed it. It’s unclear.
Another one of the heroes who fought against Charnel on Earth-9939 was Julia Carpenter. Similarly to Spider-Man (and even others like the former villain-turned-hero The Rhino) Julia has altered her costume to fit more in like with The Punisher’s style. Though to be honest, other than adding white gauntlets and several weapon belts, she hasn’t had to change as much of her costume as some of the others.
Remember my third Spider-Who post where I talked about the second woman to take on the Spider-Woman name? That was Julia Carpenter, and now she’s back again with a new name and outfit. Before she changed her superhero code name, Julia Carpenter went through a lot of crap. She was attacked by a woman named Charlotte Witter, and had her powers stolen and was temporarily paralyzed in the process. After rehabilitation and eventually regaining her powers, the Marvel Civil War broke out!
During the Civil War, she initially joined the side of Iron Man. For those unfamiliar, Iron Man’s side in the Civil War was to enforce the Super Human Registration Act, which meant that by law, all super powered people had to identify themselves and register with the government. Even though she joined Iron Man’s side, she acted as a double agent, warning super heroes who refused to register and were at risk of being captured. She was eventually found out, and after the events of the Civil War was given the opportunity to have the charges against her dropped if she joined one of the new teams that were government sponsored under the Super Human Initiative. She was assigned to become a member of the Canadian team Omega Flight. The team lasted for a little while, but eventually disbanded and she moved back to America.
Julia was captured during the events of Grim Hunt, in which Kraven the Hunter captured several spider powered people with the intention of sacrificing them, and in which he was partially successful. Even though Peter didn’t stop Kraven in time to save everyone, he did manage to save Julia. It was Julia Carpenter who stopped Peter from outright killing Kraven in a fit of rage and revenge.
While she wasn’t the first Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter was actually the first one I ever knew of. And while some will look at her black and white costume and think it’s a spin-off from one of Spider-Man’s famous outfits, she was actually the first to wear it, and Spider-Man’s version is based on her’s.
Julia Carpenter gained her powers after being tricked into taking part of a bogus “athletic study,” in which she was given a concoction of “spider venom and exotic plant extracts.” How this did anything other than poison her I don’t know. But I guess it’s no weirder than being bitten by a radioactive spider. Julia’s powers, though similar to Spider-Man’s, are often more based on psionic abilities to affect molecules around her. Both her wall crawling and webbing are caused by psionics. This is pretty cool because it means her webs just sort of appear out of thin air. She also has a greatly enhanced sense of touch, allowing her to pick up slight vibrations, such as on her webs, or through the ground. Other than that she has the usual assortment of super hero powers like super strength, speed, agility, durability, reflexes etc etc. Possibly her greatest super power is being a mom! She has a young daughter named Rachel who she raises by herself.
She was involved in the original Secret Wars event (which is where Peter got his original black suit), and later joined the West Coast Avengers. She certainly had more adventures after this, but not under the name of Spider-Woman, so I’ll cover those in another post some other time.