Spider-Man: Unforgiven returns to a forgotten aspect of Marvel’s past, as a former Wakandan monster hunter is back in the spotlight.
This article contains major spoilers about Spider-Man’s #1, Unforgiven #1. On sale now at Marvel Comics.
Spider-Man is a beloved character among Marvel fans. It’s not surprising that he appears in the most limited Marvel story arcs. Horror titles especially love his appearance. The new “Unforgiven” Saga follows the same plan and puts the wallcrawler in the center of its first issue. Spider-Man #1 (by Tim Seeley and Sid Kotian), is a miniseries that features guest appearances from all corners of the comic. The one-shot reintroduces a host of long-forgotten Marvel heroes with rich histories.
The issue presents Salome, an ex-Sorceress Supreme, and Raizo Kodo as a threat to the team. Fans who are observant may have noticed another character among the cast, Zawadi, an elderly woman with wrinkles and a proud Wakandan heritage.
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Zawadi has the Powers of The Black Panther
Zawadi, whose name in Swahili means “precious gifts”, made her debut in Marvel Universe #4 in 1998. It was written by Roger Stern, Mike Manley, and Gloria Vasquez. The issue was set in the 1950s during the Cold War and laid the foundation for a top-tier monster-hunting team within Marvel Comics Universe. Doctor Druid has an encounter with extraterrestrial creatures and meets Jake Curtiss (NSA agent) who introduces Druid to Ulysses Bloodstone, the immortal hunter. Bloodstone relates to the day he met Zawadi. A Tyrannosaurus Rex entrapped him while he was on his way to follow a trail of giant beasts. Ulysses was trapped and could not count how many seconds it took before a female warrior inserted her spear into the neck of the T. Rex and drove it back to the Wakandan Mountains.
Zawadi has been accompanying Ulysses on his expeditions since that day and was one of the founder members of Monster Hunters. Zawadi’s skills as a warrior were demonstrated throughout the series, which saw the group repeatedly being attacked by Deviant-designed monsters. Her background as a simple warrior was quickly retconned when two years later, a shocking piece of information was added. Marvel: The Lost Generation 2 (by John Byrne and Roger Stern, Al Milgroms, Glynis Olso, Jack Morelli, and Jack Morelli), revealed that Zawadi truly is one-of-a-kind. She had eaten the Heart-Shaped plant in her youth. This sacred herb was reserved for Bast’s champion and made her fit to take on the role of Black Panther. She was born with extraordinary strength, speed, and acute perceptions.
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Spider-Man: An Unforgiven Restores an Elderly Zawadi
The group fell apart over the years, with Ulysses Bloodstone effectively dissolving the Monster Hunters. After that, not much information is available about Zawadi and Marvel Comics has never made any concerted efforts to bring the character back. This changed with Spider-Man Unforgiven #1 when Spider-Man discovered the fallen Salome in a house filled with mystical artifacts. The evil Sorceress Supreme is turning the odds in her favor and the house owner lands the fatal blow to Salome. Zawadi, an old husk of her glory days, turns out to be the killer.
However, the excitement of the night wears her down and she is taken to the hospital by emergency personnel. But not before warning The Forgiven about the imminent dangers. Zawadi, even though she’s no longer the fighter who made Ulysses Bloodstone swoon over her, is still a warrior at heart. She has clairvoyance and the ability to see past the present, which gives her an advantage over evil. Spider-Man and his legendary Spider-Sense, both vampires, couldn’t match her. Zawadi was there when it mattered, adding a footnote that will be rewritten in Marvel’s new endeavor.