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An athletic young single mother, Julia Carpenter was drawn into a covert double life by an old college friend, federal agent Valerie Cooper, who believed Julia would be an ideal test subject for a secret government super-agent program. Reuniting with Carpenter seemingly by chance, Cooper promised her cash-strapped friend lucrative employment and manipulated Julia into undergoing a series of experimental treatments, including injections of a formula incorporating rare Amazon jungle plants and various types of spider venom, which gave Julia superhuman powers. She became an operative of the Commission on Superhuman Activities (CSA) as Spider-Woman. The CSA was based in Washington, but Julia initially moonlighted as a seemingly independent super hero in Denver. When the near-omnipotent Beyonder abducted an entire Denver suburb (including the Carpenter home) into space as part of his Secret Wars, Julia fought the Beyonder's army of villains alongside heroes such as the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Spider-Man (who was so impressed by Julia that he adopted a new costume based on her outfit for a time).