Spider-Girl first appeared in What If (Vol. 2) #105 in February 1998 and the alternate reality she lived in was eventually spun into a whole universe called MC2. She is May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker (the original Spider-Man) and Mary Jane Watson-Parker. After hitting puberty, she inherited her dad's spider-powers and decided to follow in his heroic footsteps. These stories occur very early in her crime-fighting career...
Some crooks are breaking into a very nondescript vault (is it a bank... a jewelry store... who knows?) when Ladyhawk comes riding up on her Hawk-Cycle. Who's Ladyhawk? Well, she's a black female superhero who wears a green, form-fitting jumpsuit with orange trim and a pointed headpiece that looks like a hawk spreading its wings (it kinda looks like a non-trademark infringing bat symbol). She easily whomps the bad guys and leaves them tied up before the police arrive. She also gives them a literal calling card, so the cops know who busted them.
Meanwhile (or maybe the next morning), May Parker is doing gymnastics in a black spandex outfit with blue stripes and a bare midriff. What kind of gymnastics, you ask? She is jumping through a barrage of Nerf balls being shot at her by her Uncle Phil. This is all part of May's training which Phil has undertaken after coming to an agreement with her father last issue. He says she's improving and will definitely be ready by the time she turns 18. May, naturally, doesn't like the idea of waiting years before wearing her Spider-Girl costume again (I believe she is 16 years old at this time). She's also beginning to suspect that there's been some misunderstanding between Phil and her father. Why? Because Peter was complaining about Ladyhawk over breakfast, saying she looks too young to be fighting crime. But May isn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. She grabs her backpack from the locker room and says goodbye. Before she leaves, Phil gives her his pitch about eventually creating a full-fledged secret headquarters for her with state-of-the-art crimefighting equipment that he wants to call the Web Site. Heh.
She arrives at school, where the usual shenanigans are going on. Jimmy Yama and Moose are busy arguing about who Spider-Girl could be. They think it may be mild-mannered Courtney Duran. May just ignores them and Davida says next they'll be accusing her of being Ladyhawk. (They do look alike now that you mention it...) Afterwards, while daydreaming in class May hits upon the idea of getting a new secret identity. After all, who says she has to wear a Spider-Girl costume (besides genre norms, of course) when she's fighting crime? She somehow sends a message to the Fantastic Five and gets Franklin Richards to meet her after school on a nearby rooftop. (This is the same Franklin Richards who is a perpetual child in the 616 universe, but here he is grown up and a superhero known as Psi-Lord.) After convincing him she really is Spider-Girl, she asks him for some advice. Since he doesn't really have a secret identity, however, he doesn't have any useful suggestions. They go back and forth about what it means to be a superhero for a bit, but don't really solve anything.
May is excited that he even talked to her at all (she may have a small crush on him). While she is cavorting on the rooftop who should show up but Ladyhawk! She thinks Spider-Girl is a burglar because May is wearing her blue and black spandex outfit again. Ladyhawk throws her whole bag of tricks (Ladyhawk Hoops, gas grenades, and Hawk Claws) at her, not bothering to listen to May's protestations. Our hero fights back and easily puts Ladyhawk on the run. Eventually, May is lead all the way to a familiar looking warehouse. Before she can worry about if Ladyhawk knows her secret identity she is attacked again. By not one but two Ladyhawks! That's right, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book – twins pretending to be one person. Spider-Girl puts up a good fight against both of them, but before things get too ugly in steps Uncle Phil!
It turns out that she is not only superhero he's been helping out. The Ladyhawk sisters own the warehouse Phil was using for their practice earlier. They explain their scheme – make like Batman, but go heavy on the merchandising so they can build a state of the art crime lab (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). They want to build their brand and figure two people masquerading as one is the fastest way to achieve that goal. Speaking of which... “Where are your webs?” one asks, saying she is blowing major merchandising power. It's a good question, one we see her still contemplating on the warehouse rooftop as the day ends.
This is an interesting issue, in that we have a story where our protagonist doesn't fight any crime or even wear a real costume. It kinda reminds me of Amazing Spider-Man #18. Of course, this is more of a tryout issue for Ladyhawk (see footnote below), but it fits into May's ongoing identity crisis.
I love the little twists and turns in the subplots (Uncle Phil's misunderstanding with Peter, Jimmy and Moose's ongoing feud, etc). This is what really brings the main character's world to life and what originally drew me to Spider-Man in the first place.
It is hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the MC2 launch, there was a real buzz. In addition to the three original titles there was a contest to see which newly introduced characters would get a new series. There were 16 contestants, culled from the following titles - A-Next, J2, and our very own Spider-Girl.
They were American Dream (Sharon Carter's daughter, from A-Next #4), Argo (Hercule's son, from A-Next #6), Bluestreak (think Quicksilver, from A-Next #4), Coal Tiger (Black Panther's son, from A-Next #4), Darkdevil (from Spider-Girl #1), Doc Magus (from A-Next #3), Earth Sentry (think Captain Marvel, from A-Next #2), Fantastic Five (like Spider-Girl herself, also from What If? #105), Freebooter (think Hawkeye, from A-Next #4), Ladyhawk (from this very issue), Magneta (possibly Magneto's daughter, from J2 #6), Mainframe (a next generation Iron Man, from A-Next #1), Stinger (Scott Lang's daughter, from A-Next #1), Thunderstrike (Kevin Masterson's son, from A-Next #1), Wild Thing (Wolverine's daughter, from J2 #5) and the X-People (from J2 #2).
Spoiler alert: The Fantastic Five and Wild Thing won. But since they each only lasted 5 issues I don't think it was much to brag about. They simply didn't have the emotional hook or storytelling potential that Spider-Girl did.