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...
We start our story (as so many of them do) on a rooftop, with our protagonist being attacked. The protagonist is Spider-Girl, but she is still not wearing her costume (see last issue for details why). Her attacker is Darkdevil, a mysterious superhero that dresses like Daredevil but has bluish skin and flaming batons. Throughout this series he has served as a sort-of a mentor to Spider-Girl, but he can also be a major jerk. He taunts her about her outfit and delays her mission. What mission, you ask? Cue a flashback to the morning...
May Parker tries to have a serious talk with her dad (Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man) about her super-heroics over breakfast. He leaves quickly to avoid a confrontation and she instead complains to her mom. Afterwards, she walks to school where her friend Jimmy Yama tries to ask her to a school dance. She avoids giving him a yes or no answer, however, and Moose teases Jimmy about it. Then at lunch, she does some superhero acrobatics practice with her Uncle Phil. Back at school she muses how no one thinks she can handle the “superhero thing”.
In the meantime, Moose and Jimmy decide to settle their differences with a fight right after school. Courtney and May hear about it and go check on both of them. Moose and Jimmy, however, pretend to be friends for the girls' sake. So, with that situation apparently defused, May feels free to attend her after-school basketball practice. While she is getting dressed in the locker room, she hears that the fight is still on - the location has just been changed to a city park. May, being the hero that she is, rushes off to stop it.
Which brings us back to the present. Darkdevil is still fighting her. He goads her with some harsh words and she seemingly knocks him out. She just suspects that he gave up too easily when her Spider-Sense buzzes and in flies... The Man Called Nova! Now, in the regular Marvel universe Nova was still an immature teenager running around with the New Warriors; in the MC2 universe he is a stuffy, know-it-all who takes himself way too seriously. Apparently, he saw the tail end of the fight and thinks Spider-Girl is a supervillain. So, of course, he doesn't listen to her protests and they start fighting.
Meanwhile, another fight is on at the park! Jimmy and Moose trade insults for a bit and Jimmy finally takes the first show - right in Moose's windpipe. Ouch! Moose goes down choking and Jimmy freaks out. All the kids watching are aghast at this turn of events.
Spider-Girl's fight isn't turning out much better. She hops around, avoiding Nova's blows, and eventually lands on his back. But he quickly manages to shake her off. Since she is so clearly outmatched, she decides it is better to run away. Thus, she loses Nova while hiding underneath a window ledge. Of course, that's when Darkdevil turns up again to reveal that this little episode was all part of his plan. His lesson? “You can't be a part-time super hero, little girl.”
She then rushes to the hospital. That old Parker guilt has kicked in and feel like she is to blame for this turn of events because she didn't get there in time. Not exactly an Uncle Ben level of pathos, but it IS something she could have prevented. So, she finally makes the fateful decision on her career as Spider-Girl. Which leads us into the second story of the issue...
“The Last Days of Spider-Man”
An unspecified amount of time later, May is digging around in an old trunk in the attic. She's trying to find a spider-costume and web-shooters when she is caught red-handed by her mom, MJ. They talk and May says she doesn't understand why her dad is so opposed to his daughter being a superhero. So, MJ goes into a major flashback which supposedly reveals the big secret of Spidey's last adventure and the events that led to this series.
It's actually a pretty standard story. First, we get his origin - The Burglar, Uncle Ben, yadda yadda yadda. He tries to quit, but it doesn't stick (see Amazing Spider-Man #50). Then, we skip about 400 issues and 35 years of continuity to the part where MJ gets pregnant. She thinks that maybe now Peter will be able to hang up the webs for good. But when the Green Goblin appears he goes right back out to confront him!
Then, we see the climactic one-panel final battle with the Green Goblin (the details don't matter, MJ says), and Peter loses his leg as a result. The FF try to build a replacement but it doesn't have the same sticking power as his natural one did. During his recovery, however, Pete spends more time with baby May and finally decides to quit for good. So, he gave up his adventuring because of May!
May doesn't think it is fair to ask her to do the same and MJ agrees. She gives May the spider-costume she was looking for and says it is May's decision to make. Peter and MJ have raised her the best they can. “We have to trust you to do the right thing,” MJ says.
Two issues in a row with no actual Spider-Girl action? Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but an interesting direction nevertheless. I love how even though it's labeled “retro” in that the writer usually tells one-and-done stories there is still a lot of decompression here. And not decompression to make it feel more “cinematic”, but so the reader can spend time walking beside the protagonist on their journey. It really makes the reader care about the characters. I was happy with it when I first read it, and looking back I'm even more impressed by the storytelling. The entire MC2 concept may be derivative, but the effort put into making it unique is appreciated.
Despite being rather routine, I love this story. It's an interesting examination in letting your children do their own things shot through the prism of superheroics.