Spider-Girl #15

Background

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...

Story 'Swingin' N' Slammin' with Speedball'

  Spider-Girl #15
Summary: Spider-Girl & Speedball vs. Mr. Abnormal
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Al Williamson

We open this issue with May trying to use make-up to hide her black eye from her parents. Why? Because she hasn't been telling them about her midnight excursions. Peter is okay with training her to develop her skills, but only so she MIGHT become a superhero one day in the future. MJ catches her, however, and becomes very upset. She says she's not ready to handle May's antics because she's already lived through it once with Peter. Her father, meanwhile, is still working overtime on the big Kaine case.

May decides to go for a walk (this is Saturday so there's no school) and meets up with her friend Davida. While they are window shopping they see a mugging in broad daylight. Luckily, a good Samaritan stops it before May has a chance to take action. She chides herself for hesitating while someone was in trouble.

The two girls walk around some more and come upon Moose and Courtney on a date. A reporter from the Daily Bugle is there too, and starts asking them what they think about Spider-Girl. Moose gets in her face, thinking she's writing a hit piece on his favorite superhero (whom he just happens to believe is actually Courtney). Before things escalate, another fight breaks out at the comic shop next door. Suddenly, Speedball (from the New Warriors) and some other guy tumble out into the street! (This must be one rough neighborhood.)

Moose goads Courtney into turning into Spider-Girl. May splits from Davida and gets into her costume, but she is still questioning her commitment to the whole superhero lifestyle after her confrontation with Kaine last issue. The guy Speedball is trading blows with is Mr. Abnormal, who has the same stretchy powers as Mr. Fantastic (see what DeFalco did there?). He forms his hand into a tennis racket and swats Speedball away.

Then, Spider-Girl tags in with a big left to his jaw. The reporter from the Bugle takes pictures and notes while our protagonist tries to stop the bad guy. She starts by kicking Mr. Abnormal in the ribs, but he just stretches out his abdomen to absorb the hit. Then, he shapes his fists into boxing gloves and tries to knock her out, but she is too fast for him to land a blow. Next, Spider-Girl jumps behind him and tries a kick to his back, with pretty much the same results as her frontal assault. Mr. Abnormal counters by using his arms to entangle our hero and starts punching her. Just then, Speedball returns with a double foot kick to the chest.

Now Mr. Abnormal's got two spastic heroes jumping all over him. He forms his hand into a ram's head to form a literal battering ram. They dodge that, which allows Speedball to give our heroine an info dump on the new villain. Mr. Abnormal used to be a regular crook with a thing for collectibles of all kinds. One day, he was stealing action figures from a factory and doused with chemicals that turned his body all rubbery. He's been on a crime spree ever since, hitting all the comics and hobby shops in town. And if you think that origin's lame, you should see his costume... he's just dressed in regular gray pants, a while t-shirt, and black gloves. He uses sunglasses to disguise himself, but that's it. Not the most compelling character, to say the least.

Of course, Mr. Abnormal used this time to run and hide. As a lamppost, naturally. Spider-Girl says she can use her spider-senses to track him down, but before she can finish bragging the villain gives himself away by sneezing! He tries to smash both heroes by turning his foot into an elephant leg but they just dodge it. Then they give him one of those patented double superhero uppercuts that always seems to knock the villain out.

Time for the wrap-up. Moose notices Spider-Girl most definitely does not look like Courtney at close range. Putting two and two together he figures she must have super disguise powers as well. The Daily Bugle reporter goes back to J. Jonah Jameson and it's clear he has a decision to make about this new spider-themed superhero. Davida, meanwhile, is jazzed about witnessing her first super hero fight.

General Comments

This episode is a goofy interlude between the grimmer “Return of Kaine” storyline that is resolved in Spider-Girl #17.

Overall Rating

Speedball's appearance is out of left field, but it works for a fight with such an oddball villain.

Footnote

Did anyone else notice the homage to Plastic Man in Mr. Abnormal's origin and appearance?