I know this will mean nothing in the archives, but for those reading this present day, due to life stuff today’s Art Soundoff will post when I get the chance to record it. So I’m putting today’s “Yesterday’s” Comic in the morning slot.
Marvel Comics (October, 1998)
reprinted from What If #105 (February, 1998); uses the same cover art but a different header
“Legacy In Black And White”
WRITERS/PENCILERS: Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz
FINISHED ART: Bill Sienkewicz
COLORIST: Matt Webb
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
EDITOR: Kelly Corvese
In an alternate future (not unusual for a What If story) Peter is injured in his final battle with the original Green Goblin and retires as Spider-Man. In this version the daughter supposedly miscarried is alive and well. May “Mayday” Parker is queen of the basketball court, with friends among the geeks and jocks alike (too bad they don’t get along, and she’s disappointed that her love interest seems to side with the jocks instead of defending her friends and trying to get them to get along). Then during a game her powers seem to kick in just as Normie Osborn, son of second Green Goblin Harry Osborn, takes up the family legacy after his mother falls ill and is determined to kill Spider-Man. Learning her heritage and Peter refusing to resume the identity for Normie’s sake, May becomes Spider-Girl using Ben Reilly’s old costume from his brief time as Spider-Man and manages to defeat this new Green Goblin. The old costumes are destroyed, but now it’s the beginning of a series.
And a new universe. Yes, the Ultimate universe wasn’t Marvel’s first attempt at a proper alternate universe. “MC2”, formed from the new versions of heroes and hero teams in this comic, was an attempt at a proper next generation of heroes. This including Juggernaut’s son gaining powers and opting to fight evil as J2–yes that’s what they went with, Thor’s son gaining powers as the new Thunderstrike, Franklin Richards form a “Fantastic Five”, and Jubilee bringing heroes known (including Jolt and Speedball) and new (including the two I mentioned and to form the next era of Avengers. All of them are seen here and this reprint also includes previews of all the new J2 titles: Spider-Girl, Avengers Next (which I actually have an issue of),and J2.
What they got right: I kind of understand why. The ideas for the new Avengers, meant to be younger heroes to ward Peter from asking from their help, as well as the Fantastic Five being off to ensure Peter couldn’t get help from his superhero friends and forcing the encounter the way it needs to, sound like stories people would be interested in, and I’m kind of sorry I didn’t look more into those titles. (I’m not sure why I didn’t.) Meanwhile Mayday is a great character, someone who rather than being superpopular like her mom or supergeeky like her dad, is a mix of the two groups. It makes her unique but still similar. (J2 in his preview is straight up “what if Peter Parker was the Juggernaut’s son” so we see how this could have gone wrong, and making her ultra popular would have felt wrong as well.) Using Ben’s Spidey suit also gives her a tie to the past but not just wearing one of Peter’s old costumes. This also makes her feel like her own character and not a Peter or Mary Jane copy.
What they got wrong: They’re worried about how inexperienced May is, but really so is Normie and we don’t have evidence that he maintains his dad or grandad’s Green Goblin enhancements. We don’t learn if Liz is going to recover or not. There are also times the dialog text is too small. At first I thought it was to show they were trying to keep their voices low either to talk privately or for effect, which actually would have been a nice use of word balloons, but there are times when it would be odd to speak in such a low volume and it looks like they were just trying to fit the dialog into those panels. I’m also not up for the second-person narration. It works in something like a Choose Your Own Adventure book or if someone is telling someone who lost their memory their history but it just seems an odd choice to narrate a story, and from the preview of issue #1 it seems they kept that trend.
What did I think overall: Spider-Girl, or at least this version of the title, is one that was saved from cancelation numerous times but eventually the low sales killed it and long before her the rest of the MC2 line. I can’t speak for the other titles (Avengers Next has two of my favorite underrated Marvel heroes, Jubilee and Jolt, as part of the same team and I’ll be doing that #1 next week) but I can see why this one developed such a strong support, though sadly not enough to keep it going indefinitely. It’s worth checking out if Annie Parker didn’t interest you as Peter and MJ’s alternate reality daughter, and without the stink of One More Day.