The GeeksverseSpider-Woman: Mattie Franklin

Spider-Woman: Mattie Franklin
Published on Thursday, May 17, 2012 by

Around the comic shop much attention is paid to contemporary comics. The occasional Who is Greater discussion brings up comics from days gone by.  However, at times it is just fun to look back at series that are not as well known. Recently, I started reading the late 90s iteration of Spider-Woman. I thought I would share a few thoughts.

I have been a Spider-Fan since my earliest comic reading days. Even though I don’t regularly make mine Marvel anymore, occasionally I have a soft spot for the wall crawler and family. I am generally annoyed following the reboots and cross overs of Peter Parker, but sometimes it is nice to see what is happening on the peripheral edges of the Spider-Myth.

Spider-Woman #1 with the multiple spider cast

This series started with several different Spider-Women

Spider-Woman is a mantle that has been passed around since the late 70s when Jessica Drew burst onto the scene. The late 90s Spider-Woman is fun because it brings in Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, Charlotte Winter, and of course Mattie Franklin into the story line.

Mattie was a fan of the local hero Spider-Man. When she was bequeathed by mystical power in a ceremony, she first tried to impersonate her hero. Over time she became her own hero. That motion toward her independence was under the tutelage of Madame Web and Jessica Drew.

This is a series that did okay when it was fresh on the comic shop shelves, but one that isn’t referenced often in the modern comic shop conversation. When Spider-Woman discussions arise, they tend to focus on the red and yellow Jessica Drew which is a classic choice, but not the only young woman to have carried the mantle.

Mattie’s penchant for changing uniforms may also degrade her status as a Spider Icon. In a fairly compressed amount of time she changed outfits numerous times. She didn’t quite have a new outfit with each issue, but every story arc seemed to have its own style.

Some of the styles were related to the more famous blue and red spider fellow, while some were just zany. They featured a youthful glee at having newly acquired super powers.

During the late 90s run, Mattie and company was drawn primarily by Bart Sears on pencils. John Bryne wrote the series. Although issue #10 Bryne’s story with guest artists’ Erik Larsen and Randy Elliot.  The series has a vibe that would appeal to Erik Larsen fans throughout. Bryne told a fast paced story with zany characters and quick resolutions. British born Bryne did a fine job crafting the story.

Besides the Spider-Women past and present the series also had a few wild villains. Shape shifters seem common place in comics. This particular elder was channeling the Savage Six, combining Rhino, Ock, and Venom all at once. Another oddity was Flesh and Bones which is almost too disgusting to describe yet absolutely fun. This is a character set that must be seen to be believed. Mattie’s rogue gallery also included the looming danger of Charlotte Winters, Harry Osborne, and other familiar faces.

Flesh and Bone is a crazy character

This series of Mattie Franklin Spider-Woman is not heralded as iconic and legendary. It would be a strange comic shop where masses are huddled around in deep discussion. That’s a shame. This series exists in its own corner of late 90s Marvel Comics. It isn’t bogged down by cross-over or forced event. Instead it is an exploration of Bryne handling a Marvell character in a new way. This is a series that should be sought out by Spider fans that want to read a series without worrying about other titles.

While I’m a Spider-Fan, I find myself enjoying stand alone stories or at least stories that don’t require me to buy several titles at once and reassemble the reading order like a puzzle. This Spider-Woman provides that.

This is a series that is accessible and available to new readers.

In an age of trade paperbacks, it is easy to pick up story arcs and play catch up with classic series. Although not all comics are readily collected. I appreciate that Spider-Woman isn’t easily found in a handy volume. While it might make easier to pick up and share, I enjoy the scavenger hunt. It is too easy to turn to an on-line retailer and pick up the series. For more of a challenge, visit back issue bins and cobble  together this series. The 1999 series only sports 18 issues making this a fun comic to seek out. You might be surprised how many dollar bins feature this comic series.

Spider-Woman History

  • Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman, left the role in the early 1980s. As of the late 2000s, she has returned. Like countless other comic characters she doesn’t stay away well.  This version of the character starred in her own animated TV series in 1979. First appearance in Marvel Spotlight #32 (1977). Even in the 1999 series Drew suited back up when her powers were being restored magically.
  • Julia Carpenter, a former member of the superhero teams the Avengers and Omega Flight, who becomes the second enigmatic Madame Webb.
  • Mattie Franklin, who briefly impersonated Spider-Man before receiving her own short-lived comics series and appeared in the 2007 Loners miniseries. First appearance in The Spectacular Spider-Man #236 (1996).
  • Charlotte Witter, a grand daughter of Madame Webb, is a super-villain who used the name briefly before being defeated by Mattie Franklin that reasserted the name with various quick costume changes. First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2, #5 (1999).
  • Veranke, queen of the shape-shifting extraterrestrial race the Skrulls, who impersonated Jessica Drew over a long period of time and was a founding member of the superhero team the New Avengers. Because everyone was a Skrull underneath so why shouldn’t Spider Woman be too? First appearance New Avengers #1 (2005)
  • Another version of Mary Jane as Spider-Woman is featured in the Exiles series.
  • Spider-Girl May Parker, daughter of Spider-Man in an alternate future.
  • Spider-Girl is currently Anya Corazon who took the mantle after the Marvel Civil War. She had previously been Araña, a hero tied into the mythical side of the Spider-Mythology.
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