The GeeksverseFlash Back Review: Mattie Franklin vs Mayday Parker

Flash Back Review: Mattie Franklin vs Mayday Parker
Published on Saturday, August 11, 2012 by

Spider Woman or Spider Girl? Mattie Franklin vs Mayday Parker? Who do you think was the best teen gal to wear the spider mantle?Marvel has struggled to recreate the magic of the golden age of teen heroes and the success of the original Spider-Man or X-Men as powered teens struggling to fit into the world around them. Rebooting only works so often. Occasionally Marvel has tried to introduce analogous new characters in order to explore the same and the new without forcing a reboot. Two great attempts were Spider Woman and Spider Girl. Luckily, both can be found in back issue bins in case you missed the late 90s and early 200x comic.

I don’t mind admitting that Mattie Franklin may be my favorite Spider-Woman. In part because she was an entirely new take on the character name created by Stan Lee in 1978. In part because she was closely connected to the mythologies of the Spider-Women that had come before. In part because she was also connected to Spider-Man, who she idolized and tried to mimic, and was also a rebellious niece of J. Jonah Jameson. Mattie Franklin, who briefly impersonated Spider-Man before receiving her own short-lived comics series in 1999 and appeared in the 2007 Loners miniseries. 18 issues was a short stint. In that time she had several outfit changes, power shifts, and change in supporting cast, but oddly it worked. Mattie’s personality kept the character witty and rolling with the punches.

Mayday Parker is the daughter of retired crime fighter Peter Parker. Mayday inherits her dad’s abilities and thus trains to become his successor while balancing her life in high school. Madyday’s Spider-Girl inhabits the MC2 Universe also known as the Marvel Next Universe. Marvel Next was set in the future where the familiar heroes were retiring or dead and new mantle bearers were being trained like the Fantastic 5 or the X-People. Some heroes had familiar roots in the regular Marvel continuity like Peter Parker, Ben Ulrich, and Franklin Richards while others seemingly did not like Buzz which was closer to Archie Comics The Fly than Marvel superherodom.

promotional art for the 1998 seriesSpider-Girl was created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz  and first appeared in What If (vol. 2) #105 (February 1998) before she was resurrected and acquired her own ongoing comic book, Spider-Girl, written by DeFalco and drawn by Frenz and Pat Olliffe. Spider-Girl was the longest running superhero book with a lead female character ever published by Marvel before being relaunched as The Amazing Spider-Girl, and later The Spectacular Spider-Girl. Spider-Girl’s original title had 100 issues starting in 1998 and running through the early 200xs.  The Amazing Spider-Girl launched in 2006 and ran for a still impressive 30 issues. The Spectacular Spider-Girl in 2010 made it to issue 4 of 4 before disappearing.

The 135 issue history of Spider-Girl comics doesn’t account for her appearances in other Marvel Next titles or MC2. Three MC2 titles were launched in October 1998 as twelve issue maxiseries:

  • Spider-Girl, starring the daughter of Spider-Man.
  • A-Next, featuring a new team of Avengers who come together after the original Avengers disbanded.
  • J2, starring the Juggernaut‘s son, a heroic teenager.

A-Next and J2 ended after twelve issues and were replaced by:

Spider-Girl meanwhile continued publication. However, both Fantastic Five and Wild Thing were cancelled after five issues, leaving Spider-Girl as the only title in the MC2 Universe still published. A few spin-off limited series were launched during the time Spider-Girl was published, such as DarkDevil and Spider-Girl Presents The Buzz.  Spider-Girl was reprinted in small “pocket size” digests for $7.99 a piece making this an affordable title to pick up at book stores and comic shops. The price point helps make this an easy comic to pick up. The 12 available volumes collect the first 72 issues of this comic, and Spider-Girl Presents collects Wild Thing, Dark Devil, Buzz, A-Next, and other Marvel Next titles proving that Mayday Parker is the cohesion holding it all together.

In that regard she is more important that Mattie Franklin, who has not scored a reprint, and stayed on the edges of the regular Marvel Universe. Mattie Franklin’s Spider-Woman did meet Spider-Man, Captain America, and a few other New York regular heroes, but she never made memorable contributions. That doesn’t mean that she wasn’t wrapped up in fun peril of her own. Besides fighting Rhino and Spider-gallery regulars Mattie Franklin also faced a few new faces, many of which stretched out throughout the entire 18 issue run.

Both Mattie Franklin and Mayday Parker are loaded with quips. Mattie wisecracks like Spider-Man in part because of her fascination with the hero. Mayday quips mostly in her inner monologue, although she does occasionally throw in some banter to fight scenes. Both are surrounded with high school drama.

I’ve been giving both of these series a read through recently. Spider-Woman is cheap in back issue bins which provides a nice value for this fun comic. I prefer picking up the Spider-Girl digests. I’ve read the first 30 issues or so and it is still a fun read as well. Despite their similarities these are distinctly different characters under their Spider-masks.  If you’re looking for strong female super heroes, with a little of the high school drama, then these are great reads. Both would make excellent cartoons or animated movies. Both could probably carry a live action movie except that their back stories are overly connected to so many other Marvel characters that it would be less ideal for the pop-corn poppers in the block buster audience.

If I had to pick one of these properties for revival or cartoon I’d have to pick Spider-Girl because the Marvel Next universe is so complete. The secondary creation work is already developed and ready for supporting characters to people a Spider-Girl and Her Amazing Friends Cartoon.

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