We spend so much time talking about problems in the world and what we hate as a society now I want to talk about something I love for a moment, if you’ll bear with me. It’s fun, light-hearted, the antithesis of 2020 culture, and that’s the MC2.
Originally, the MC2 was just a What If story in the Marvel arsenal, taking the events of the Spider-Man clone saga and twisting one simple element of it — what if Mary Jane’s baby had lived.
Peter and MJ were pregnant, if you don’t recall the story, and she was ready to pop but the editors powers-that-be didn’t want to “age Spidey” and so they forced a miscarriage on Mary Jane. But there was more involved then — Peter and MJ’s story was about to end, with a revelation Peter was a clone this whole time. He was going to hang up his webs and ride off into the sunset with a family.
As much as the clone-swap to “de-age” Peter and remove the marriage is silly, I respected it a lot more than I did later attempts to get rid of the Spider-Family. At least the character I loved got an ending this way. But when they brought it back, they’d killed the baby, reset the universe another way, it was sad.
What if 105 explored what might have been, fast-forwarding about 16 years where May “Mayday” Parker starts to get Spider-Powers of her own, a legacy of the Green Goblin shows up in Normie Osborne (remember how he was always popping the head off of toy Spider-Mans? Well he grew up to be a nightmare!) and bringing the Spider-Powers to a new generation.
Peter had lost his leg in a battle with the Green Goblin years before, was settled down into a job. Mary Jane was a doting mother. Mayday had a great cast in high school which was even better than the original. It was a really neat concept.
And the fans reacted. More was demanded, so an entire line of this future Marvel was launched from this one book.
Spider-Girl as a series was born, creating a long-lasting story of just FUN — single-issue stories, books that felt just like we were reading the Silver Age of Marvel born all over again. It also came with a bunch of other titles in the universe. First, A-Next, the future Avengers and J2, the son of the Juggernaut who decides to use his powers for good. Both of these were extremely fun, well thought-out stories with new and old characters mixing for a new generation.
All of these were written by legend, Tom DeFalco, who had such a great grasp of the Marvel Universe having been editor in chief for years. So each series had an internal consistency that was unseen since Stan Lee was managing the universe himself. It was a breath of fresh air in an ever-changing 1990s landscape, where all too many comics were struggling to be relevant by being “dark and edgy”.
The other two titles only lasted 12 issues before getting cancelled, but Spider-Girl held onto sales, allowing the universe to continue. A-Next and J2 got quick replacements to flesh out the universe in Fantastic Five, which continued a future extrapolated from DeFalco’s Fantastic Four run, and Wild Thing, a next generation Wolverine. Those series didn’t last very long either, just mini-series worth, but the universe kept chugging along.
All of these characters would dip in and out of Spider-Girl for the next several years, with a few other mini-series tie ins in The Buzz, Darkdevil, another Fantastic Five series, Avengers Next all coming down the pipeline. Spider-Girl lasted over 100 issues in this format and was selling like hotcakes through digest versions.
The universe resonated with so many people because it brought back the fun, old-style storytelling where characters actually could develop again because they were free from the constraints of recent TV/Movie options as Marvel transitioned to a multimedia company from one that exclusively made comics.
Eventually, the MC2 universe had its own mini-events with Last Hero Standing and Last Planet Standing to help tie up loose ends, while Spider-Girl continued on in the form of Amazing Spider-Girl, then Spectacular Spider-Girl, and finally as backups in an anthology-style Spider-series and with a couple of stories released digital-first.
Like usual, Marvel just wanted this side-offshoot initiative to die, and eventually they gave it a definitive ending in Spider Girl: The End. It’s sad that new and creative initiatives don’t really receive support after awhile, much like the 2099 universe, this was a fun offshoot which really had staying power, but didn’t fit within the overall context of the shift in storytelling Marvel was doing in the mid-late 2000s.
The fans loved it, and so did I. The MC2 embodies everything that’s fun about comics. It’s a little harder to explore it now, but Spider-Girl has been revived in Complete Collections, the third of which will be out soon. It’s also possible to find the digests of A-Next/J2 and Fantastic Five fairly inexpensively for a look at those characters. Beyond that, one has to find back issues to fully enjoy these characters.
It’s something I love, and influences my storytelling to this day in the way I write and develop comics. Definitely worth checking out.