Things weren't going great at school, I was suddenly an outcast after years of being with the in crowd. A desire to learn was now, apparently something to be looked down on, Secondary (read High) School was quite different to what had come before. I had been getting Astonishing Spider-Man and Essential X-men delivered in the post every month as a birthday present (These were UK reprints of all Spider-Man and X-men titles published at the time), when my mum came home one day and told me that she had found a comic book shop. Comics still being a relatively new thing to me, I hadn't even known it was there.
So off I went, to see if there was anything that could cheer me up but not really expecting anything.
And then I saw it, at first I thought it was an issue of Ben Reilly's run of Spider-Man I had somehow missed; the familiar large spider emblem and visible web-shooters momentarily threw me but I immediately realized that this was a girl wearing Ben's costume. A girl!
Well naturally I had to find out if this "Spider-Girl" was worthy of Ben's costume. I picked up the issue, along with a copy of Fantastic Five and while F5 disappointing me for feeling like a rehash of the first issue of F4 (sorry! I was young!) watching Spider-Girl and Speedball team up to fight Mr Abnormal was fun. It made me smile and forget about how sucky my school life was (Oh, the drama of youth!)
Without realizing I became hooked, there and then. And I freely admit to having had something of a crush on our girl back in the day (as silly as it sounds).
But and here we get to the point, why?
What was so good about the adventures of May "Mayday" Parker, the daughter of the one, true Spider-Man?
The answer to that is simple, at least in mind: What did it have that stories today seem to be missing? What made Spider-Girl special? It had heart
The stories weren't there to shock (though certainly they did that on occasion), they were there to entertain.
I groaned with frustration every time Peter tried to stop her from using her powers, how could he be so close minded? (Now that I'm older, I understand), I laughed at Spider-Girl's attempts to deny that she was related to Spider-Man (which she eventually gave up on) and my heart ached whenever May doubted herself.
And the stories ranged from dimension hoping and fighting Skrulls to things that really need addressing like racism, cancer and domestic abuse. It didn't shy away from the hard subjects and it didn't pretend there were any easy fixes. Brad didn't suddenly realize that Nancy couldn't help that she was what she was, Mr Mansfield's recovery was outright stated to be a long one, Sandra's refusal to admit (out of fear) that she was in an abusive relationship.
All of these things were deep, hard hitting but everyone of them showed that you don't have to suffer alone. And they somehow made the more fantastical elements seem more real.
The stories I mentioned above covered very unpleasant elements but they helped Mayday grow and even if they didn't always end the way we hoped they would, the struggles the characters went through never felt like they were pointless.
The comics of today (and forgive me if you disagree this is just the ramblings of one Spider-Girl fan), feel like a victory is a set up for a fall later. The mainstream Peter Parker of today builds himself up to be knocked down, he exists so writers can dump misery upon misery on him. Captain America is now a Naz- sorry, HYDRA operative for little else but shock value. Mutants are once again on the 'verge of extinction' because Marvel is trying to play up the Inhumans as the next big thing.
I'm not saying all modern comics are that way, I love reading about Kamala. She very much reminds me of Mayday, if slightly sillier in tone.
I love the fact that she dives head first into superheroics, basking in the thrill of working along side her idols.
I love that Miles Morales on the other hand often feels like he's struggling to keep himself afloat. That amazing things happen around him and it's like he's spinning plates, it makes sense for Miles because he's young and inexperienced. Peter should know better by now.
There are other comics from other companies I won't mention here that carry the same tone; that make their characters feel like real people, caught up in real lives.
And that is why Spider-Girl was so good.
It wasn't just about the webs, it was about the girl behind them and everyone in her life.
If you've come this far thank you for reading my barely coherent ramblings. Now tell me, what do YOU think made Spider-Girl so good?