Unsurprisingly, Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was a critical and commercial success. The animated adventure introduced a number of new Spider-Men to the multiverse, including fan-favorites like Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 and Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider to more outlandish choices like Spider-Cat and Spider-Rex. Yes, the biggest animated movie of the year has a cat and Tyrannosaurus Rex with Spider-Man’s powers. Across the Spider-Verse also sees a number of familiar faces from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse return — chief among them Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson). But Peter isn’t alone this time. Instead, when he reunites with Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), he brings his infant daughter Mayday with him!
The official concept art for Across the Spider-Verse first teased Mayday’s appearance, and the film confirms that she has inherited her father’s arachnid-powered abilities. However, Mayday is not a new Marvel character. She has had a huge presence in Marvel Comics canon, especially as a teenager. In fact, she eventually ends up following in Peter Parker’s footsteps and becoming the Spectacular Spider-Girl, one of the most beloved characters in the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Girl made her first appearance in What If (Vol. 2) #105, which chronicled an alternate path of history. In the main comics canon, Peter learns that his wife Mary Jane Watson was pregnant with a baby girl…but tragedy struck when the child was stillborn. This ended up being a ruse on the part of Peter’s archenemy Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin. What If #105 decided to explore what would have happened if Mayday lived and followed in her father’s footsteps. When May begins to exhibit similar powers to Peter’s, the former web-slinger struggles with how to tell his daughter about his past. The matter’s taken out of his hands when a new Green Goblin attacks, seeking vengeance on Peter after the original Goblin perished in battle with Spider-Man. Mayday dons a costume that belonged to her “Uncle Ben” — referring to Reilly, who died protecting Peter — and defeats the Goblin, ultimately facing a number of foes both old and new.
Mayday would be pulled into the “Spider-Verse” storyline when the Inheritor Daemos attacked her, burning down her house and killing her parents. She vows to defeat the Inheritors, especially when they kidnap her baby brother Benjy, and eventually helps strand them on a radioactive wasteland. During the events of “Spider-Geddon,” Mayday was reunited with her parents when the Web of Life and Destiny was rewoven to undo their deaths. She also joined a group of alternate universe Spider-People called the Web Warriors, protecting Earths whose Spider-Men were killed by the Inheritors.
Much like her father before her, Mayday can adhere to walls and possesses superhuman strength and reflexes alongside a spider-sense that warns her of danger. She even uses specialized webbing, including “stingers” that paralyze her targets. The one power she has that’s unique to her is the ability to “repel” objects she’s sticking to, transforming them into impromptu projectiles. Mayday ironically takes after her mother, as she’s fairly popular. She joins her school’s basketball team and manages to befriend jocks and geeks alike.
Spider-Girl would become one of Marvel’s most popular female characters, with her original title lasting 100 issues before being relaunched as Amazing Spider-Girl and even receiving a backup story in Spider-Man Family. The original Spider-Girl series also helped launch the MC2 Universe, which reimagined other corners of the Marvel Universe. In the MC2, the Avengers were made up of a younger group of heroes, including the X-Men’s Jubilee. The mysterious Darkdevil, a vigilante bearing a striking resemblance to Daredevil, would often show up to help or fight Spider-Girl. The Fantastic Four became the Fantastic Five, with the Human Torch stepping up to lead them. Due to Spider-Girl‘s popularity, both A-Next and J2 (which featured a teenaged Juggernaut) would become an ongoing series. Ironically, one aspect of the MC2 would end up influencing the main 616 universe. One of the Avengers’ members, Stinger, was actually Cassie Lang, the daughter of Ant-Man Scott Lang. When Nick Spencer wrote Astonishing Ant-Man, he eventually had Cassie take up the mantle of Stinger and wear a costume similar to what she wore in A-Next.
Marvel would also launch two separate series centered on Peter Parker having a child who took up his legacy. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows features a Peter Parker who’s joined in his heroic exploits by his wife Mary Jane, who takes up the mantle Spinerette, and his daughter Annie May, who takes up the mantle of Spiderling. J.J. Abrams and his son Henry, alongside Miles Morales’ co-creator Sara Pichelli, would try their hand at the concept with Spider-Man: Bloodline. Unlike Renew Your Vows or Spider-Girl, the series was met with a less than enthusiastic response. Mayday and Annie would come face to face in the Spider-Girls limited series, which took place during the events of “Spider-Geddon.”
Mayday is a constant presence throughout Across the Spider-Verse, as Peter B. takes her with him everywhere he goes. Even though she’s yet to grow into the beloved crime fighter that comic fans know, she still manages to steal every scene she’s in. From crawling on a thoroughly unimpressed Miguel to using her miniature web-slingers to get around, Mayday is a delight. She also happens to be the crux of a major emotional moment. When Miles is being chased by the members of the Spider Society, Peter B. confronts him and the two have a heated exchange. It’s there that Peter B. reveals that he had Mayday because of the impact Miles had on him in Into the Spider-Verse. Prior to that, he and Mary Jane were divided on the topic of children. The ending of Across the Spider-Verse sees Gwen recruiting Peter B. to help find Miles, and Mayday joins him. Her inclusion in the film shows that the cast and crew understand how important the character is to the Spider-Man mythos.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.