When Jeremy Franklin declined an invitation from former business associate Norman Osborn to participate in the arcane ritual called the Gathering of the Five, his precocious 15-year old daughter, Mattie, took his place. The mystical Gathering required five participants: three were granted power, knowledge or immortality, while two were cursed with insanity or death. Mattie received the gift most coveted by Osborn, power, while Osborn was driven more deeply insane. During a time when Peter Parker
(alias Spider-Man) had resigned from superheroics, Mattie disguised herself as her role model, Spider-Man, in a padded costume. After she was injured fighting the fiery Shadrac
, recipient of a living death from the Gathering, Spider-Man came out of retirement to assist her. Mattie continued crime-fighting, now calling herself Spider-Woman. Charlotte Witter
, granddaughter of Madame Web
, was genetically manipulated by Doctor Octopus
and sought to claim the Spider-Woman name, siphoning the powers from former Spider-Women Jessica Drew
and Julia Carpenter
before confronting Mattie. Despite Spider-Man's interference, Witter absorbed Mattie's powers. Guided by Madame Web, Drew, Carpenter, and Mattie located Charlotte. By force of will, Mattie reabsorbed her powers, as well as the other powers Charlotte owned or stole.
Mattie Franklin was created by John Byrne
and Rafael Kayanan
. She had an appearance in the shadows in Spectacular Spider-Man
#262 in October 1998, and then a full appearance the next month in Amazing Spider-Man
#441. She adopted the Spider-Woman title in Amazing Spider-Man #5 (#446 in the old numbering) in May 1999.
Major Story Arcs
Moving in with the Jamesons, Mattie stayed in New York to pursue her role as the sole Spider-Woman. Aided by Madame Web and Drew, she had several adventures battling the grotesque Flesh and Bones sisters, their parents Miss Itch and Mr. Scratch, the ancient Egyptian magician Shadow Caster, the Cluster (aliens in Death Valley testing if Earth was conquerable), the psionic exomorphic projections of Brian Leighton [Exo-morph] (creating a Rhino/Dr. Octopus/ Venom amalgam), and a cloistered werewolf-nun. With each adventure, Spider-Woman experimented with her costume's appearance. The Jamesons sent her to attend a private high school where she encountered vicious bullies and befriended meek Cheryl Lansing. Gradually, Spider-Woman's borrowed powers returned to their owners, reawakening Witter. After another defeat by Spider-Woman (with help from Spider-Man), Witter was once again rendered unconscious, allowing Mattie's continued retention of her powers.
Mattie's father died, leaving her an orphan since her mother had died of an illness when Mattie was very young. The Jamesons accepted the role of Maddie's foster parents, with J. Jonah Jameson honored and humbled by the opportunity. She was later seduced into a dark world of drugs by boyfriend Dennis "Denny" Haynes, who used Matte's own flesh to produce the drug called Mutant Growth Hormone, temporarily granting the user superhuman powers. With Madame Web's aid, she was rescued by Jessica Drew and Jessica Jones, and her abilities revealed to Jonah. Mattie has been in counseling, and has not pursued super-heroic activities since this tragedy.
A while after this, Mattie went to Los Angeles to join the team the Loners
, who were all former teenage heroes who wanted to give up being heroes, as their powers gave them nothing but trouble. However, at one of their meetings, she ran out on the group, and revealed to Darkhawk
when he followed her that she had only come to L.A. to take down the drug dealers who had exploited her, as she'd found out that they'd moved to L.A. She only joined the Loners because otherwise she wouldn't have been allowed to come to L.A. Despite this, she did believe in the views of the group. Mattie then managed to take out the dealers with the help of Darkhawk and Ricochet
It also turned out that Mattie had joined the Loners because she had been hired to find Dusk, a former team mate of Ricochet's. After several failed attempts to get alone with Ricochet and question him, Mattie managed to make it to Ricochet's apartment, where she found no evidence of Dusk. Unknown to her, a mysterious shadow in the shape of Dusk was on the wall behind her. Mattie quit the Loners after their fight with Phil Urich, deciding that she didn't like being a member of such a disfunctional team.
Later, Mattie is abducted, along with Madame Web, by the Kravinoffs, whose matriarch, Sasha thinks that she can have her husband back. Madame Web tries to comfort Mattie, but Mattie knows she's about to die. She asks Madame Web to tell Spider-Man that she didn't blame him and that she didn't cry. Mattie is then brought to a graveyard where Sasha, with the help of Diablo and Electro, kills her by performing a ritualistic sacrifice to bring back Vladamir Kravinoff. Except Vladamir is now some wolf-like beast. Sasha confirms that killing Mattie was only a test, and that if they are to bring back Kraven the Hunter, they need the blood of the one true spider: that one true spider being Spider-Man.
In the "Spider-man the Fast Lane" anti-drug inserts, Mattie appears as Spider-Girl in a homemade costume using Spider-man's web-shooters
Originally Mattie had super-strength and flight as a result of the Gathering. After she fought Charlotte Witter, Mattie gained Charlotte's ability to create "psychic spider-legs" from her back. These spidery-appendages can be used to save her from falling, act as a extra arms, or deliver psionic "stings" to her enemies. She also gained the powers Charlotte stole from the other two heroes who called themselves Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew's venom-blasts and Julia Carpenter's psi-webs)