Although he remains a perpetual twenty-something in the main Marvel Universe, Spider-Man has had multiple opportunities to raise children in alternate universes that allow him to age and explore different phases of his life. One of the best developed alternate futures was the world of MC2 which introduced readers to May “Mayday” Parker, Peter’s teenage daughter who followed in her dad’s “web steps” by becoming Spider-Girl.
Unfortunately, becoming her generation’s spider-hero meant that May also went through her own versions of some of her father’s infamous storylines – including the Clone Saga. One of the most controversial Spider-Man events, the Clone Saga saw Peter meet his clone “brother” Ben Reilly only to get thrown into a long conspiracy over which of them was the original and which was really the clone.
Fortunately, May’s own Clone Saga didn’t torture her in the same way – but her clone was significantly more dangerous than Ben Reilly. Not only was this “Brand New May” an amoral version of Spider-Girl, her DNA had been genetically altered early in her gestation with a sample of the Venom symbiote! Created to be used as a weapon by her world’s Norman Osborn, this version of May had 35% of her original DNA replaced with the symbiote’s DNA strands.
This gave the clone extra abilities, including the power to shapeshift her entire body into a Venom-like form or disguise her default human appearance. Unlike the May Parker raised by Peter and Mary Jane, however, the clone May was held in a cloning apparatus for sixteen years until she was discovered by Norman’s grandson Normie who shared this disturbing revelation with Peter Parker. Shortly after, however, the clone escaped and took over May Parker’s life.
To make matters worse, Norman Osborn returned – in a fashion – when his brain patterns were uploaded into Peter Parker’s body by the former Green Goblin’s agents. The clone May wound up being caught up in a generational war between the Parkers and Osborns that took place both in the real world and in Peter’s mind. Fortunately, May Parker managed to get through to her clone, convincing her that they could co-exist and have a sister-type relationship. The clone took May up on her offer and turned away from Norman Osborn.
May and her clone attempted to build a friendship, but there were complications. For starters, the clone – who decided to rename herself “April” – was acutely aware that May’s parents viewed her as an imposter and potential threat. Moreover, while April wasn’t inherently evil, she did have a ruthless streak and a need to prove she was just as good (if not better) at being a hero like Spider-Girl. To that end, she created her own blue version of Spider-Girl’s costume out of her symbiote body and joined May on her patrols. Her fighting style was more brutal than May’s, however, and she was frequently reprimanded and accused of using excessive force.
Frustrated, April tried to prove she could trump May in her civilian identity as well. She altered her appearance subtly to give herself wild black hair and dressed in louder fashions. Claiming to be May’s cousin, she also made a point of telling people that “April always comes before May.” At one point, she even attempted to seduce a boy May liked, but he saw through her disguise simply by the different way she smelled and acted.
Ultimately, April’s resentment and anger got the better of her. She adopted a new identity that was more Venom-like in appearance and began calling herself “Mayhem.” She even took jobs from criminals and accepted payment, essentially becoming an enforcer who killed criminals like Spider-Man’s old enemy Tombstone. When Spider-Girl discovered this, she was horrified and battled against her sister, who was significantly stronger thanks to her symbiote powers and less likely to hold back.
Yet while she gave May a brutal beating, April was unable to murder May and still yearned for love and acceptance from the Parkers. Her dark side quickly reasserted itself, however, when she murdered more people, including the Hobgoblin, and abandoned the Parkers to strike out on her own. May still felt responsible for April, however, and tracked her down, hoping to reason with her. Instead, Mayhem demanded that Spider-Girl admit April was the original May Parker. She also wanted to take over May’s superhero career and began fighting her to show how superior she was. The two ended up battling in a burning building where May became trapped under a fallen beam while trying to save April. Realizing April’s symbiote was vulnerable to the spreading flames, Spider-Girl pushed Mayhem to safety just before the building exploded, killing May.
Shocked by Spider-Girl’s sacrifice, Mayhem initially took the selfish route by assuming May’s appearance and trying to replace her. The Parkers saw through her disguise, however, and rejected her, causing Mayhem to go on a rampage and kill several villains and heroes. Desperate to stop her, the government experimented with the Carnage symbiote and created several symbiote super soldiers that went haywire and began assimilating other humans into their collective.
Finally seeing the error of her ways, Mayhem began defending innocent people against the symbiote army and joined a human resistance. Realizing she was fighting a losing war, however, she worked with Ant-Man’s daughter Cassie Lang to develop a time portal to send herself back to the day when May died. Their experiment worked, but Mayhem materialized in a wall and was forced to transmit her memories into her younger self. The new memories motivated the earlier April Parker to save Spider-Girl and prevent her terrible future – but at the cost of her life.
The Parkers have had a tense relationship with Venom symbiotes over the years, occasionally allying themselves with the aliens but almost always seeing their partnerships end in bloodshed. April was a curious case, however, as she was bred to be a weapon and conditioned with sociopathic tendencies – but ultimately learned she had enough humanity in her to be the self-sacrificing hero she always wanted to be. She may have not been the daughter Peter Parker wanted, but in the end she still stepped up like all good members of the Spider-Man legacy.