Mary Jane’s comeback came at the worst possible time
Today we watch Mary Jane Watson’s dramatic return to the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, as she shocks Peter Parker almost as much as when he first hit the jackpot with her that day.
In If Her Hair Were Still Red, I take a look at all of the Mary Jane Watson comic book appearances in chronological order (by publication date). Mary Jane’s progression as a character fascinates me.
Well now it’s been over a year since we looked back on Ms. Watson’s journey, and rightly so, it’s during a shocking time when Mary Jane essentially disappears from the Spider-Man books for THREE YEARS! So let’s see how she comes back.
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DAREDEVIL SEND PETER AND MARY JANE
Something we mentioned a bit last time, but still true after Mary Jane “officially” left the Spider-Man books, is that other comic book titles were much less interested in the continuity of Spider-Man than the main Spider-Man titles. At the time, I was talking more about the quasi-continuity of Team Marvel. Although, there it was probably less about ignoring continuity because they didn’t know about continuity and more than ignoring continuity because Claremont and Byrne thought it was just too perfect for that redhead Mary Jane turns into Red Sonja, so she still had to date Peter despite their breakup. but that also applies to things like Peter and Mary Jane’s cameo in daredevil # 160 (by Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson) …
The irony of Matt Murdock languishing for the happiness of Peter and Mary Jane as Peter and Mary Jane are broken up is pretty cool, though. Or maybe the Daredevil continuity was right behind The Incredible Spider-Man?
EVEN BEHIND THE SCENES, MARY JANE CAUSES A DRAMATIC
While Marv Wolfman was the one who wrote Mary Jane out of The Incredible Spider-Man (as Wolfman simply never saw Mary Jane as a serious love interest in Peter), Wolfman’s successor, Denny O’Neil, was also not interested in adding her to the book. She did not appear at all in O’Neil’s run on Astonishing, but she got at least one referral.
In The Incredible Spider-Man # 208 (by O’Neil, John Romita Jr., Al Milgrom and Brett Breeding) Peter and Aunt May go to visit Anna Watson, who is in the hospital with a minor gallbladder problem (Aunt May is weirdly macabre about Anna’s body It’s just gall bladder trouble, ma’am). Once there, Anna mentions that they narrowly missed Mary Jane, who had visited her earlier …
Peter is glad that he didn’t have to speak to Mary Jane, as he is upset by the set of “refusing his marriage proposal and then breaking up with him”.
AUNT ANNA AND MARY JANE RECORDING FROM FLORIDA
Through The Incredible Spider-Man # 238 (art by the Romitas), a new writer had taken over The Incredible Spider-Man, like Roger Stern, the writer of Spectacular Spider-Man, moved on to the main book. Stern has always been excellent with continuity and I suspect he was wondering how Peter had avoided seeing Mary Jane for so long when they were both in New York and both friends with the same group of people, so Stern revealed in this issue (the same issue that introduced The Hobgoblin) that Anna and Mary Jane are now living in Florida …
You’d think Aunt May would have mentioned her best friend was moving to Florida, but she was busy turning her house into a boarding house, so I guess she was busy.
MARY JANE’S DRAMATIC RETURN!
Here is the funny thing. We just saw Mary Jane in The Incredible Spider-Man # 238 so it’s funny that a few issues later in issue 242 Stern decides to ask Anna and Mary Jane to take the train back to New York and Stern still has Mary Jane’s existence in the issue (drawn by John Romita Jr. and Frank Giacoia. By the way, that was when Romita was doing blackouts, as he was drawing several titles going on at the time) to be a bit of a surprise …
We JUST saw you three issues ago! Your presence cannot be so shocking!
In a similar approach, Mary Jane visits Peter’s apartment looking for her in the next issue (by Stern, Romita Jr. and Kevin Dzuban) and Mary Jane is specifically drawn from behind, presumably to disguise that it is her, but , well, she has famous red hair and she was JUST IN THE PREVIOUS ISSUE! So it’s a strange approach.
In a fun way, the above The Incredible Spider-Man Number 208 was the first appearance of Peter’s rival photographer, Lance Bannon, and this number has an intrigue involving Bannon. You see, Bannon was dating a woman named Amy Powell and they both wanted the relationship open, but it quickly became kind of a torment to each other by sort of parading their other partners from them and Lance really just wants to engage with Amy. The problem is, she chose Peter as her next target. Lance exposes it to Peter and Peter decides that when he meets Amy for dinner that night, he will bring Lance with him so they can fix everything.
However, when her door knocks that night, it’s Amy, who decides to picnic at Peter’s instead. She quickly gestures towards Peter and even though he is waiting for Lance at any time, Amy is all over him. Then the door opens and instead of Lance, it’s Mary Jane!
You really have to give it to Mary Jane, she hasn’t seen Peter in three years of history, but when she comes back she REALLY enjoys it!
We’re up to Amazing Spider-Man # 243 if you have any ideas you’d like to share that I could share with others in the next column!
Again, for everything, you can write to me at [email protected]!
KEEP READING: Mary Jane & Betty Brant Put It Right… with Frank Miller Art!
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