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Review – The Amazing Mary Jane #1 (Marvel Comics)

The Amazing Mary Jane #1 (Marvel Comics) variant cover (detail) by Artgerm
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The Amazing Mary Jane #1

Writers: Leah Williams
Penciler: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel
Maturity Rating: Teen
Release Date: October 23rd, 2019

There is maybe no more famous love interest at Marvel than Mary Jane Watson, and she gets a chance to shine here in the start to her own series, The Amazing Mary Jane #1.

Ask Her About Her Feminist Agenda in the Amazing Mary Jane #1

The history of love interests in comics is a little bit spotty. Usually determined by their eras, the love interests of heroes were either trivialized or used a story hook. Very little character development surrounded them, other than being either hard to get or madly in love. This played out in the early 1950s, for instance, as Lois Lane had what amounted to a romance comic. Even with the dawn of the Silver Age a few years later, characters such as Susan Storm with the Fantastic Four were reduced to damsel-in-distress or emotionally incapable of handling the role of being a hero. There is maybe no more famous love interest at Marvel than Mary Jane Watson, and she gets a chance to shine here in the start to her own series, The Amazing Mary Jane #1.

The Amazing Mary Jane #1 (Marvel Comics) main cover by Humberto Ramos
The Amazing Mary Jane #1 (Marvel Comics) main cover by Humberto Ramos

The idea that these (mostly) women might have something more to give to the reader as characters was slow to materialize. This, arguably, has not even happened for a lot of them, still. For instance, even the recent Wonder Woman/Superman romance trivialized Wonder Woman to a certain degree. So with the introduction of a separate series for Mary Jane Watson, the most consistent love interest of Spider-Man, readers might be saying both “It’s about time” and “Uh-oh, how is that going to work?” 

Writing

Leah Williams has the writing duties here in The Amazing Mary Jane #1. Readers might be a bit dismayed as the story starts off with one of the more common bait-and-switch writing cliches, but they should really give this story the benefit of the doubt. There is a level of playfulness here that is not expected in the bigger titles. This plays out both through the character and through some meta-humor. It is for instance not hard to figure out who the movie director is patterned on. The story itself is a little bit different compared to bigger titles. Equally, though, Mary Jane can’t really be expected to go head to head against super villains all the time (or any of the time). 

Despite that, the story works and works well. It gives a nod to the fact that Mary Jane can’t get any character development (again with meta-humor) and keeps the story well-paced while also not losing its focus.  

Art

This series is aiming to showcase Mary Jane as a stronger character. Therefore it is also somewhat important not to be exploitative of her presentation. That is well handled here. She is given a skin-tight costume to wear, but it doesn’t really work to her detriment. Instead, it is even addressed at one point. With that being said, artist Carlos Gomez and color artist Carlos Lopez really capture what is needed. The art has a mature approach and doesn’t stray to where it easily could.  

Conclusion

The Amazing Mary Jane #1 ties into a month-long event of tie-in variant covers at Marvel, and it would have been easy to assume that this series was not going to take itself too seriously nor its characters. While Mary Jane doesn’t break out of any developments from previous stories, her presentation here is much stronger than usual. The story helps the issue along as well, but the mature approach of the creative team really seemed to bring this together. This is still a superhero book (Spider-Man shows up at one point) but it doesn’t feel like one. That is in itself an achievement and this issue is one of the best to come out of Marvel in a while. 

 


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