In, I take a look at all of Mary Jane Watson’s comic book appearances in chronological order (by date of publication). Mary Jane’s progression as a character fascinates me.
We are now coming to a truly fascinating point in time, as Gerry Conway is in the midst of slowly taking over from Stan Lee as the regular writer of Amazing Spider-Man. Lee, as you may or may not know, gave up Amazing Spider-Man briefly after #100 and then returned to it a few issues later. Roy Thomas did those fill-in issues (which were not certain to be fill-in issues at the time). When Lee took another break, Gerry Conway stepped in. He wasn’t even 20 years old at the time! Can you imagine how people would react today if a 19 year old was given the reins of Amazing Spider-Man? Here’s the weird twist, though. Marvel decided that they would try to milk a little extra bit out of the Stan Lee/John Romita team, so they took Spectacular Spider-Man #1, the magazine comic that had come out a few years earlier, and had it become issues #116-118 of Amazing Spider-Man. So it looks like Conway’s run is broken up for three issues, but not really, as that is an old story. However, they added new material to make it fit into the then-current continuity (as best as they could. Some parts of it do not make any sense). Thus, these still count as Mary Jane appearances, but I’ll pretty much gloss over them here, as I’ve already spotlighted them in.
Anyhow, as, she was dealing with some pretty bogus attitude from Peter Parker over the fact that Harry Osborn was now addicted to drugs while he was dealing with the stress of Mary Jane really not being all that much into him.
That continues in these issues, which are fascinating because they get to really highlight how Stan Lee sees her before he is off the title. Amazing Spider-Man #106 is the last issue of the regular series (not counting the bogus issues later) that Stan Lee would write Mary Jane (art by John Romita and Frank Giacoia) and he has Peter act really dismissively to her.
Ouch! “Why does he have to dig a gal like MJ?”
Okay, so Gerry Conway took over the title. Now, here’s the interesting thing about Gerry Conway and Mary Jane Watson. We all know that Conway was a much bigger fan of MJ than Stan Lee was, but what is interesting to me is that you wouldn’t know it from Conway’s early issues, as Mary Jane is barely in the book!
Here only appearance in Conway’s run before the death of Gwen Stacy is in Amazing Spider-Man #112 (art by John Romita), and she is there just for exposition for Peter’s search for the missing Aunt May…
Then we get the aforementioned essentially reprint issues, with MJ in each issue, but just repeating what she did before…
And because this originally took place more than FIFTY issues earlier, Mary Jane and Harry are suddenly in a much different place in their relationship…
That is then it. This is the last appearance of Mary Jane before Conway and Romita kill off Gwen Stacy and then Mary Jane enters a whole new point in her comic book career.
Be sure to check back next time when stuff gets really real! I’ll try to do the next installment sooner because it’s such a big one. It’s CLICK time, people! It’s CLICK TIME!!
If you have any thoughts about Mary Jane’s comic book history or any of the issues that are coming up (we’re up to Amazing Spider-Man #94 now), feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll be sure to include your thoughts in my next column…well, “be sure” is a stretch. It depends on what your thoughts are!
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