04th Nov2019

‘The Amazing Mary Jane #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Leah Williams | Art by Carlos Gomez | Published by Marvel Comics

amazing-mj-1-cover

Seems quite appropriate to review this, as my last review was for a comic starring Lois Lane. Just as she will forever be ‘Superman’s girlfriend’, Mary Jane Watson will forever be ‘Spider-Man’s girlfriend’. The key difference between the two I guess is that Lois Lane had actually featured in quite a lot of comics down the years, not just as a supporting character but in her own title and her own back up stories. Mary Jane has seen a lot of page time, but rarely front and centre, usually as part of Spidey’s supporting cast. I must admit, in recent years I have drifted in and out of the Spidey titles, Brand New Day being the jumping off point for me, so not quite sure what the status quo is anymore. Are Peter and Mary Jane together again? are they friends? do they even know each other? This book seemed a good time to check back in and see what’s what, and to see if being a Gwen Stacey guy is still the best play.

We start with MJ beating the tar out of Kraven and Dr. Octopus, and …er, say what now? Just when I think more things have changed than even I realised, it seems Mary Jane Watson is shooting a movie and playing a part. Turns out, rather oddly, she has been cast in a sympathetic biopic about Mysterio, helmed by director Cage McKnight. Seems he has a fondness for employing ex-felons too. Hmm. Mary Jane, rather like us, realises something seems a bit off here and decides to quit. Enter Mysterio himself. Seems he is going through something of a mid life crisis and has been masquerading as this film director to tell his story. No plans for world domination, no evil supervillain scheme, just an awareness his time is numbered and he wants to leave some sort of legacy. Making a film starring fellow bad guys about his being misunderstood. MJ, of course, does what any up and comer does. She’s all in.

Mary Jane insists however that the film needs some rewriting, her role needs to be improved and made more realistic, and this dialogue between MJ and Mysterio is a very meta way of making some sly digs at the way female characters are written and portrayed in comics themselves. A tip of the hat to scripter Leah Williams at such a clever deconstruction of the role of women in comics. As well as that clever stuff, it also gives us a little insight into just why Mysterio is doing this at all, some sort of love lost and feelings of under appreciation. That’s if he is telling the truth of course, as we’ve seen all this stuff before too many times. Is the master of illusion telling the truth for once?

As sure as night follows day, you knew a certain friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man would pop up at some point, and that would be right now. Peter’s being the good boyfriend and all, knowing this film will be great for MJ’s career and all, but a film glorifying one of his Rogues Gallery is a little out of his comfort zone. ‘Unreliable narrator’ shoots back MJ, another little nod and wink moment. MJ also cleverly never actually lies, but also doesn’t actually tell Peter that Mysterio himself is actually making the film. I think he may have drawn the line there. What we do get a sense of is that Peter and MJ are, once again thank goodness, very much in love. So there, Brand New Day Editors. Which is handy by the way, as it seems a new version of the Sinister Six is soon to be making its way to Hollywood to pay a visit to a certain film set…

Although not entirely sure what to expect, I really liked this first issue. Funny, light hearted, tongue in cheek, self deprecating, Mary Jane here is the Annie Hall of comic books. Leah Williams captures her character beautifully, and weaves a lot of self knowing into an interesting story, one that works on two levels, and works well on both too. The art was perfect for the story, lovely clean lines, nice mixing up of panels, and some great detail in even the smaller panels. No slacking from Carlos Gomez here.

Rather like MJ’s acting career, this book has potential aplenty, and I look forward to the next issue. Lights, camera, ACTION! (in 30 days of course)

**** 4/5

The Amazing Mary Jane #1 is out now from Marvel Comics.

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