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If Her Hair Was Still Red: Amazing Spider-Man #25 and #38

by  in Comic News Comment
If Her Hair Was Still Red: Amazing Spider-Man #25 and #38

Here’s a new feature of indefinite regularity where 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 begin, of course, with her (sort of) debut in 1965’s Amazing Spider-Man #25 by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and her second hidden appearance in Ditko and Lee’s last issue of Spidey together…

We begin with Peter Parker being oblivious about how much Liz Allan is into him. Liz’s place in the titles was an interesting one. I like the basic idea of “when you graduate, you don’t stay friends with everyone you know,” but it is still surprising to see them drop her so quickly after Peter went to college. She somehow only makes THREE more appearances after this during Stan Lee’s run, and actually takes off A HUNDRED ISSUES before Gerry Conway brings her back into the fold to have more young people in the supporting cast after he killed off Gwen Stacy.

At the Daily Bugle, Peter is trying to convince J. Jonah Jameson to buy some photos of him, so he tries the hard sell…

Then, when a scientist comes by selling a “Spider-Slayer,” Peter doesn’t take it seriously and then goads Jameson again into pursuing the Spider-Slayer idea (he figures he’ll get some good photos AND embarrass Jameson in the process)…

In Marvels, Kurt Busiek had a good riff on this scene by Ditko and Lee, which is that Peter often comes off as pretty slimy. I mean, he’s taking care of his sickly aunt, so that makes him look like a good guy most of the time, but the way he seemingly hates Spider-Man must have made some of his colleagues wonder a bit about him. On the one hand, they know he’s just doing his job, but on the other hand, he’s helping to discredit a superhero. So it’s interesting to see Betty give him some guff over it. Clever stuff by Ditko and Lee.

In another clever twist that seemed like it leaped right out of the best Archie comic book story, Flash Thompson has challenged Peter to a fight after school. Peter, though, is freaking out about the Spider-Slayer, as it turns out that it is a lot more competent than he expected. So it SEEMS like he’s nervous about his fight with Flash. Good stuff…

Betty is freaking out back at the Bugle, and decides to confront Peter to try to get him to help her stop the Spider-Slayer…

Peter, meanwhile, has run away (as he turns into Spider-man to fight the Spider-Slayer) and Flash and his gang of buddies are trying to find Peter so Flash can fight him. Liz tags along. I love how on point Flash’s thoughts are…

Go to the next page to see MJ’s first comic book “appearance”!

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