Marvel Just Introduced Its Own Version of DC's Sanctuary

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #9 by Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos, Michele Bandini, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, Erick Arciniega and VC’s Joe Caramagna, out now.

Recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man have seen the fan-favorite relationship between Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker blossom once again (against the wishes of the demon Mephisto, one imagines). Writer Nick Spencer has already shown these two on-again, off-again lovebirds share more than one conversation about the difficulties of sharing a romantic connection with a superhero, but in this week’s Issue #9 MJ is learns of a support group that caters for her very specific needs, and it feels very familiar to readers of the Distinguished Competition.

While Spider-Man is dealing with an uncomfortable reunion with his ex, Felicia Hardy (Black Cat), as they face the threat of the Thieves Guild, Mary Jane is having coffee with another of Peter’s exes: Carlie Cooper. First introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #545 and created by Dan Slott and Joe Quesada, Carlie was the first relationship Peter had in the Brand New Day era of Spider-Man. Brand New Day followed on from the "One More Day" storyline, which saw Peter and MJ’s marriage traded off to Mephisto in order to save Aunt May’s life. This means that Carlie was technically Peter’s first relationship since his marriage ended, not that MJ (or Peter) remember it like that.

What both Mary-Jane and Carlie do know, however, is that it’s difficult being in love with a superhero, and while Carlie seems genuine about wanting to catch up with MJ, she also has another motive for the meeting. She introduces MJ to the Lookups: A support group for those people that share the burden of knowing a superhero’s secret identity. Whether they’re sidekicks, romantic partners or family members, those that gather at the Lookups meetings are all there because, well, if they are the support for superheroes, who is there for them?

The conversation between Carlie and MJ feels a little awkward to start with, but Carlie reassures MJ that her intentions are good and that this support group could really help. She confesses that even after she removed herself from New York and from Spider-Man’s life, she still couldn’t shake the overwhelming burden that knowing Peter’s secret placed on her. Mary Jane is reluctant to confess all of her secrets to a room full of strangers, but Carlie assures her that it’s completely anonymous. There are all kinds of safeguards in place, and, most mysteriously, she claims that once MJ discovers who runs the Lookups, she’ll know she can trust it.

NEXT PAGE: Mary Jane Watson Meets the Lookups

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