There are many reasons why Spider-Man is the most popular character in Marvel's catalog. Without a doubt, however, one is his extensive supporting cast. At the top of that list is his most popular love interest: one Mary Jane Watson.
Unlike love interests in other superhero stories, Mary Jane inspires as much passion in her beau Peter Parker as she does with the fanbase. Marvel have slapped fans in the face with some of their decisions over the years, but they have thrown us a ton of bones with great MJ stories. To celebrate Spider-Man: Far From Home, let's dive into the 10 best Mary Jane Watson stories of all time!
10 Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1
Before Marvel nuked the marriage of Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker with "One More Day," Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca delivered an amazing tale of Mary Jane fending off a S.H.I.E.L.D agent looking to arrest wanted criminal Spider-Man for siding with Captain America in Civil War.
In order to buy time until Peter comes, MJ recounts the tales from their past with new insight for the readers, as Peter does the same to a cop he trusts to bring him in. As MJ is wont to do, she plays the S.H.I.E.L.D agent like a fiddle, long enough for Peter to burst through the window and take her to the top of a massive skyscraper to enjoy a view they might not be able to have much longer. This issue shows that, despite how much trouble these two can face, they can take on the world if they have to.
9 Amazing Spider-Man #42-43 (Vol.1)
This is it, the story that finally gave us our first full appearance of the redhead Mary Jane Watson. In large part due to John Romita Sr.'s stunning depiction of her, Mary Jane quickly became a fan favorite as a result of this story.
In his infinite wisdom, Peter Parker put off meeting MJ because it was a set up by his Aunt May. Peter learns that he should listen to his aunt more often as she stuns Peter with a charming personality and liveliness that nerdy Peter needs badly. She even accompanies him to a fight between Spidey and Rhino, but that fight is secondary to the first MJ story.
8 Amazing Spider-Man #259 (Vol.1)
Prior to this issue, MJ had quite a bit of mystery surrounding her past. Writer Tom DeFalco blew the lid off it, however, giving us a credible backstory to explain why MJ is MJ.
Given that MJ told Peter an issue ago that she knew he was Spider-Man for a long time, she recounts to him her situation, growing up with an abusive father who struggled to become the next great American novelist. He and her mother married too young and her father blamed his professional failures on his family. She developed the ditzy party girl facade as a way to block out the world from getting too close to her. If you want to know more about MJ, you must read this classic.
7 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #19
As the cover to this comic suggests, MJ is the star of the show despite Spider-Man's name being in the title. Because this is the comic world, MJ is mistaken by a supervillain to be Spider-Man. Even though the villain has her at his mercy, MJ is able to use her acting chops to outwit him. Sending him on a wild goose chase around New York for her "exoskeleton", she stalls him long enough for Spider-Man to come and save the day.
She may not have superpowers, but Mary Jane is far from helpless, as we will see to even greater effect later on.
6 Amazing Spider-Man #50 (Vol.2)
Being married to Spider-Man is no cakewalk. There was a time when the two were separated as MJ needed some time to re-evaluate her life after she was captured by a telepathic stalker. However, Peter and MJ finally reconciled in this story.
Working through their relationship issues, MJ reveals her problems with being Spidey's wife. Mainly that she has to act like she doesn't know him in costume and also her insecurity that he is getting bored with his non-super-powered wife. But Peter lays out the truth; without Mary Jane, there's no way he could be complete. A pivotal moment in their marriage.
5 I Love Marvel: Web Of Romance
It's not often that Marvel goes straight out with romance comics anymore, but this was pretty darn close. In this story, Peter grapples with a common problem couples have: what to get your partner for Valentine's Day?
Throughout the issue, we see just why these two are best friends and lovers. Where Peter has social struggles, Mary Jane is at ease watching basketball with Luke Cage and Captain America in Stark Tower. In the end, Peter gifts her his old web-shooters, which he and Iron Man have fashioned into bracelets for his wife. A sweet story for a sweet couple.
4 Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives
While this is a bit of a cheat given how this is partly a retelling of older stories, Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives really goes the extra mile in cementing the fact that Mary Jane is the only woman destined to be with Peter Parker.
While the graphic novel is mainly a compilation of all their big moments, we do get a key piece of information: Mary Jane knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man ever since the night Uncle Ben was killed. Unlike most retcons in comics, this adds to the story, as it makes MJ's long-time attraction to Peter make even more sense.
3 Amazing Spider-Man #122 (Vol.1)
Blasphemy, we hear some of you say. How is the classic "Night Gwen Stacy Died!" on a list of important Mary Jane stories? Well, for that, we would have to go to the very end of the story.
In the closing page of the story, Mary Jane goes to console a grieving Peter Parker over the loss of his longtime girlfriend. Peter however, callously and cruelly says that she wouldn't care if her own mother died. At this point, the reader and Peter believe Mary Jane to be a ditzy party girl who has no time for the reality of life. However, in a titanic moment for the character, MJ stops herself from leaving and instead stays behind to help Peter get through this. Yes, it's more of a moment than a full story, but on one page, writer Gerry Conway and artist Gil Kane leap the character forward in terms of development.
2 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21
Marriages. They're kind of a big deal. After decades of on and off relationships between Mary Jane and Peter Parker, the two are finally married in this story.
Unlike most superhero weddings (looking at you Batman and X-Men), this one actually ends with the two being pronounced husband and wife. But it was no cakewalk getting there, as the story's drama comes from the two having second thoughts about their commitment to one another. Is MJ ready to settle down? Can Peter be confident that the same fate that ended Gwen Stacy's life won't happen to MJ? Regardless of their worries, the two tie the knot in a massive issue.
1 Spectacular Spider-Man #245 (Vol.1)
We end the list with a story that is just kick-ass. In this story, Spider-Man is captured by the Chameleon and is placed in an electrified cage. In a sick quest, Chameleon returns to Peter's home and tries to get with MJ.
Mrs. Parker, however, is no fool. Having tricked Chameleon into revealing that he isn't her husband, Mary Jane grabs a baseball bat and wallops the Chameleon into submission. Spider-Man races home to save her, but by the time he gets there, MJ is standing over and knocked out Chameleon. Don't mess with Mary Jane.