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Mary Jane Finally Becomes a Cover Girl!

In If Her Hair Was Still Red (a feature of indefinite regularity), 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.

First off, I forgot to count Spider-Man's annuals. Luckily, Mary Jane does not appear in the first three Amazing Spider-Man Annuals and her only appearance in the fourth annual is in a two-page spread showing the various members of the local ESU hangout (with some hilariously lame attempts at clever signs - Larry Lieber drew the pin-up, but John Romita clearly fixed Mary Jane and Gwen to make them closer to his model of them).

Okay, back on track, we now take a look at the first time that a storyline has centered enough on Mary Jane that she actually got to appear on the cover of the issue! Stan Lee, John Romita, Don Heck and Mike Esposito give us a triumphant return of MJ to the series after not being in the book for two issues (here first multiple issue absence since being fully introduced back in Amazing Spider-Man #42).

You know, I've written a whole lot about the transition to when Gwen Stacy finally became "Romita's" Gwen Stacy and not Ditko's (which took a lot longer than the transition for Peter Parker, where Romita's take on Peter was established very quickly) and I think I undersold the debut of Gwen's jagged bangs. I think that it is probably fair to note that Amazing Spider-Man #56 is the official debut of "Romita's Gwen Stacy" as here, even with Don Heck supplying the pencils, it is pretty much the same Gwen that we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #56.

Here's Gwen in this issue...

And here's Gwen in #56...

Here's Gwen in her final issue of Amazing Spider-Man...

I think Romita has officially settled on "his" version of Gwen, especially when contrasted with how he first drew her (when he was drawing her like Ditko drew her) in Amazing Spider-Man #41...

Okay, with that out of the way, let's concentrate on the girl we're all here to talk about, Mary Jane Watson!

To refresh, Peter has been out of commission because he had amnesia the last couple of issues and had been tricked by Doctor Octopus into thinking that they were partners. He's back now and apologizes to his friends for being a dick to them by disappearing. They forgive him and then fill him in on what Mary Jane is up to. She has a new job as a dancer!

Note that even the bad guys are like, "Damn, girl, you are hot!"

Mary Jane, as we all know, needs no excuse to start dancing, so she gets in some early reps before the club opens...

When Mary Jane is in action later that night, it is important to note that MJ still can't help but place her achievements in the context of what it means in relation to Gwen Stacy...

I mean, how often is Mary Jane NOT in the spotlight?

Next, we have the awkward moment where Captain Stacy has to come up with a polite way to talk to his daughter's friend after he just watched her gyrate in front of him...

Okay, so the plan goes into effect and Peter gets suspicious. He changes into Spider-Man and the goons working for the bad guy freak out. They try to kill Spider-Man and when that fails, they take poor ol' Mary Jane hostage! Her shocked reaction to seeing Spider-Man doesn't fit into the whole "she knew his secret identity at this point" retcon, but we do get to see MJ quickly turn on the flirting...

Spider-Man then learns that man behind the mind control is none other than the Kingpin!! So the Kingpin thinks you're hot, MJ. That's something.

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