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Things Are Going Great, So Long as His Dead Girlfriend Doesn't Show Up

In If Her Hair Was Still Red, 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.

When last we left out star-crossed lovers, Peter and Mary Jane had an epic kiss at an airport before Peter headed off to Paris for a mission to bring J. Jonah Jameson back home after he was kidnapped. This is how important Mary Jane has now become in the title. She is not actually IN Amazing Spider-Man #144 (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Dave Hunt and Frank Giacoia) and yet she still plays a prominent role in the issue. It's like the famous line from the Simpsons episode where Homer is making suggestions for how the new character, Poochie, should be worked into Itchy and Scratchy, "Two, whenever Poochie's not on screen, all the other characters should be asking "Where's Poochie"?" The joke there is that the downfall of Poochie was that they pushed him too hard and you can't really force an audience to respond to a character. The key, though, is that Mary Jane Watson has now come to that point in the series in the traditional way - Conway has written her well enough that the audience actually IS thinking about her when she's not in an issue.

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First off, nice sweater, Peter! Peter calls Aunt May and when he gets off of the phone, we get to see Aunt May and her best friend, Anna Watson, talk about Peter and Mary Jane's relationship...

It's a really great scene. Of course, once they are finished talking about how Peter and Mary Jane have FINALLY gotten together (by the way, "finally" in this sense is a real stretch, as due to Marvel Time, it's been, what, a month since Gwen died? Maybe a couple of months? "Geez, Peter, we get it, you're sad, but it's been a couple of months, you have to get out there again!") when Aunt May, well, you know, SEES PETER'S DEAD GIRLFRIEND!!

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After Peter's Parisian adventure is over, he's driving home with J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson and he is thinking about Mary Jane, but his thoughts are about to get much weirder...

The next issue opens with Peter's initial reaction to Gwen's return and, as I have pointed out numerous times in this column, one of the keys to Peter Parker is that his initial reaction is ALWAYS the worst. And sure enough, he handles Gwen's return terribly...

Although, you know what? He did not handle it well, but damn, dude, how are you SUPPOSED to handle something like that? Is there really a GOOD way to respond to your dead girlfriend showing up at your apartment door?

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Anyhow, when Peter goes to visit Aunt May in the hospital (she went there after getting the vapors following Gwen's return), Peter learns that this is not someone pretending to be Gwen and, wow, man oh man, check out that look between Peter and Mary Jane at the end of the page! Ross Andru, you magnificent bastard!

Okay, let's see how this all goes...

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EXCL. PREVIEW: The Blood of a God Sheds in Wonder Woman #58
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