With the comic book industry getting ready to return to business like so many others this is a good time to spotlight some ongoing and mini-series comics to see what to look forward to. The first comic book that I wanted to spotlight is Leah Williams’ Amazing Mary Jane. After being an iconic part of Spider-Man’s supporting cast Marvel finally gave Mary Jane Watson her first ongoing series. With the character having a 55 year history it is honestly amazing that Marvel waited this long to see how MJ would do in her own ongoing series. But here we are with the Amazing Mary Jane being six issues in, with a seventh issue scheduled for July 15th.
Going into the Amazing Mary Jane series one of the big questions was what type of tone it would take. Would Leah Williams and Marvel go with a superhero route? Or would they do more of a slice-of-life style comic book like the MJ teen mini-series? The answer quickly turned out to be a little from column A and a little from column B.
The core focus of Williams’ Amazing Mary Jane is on MJ going back into her acting career. During Nick Spencer’s current run on Amazing Spider-Man we saw how MJ was in a similar spot her boyfriend, Peter Parker, was in. She just ended a career working for Tony Stark’s company and was sort of stuck with what to do next. Thanks to an encounter with Electro MJ found the pull of returning to acting becoming to great. Afterall, MJ had a successful career working on a soap opera and other projects before retiring.
Having MJ return to acting as the star of a new movie was a strong foundation to build the series on. Making things a bit more complicated for MJ’s return for acting was how her first job back into the industry is secretly being directed by Mysterio. The reason Mysterio is doing this tie back into a bigger plot that Amazing Spider-Man has been building with Kindred, as the villain forced Mysterio to hire MJ for the movie he wrote. While the tie-in to the Kindred storyline has not been a big part of the story in Amazing Mary Jane it has hung over the series for readers also reading Amazing Spider-Man.
Keeping the focus on MJ doing all she can to make sure the movie she is shooting is successful, even after learning Mysterio is secretly her director, has made the story more engaging. Williams gets you to believe in how serious MJ is taking her return to acting. This is clearly what MJ wants to do and is completely driven to be successful. That drive has made watching her go through what she does something you completely get behind.
But while MJ has proven she can carry her own comic the one thing that has not worked as well is the use of Spider-Man’s villains in this first arc. With MJ not having any powers or skills one would relate to being a hero Williams has had to be more creative with the way MJ faces off against Spider-Man’s Savage Six. While I’ll credit the creativity it does not make the Savage Six look good at all. With Vulture leading five other deadly Spider-Man villains in a new version of the Sinister Six this does nothing for their credibility.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the other Spider-Man element in Amazing Mary Jane that works incredibly well, which is MJ and Peter’s relationship. Williams has done a wonderful job keeping a sense of stability with MJ and Peter together as they deal with now being in a long-distance relationship. A great example of that is the dance the two do while on the phone with each other. This is a small moment in the grander scheme of things but does a lot to get over how comfortable MJ and Peter are in their relationship.
At the same time, Amazing Mary Jane #6 did show signs that MJ and Peter’s relationship will be tested as both have increasingly busy schedules. While there is plenty of drama to be had with this plot element Williams has shown that she knows how to write the chemistry MJ and Peter share. I’m confident Williams will make the right choices and not create storylines for this relationship that artificially drive MJ and Peter apart.
The artwork from Carlos Gomez is also something that has helped Amazing Mary Jane find success. Gomez’s art style comes across as a good mix of all the different artwork we get over on Amazing Spider-Man. Keeping that consistent art style allows Amazing Mary Jane to feel like it exists in the same world as Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man. So even if Gomez’s style won’t blow you away it does its job of keeping a fun consistency as Amazing Mary Jane is a dialogue heavy series.
Overall, Amazing Mary Jane is a series that Spider-Man fans should be reading if you aren’t already. It’s been fun to see how Williams and Gomez have elevated Mary Jane Watson as the star of her own series. The strengths of this series continue to be MJ’s journey back to becoming a successful actress. Hopefully when Amazing Mary Jane returns, we see more progress in MJ’s career unfold.
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