Mary Jane Watson has left the shadows of Spider-Man and Peter Parker behind in New York City as she has taken her talents to Los Angeles. Along with the big move to the Best Coast Mary Jane is getting her first ongoing series, not counting the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane comics, in the main Marvel Universe. Given how much momentum is around the Spider-Man franchise as a whole with Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, Black Cat and Venom all enjoying success now is the time for Mary Jane to shine on her own. Moving the character across the country to pursue a renewed push in her acting career offers plenty of set-up for MJ to have a successful series. Let’s find out if that is the case with Amazing Mary Jane #1.
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While wearing a superhero costume Mary Jane Watson fights actors dressed as Kraven the Hunter and Doctor Octopus. As the action intensifies the director calls “Cut” to get the stunt team in.
MJ goes to talk to one of the assistants, named Mallorie, about her character’s motivation. MJ thinks her character’s motivation is weak.Mallorie listens to MJ’s complaint but quickly switches subjects when she notices MJ holding lighting equipment she isn’t insured to hold.
Mallorie then calls on Charlie to come out of his trailer. Charlie, who is playing Spider-Man, comes out of his trailer while reading his lines that greatly embarrass MJ.
MJ spots Kangaroo and asks where Cage McKnight, the director. Kangaroo says he is over at crafts and services.
MJ eventually finds Cage McKnight, who immediately runs away from MJ. MJ is able to quickly corner her and demands to know why he has continued to avoid her after saying the role was written for her. Cage nervously avoids answering the question. MJ threatens to quit if she doesn’t get a straight answer.
Cage takes MJ out of everyone’s sight and reveals himself to actually be Quentin Beck (Mysterio). MJ freaks out but Quentin tells her to calm down. Quentin says he had to take on a disguise of Cage McKnight because no one wanted to film his script no matter how hard he tried. Quentin begs MJ to keep this a secret as this is his last attempt to do something right and she is the only one that can star in the movie.
MJ then asks about the production and why some of the crew have powers. Quentin says that some are former criminals but everything is above board and he is paying them industry standard.
MJ then asks about what happened to the real Cage McKnight. Quentin says he sent Cage to the Falkland Islands ro film penguins, showing MJ proof of this on his phone.
MJ gets a headache thinking how Quentin is using this film to build sympathy for him as a villain. Quentin does not deny this but says he just wanted to create something meaningful. MJ regrettably says she will keep playing her role.
She then says she’ll stay on and keep his secret as long as Quentin rewrites her scenes because her dialogue is bad. Quentin takes offense to this. MJ reminds Quentin how her latex costume ripped twice the day before.
Quentin sees what MJ is talking about and asks to do a walk and talk through the studio, changing back into his Cage McKnight disguise in the process. As they talk MJ gives Quentin all the tips she has to make her character motivation much better and be a more developed person.
“Cage” becomes impressed by MJ’s great suggestions. He questions MJ more about what her ideas on how to properly develop her character. MJ gets excited by this thinking there is a spin-off sequel they could do for her character.
One of the production crew members makes a snide comment about MJ looking like she is flirting with “Cage.” Quentin hears this and, as “Cage,” threatens the guy for not understanding that they are discussing the art they are creating. “Cage” then tells Kangaroo to kick the guy out of the set since he is now fired.
“Cage” then reveals how he is planning to make maximum use of his budget by using his Mysterio tech and allowing paparazzi to be on set to create some immediate marketing for the film. MJ gets distracted because she realizes how much fun she is having making movies again.
Later that night MJ talks to Peter Parker on the phone while he is fighting a robot at a big box store as Spider-Man. Peter does his best to do some sexy talk with MJ while taking out the robot. As Spider-Man he is able to save the day and quickly change back to his street clothes to finish his shopping.
MJ asks Peter to be honest about her being in a movie that involves Spider-Man as part of the film. Peter says he understands everything. MJ then sends Peter a picture and Peter continues to flirt asking to show him what else she isn’t wearing.
MJ says she did that just to show Peter he should not be threatened by her director. Peter says his only concern if any of the film industry sharks and monster may possibly be villains. MJ reminds Peter that she took down a villain with just a baseball bat alone.
MJ then tells Peter to put her on speaker. Peter says he is out in public but MJ convinces him they are “doin’ this” now.
Peter puts his phone on speaker and both he and MJ do have dance party from their respective places. While they each dance Peter tells MJ he misses her a lot.
Elsewhere Vulture finds out about the film “Cage McKnight” is filming and tells the Savage Six they are going to Los Angeles. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Mary Jane #1 shows the potential of a solo series Mary Jane Watson. Leah Williams waste no time in showcasing how MJ can carry a comic with her charisma alone. One major concerning story choice aside, Amazing Mary Jane #1 is a positive first step in this new ongoing series.
One of the most impressive things that Williams does throughout Amazing Mary Jane #1 was presenting this as a reset and continuation of MJ’s life. MJ has been through so much in her personal and professional life. In her professional life alone, we’ve seen MJ go through a wide range of jobs. There has never been a stable job that MJ has had for a long time. In that way, MJ is very similar to Peter Parker.
That quickly changes as we see how Williams gets across how excited and passionate MJ is about getting back into acting. Even when she is voicing her frustration over her character’s development it is all clearly coming from a place of passion. MJ wants to make sure her comeback to acting isn’t a one time thing. She is clearly looking to make this her long-term career and won’t let others get in her way.
Which speaks to the strength of Williams writing of MJ throughout Amazing Mary Jane #1. It could’ve been easy to find MJ to be annoying and overtly abrasive. Especially with how much dialogue MJ gets as she finds out the semi-truth about Mysterio’s plan. But Williams is careful to make sure everything MJ says about how to make her role better something that is genuinely about being better. Even when she is heavily criticizing the script there is a sense of positivity around MJ’s dialogue.
With MJ not hiding her thoughts on how to make the movie she is filming better it was interesting to see Mysterio reveal himself so quickly to MJ. This quick development of MJ learning the truth about who is her director was something that was expected to not happen in the first issue. Mysterio being the secret director was something that could’ve easily been stretched out for several issues.
But since since we got the reveal presented to MJ in Amazing Mary Jane #1 from the beginning Williams is able to shift the story to also be about Mysterio’s endgame. We know that what drove Quentin Beck to cast MJ in his film was because Kindred forced him to. That is something that Quentin is clearly keeping close to his vest. At the same time, this film is clearly something that Quentin wants to be a true success. It never felt like he was lying to MJ about wanting to have at least one positive thing to provide to the world.
This change that Quentin wants to make for the narrative around his life is an interesting direction to take for the character. Being Mysterio is something that has defined the character for a long time. Spending so much time as the villain combine with the pressure Kindred is giving him has made Quentin question his actual impact. Going in this direction makes Quentin a good secondary protagonist for at least this first story arc in Amazing Mary Jane.
With the shared secret of MJ knowing “Cage McKnight” is actually Mysterio it’ll be interesting to see what drama this causes. Especially with Mysterio allowing the paparazzi on set to create buzz for the movie it could create some big drama in the future. We already saw that happen with Mysterio as Cage publicly firing an employee. What will happen if the paparazzi catching MJ with “Cage” in a situation that could easily be without context. That type of drama has the potential to be good or bad. Right now Williams built enough trust for it to be the former rather than the latter in terms of potential.
Choosing to close out Amazing Mary Jane #1 with an extended conversation between MJ and Peter was a smart play. This was an immediate reminder that MJ and Peter are still together even though they are on the other side of the country. Williams does a great job showing the strong chemistry that MJ and Peter share throughout their back-and-forth. The conversation played in well with the way a couple would flirt on the phone during a long distance relationship. The dance that closed their conversation also was a great way to put over how MJ and Peter have fun with each other that they are up to having their dance party in public.
The artwork from Carlos Gomez was solid. It won’t blow anyone out of the water but had enough consistency to develop the world Williams crafted throughout Amazing Mary Jane #1. Gomez was at his best during MJ and Peter’s conversation. He got across how much fun these two have and how much they miss each other, particularly during the dance party,
The Bad: One concerning thing about Amazing Mary Jane #1 was one of this issue’s strengths being the development of Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio. Williams will need to be careful not to turn Mysterio into the main protagonist of this series along with MJ. Mysterio ate up a lot of screen time in this first issue that seems to imply he is the other protagonist for this series.
That will not be good for the long-term success of Amazing Mary Jane. For this series to be successful it’ll be best to focus on building the world around MJ. That includes having the supporting cast be built around her. Having Quentin Beck eat of the amount of screen time he did in Amazing Mary Jane #1 will hinder how well MJ’s supporting cast can be built.
The other thing that Williams will need to be careful about with this series is not going down the superhero rabbit hole. The introduction of the Savage Six as part of the cliffhanger ending did nothing to create excitement for this series. Instead, that ending was just a reminder that Amazing Mary Jane will be another superhero title. That is not the direction this series should take to stand out.
Especially with how many Spider-Man titles there are having MJ and her cast go up against Spider-Man’s rogues gallery won’t help this series. The intrigue of Amazing Mary Jane is seeing a slice-of-life style world be built around MJ as the main driving force. Going down the superhero route with super villains as the main antagonists just makes this feel like another Spider-Man copy. MJ is a strong character that can have a cast of supporting characters and antagonist that are part of her acting world that super villains aren’t necessary to sell this series.
Overall: Amazing Mary Jane #1 is a solid start to the latest addition in the Spider-Man line of comic books. Leah Williams portrays Mary Jane Watson as a highly charismatic character with a strong fortitude that shows the great potential of this series. Williams just needs to be careful to not fall into several pitfalls that popped up due to certain story choices. Avoiding those pitfalls while focusing on the strengths will be key to Amazing Mary Jane’s success.
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