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Comic Book / Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane

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Mary Jane Watson is a popular, sweet-natured and well-liked teenage girl at Midtown High in Queens, who is part of the popular crowd, along with her best friends: head cheerleader (and queen bitch) Liz Allan, star athlete Flash Thompson and wealthy Harry Osborn, who is clearly interested in Mary Jane in a romantic sense (feelings which Mary Jane is not entirely sure that she shares). Although 'MJ' is apparently happy-go-lucky and cheerful to everyone she encounters, it's all a lie, of course; underneath it all, Mary Jane is unhappy, lonely and insecure, feelings which she keeps bottled up in order to project her cheery facade.

Over recent months, however, she has developed something of a crush on Spider-Man, a charismatic, quick-witted and confident Super Hero with whom she feels a connection, and after he saves her life when the train she is riding is attacked by a super-villain (and inadvertently lets slip a hint that he knows her), Mary Jane makes a resolution — she is going to ask Spider-Man to be her date to the Homecoming Dance. However, she soon finds that following up her crush leads her life in unexpected directions, many of which seem to lead back to her developing friendship with the kind but geeky and strangely behaving Peter Parker...

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is, of course, the popular Marvel Comics character Spider-Man told from the point of view of his Love Interest, Mary Jane. It explores Mary Jane's friendships with Flash, Liz and Harry (who are, of course, themselves key members of the Spider-Man cast of characters) and her developing friendships / romantic relationships with both Spider-Man and Peter Parker (whom, although it was strongly implied at times, was never directly revealed to be Spider-Man throughout the course of the book). Although primarily a Teen Drama aimed at teenage girls with little in the way of superhero exploits, it soon developed a following amongst a more diverse collection of fans owing to its clever and interesting writing (by Sean McKeever) and distinctive art (mainly by Takeshi Miyazawa).

Under McKeever's pen, the book lasted for two four-issue mini-series (Mary Jane and Mary Jane: Homecoming, focusing on the build-up to the Homecoming Dance) and a twenty-issue run, which Miyazawa drew up until issue fifteen (where he was replaced for the last few issues by David Hahn). After McKeever left to work for DC Comics, Marvel started the series again at issue one with Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise) writing and Craig Rousseau on pencils (it was originally supposed to be Adrian Alphona, but he quit comics).

Yes, that joke's been made already, so has the other one.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • The premise is about Mary Jane and her childhood friends Liz, Flash and Harry as they attend Midtown and deal with the frequent problems they face, while Mary Jane herself deals with her crush with Spider-Man while developing a closer friendship with Peter Parker. This is all wildly different from the original comics.
    • Dialogue seems to indicate that Mary Jane has a strenuous relationship with her mother instead of her father.
    • Flashbacks reveal that Mary Jane dated Ned Leeds in the past.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Looter! The character is genuinely seen as one of the biggest losers in the supervillain community in the normal Marvelverse, rivaled only by Stilt-Man and Leap-Frog. Here, he's far more adept, and actually gets away from Spider-Man for their first five battles.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the original comics, Mary Jane was a stereotypical party girl which was eventually revealed through several Hidden Depths to be a mask she puts on to avoid making attachments due to her bad home life. While it's established early on that Mary Jane hides how depressed she can sometimes be, she's far more open about her feelings especially when it comes to her best friend Liz. However she does eventually adopt a party girl facade to deal with how complicated her life has been since Homecoming and her feelings for Peter.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted; whereas Liz Allan has most of the (negative) character traits associated with the Alpha Bitch, Mary Jane is actually more popular and well-liked.
  • Berserk Button: Pretty much the one time we see Spider-Man lose his temper, it's when a supervillain he's been chasing notices and recognizes Mary Jane, who is present at their battle for an unrelated reason, and approaches her in astonishment as she (not recognizing him) backs away in fear.
    Spider-Man: Hey! You don't go near her!
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lindsay from the drama club. She acts nice to Mary Jane at first, but when Mary Jane gets the lead role, she starts dating Harry, her ex to get back at her.
  • "The Breakfast Club" Poster Homage: Issue 9's cover has Spider-Man as Brian, Gwen as Claire, Flash as Andrew, and Liz as Bender.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: A far less dramatic example occurred after the prom. Due to the argument at the prom, the main cast's friendship is severely strained.
  • Canon Character All Along: Mr. Limke ends up becoming the Looter.
  • Character Development: MJ gradually becomes a bit more confident in herself and what she wants, Liz becomes less of an Alpha Bitch, Flash becomes less of a bully and Harry becomes more of an underhanded, scheming jerk (hey, character development isn't always nice).
  • Childhood Friend Romance: All over the place, it first starts with Flash and Liz dating, with Flash having a secret crush on Mary Jane. Then Mary Jane starts dating Harry. Then Flash and Liz break up and so do Mary Jane and Harry. After a while Flash falls out of love with MJ and then starts dating Liz again. And while it never actually happens, it's heavily implied that Mary Jane and Peter are going to end up as this.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • MJ is a reasonable example.
    • But not Liz, who's jealous that everyone seems to like MJ more than her, thus acting more like a bitch than usual.
  • Demoted to Extra: Since the series focuses on Mary Jane, many of the classic characters (such as Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, several villains) are either de-emphasized or absent altogether.
  • Dramatic Irony: It's never outright stated, but there would be few in the audience who don't know that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are different identities of the one and same person, which adds copious amounts of this to the romantic entanglements Mary Jane gets into regarding them.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universed. In a flashback panel in one issue, Flash sees Peter quietly slinking through the school corridors, obviously upset about something, and makes a snide taunt towards him. One of his friends, appalled, has this reaction... and then realises that Flash hasn't heard the news about what happened to Peter's Uncle Ben the previous night. In general, other characters tend to be quick to call out Flash's bullying of Peter as mean and unfair.
  • Elseworld: Although not strictly part of the mainstream Marvel Universe continuity, it is essentially set in the universe next door, with things not being that different.
  • Emo Teen: A flashback storyline sees Mary Jane indulge in an Emo Teen period after breaking up with her first boyfriend. It's mercifully brief.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: The basic premise of the series; in the original 616 continuity only Flash and Liz were Peter's high school classmates- he didn't meet MJ, Gwen and Harry until he went to college, and Felicia Hardy certainly never studied with any of them.
  • Expy: Mary Jane in this series is based off Kirsten Dunst's version from the Spider-Man film trilogy, except kept in high school, allowed more time to develop, and not placed in nearly as much distress.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The relatively common teenage-girl exclamation of "Omigod!" (as in "Oh my God!") has become "Omigosh!"
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "The _____ Thing" (until vol. 2)
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Spider-Man initially turns down MJ asking him out because of how insanely dangerous his life is.
  • Jerkass: Harry Osborn starts off as a fairly decent, if slightly flighty and shallow, guy at the beginning of the series, but gradually begins to become more of a jerk as time goes on.
  • Jerk Jock: Flash Thompson, as he is in the mainstream Spider-Man series. Played with in that even his best friends think he's a pretty unreasonable jerk to Peter Parker.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • While Flash Thompson is the high-school bully to Peter Parker that he is in every continuity, in this one we see a lot more of his perspective on things and thus witness more humanising moments from him. Notably, however, the "Heart of Gold" part is never allowed to excuse the "Jerk" part, as those around him tend to be quick to criticise him whenever they see him bullying Peter Parker.
    • Similarly, Liz is a bit of an Alpha Bitch but she genuinely does like MJ, and her mean treatment of Flash conceals genuine fondness for him. Furthermore, while she has a rather sharp tongue and abrasive personality she's not an outright bully and there's no real malice to her.
  • Lighter and Softer: Spider-Man might be a light-hearted superhero, but he is still one surrounded by death. Here, at least, no one's life is in danger.
  • Limited Social Circle: Played with; although the series follows a core cast of about five or six friends, MJ is a popular and well-liked girl so we frequently see her talking to and hanging out with peripheral characters to underline this.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Liz Allan.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Take a seat; Mary Jane starts off in a relationship with Harry Osborn. At the same time, Flash Thompson, the boyfriend of Liz Allan, Mary Jane's best friend, also has a not-so-secret crush on Mary Jane. Mary Jane also happens to have a crush on Spider-Man, who himself may or may not have a thing for the super heroine Firestar. Overwhelmed by all of this nonsense, Mary Jane swears off boys, only to later develop a crush on Peter Parker. The moment she's ready to confess it turns out she's too late because he's now in relationship with Gwen Stacy. Dejected, Mary Jane kinda-sorta gets back together with Harry Osborn who kinda-sorta may also have feelings for Felicia Hardy. In the end, both Peter and Mary Jane end up single, and everyone can see the inevitable happening, but it ironically never does.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Mary Jane starts out the series with a huge crush on Spider-Man, but when the two actually go on a date, she finds that there isn't much of a connection between them, and Spider-Man becomes a confidante instead. Instead, MJ begins having eyes for her Adorkable classmate Peter Parker...
  • Meaningful Echo: In the first issue, after accidentally revealing he knows where Mary Jane lives, Spider-Man stutters out a flustered Blatant Lie ("It's one of my special powers!") before quickly scurrying away in embarrassment after an awkward pause. At the end of the "Homecoming" arc, after walking her home from the diner, Peter Parker scurries away in a similarly flustered and embarrassed fashion after a similarly awkward pause. Almost as if they were the same person...
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe, Limo Girl.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • New Transfer Student: Felicia Hardy appears as this near the end of the first volume, having been expelled from her last school because of her temper and being confrontational.
  • Nice Girl: Mary Jane.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Mary Jane, however, actually is an ordinary high school student. The vast amount of the cast is this, the only one that isn't, of course, is Peter (though it's never actually confirmed in-story).
  • Parental Issues: There is... something going on between MJ and her mother, which may contribute heavily towards MJ's issues throughout the series. It's never really elaborated on, and we never actually meet the woman, but MJ does not appear to harbour warm feelings towards her and the one time her home life comes up in a conversation with a school counsellor MJ mumbles out some vague, flustered comments about her before quietly asking to change the subject, clearly uncomfortable with discussing it.
  • Perspective Flip: Non-villainous example; it's Spider-Man told from the point-of-view of Mary Jane (and a few other members of the supporting cast) instead of Peter Parker.
  • Plucky Girl: Mary Jane — her life isn't the easiest, but she keeps going anyway.
  • Previously Overlooked Paramour: Played With, where Mary Jane Watson is initally infatuated with the dashing, daring, Spider-Man, but eventually falls for her kind, considerate tutor Peter Parker, with the twist that the suitors are one and the same.
  • Secret Identity: The series never directly comes out and says it but Spider-Man and Peter Parker are, of course, one and the same. There are plenty of clues, overt and otherwise, for the discerning reader to pick up on, but the unaware reader (all three of them) could easily read the series and never pick up on it.
  • Secret-Keeper: Peter ends telling Gwen about him being the one to take pictures of Spider-Man and she begins to cover up for him.
  • Shipper on Deck: While Liz was against it at first, she does later ship MJ/Peter.
  • Shout-Out: The book is mainly focused around the Spider-Man cast of characters, but allusions are made to characters such as Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mary Jane
  • Teen Drama
  • Tsundere: Liz easily qualifies as a Type A.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Guess. Go on. Guess. We'll wait.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Still waiting.
  • Wrong Guy First:
    • Harry Osborn.
    • Also, Mary Jane initially pursues a relationship with Spider-Man, but realizes that she's actually in love with Peter Parker. There's an irony here...
  • Wedgie: In the second volume Flash Thompson gives Peter Parker a wedgie because hes jealous of his relationship with Mary Jane.
  • Younger and Hipper: While putting Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn, and Gwen Stacy in high school with Peter isn't a new idea, the Ultimate Spider-Man book and the former two in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film having beaten this comic to it, it is the first time Felicia Hardy is also in high school with them. This is notable because Ultimate kept her an adult when she appeared.

Alternative Title(s): Mary Jane, Mary Jane Homecoming