Wizard Universe takes a stroll down memory lane on the relationship of one of comics greatest ever couple:
THE WIZARD RETROSPECTIVE: SPIDER-MAN AND MARY JANE
Before ‘One More Day’ changes their relationship forever, look back on 40 years of courtship, chaos and controversy in the lives of one of comics’ greatest couples
By Ben Morse and the Wizard Staff
Posted September 4, 2007 10:10 AM
“Face it, tiger—you just hit the jackpot!”
With eight words, Mary Jane Watson entered Peter Parker’s life and changed it forever. Two decades later, she altered everything once again with two more words: “I do.”
Spider-Man, the eternal awkward teenager of comics, got hitched with a beautiful wife on his arm. Some loved the change in Spidey’s status quo, others hated it, but the Peter-MJ romance found its way into comics, cartoons and eventually the Spider-Man film franchise.
Now, after 21 years of bliss—with occasional bumps in the road—the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane faces irrevocable change in “One More Day,” the four-part story with art by Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada beginning in September that ends writer J. Michael Straczynski’s six-year run on Amazing Spider-Man.
“In the end, ‘One More Day,’ regardless of what happens, is all about great power and great responsibility for both Peter and Mary Jane,” promises Quesada.
For the first time, the men who have seen Spidey and MJ through richer and poorer look back on over 40 years of sickness and health in case “till death do you part” lies just around the corner.
THE INTRODUCTION OF MARY JANE
In 1966, the long running gag of Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker, trying to avoid a blind date with the presumably homely niece of a next door neighbor came to an end in Amazing Spider-Man #42 as Peter came face to face with the beautiful Mary Jane Watson. Co-created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita Sr., the vivacious party girl proved an entertaining foil to the straight-laced Peter.
STAN LEE (Marvel Comics editor-in-chief 1945-1972, Amazing Spider-Man writer 1962-1973, co-creator of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson): When teens hear their mothers say, “Have I got the girl for you!” they usually always run in the other direction. I just thought it would be funny to have Aunt May keep saying that to Peter and then him putting her off all the time only to one day open the door and here’s this sexy, beautiful, vivacious redhead standing there.
ROGER STERN (Spectacular Spider-Man writer 1980-1981, Amazing Spider-Man writer 1981-1984): MJ was first depicted by [original Spider-Man artist] Steve Ditko back in Amazing Spider-Man #25 where he didn’t show her face, but it was clear from the reactions of Betty Brant and Liz Allen that she was a knockout.
JEPH LOEB (Spider-Man: Blue writer 2002): If certain history is to be believed, [Mary Jane] was hidden initially because [Stan] wanted John Romita Sr. to be the first to draw her so she would have a completely different look [from the other characters].
LEE: John was just so perfect at creating these characters. I would sit in awe at the work he produced. All I would say is there’s a new character coming up in the book and maybe given him a name and he would put together such beautiful drawings.
JOHN ROMITA SR. (Amazing Spider-Man artist 1966-1970, co-creator of Mary Jane Watson): When I did a new character, I always did a silhouette first to make sure they look different from everybody else out there. When I [drew] Wolverine, I made him 5-foot-4. I remember Stan wanted her to be a go-go dancer, like one of those girls in birdcages dangling from the ceiling. I did a color sketch with green eyes and red hair and Stan accepted it at first glance.
GERRY CONWAY (Amazing Spider-Man writer 1973-1975): Her introduction, “Face it, tiger—you just hit the jackpot!” is one of the greatest comic book moments of all time.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Comics executive editor): I liked [Mary Jane] in those early stories by Stan and Romita where she’s riding around on the back of Pete’s motorcycle going, “Check out the scene, daddy-o!” and dancing to disco. She was a real breath of fresh air in those days.
LOEB: She was clearly not a “nice” girl, she was a party girl. She didn’t really care about anything and it was a nice counterpoint to Peter’s glum life. She was closer in personality to Spidey than Peter.
CONWAY: She was probably the first true “babe” in comics. These days every female character in comics seems to be a babe, but MJ was the first. I was 13 or 14 when she first appeared and of course I hoped she’d be a permanent fixture.
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Comics executive editor, Amazing Spider-Man editor 2001-2007): She was hot, she had a lot of sass and she was trouble. [Laughs] What boy doesn’t want trouble?
MARV WOLFMAN (Marvel Comics editor-in-chief 1975-1976, Amazing Spider-Man writer 1978-1980): John Romita Sr. did a phenomenal job making [Mary Jane] gorgeous, but I felt she didn’t really seem to have any depth to her.
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (Ultimate Spider-Man writer 1999-present): Mary Jane was so obnoxious in her first appearances. She was the most selfish, annoying hot chick, and I thought that made her real because I know a lot of annoying hot chicks, so I could relate. [Laughs]
JOE QUESADA (Marvel Comics editor-in-chief 2000-present): I liked MJ being the girl out of [Peter’s] league. That’s something we can all identify with at some point or another.
Standing in Mary Jane’s way for Peter’s heart: Gwen Stacy, introduced a year earlier in Amazing Spider-Man #31 (1965). Despite surface differences, Gwen and MJ became the “Betty” and “Veronica” respectively to Peter’s “Archie” in a classic love triangle.
HOWARD MACKIE (Web of Spider-Man writer 1992-1993, Peter Parker: Spider-Man writer 1994-2000, Amazing Spider-Man writer 1999-2001): I thought [Mary Jane] worked best as a counterpoint to Gwen. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Betty Brant in there as well, just because I think the more complications in the personal life of Peter Parker, the better the adventures of Spider-Man play out.
CONWAY: I always liked Betty Brant because she was the first one I thought Peter was destined to be with when I was a kid reading the book. She was also this unattainable older girl, which is very attractive for a guy in high school to flirt with and have a relationship with a woman three years older than him.
BREVOORT: Both MJ and Gwen were more interesting with each other to bounce off of. I was a little bit more of a Gwen fan as MJ, especially in those days, always came across as a little “too hip for the room.”
STEVE WACKER (Amazing Spider-Man editor): I learned to love Gwen Stacy when [writer] Jeph [Loeb] and [artist] Tim Sale did the Spider-Man: Blue miniseries [in 2002]. That whole book is really an ode to her and for the first time I got what all these 40-year-old guys love about Gwen Stacy.
BENDIS: Gwen was gorgeous but she didn’t have much of a personality. She was kind of an emotional cipher who just made [Peter] feel bad all the time. MJ may have been sort of “me, me, me” all the time and it wasn’t the most pleasant personality, but it was a personality, so I was always rooting for her.
ROMITA SR.: [Gwen] had been a cold broad when Ditko was on the book, but Stan said that I drew her so angelic that she had to warm up. Stan always accused me of favoring Mary Jane, but Gwen was my favorite.
DAVID MICHELINIE (Amazing Spider-Man writer 1987-1994): I would have preferred the Gwen of then to the Mary Jane of then, but to the Mary Jane of later on? I don’t know.
LEE: I always thought Peter would marry Gwen. She was the sweet beautiful girl-next-door type who made sense for Peter. But the way John [Romita] drew Mary Jane, she seemed so much more hip and cool and fun. The problem with Gwen was she was just a girl—Mary Jane was a firecracker.
THE DEATH OF GWEN STACY
Spider-Man’s world changed forever in 1973’s Amazing Spider-Man #121 when Gwen Stacy met her demise at the hands of the Green Goblin in a story co-plotted by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. Gwen’s death left Peter and Mary Jane both shell-shocked, and while he initially rebuked her attempts to comfort him, eventually the loss brought the two closer together. In Amazing Spider-Man #182 (1978), Peter even went so far as to propose to MJ, but she declined, treating the whole ordeal as thought it were a joke; Marv Wolfman, regular writer of Amazing, subsequently wrote Mary Jane out of the series for several years.
MICHELINIE: I thought [Gwen Stacy] was great and when she was killed it was a huge shock. I’m shaking my fist at Gerry Conway right now, but it was a very good, very effective story.
MARK BAGLEY (Amazing Spider-Man artist 1991-1996, Ultimate Spider-Man artist 2000-2007): I remember getting the comic where Gwen died and being shocked but I also thought it was pretty cool because back then every time you turned around Peter and Gwen were breaking up over something and like a lot of [comic book] relationships it seemed to be the same thing over and over again.
LEE: I didn’t [kill Gwen], that was Gerry Conway, the professional killer! [Laughs] The way Gerry recalls it, he called me when I was on a trip to Europe or something to ask if it was okay to kill Gwen and I must have said it was okay, so maybe I did contribute to her death after all.
ROMITA SR.: We were talking about killing a character and some people suggested Aunt May, but I said if you’re going to kill somebody, kill somebody important—the love interest. That people are still talking about it 30 years later, the proof is in the pudding.
CONWAY: The main reason I was happy to see Gwen Stacy go was that I thought she was just not a strong enough romantic interest for Peter. Mary Jane is a challenge and a well-worked-out character in her own right, so she’s a good balance for him.
STERN: It never ceases to amaze me how many older readers still think of Gwen as this sweet girl who was destined to be Peter’s soulmate. They must have missed those early issues where they first met in college and she kept snubbing him. Gwen was pretty nasty in those days. You really have to wonder how people would have remembered her if not for the tragedy of her death.
LOEB: Killing Gwen was the biggest mistake in the world. I think it’s quite telling in the 20 years since Gwen died, they haven’t found a character who has really replaced her in the triangle [with Peter and Mary Jane]. Right now there isn’t anybody in Peter’s life other than MJ and Aunt May, and it’s been like that forever and that’s frustrating.
CONWAY: My favorite moment [I’ve written with Peter and Mary Jane] is at the end of the death of Gwen Stacy death story where MJ is being her usual flip self about the whole thing and Peter breaks down and is furious with her and tells her to leave, and instead she just stays with him. To me, that was the turning point for the character, showing a maturity that we hadn’t seen before.
ALONSO: I thought part of the healthy tension of Peter’s life [at the time] was pining for the dead Gwen while wrestling with the complexity of a fledgling relationship with Mary Jane.
WOLFMAN: The reason I didn’t have [Mary Jane] accept Peter’s [first] marriage proposal was that I didn’t think it was a good match. It was logical for him to want to [get married] but not her. I wrote her out [of the book] after that because there was no reason to have her around immediately. I didn’t know she would be gone for [five years]!
REUNION AND MJ’S ORIGIN
Mary Jane, now a successful supermodel, made her triumphant return to Peter’s life five years later in Amazing Spider-Man #243 (1983), penned by Roger Stern with art by John Romita Jr. A year later in Amazing Spider-Man #257 (1984), writer Tom DeFalco had MJ reveal to Peter she knew he was Spider-Man. In 1989, the Parallel Lives graphic novel written by Gerry Conway, revealed that she had seen Peter climbing out of his window his first night as Spider-Man.
STERN: In the scene I wrote where MJ returned after being gone for many, many issues, she comes back to New York and lets herself into Pete’s apartment with the key he’d once given her just as [new character] Amy Powell was putting the moves on him. Amy storms off in a huff and just as Pete is starting to think maybe [he and Mary Jane] could pick up where they left off, she returns his key and leaves him standing there.
TOM DEFALCO (Amazing Spider-Man writer 1984-1986, 1995-1998; Marvel Comics editor-in-chief 1987-1994): I kept looking at Mary Jane as this beautiful but flighty girl, and thought if an intelligent guy like Peter Parker is drawn to her it has to be more than just hormones. There must be more to this woman than meets the eye and we had to figure out what that was. I threw a bunch of ideas against the wall and the backstory of Mary Jane is what emerged.
STERN: I like to think that Tom DeFalco and I both got some pretty good stories out of exploring Mary Jane’s family life and revealing just why she had an aversion to lasting relationships. To me, it just didn’t make sense for her to suddenly decide to marry Peter.
DEFALCO: I called Ron [Frenz, the then-Amazing artist] and said, “You know what? Mary Jane knows who Peter is and always has.” His first reaction was, “What are you, crazy?” but then pointed out a bunch of stories that made more sense if she did know. The same thing happened with [editor] Danny Fingeroth and [Editor-in-Chief] Jim Shooter. As soon as somebody said it aloud, a lot of things she had done over the years made more sense and fit. We called it “Marvel serendipity.”
LOEB: When you try to make MJ into this caring, feeling, “the party girl thing was a façade” character, it always read false to me because for so long she wasn’t like that.
BREVOORT: [Parallel Lives] completely changed all the classic Lee-Romita stories. It meant Mary Jane didn’t necessarily react to Peter Parker as this lovable loser for all those years, because she knew he was actually Spider-Man. It may have been a nicely executed story, but because of the ramifications, I’ve hated it since the day it saw print.
CONWAY: Given the context of where we were in the Peter-Mary Jane relationship with them being married and it seeming like there was a destiny to their relationship, I figured, “What the heck.” However, had things not developed to that point, I wouldn’t have thought it would be a good idea.
In Amazing Spider-Man #290 (1987), written by David Michelinie, Peter proposed to Mary Jane a second time and this time she accepted. The couple married in 1987’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, written by Michelinie with art by Romita Sr. as well as Paul Ryan. Simultaneously, Stan Lee married Peter and MJ in the daily Spider-Man newspaper strip and a faux ceremony took place with actors playing the lovebirds at Shea Stadium.
DEFALCO: When Ron Frenz and I were working on Amazing Spider-Man, we came up with a storyline where Peter was going to propose again, this time she was going to say yes, and then she was ultimately going to leave him at the altar. I think at [an earlier] Chicago convention, [then-Editor-in-Chief] Jim [Shooter] was on a panel with Stan Lee who wanted them get married for the newspaper strip and the two of them decided the wedding would actually take place.
MICHELINIE: I had just switched over [from writing Web of Spider-Man to writing Amazing Spider-Man] and was told I had two or three issues before they were going to get married. [Laughs] I was thrown into the deep end and had to work as best I could to move their relationship to marriage level in a very short time.
STERN: I don’t remember who first told me about [the marriage], but I think I dismissed it as a bad joke at first. Then I got a call from Marvel asking me to write an issue of Marvel Saga that would explore Pete and Mary Jane’s relationship over the years as a promo for the wedding. I told them they really didn’t want me to be the one to write that because it would show the readers just what a bad idea [the marriage] was.
WACKER: It all happened really fast, because when I started reading, [Mary Jane] wasn’t even in the book anymore. You’d hear about her once in awhile but she had been off the radar while Pete was dating other people like Deb Whitman and the Black Cat.
STERN: Pete asked MJ to marry him and within a couple of issues they were married! It would have been great to have an engagement period and get into their heads to find out why MJ had so suddenly changed her mind about settling down, but that opportunity was wasted. It was as if Marvel didn't want to give them time to have second thoughts.
BENDIS: I was a youngster when the marriage took place and I received an invitation drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz in the mail from Marvel. I didn’t send [Peter and Mary Jane] a present, but it was marketing gold.
WACKER: [Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21] must have been an early variant cover, because there was one with Peter Parker and one with Spider-Man. I bought them both.
MACKIE: I was an assistant editor at Marvel [at the time of the marriage], so somebody just walked by my office and said, “Hey, Peter and Mary Jane are getting married!” [Laughs] I was more interested in getting Walt Simonson’s latest issue of Thor out on time.
ROMITA SR.: I was too busy to do the [interior] artwork for the wedding issue. They asked, but I didn’t have time, so I did the covers with Spider-Man and Peter as the groom. [Marvel] had an editorial meeting and that’s when I voiced my disapproval and said [the marriage] was suicide and that it would end up being anticlimactic. I applaud their guts for going through with it, but that was my personal opinion.
BREVOORT: I think [the marriage] was conceptually a bad idea and the way it was carried out was bad. The whole storyline came from the newspaper strip because the syndicate publishing it wanted to get more newspapers to pick it up. Spider-Man was a soap opera strip about a young guy finding himself. That was what differentiated it. A married Spider-Man is no longer a young guy. Once he’s married, he’s your dad and there is no soap opera.
BENDIS: I think the marriage helped the franchise. Marriage is all about living up to responsibility and that’s what Peter Parker’s whole “with great power comes great responsibility” mindset is all about. Anything that creates new kinds of stories is good.
ALONSO: What I loved about Mary Jane was the chase. Once she gets “caught,” she gets demystified a bit. Any great romance is about the build to the kiss. Once the kiss happens, the story changes.
CONWAY: My general feeling about marrying off characters in a continuing series is that it’s a mistake. The romantic tension between the characters is strong when there’s the possibility it might go somewhere, but weakened when it comes to culmination. You lose all the possibilities of the tension of introducing other characters who could potentially take one of the main characters away from the others.
DEFALCO: When I heard they were actually going to get married, I thought was a big mistake. In hindsight, it worked perfectly fine and I think it’s a wonderful thing.
MICHELINIE: Given my druthers, I would never have had them get married because the classic Spider-Man is the young guy who’s got all the problems and not all the answers.
JOHN ROMITA JR. (Amazing Spider-Man artist 1980-1984, 2000-2004): Marriage dictates a passage of time and comics have a certain strength not having that definitive chronology. You can’t progress too far along those lines without changing the characters, and then if you try to backtrack, suddenly clones and the supernatural are involved, and now nobody buys it.
DEFALCO: Right before the wedding, Jim Shooter and Marvel came to a parting of the ways and I was promoted to editor-in-chief. [Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21] had already been sent to the printer but it was still in my power to kill it or let it go. A bunch of guys came into my office and said, “How are we going to get rid of this wedding?” [Laughs] I thought with all the steps we had already taken, we should continue to move forward.
THE EARLY MARRIED YEARS
The first few years of the marriage went smoothly, despite Mary Jane now finding herself in more danger than ever from Spider-Man’s foes such as Venom. Along the way, MJ’s personality continued to shift further away from carefree party girl and more towards dutiful wife.
STERN: [Peter and Mary Jane] shared some good times [before the marriage], but they were always like oil and water, fundamentally incompatible as a couple deep down. Sure there’s the old cliché about opposites attracting, but it’s similarities that forge lasting bonds.
LOEB: Peter has an awesome sense of humor and so did MJ when she was young and carefree, but somehow that all went away and they became this couple that felt like they’d been married for 20 years after three issues.
MACKIE: I think the writers, myself included, never took advantage of the opportunities that could have been explored with the marriage early on. It felt like Peter and Mary Jane went from dating to feeling like a couple married for 30 years almost immediately.
BREVOORT: Forget whether Spider-Man should be married or not, Mary Jane should not be married! [Laughs] She used to be this freewheeling pistol, and once she was married she became this wistful, soulless husk that would stare at the window waiting for Spidey to come back.
BENDIS: A lot of good stories were told that elevated MJ and [her relationship with Peter]. She rose to the occasions of the [marriage] and changed a lot. She’s more than just a damsel in distress, she’s somebody he could share his secret with and all that entails.
WACKER: The one classic story that pops into my head from right after the marriage is “Kraven’s Last Hunt” [by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck], where Peter was thought to be dead and a lot of the story was about Mary Jane and her reaction to that.
MICHELINIE: I had a story where a character named Jonathan Caesar has an obsession with Mary Jane and kidnapped her. Spider-Man was trying to save her, but she ended up saving Spider-Man. I thought that typified how I saw the relationship: They needed each other. She had a strong enough will and was smart enough to help her husband when he needed her just like he could for her.
THE CLONE SAGA
1994 saw the beginning of what many consider the creative low point of Spider-Man’s 40-plus year history: “The Clone Saga.” The three-year storyline saw the Peter Parker who had been active since the late ’70s revealed as a clone of the original who returned to reclaim his life. This controversial move was later undone and explained as a machination of Norman Osborn, the status quo restored when the real clone died. Complicating the story was Mary Jane giving birth to Peter’s child, only for the baby to be kidnapped by an agent of Osborn and never referred to again.
MICHELINIE: When Peter’s “parents” came back, the editors would never tell me if they were real, if they were Skrulls, if they were robots or what. I couldn’t really do anything with Peter and Mary Jane because I didn’t know if his parents were really back and at that point things started to drag a bit.
MACKIE: At the countless meetings, summits and retreats [at the time], nobody ever outright said to split up Peter and Mary Jane, but everybody would always say, “Boy, this [the marriage] is a real problem, what are we going to do about it?” You couldn’t say the “D” word, as in “divorce.”
BENDIS: You saw the downside of the marriage when they had that mysterious child that disappeared and nobody ever talks about. That pointed out all the things that was wrong with the idea of the marriage because it immediately ages him.
MACKIE: The clone story, which I believe was responsible for the collapse of the comic book industry as we know it and possibly for the rise of terrorism based on what I’ve read everywhere [laughs], was presented as a possible solution to get back to a young, un-entangled Peter Parker and Spider-Man, a way to get around this problem of the marriage without invoking divorce. It was pitched as a three-month story arc and at the end we would have a free and easy Peter Parker. [Laughs] What happened was a lack of commitment and a lot of people getting nervous with both editorial and upper-management changes. From there, it was a lot of wheel-spinning and tangents, many of which were editorially dictated.
SEPARATION AND RECONCILIATION
In 1999, strife entered their marriage as Mary Jane disapproved of her husband constantly placing himself in danger. In Amazing Spider-Man v.2 #13, written by Howard Mackie, a plane with MJ onboard exploded, leaving MJ apparently dead. Over a year later, Peter found her alive, the captive of a superpowered stalker, but even after her rescue, the couple chose to separate. After two years, writer J. Michael Straczynski reunited the couple in 2003’s Amazing Spider-Man#50.
DEFALCO: [When I was Marvel editor-in-chief], everybody would come in with the idea to kill Mary Jane, to divorce them, to do some cosmic event that reverses the whole thing. They all sounded like good stories, but there was no follow-up afterwards and when you’re looking at an ongoing series, you need to try to figure out the ramifications years down the road. Writers think short-term and editors’ jobs are to think long-term.
MARK BAGLEY (Amazing Spider-Man artist 1991-1996, Ultimate Spider-Man artist 2000-2007): [J. Michael] Straczynski and John Romita Jr. did a story where [Peter] was in New York and [Mary Jane] was on the West Coast and they were both pining for one another and it was well done but kind of annoying. You knew they weren’t going to divorce and you knew she wasn’t going to die because they’d already done that with Gwen. That’s why they shouldn’t be married: The relationship has been made too permanent, and it showed there.
QUESADA: I knew the separation wouldn’t make a difference. It was inevitable that [Mary Jane] would come back. One of the things I remember describing to Straczynski and [then-Peter Parker: Spider-Man writer] Paul Jenkins was that it just seemed like [Peter and Mary Jane] were always unhappy with one another, the marriage just seemed like a real drag. I know that was writers trying to bring stress and strain into Peter’s life, but they were just always at odds. I asked Joe [Straczynski], Paul and everybody involved to do me a favor and let’s portray the marriage as a great thing. Let’s portray Mary Jane as an understanding wife and Peter as an understanding husband and make the relationship about support and love and them telling one another to go for their dreams and do what they have to do. At the least, I think we made the marriage a bit more lighthearted and hopefully represented what a healthy marriage can be.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
In 1999, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley launched Ultimate Spider-Man, a new ongoing series starting from scratch with Peter and Mary Jane as teenagers with an MJ who shared some of Peter’s intellectual interests as a girl-next-door type. This portrayal carried over in large part to director Sam Raimi’s highly successful “Spider-Man” movie in 2002, and its sequel films. Meanwhile, back in the Marvel Universe, Peter Parker revealed his secret identity to the world in the 2006 epic Civil War, with Mary Jane at his side offering her full support. The next major step for the couple will be “One More Day,” which promises lasting changes for the marriage as we know it.
BAGLEY: What young reader wants to pick up a book about a 27-year-old guy married to a supermodel? [Laughs] The appeal of Ultimate Spider-Man is keeping him a kid and keeping the relationships young. When Brian [Bendis] told me he was planning on never really aging Peter, I didn’t think he could do it. Now we’re six years in and the book is still about a 15-year-old kid in high school and nobody seems to be going, “Shouldn’t he be shaving?”
BENDIS: Ultimate Spider-Man #13 was a whole issue that took place in Peter’s bedroom where you think he is going to say “I like you” [to Mary Jane] but instead he says, “I’m Spider-Man.” I remember when I was 15 and had a girlfriend I would say or do anything to make myself seem like the best to her, and this is like that. I know for a lot of people [that issue] was whether or not they decided to buy the book on a regular basis or not.
STERN: A lot of people today have forgotten that MJ was introduced as a party girl. Part of that is probably due to the influence of the movies, which turned Mary Jane into a sweeter girl-next-door version of Gwen Stacy. The real MJ was never the girl-next-door, she was the hot babe who didn’t want to settle down.
QUESADA: I liked the way Joe [Straczynski] handled the relationship during Civil War when MJ along with Aunt May were supportive of Peter unmasking and then when they went on the run and she still stuck by him. I think that was absolutely wonderful and the way we wanted to portray that strong marriage.
WACKER: Given what has happened during Civil War and “Back in Black” with the way Mary Jane has put up with all the danger they’ve been put in, Peter has to stay married to her forever. How do you leave a woman like that? I couldn’t.
QUESADA: People remember a certain golden age of Spider-Man stories that had to do with the fact that Peter was a single guy living in New York with all the trials and tribulations that come with that.
DEFALCO: Today the primary readership is in their 20s and 30s and it makes no difference [if Spider-Man is married or not]. Most of the readers are in a committed relationship or married.
BREVOORT: Younger people who started reading comics in the last 20 years have only known a married Spider-Man, but that’s like living your life colorblind to the color orange: You can get along just fine without the color orange, but the world is a little better if you can see it too.
QUESADA: Nothing says Peter and Mary Jane can’t be together, but you add the element of marriage and it’s very hard to portray the stresses and strains that come with that without making one of the characters unlikable.
ALONSO: I think with “One More Day,” [Straczynski] has managed to really dig deep into the underpinnings of Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship and show their love and because he has done that, it’s going to make the choices they’re forced to make all the more poignant.
MICHELINIE: Peter Parker can never truly be single again. He can be widowed or divorced, but he can never be the same.
Jim Arehart, Jeremy Brown, Jim Gibbons and Chris Harnick contributed to this feature.