Amazing Spider-Man #42-43
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #42, Amazing Spider-Man #43
But Colonel John Jameson doesn't know that, and he's covered in 'space spores' that give him super strength - so strong that the government has to put him in a special suit made by Stark Industries that limits his strength. They also make him dumber, and his father JJ's anti-Spider-Man rants finally get to him, so he goes off to fight Spidey.
Spidey beats Jameson by pushing him into some sort of electric generator that, combined with the electro-magnetic field built into his suit, causes a feedback that knocks him out and removes the effects of the space spores.
Meanwhile, the Rhino is kept under heavy sedation while Foggy Nelson is assigned as his defense attorney.
In his social life, Peter is invited to a party at Gwen Stacey's house, but after he accepts he realizes he can't go because he's got to finally meet Mary Jane. And at the very end of this issue, he does finally meet her and she is a knockout.
While Peter is at dinner with Aunt May and the Watsons, the Rhino escapes from prison. Mary Jane is cute as hell but a total nut, dancing like a crazy person in front of the television.
It's interesting to read her actions in the context of Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16, reasoning that she acts a little funny because she knows the truth about Peter/Spider-Man. Certainly in this issue she makes it very easy for him to go after the Rhino, but once they get there, she doesn't act like she knows why he disappears.
Meanwhile, Ned gives Betty an engagement ring.
We get to see the Rhino's origin this issue. He was a really dumb guy who some mercenary scientists experimented on. One tells him, "My associates think you are too stupid to be trusted -- but I disagree. I feel your very lack of intelligence will prevent you from ever betraying us!". Unfortunately, the process of turning him into the Rhino also makes him smarter (I bet you never knew that!). Smart enough to betray the scientists.
Daredevil decides not to go after the Rhino, giving Spider-Man "first crack at him".
Spidey gets beat by the Rhino the first time and has to get rescued by a policeman. But he manages to retrieve some of the Rhino's hide, which he brings to Doc Connors. Connors considers turning into the Lizard to go after the Rhino, but Spidey is like "Whoooah there, mister. Just keep working on a way to dissolve the Rhino's armor." Which he does, and they incorporate it into Spidey's webbing so the next time the two fight (Rhino is still going after John Jameson because he doesn't know that the space spores are gone), Spidey dissolves the armor and the Rhino is finished.
Peter beat the bad guy, has a cool new girlfriend, and some good money from photos of the Rhino/Spidey fight. A happy ending at last!
Then, with Stan telling us that his script was a page short so here's some quick filler, we find out that Flash Thompson has been drafted, Aunt May hasn't been taking her medicine because Peter spent all the money on his motorcycle, and Peter has to break his date with MJ. Also, Mary Jane has a weird hand growing out of her back.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place concurrently with Daredevil #21.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #182, Marvel Tales #183
Inbound References (6): show
The "not an imaginary story or a dream sequence" line occasionally pops up in Marvel comics over the next 7 years or so. It's a dig at DC comics who frequently did use that plot device(to a ridiculous degree in the 1960s Superman titles).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 12:03 AM
Stan Lee wanted Gwen as Parker's girlfriend, but Mary Jane kept getting all the fan mail(even pin-up poster requests, and not the Comics Code-approved type), so Stan tried to downplay MJ by making her an "irresponsible pleasure-seeker" and later giving her a deliberately ugly hairdo. Nothing worked, so Stan just gave up and made MJ more prominent.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 3, 2013 7:55 PM
Which of course is the great advantage of writing these things for the first time. Similar stuff happens with adaptations (Smallville's Chloe Sullivan on line 1) and the mythos is set, so the fans (and the story, and the characters) lose.
Posted by: Paul | February 8, 2013 8:57 AM
Interesting notes by Drummond here. I wonder if MJ was modeled after a famous celebrity of the time. Would be interested to know the inspiration. Romita could sure create some sexy looking ladies.
Posted by: Mike | July 19, 2014 10:20 PM
No, WE just hit the jackpot because they waited until Romita took over the book before introducing MJ. With the way Romita draws her, she, hands down, becomes the hottest woman in the Marvel Universe at this point.
And, while she may be an "irresponsible pleasure-seeker", that's a welcome relief, from the worrying types like Jane Foster, Pepper Potts, Karen Page.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 15, 2015 8:23 AM
Would this be the first reference to Martin Goodman in a Silver Age Marvel...?
Posted by: Rob Granito Lives | March 5, 2015 8:58 PM
John Romita said in Comics Interview #89 that Mary Jane was based on Ann-Margret, and that Stan wanted her to be a go-go dancer visual type to contrast with Gwen's "iciness". Stan reportedly did not like Ditko's version of MJ.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 26, 2015 9:26 PM
ALL teenagers and pre-teens danced in front of the TV in the 60s and 70s. That's what TV programs like American Bandstand and Soul Train were all about.
Posted by: James Holt | September 4, 2016 7:18 PM
I would have thought kids had moved on to Hullabaloo and Shindig by the 60s. (Bandstand was still on though...Soul Train you need to wait a decade)
Seriously, if Mary Jane was introduced earlier in the decade, maybe she wouldn't be so go-go.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 5, 2016 1:16 PM
Ha yah MJ does look like a go-go dancer on Hullabaloo, maybe John got her off the cover of a TV Guide. Hullabaloo and Shindig only lasted a few years. Bandstand had staying power.
Posted by: James Holt | September 5, 2016 4:16 PM
Yeah but they were a bit more about the go-go mid-60s scene. Bandstand had staying power but really it's most influential period is from when it was in Philly in the 50s.
Though seriously, I actually do find it interesting that Mary Jane would be revealed at this point when go-go was the hip thing. Change up a few things and you could say she was less "girl next door" and more "go-go dancer". (especially since the earlier unrevealed pics don't really give that impression off; I think it really does show both Romita's influence and just what was culturally relevant at this point) It really sort of feels the same sort of way as the "Howard Hughes" influence probably had with Tony Stark. (particularly in a period before he went particularly gonzo, thus another "lightning in a bottle" inspiration)
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 5, 2016 5:55 PM
I've never thought MJ should be the 'girl next door.' A 'girl next door' type couldn't successfully pull off "Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot" like MJ does, and that's the character's defining moment. At minimum, she's an example of the swingin' 60s type of girls Peter is meeting now that he's growing up and going to college. She would fit right in at the Coffee A-Go-Go with Bernard the Poet, possibly inspiring a trippy stream-of-consciousness novel or two in the process.
Sure she can have a more complicated personal life, but that's not how she presents herself to others. She wants to have fun and dance. Spidey is cool to watch. When Peter calls to break off their plans tomorrow night, is she disappointed but hiding it well? Is she relieved because she didn't really want to see him again and only said 'yes' out of politeness? Was she trying to decide between several things to do tomorrow night and glad to hear that one option had eliminated itself, making her decision easier? Does she just take everything as it comes one minute at a time without a care for the future? Is she intended for a villain's trap so Spider-Man would make a horrible deal somewhere down the line? It could be any of these, or something else. Life is an ever-unfolding mystery. You wanted adulthood, Peter, you got it.
But the 'girl next door'? Liz, Betty, even Gwen should all have greater claims to being that compared to MJ. We already saw what Liz and Betty thought when they saw her.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 5, 2016 7:10 PM
When you asked who she was modeled on Ann-Margret was the name that popped into my head without actually knowing that for a fact. I like Mary Jane but not as much as Gwen. Mary Jane however for what ever reason had something that appealed to a lot of fans and she went on to become the preeminent female supporting character in the series (after Aunt May of course).
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 8, 2016 9:36 PM
I also preferred Gwen over Mary Jane, altho' I always liked Betty best, especially for Peter. The "girl next door" retcon never worked well for me. During Ditko's run I always assumed MJ lived a few blocks away, since, if she lived next door, Peter likely would have known what she looked like, after all that time.
MJ's defining moment for me was when Betty and Liz met her in #25. Her face wasn't shown, but we could see that she was a knockout from the neck down, and from Betty's and Liz's reactions. The "jackpot" moment made her seem more self-absorbed and shallow to me.
Peter also prefered Gwen, and only went after MJ when he was rebounding from Gwen's untimely death. Instead of developing a black widow complex, Peter seemed to have blocked her memory and made a rapid, arguably unrealistic, recovery.
Posted by: James Holt | November 8, 2016 10:00 PM
Ann Margret as the inspiration for Mary Jane is the greatest idea I've heard since Wolverine looked at a loaf of bread and wondered what to do with it.
I don't want to discus actors or movies, but Ann Margret would have totally pulled off the "Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot" scene that Kirsten Dunst never managed. Kirsten looks cute when she's not wearing a bra. Ann Margret walks in, tells us we've hit the jackpot, and only a very few men on the planet could say anything but "yes, ma'am." Thank you, Spider-Man, for taking one for the team.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 11, 2016 3:37 AM
The cleverest thing about MJ was the buildup to the reveal, where she is LITERALLY the girl next door, who we never see, and then when we see her she is the least like the figurative girl next door she can be.
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 10, 2017 6:13 AM
Reading this story makes you wonder if Stan was thinking about turning John Jameson into a super hero, but then, on a second thought, he opted for the Man Wolf angle
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | June 12, 2018 1:44 PM
Not only is #42 the first appearance of MJ, it's also the first appearance of Gwen's hairband, which will be handed to all of her clones along with purple skirt & go-go boots.
Clearly this started off as Romita trying to make a more "modern" version of Ditko's Gwen with the hair pinned away from her face, as at the start the hairband is being used to pin back the front of her hair in the same way.
It will appear in each of Gwen's appearances from #42-47 (I'm not sure if Fnord wants to start tracking it?) before Romita makes a rare mistake of trying to give her a different swept-to-the-left hairstyle which doesn't work as well as MJ's simple fringe. Still experimenting with exactly what he needs to do with her hair, Romita gives her a cute pink hat in #53, which one of her clones should definitely bring back.
In #55 we get a prototype of the classic Gwen look, with the fringe now in place & the hair band only only being used for the back of her hair, however it's some sort of hippie version of the hairband with a long black feather on the right side.
Finally, in #59 we get the classic black Alice band, and also Peter & Gwen's first kiss. Coincidence? I don't think so. Maybe if she'd got her hair sorted out earlier, he wouldn't have been flirting with MJ all this time.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 12, 2018 6:22 PM
Interesting to see the green-and-yellow color scheme of John Jameson's spacesuit was kept when he became the "scientific lycanthrope" Man-Wolf.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 19, 2018 4:29 PM
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