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  • Mary Jane Watson

    Mary Jane Watson comes from a severely troubled family. Her father, a professor and frustrated writer, takes his stress out on his family in the form of spousal and child abuse. Coping with her hellish family life, Mary Jane develops a facade as a superficial party girl to channel her anger and avoid the embarrassment, which may have cast her as a forerunner to the archetype of a wily, feisty redhead. Her parents would eventually divorce, and Mary Jane and her sister lived with her mother, often staying with relatives. She also frequently babysat a cousin of hers, Kristy Watson, who had minor appearances throughout the Spider-Man titles. Her favorite relative, her Aunt Anna, lived next door to the Parkers.

    Mary Jane‘s name was first mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #15 (August 1964), but she was originally an unseen character. The early issues of Amazing Spider-Man featured a running joke about Peter dodging his Aunt May‘s attempts to set him up with “that nice Watson girl next door”, whom Peter had not yet met and assumed would not be his type, since his aunt liked her. (In the Parallel Lives graphic novel an identical scenario is shown between Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna.) Mary Jane made her first actual appearance in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25 (June 1965); however, in that issue, her face was obscured. It is not until Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #42 (November 1966) that her face is actually seen. In that issue, on the last page, Peter finally meets her, and he is stunned by her beauty even as she speaks the now-famous line: “Face it, Tiger… you just hit the jackpot!”

    Peter begins to date her, much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy. However, her apparent superficiality proves to be an irritation to Peter that her rival did not share. Peter eventually learns to cope with this, and Mary Jane becomes an occasional flirtatious interest as well as a close friend to Peter, Gwen, and others.

    Despite her enjoyment of life, her friendships, and dating, Mary Jane refuses to be tied down for too long. When her relationship with Harry Osborn comes to an end, it has significant impact on Harry, driving him to a drug overdose. This in turn creates a boomerang effect, driving his father Norman Osborn to the brink of insanity, temporarily restoring his memories as the Green Goblin. Mary Jane only realizes the true consequences of her lifestyle when she learns of Harry’s predicament.

    Later, when the Green Goblin murders Gwen, MJ stays with Peter during his mourning; though he initially tells her to leave him alone, he becomes interested in her as he recovers. Their relationship has a few initial hurdles, such as MJ’s hot temper and Peter’s always dashing off to be Spider-Man. Following the events of the original clone saga, Peter realizes that Mary Jane is the girl he has always loved, and the two begin dating again.

    However, despite loving Peter, MJ does not wish to be tied, and when she allows the relationship to progress too far, she is left with a difficult decision when Peter proposes to her. After taking a short time to consider, she turns him down. Following a series of traumatic experiences involving Peter’s absences and his costumed alter-ego endangering his Aunt May, a spiritually-exhausted MJ leaves New York for several months. Peter meanwhile dates other women, most notably Felicia Hardy.

    MJ eventually returns, her behavior showing a marked change with her abandonment of her false front. Following an attack on Peter by Puma, she breaks down and admits her knowledge of Peter’s secret identity in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #257. After learning of her own family history in Amazing Spider-Man#259, Peter finds a new respect for her and begins to truly understand her. MJ however, makes it clear to Peter that knowing his identity changes nothing about her feelings, and that she only loves him as a friend.

    Despite the one-shot graphic novel “Parallel Lives” and Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16 revealing that Mary Jane discovered Peter’s secret when she noticed Spider-Man climbing out of Peter’s bedroom window, many comics published before this revelation claimed that she had simply “figured it out”, with the details of how and when left ambiguous to the reader.

    After yet another period of reconsidering his priorities in life, Peter contemplates letting go of the Spider-Man mantle, with Mary Jane backing the decision, but his relationship with Felicia Hardy soon resumes. Feeling lost and guilty, Peter visits Mary Jane and apologises with an awkward kiss before heading to Berlin with Ned Leeds.

    Following Ned Leed’s murder at the hands of The Foreigner, a changed and bitter Peter returns to New York, where his lack of direction in life is not helped when Ned is framed as The Hobgoblin, and Felicia elects to leave Peter behind as she is tied to the Foreigner. Mary Jane returns to Peter, presumbly to patch things up, but Peter surprises her with a second proposal of marriage, which MJ again turns down. She returns to her family to settle old debts with her father, with Peter following her. After aiding her sister in having her crooked father arrested, and aiding Peter against a Spider-Slayer, Mary Jane has an epiphany on marriage, and agrees to become Peter’s wife.

    Mary Jane continued to model after her marriage, but was stalked by her wealthy landlord, Jonathan Caesar. When she rejected his advances, he had her blacklisted as a model. She got a role on the soap opera “Secret Hospital,” but was unhappy with her character’s air-headed and mean personality. Although she successfully petitioned her boss to adjust her character’s personality, a deranged fan tried to kill Mary Jane out of hatred for the actions of her soap opera character. Mary Jane quit her job out of fear for her own safety.

    Due to this stress, the recent death of Harry Osborn, and the seeming return of her husband’s parents, Mary Jane began smoking (a habit she had quit in high school), only increasing the tension between her and Peter. Peter ultimately convinced her to stop smoking when he tricked her into visiting an old friend suffering heavily from lung cancer. When his parents were discovered to be fakes, Peter was unable to cope with the knowledge and disappeared for a time. Mary Jane visited her sister Gayle and her father for the first time in years, and finally reconciled with them. Meanwhile, Peter overcame his problems on his own. When she and Peter reunited, both were happier than they had been in a long time.

    Shortly afterward, Peter’s clone, Ben Reilly, appeared. Mary Jane discovered that she was pregnant. While she experienced some complications in her pregnancy, Reilly’s scientist friend Seward Trainer helped her. Peter and Ben were told by Trainer that Ben was the real Peter Parker, and Peter was the clone (which later proved to be a lie). Peter, acting on hypnotic suggestion by the Jackal, attempted to kill Mary Jane, but was prevented by Ben Reilly (as the Scarlet Spider), his teammates the New Warriors, and Kaine. Later, while arguing with Ben, Peter accidentally struck Mary Jane. After this, he decided to quit as Spider-Man, because the stress of his double life was endangering his wife and unborn child.

    Peter and Mary Jane left New York and moved to Portland, Oregon. While there, he lost his powers in a lab accident. They lived there peacefully for several months, adapting happily to normal life. However, they missed New York City and their friends, and moved back. Peter became unexpectedly ill and nearly died, but instead regained his powers. During the Onslaught crisis, Mary Jane was scanned by a Sentinel robot, who detected genetic abnormalities in her fetus.

    Soon afterward, when Mary Jane’s baby was already past due, she was poisoned by Alison Mongraine, an agent of the Green Goblin. Mary Jane’s baby was stillborn. The baby has not been seen since in the normal 616 continuity, but appears in stories set in the alternate-timeline MC2 universe. In this timeline, Mary Jane and Peter Parker are reunited with their child by Kaine. Two years later, Peter loses his leg in a final confrontation with The Green Goblin. Years later, Mayday becomes the heir to her father’s legacy as Spider-Girl.

    The couple managed to survive this tragic turn of events and Mary Jane managed to return to college to major in psychology, but the stress of the ongoing manipulations of Norman Osborn took their toll. After the Gathering of Five incident and the return of Aunt May, Mary Jane begged Peter to quit being Spider-Man.

    He was happy to do so for several months, but soon felt the tug of his great power and great responsibility to be a hero. Meanwhile, Mary Jane was offered a new modelling contract and reached new heights of success. Peter became Spider-Man again behind Mary Jane’s back, which put strain on their marriage yet again. At the same time, she began receiving lewd and threatening phone calls from an anonymous stalker. Mary Jane was flying across America when her airplane exploded in midair. Peter was shocked and went into deep denial over her death. Although he was set up with several other women, and his friends encouraged him to move on, he believed she was still alive. He was proven right when her mysterious stalker, an unnamed, telepathic mutant, made himself known. This stalker had telepathically connected to Peter in some way, and wanted to take over his life. He kidnapped Mary Jane as part of his plan and held her hostage for several months. The stalker, however, killed himself after finally gleaning enough of Peter’s personality and morality to discover that he had done terrible things. Peter and Mary Jane were reunited.

    However, the stress of her captivity drove Mary Jane away. She moved to Los Angeles and immersed herself in acting—starring as the doomed love interest in the film Lobster-Man. Although missing Peter after he failed to meet her on a visit back to New York, she refused to talk to him; it took Aunt May to get Peter to visit her in Los Angeles, where the two reconciled. However, when the villainess Shathra claimed to have had an affair with Spider-Man, Mary Jane had to be assured by Peter that it was a lie. After he defeated Shathra, Mary Jane and Peter ended their separation.

    When Peter and Mary Jane’s apartment and Aunt May’s house were burned down by Charlie Weiderman, and Spider-Man joined the New Avengers, Mary Jane and Aunt May accompanied him to live in Stark Tower. Mary Jane immediately felt at home with the New Avengers and was happy to finally be a part of Spider-Man’s world.

    With a bit of strain at first, a jealous Peter swore to himself that he would find a new home for his family, but when his initial jealousy subsided, the Civil War events forced him to stage a secret transfer of Mary Jane out of Stark Mansion, feeling that with the loss of his secret identity and his doubts about Tony Stark‘s ideas, Mary Jane had become a hostage in a luxurious house. Now residing in a cheap motel, her whole life had been affected, from her increasing difficulties in finding a new job as an actress to her being an easy target and prey, along with Aunt May, for the superpowered foes of Spider-Man. Nevertheless, MJ remained supportive of her husband during the whole ordeal.

    As the superhuman civil war reached its conclusion, Peter, Mary Jane, and Aunt May were targeted by an assassin working for Spider-Man’s old foe, the Kingpin. The assassin’s primary target was Peter, with MJ and May designated as secondary objectives. When Peter returned to the Parker family’s motel hideout and stood in front of a window, the assassin took aim at Peter and fired, but missed—shooting Aunt May.

    Peter and MJ scrambled to save her life, rushing her from hospital to hospital while trying to maintain their fragile cover of anonymity. In trying to keep May alive and hidden from Spider-Man‘s enemies, they truly became fugitives on the run.

    She later proved her devotion to her husband when she was arrested by a former acquaintance, now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and refused to surrender Peter to the authorities. (Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1). Fortunately, she was immediately rescued by her spouse, after she signaled him using the Spider Tracer she always carried with her.

    During the climactic “One More Day” storyline of fall 2007, Peter had to decide whether he would accept Mephisto’s deal of saving Aunt May in return for Mephisto wiping the knowledge and memory of Peter and MJ’s life together as husband and wife from the face of reality. This would leave only a single, subconscious piece of their souls to remember, allowing Mephisto to feast on those pieces’ pain for eternity.

    Peter and MJ grappled with their unspeakable choice with MJ telling the demon that “the answer is yes!”. As part of the bargain MJ made Mephisto promise to restore Spider-Man‘s secret identity which he agreed to do without question. She also asked to put his life back as it was and have a chance at happiness. Mephisto asked why he should do that, and MJ answered that it was because of what she could offer him. MJ whispered something to Mephisto, striking a devil’s bargain, and then urged Peter to “save May. Be the hero. Be my hero.” The penultimate frame was Mary Jane whispering the famous line, “face it, tiger…you just hit the jackpot.”

    In the revised timeline, which began at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #545, and was further depicted and explained in the following issues, MJ and Peter were never married (although they nearly did), but instead “dated seriously for years”.

    At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #560, Mary Jane makes her return as the girlfriend of actor Bobby Carr, having earlier in the issue been referred to as Carr’s “mystery girl.” In Amazing Spider-Man #561, Mary Jane is seen getting into bed with Carr, and is later attacked by Paperdoll. Concealing herself in the panic room, Mary Jane observes a battle between Spider-Man and Paperdoll, and communicates with Spider-Man over the intercom. Mary Jane says that Spider-Man knew her “in another life”.

    Peter does not learn that Mary Jane is the girlfriend of Carr nor that she was the voice on the intercom. Mary Jane is seen at the conclusion of the issue contemplating a phone call to Peter, but is hesitant to do so. She is asked for an autograph by Sara Ehret, an associate of Jackpot. Mary Jane tells her she does not know when she will return to New York. Recently, she left a message on Peter’s machine but it was cut off before she could say anything.

    Mary Jane had been living on the West Coast pursuing her acting career and still seeing Bobby Carr. They were not on speaking terms and he saw nothing of the red headed stranger before the married. MJ returned to New York after Carr was found to be taking Mutant Growth Hormone for a movie role, supplied by the White Rabbit. Carr complained that now she would tell them all about his drug use. His shallowness made MJ walk away from him and take a TV job, which took her back to New York. After Peter finally found the courage to talk to her, they agreed to meet the next day at Grand Central Station.

    Mary Jane appears on the last page of #600 at May Reilly Parker’s and John Jonah Jameson‘s wedding. May tosses the flowers to the sea of screaming female wedding guests when MJ, arriving late to the wedding, catches them and asks what she missed. The following issue begins a story titled “Red-Headed Stranger.”

    In the following issue it’s revealed that both Mary Jane and Peter agreed to meet with each other the following day. However a drunk Peter doesn’t remember when or where and is further delayed due to his activities as Spider-Man. M.J. as it turns out was also drunk (while waiting for Peter to muster his courage in order to talk to her) and while she recalls their meeting she has sadly overslept it. As she turns on the TV, wondering how Peter spent his night, she sees Spider-Man rescuing people and she comments: “Guess you did, nice work Tiger” hinting that she is aware of Peter’s dual identity. Whether she recalls their marriage and deal with Mephisto or not, remains unknown.  However, she appears to recall his secret identity as in issue 605 flashbacks MJ recalls a fight with Peter while he was dressed as Spider-Man, stating that she didn’t care where he was, and that he had a responsibility to their relationship. Peter begins to explain about his uncle Ben, but Mary Jane interrupts him to say that he can’t let a single moment define his life

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