So, this issue here is one with a famous first appearance for Spider-Man fans. Granted, it’s all of one panel on the very last page, but the rest of the issue is kinda forgettable in comparison.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #42, November 1966
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita Sr
The Plot: Something about John Jameson on a rampage, but who cares? There’s Mary Jane!
Commentary: There’s apparently some debate among Spider-Man fans over whether Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson is the love of Peter’s life. I’m not sure why that’s a debate. Gwen died in a comic before I was born. Mary Jane was Peter’s wife. They only split because of some nonsense about how a married Peter limits storytelling or some such. I never thought so, but that’s just me. And I believe the current Marvel writers and editors on Amazing Spider-Man believe Gwen is Peter’s One True Love and that’s why he and MJ split…again.
That’s…that’s just stupid in my humble opinion.
Regardless, that’s the current state of affairs. What about in 1966? There’s been a running gag that Aunt May is trying to set-up Peter with her friend Anna Watson’s niece Mary Jane. Ditko drew MJ a couple times, but always with her face obscured by a hat or a tree branch or something. Peter assumed the girl is some ugly wallflower type, hence Aunt May’s insistence that they meet up, but Betty Brant and Liz Allen both saw MJ’s face and thought she was gorgeous. Mary Jane has been, up until this point, perhaps as big a mystery as the Green Goblin’s secret identity.
And then there’s this issue’s last panel with her famous line of “Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot,” and Peter’s stunned look at the woman that I would argue is his One True Love as much as any one person can be someone’s One True Love.
That’s a philosophical discussion for another time, another column, and possibly on another website because it’s probably not the thing to put on Gabbing Geek.
Granted, Peter was literally thinking about Gwen Stacy just before MJ showed up, and if there’s further proof Ditko is gone, it’s that the scenes of Peter at school show just about everyone involved, including Flash Thompson, are nowhere near as harsh and mean to each other as they used to be. This is a much more recognizable Spider-Man comic, and MJ’s first appearance really highlights that.
Oh, as for the rest of the issue…John Jameson gets some superpowers and goes after Spider-Man because it looks like Spidey robbed a bank. It’s all a big misunderstanding, and Peter somehow knows high voltage will cure the Roid Ragin’ astronaut. Also, the authorities don’t know what to do with the Rhino. Not as memorable as the MJ and Peter stuff.
But for this slot next time, I think it’s time for the next Annual.