Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
written by Sean McKeever
illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa
Sometimes a great comic can come completely out of the blue. It can be the least expected thing.
Firstly I suppose I should preface this whole review by stating the bleeding obvious fact that, as a 37 year old father of one, I’m not really the target audience for this. Neither, to be honest, is Molly, my 8 year old occasional reviewing partner and daughter.
But since I don’t have anyone else to review this who is in the required age group, let’s give it a go.
In much the same way as Batman Adventures is easily one of the greatest versions of Batman, this is the best Spider-Man I’ve read since I was a child myself. In so many ways it’s the purest Spider-Man since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first came up with the idea of having a teenage hero struggling more with the ups and downs of life as the high school nerd than with defeating whatever super-villain would stumble across his path. The original Spider-Man could face the Green Goblin in the morning, Doc Ock in the afternoon and still be more worried about trying to ask Mary Jane Watson for a date the same evening.
What Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa have done in Spider-Man loves Mary Jane is take this innocence, this fascination with the ups and downs of being a teenager and simply done their best to remove Spider-Man from it. He’s in the book merely as the unrequited love and the reason that Peter Parker can’t get a date with Mary Jane. This is a Spider-Man book where not only is Spider-Man relegated to a supporting role, but to a lesser extent so is Peter Parker. This is a book all about Mary Jane Watson and exactly what it’s like to be a teenager in high school.
Over the course of the book, MJ and Peter get closer and closer whilst MJ continues her pursuit of Spider-Man. It’s a delightfully realised, sentimental and sweet storyline written with warmth and joy by McKeever. But it’s the art that makes the book a standout; Takeshi Miyazawa draws in a westernised Manga style and he does a fine job of it, with his characters conveying so much through simple body language; his pages, layout, design and details are simple yet brilliantly effective.
Simple, effective art. If only more superhero comics were like this. Art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Published Marvel Comics.
In fact it would be a much better world methinks if more superhero comics took this all ages and all genders approach. There’s a place for grim and gritty, but surely this is a better world to live in than one where Spider-Man is a dark, depressed late 20 something with an impending divorce? Some heroes and characters lend themselves to grim and gritty, but not Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is dayglo colours, snappy one-liners, teenage angst and the glorious times of youth.
Which is exactly what I’ve just read.
So please, please, get this book, give it to someone in the right age group. Tell them it’s Spider-Man does High School Musical and let them enjoy a great, fun comic.
It’s a glorious, romantic, cute teen comic. And it works. Simple, effective and brilliant.
Richard Bruton is a lifelong comics fan and former Comic Book Store Guy; you can read more of his thoughts on comics and life on his blog Fictions.