Comics : I Heart Marvel: Web of Romance
This review was first published on: 2006.
I Heart Marvel: Web of Romance
Feb 2006 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man and Mary Jane Valentine's Day
It is Valentine's Day, and Peter (like all husbands) wants to get his wife Mary Jane the perfect gift, only he doesn't know what to do, flowers, chocolate, dinner and a movie, what? This is that story.
Spidey has just captured the Mandrill (who is now webbed up and hanging upside down from a lamp pole). Now Spidey is querying the Mandrill about what he could possibly get his wife for Valentine's day (hey, just because they have a good guy/bad guy relationship doesn't meant that they can't be civil to each other once the fighting is done). You see, Peter's real problem is that he truly loves his wife, and wants to do well by her; only he is trapped by his own gene pool, and is desperately attempting to overcome his own deficiencies, and prove himself worthy of her love.
Realizing that he isn't going to get any real help from the Mandrill, he swings off, and heads back to Avengers Tower. Arriving home, Peter stops off in the kitchen and chats with his Aunt May and Jarvis. He peeks into the living room and spots MJ watching a basketball game with Tony Stark, Luke Cage, and Steve Rogers. Peter marvels at how comfortable his very feminine wife has a tomboy streak, and is equally comfortable on the runway as hob-knobbing with the "boys."
Peter watches as MJ explains Basketball to Captain America (who is more of a baseball fan, as evidenced by a photo of him and Joe Dimaggio), which impresses MJ (as if the fact that she is sitting next to Captain America himself isn't impressive enough). Later on, as Peter is taking a shower, he reflects on both MJ and Gwen Stacy, trying his hardest not to compare and contrast the two women who have been the great loves of his life (see footnote for additional information on this).
After Peter has cleaned up, he and MJ relax in the gardens. Pete has strapped his old web shooters onto MJ (Pete no longer needs him as the continuity has finally caught up with his ability to organically generate his webs). MJ loves playing with them, and is supremely impressed that Peter invented them back when he was 16. Something that neither Pete (or us, his loyal fans) ever realized how spectacular an achievement it truly was. Pete also tells MJ of the many uses he has had for his webs over the years, including one time when he once made a bat out of webbing, and used it as a prank against The Human Torch. A trick MJ loved.
With four days until Valentine's Day, Spidey, Cage, and Cap are tangling with the Dragon Man, and Spidey is still kvetching (this time to Cage), that he still doesn't have a clue as to what to get MJ. The trio makes short work of Dragon Man (with Cage stunning him with sound waves from him banging on Cap's indestructible shield), temporarily deafening his companions in the process.
Shortly after this event, Pete finally gets an idea of what to get his wife, and approaches Iron Man, and asks Tony for some help in preparing the gift. On Valentine's Day Pete and MJ are dressed to the nines again in the Avengers gardens preparing for a special dinner. It is here that Pete delivers his gift. He gives MJ a pair of bracelets and "fake thumbnails." As odd as this may sound, Pete reveals that what he has done is (with the help of Stark) modified his old web shooters to appear to be decorative bracelets that can be fired by MJ activating them via the fake thumbnails.
Pete reveals that the new Spider-Bracelets are for emergency use only, and to be used in the event she is ever attacked by surprise. As can be expected, MJ is completely thrilled with her novel gift. The two of them then pay a surprise visit to Johnny Storm, who is just about to go out on the town. Pete (or perhaps MJ) tosses a web bat at the young hero, who vows to get Spidey back for (once again) doucing him with a web-bat. Pete and MJ then finish their special celebration on the roof of the building from where they tossed the bat at Storm.
This was a nearly perfect story (from a strictly storytelling point of view, it was flawless, however the less-than-perfect renderings of Peter and MJ brought the grade down somewhat, as neither appeared the way they look in their regular titles. Still, that really is minor, as the story is great, and the characterizations and dialogue are right on target.
Writer Tom Beland does a great job recounting the difference between these two women, and manages to cast them in a light that this reviewer, never considered (an impressive feat considering that your humble reviewer has been reading Spidey comics for over 44 years). Beland has Peter realize that the most important difference between Gwen and MJ is that Peter would always have been forced to look after her, while MJ is made of sterner stuff, and is fully capable of taking care of herself. And so, with this simple line of text, hew has managed to (finally) put to rest the ghost of Gwen Stacy at least for this long-time fan, who - up until now - has never quite been able to allow her soul to rest.