22 November 2011

Faster than a DC Bullet: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Part VI: Mary Jane

Mary Jane
by Judith O'Brien
illustrations by Mike Mayhew

A friend of mine who studies children's and YA literature mentioned the term "teen issue novel" the other day (while bemoaning them), which is an apt description for this book. We see the very beginning of the Spider-Man saga through Mary Jane's eyes-- while Mary Jane also deals with anorexia, an absent father, and a semi-abusive mother's boyfriend. All that plus she's starting a new school and Harry Osborn is coming onto her and she's been reunited with Peter Parker, who was her lab partner in fourth grade, long ago. It's too much, and it doesn't fit together tonally all the time: a subplot about evil energy drinks just jars with the more serious material. Plus, the serious material isn't always handled well: Mary Jane's descent into anorexia feels plausible to me, but the way it stops definitely isn't. There's definitely some stuff to like in this book, especially the depiction of Peter and MJ meeting as kids, and again as high schoolers, but this conceit was executed much better in Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane than it is here. (Mike Mayhew's pictures are gorgeous, though.)

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