If you thought dating was complicated in the real world, then you should step into the Marvel Universe. You might find yourself accidentally marrying a shapeshifting Skrull, discovering that your girlfriend was replaced by a robot, or falling in love with a literal demon. It makes bad Tinder dates and ghosting seem a bit more tolerable.
Just look at Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. The couple have had one of the most dramatic on-again off-again relationships in the history of comics, though they are not together now. Currently Mary Jane is with a man named Paul Rabin, who may or may not be her husband. It depends on who you ask, and when you ask them.
Like I said, dating is complicated in the Marvel Universe. And for those of you who have been wondering, Amazing Spider-Man #28 (written by Zeb Wells and penciled by Ed McGuinness) has given us the definitive answer on Mary Jane and Paul’s relationship – and why Marvel tried to hide it.
Is it time to send wedding gifts? Read on…
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Amazing Spider-Man #28!
Why is there confusion about Mary Jane Watson’s marital status?
If you’ve been away from Spider-Man comics for a while, here is the reason why people are wondering if Mary Jane is married. Zeb Wells’ Amazing Spider-Man began with Peter and Mary Jane broken up after a timeskip. Mary Jane was living with a man named Paul Rabin, and the couple were raising two children. This set up a few mysteries that dominated the first year of Wells’ run. Readers speculated on why Peter and Mary Jane broke up, who Paul was, and where the kids came from.
To make matters more confusing, the recap page in Amazing Spider-Man #19 (2023) said that Mary Jane and Paul were married. A few months later, Zeb Wells referred to Paul as Mary Jane’s husband during the Spider-Man panel at C2E2.
In Amazing Spider-Man #25 (2023) we learned the circumstances behind Peter and Mary Jane’s breakup and how she got together with Paul during the timeskip. Paul was an inhabitant of a post-apocalyptic dimension that Peter and Mary Jane found themselves trapped in. To save Peter’s life, Mary Jane sent him through a portal back home. Peter worked to find a way back to the dimension to save Mary Jane, unaware that time was passing at a different rate for her.
During the days that Peter worked to reopen the portal, four years passed for Mary Jane. During that time, she and Paul found two orphaned children and began raising them. Raising the kids together strengthened Mary Jane and Paul’s bond, and the two soon became a couple. Spider-Man was able to rescue them from the dimension, but he was crushed to find out that Mary Jane had chosen to stay with Paul, wishing to preserve the family they had built.
Amazing Spider-Man #26 (2023) then revealed that the kids were magical constructs created by the villain Rabin. Oh, and Paul is Rabin’s son. Don’t worry, he’s not a villain like his dad. Like I said, dating in the Marvel Universe can be wild.
While this cleared up the questions readers had about Mary Jane and Paul’s relationship, it didn’t mention anything about a marriage. So, what’s the deal?
Are Mary Jane Watson and Paul Rabin married?
No, Mary Jane Watson and Paul Rabin are not married. So why did Marvel refer to them as a married couple? Editor Nick Lowe addressed the confusion in the letters page for Amazing Spider-Man #28. “I did want to fess up to a mistake that we made! In ASM #19, we wrongly and accidentally referred to Mary Jane and Paul as ‘mysteriously married.’ We were in the middle of our insane holiday shipping period, and I must have written too quickly and not looked back at it enough,” Lowe wrote.
Lowe went on to explain why it took so long to clarify the situation. “Mary Jane and Paul are not married (yet?). I wanted to fess up for months on this, but I didn’t want to spoil anything or have my confession alter people’s perceptions. I am very sorry! Mistakes were made, and it’s still better than the time I misspelled Isaac Newton on a cover! I look back at the times Stan (Lee) called Spider-Man ‘Superman’ to make myself feel better.”
In other words, the marriage reference was a mistake, but Marvel decided not to clarify it in order to avoid spoiling the storyline’s resolution. This could be why Wells referred to Paul as Mary Jane’s husband during the C2E2 panel.
(If you’re curious, Lowe was referring to a variant cover for S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 (2010), where he mistakenly misspelled Newton’s name as “Issac Newton.” He also mentions the time Stan Lee accidentally called Spidey “Super-Man” in Amazing Spider-Man #3 (1963), an error that has been corrected in most reprints.)
Does this open the door for Peter and Mary Jane to get back together?
Although Mary Jane and Paul aren’t married, Spider-Man and MJ shippers shouldn’t get too excited. During the Spider-Man panel at C2E2, editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski said that while there isn’t a policy against a married Spider-Man, Marvel prefers keeping the character single.
“I would say that it’s not a mandate, but it’s a preference,” Cebulski said. “The way that editorial works is that Marvel has always been a fan-friendly company, and a talent-friendly company as well. The Marvel Universe, the 80 years that it’s been there, and the 60 years of the Marvel Age has been a big soap opera. Things change. The thing that we do is that we always put our faith in the writers and the artists to come up with the best stories possible.”
Of course, none of this stops Mary Jane and Paul from getting married. Note how Lowe’s message doesn’t rule out the possibility of nuptials in their future. The couple have been absent from the last few issues of the title. They were last seen in Amazing Spider-Man #26, grieving the loss of their children, who faded away after being revealed as magical constructs. This was also during the aftermath of Kamala Khan’s death, so needless to say, they have a lot to process.
Whatever happens next, whether it’s a wedding or something else, Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and Paul have a tough road ahead of them. But as we’ve said, dating in the Marvel Universe is a wacky adventure.
Amazing Spider-Man #28 is written by Zeb Wells and penciled by Ed McGuinness and is available now.