Something amazing has happened to Mary Jane Watson. Spider-Man’s ex-girlfriend appears to have manifested powers in the pages of Mary Jane & Black Cat #1 (written by Jed Mackay and penciled by Vincenzo Carratu). No, that's not spoilers - Marvel announced it a week prior - but what is spoilers is What are Mary Jane’s new abilities and where have they come from, so let's tell you all about it.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Mary Jane & Black Cat #1
What are Mary Jane’s new superpowers?
Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly are currently attacking New York with an army of demons. Thanks to the powers of the dimension known as Limbo, ordinary inanimate objects are coming to life and attacking people. The thief turned hero known as Felicia Hardy (aka Black Cat) decides to check on her friend and former romantic rival Mary Jane Watson. Unlike Felicia, Mary Jane has no powers of her own, so Black Cat wants to ensure her safety. At least that’s what she thought.
When Felicia arrives at Mary Jane’s home, she’s shocked to find her redhead friend holding her own against the demonic appliances. Mary Jane appears to be manifesting bright red lasers, which seem to be giving her super-strength. At another point in the battle, Mary Jane summons a new ability spinning a holographic slot machine. This holographic slot machine gives Mary Jane wings of fire and a flame sword.
However, like a real slot machine, this one doesn’t always give the player the jackpot. Felicia and Mary Jane wind up in Limbo, and MJ tries the slot machine again, hoping it can give her the necessary powers to fight off the demons. The slots land on a bad combination, and Mary Jane is given the form of and control of pudding. Think of Clayface or Hydro-Man, except made of pudding.
Why does Mary Jane have superpowers?
If you have questions about Mary Jane’s new abilities, then you’re not alone. Black Cat tried to get MJ to explain her new powers, but the redhead was reluctant to talk about it. Mary Jane stated that Spider-Man isn’t aware of her new abilities, and she wants to keep it that way. Felicia has agreed to keep Mary Jane’s secret for the time being.
Mary Jane’s powers seem to come from a holographic slot machine that she can manifest. This seems to be a play on 'you’ve just hit the jackpot,' the iconic line that Mary Jane introduced herself with when she first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #42 (1966). The slot machine doesn’t seem to have a set location, since Mary Jane was able to manifest it from her apartment, the New York streets, and the Limbo realm. Whatever this mysterious slot machine is, it appears to be coming from Mary Jane. The powers all seem to have time limits, which is why Mary Jane has to spin the slot machine multiple times within the issue.
Wherever these powers came from, they appear to be new. Since Peter is unaware of them, we can surmise that Mary Jane probably obtained them after they broke up. The current volume of Amazing Spider-Man by Zeb Wells began with a six month time-skip. The events of the missing six months are still a mystery, but we know that Spider-Man did something to alienate the hero community, Peter did something to upset his friends, and his relationship with Mary Jane ended under bad circumstance.
Mary Jane is currently in a relationship with a man named Paul, and caring for two children who see her as a mother. It’s implied that these are Paul’s kids and Mary Jane is acting as a stepmother, but the full picture still hasn’t been revealed. It should be noted that while Peter is unaware of Mary Jane’s new powers, Paul and the children know about them. It’s likely that Mary Jane’s powers have something to do with the missing six months, and maybe they’re tied in with the reason she and Peter broke up.
Has Mary Jane Watson had superpowers before?
While Mary Jane Watson is an important character in the Marvel Universe, she hasn’t traditionally had powers. However, over the years Mary Jane has suited up or found herself with temporary powers. The first instance of a heroic Mary Jane was in Marvel Team-Up #79 (1978). After finding a mystical sword Mary Jane is transformed into the warrior Red Sonja. The warrior uses Mary Jane’s body as a vessel, helping Spider-Man battle Kulan Gath. In the end Red Sonja departs, and Mary Jane regains control of her body.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #19 (1985) is an amusing story where a misunderstanding causes Alistaire Smythe to believe that Mary Jane is Spider-Man. Although the Mary Wilshire and John Romita illustrated cover depicts Mary Jane suiting up as Spider-Man for battle, no such scene appears in the issue itself. Mary Jane discovered she had water based powers in the 1994 Spider-Man Animated Series, but it was later revealed that she was actually a clone of MJ who had been given some of Hydro-Man’s abilities.
Mary Jane used one of Stark’s old Iron Man suits to fight off Doombots in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #20 (2005). She later donned Peter’s old Iron Spider armor to help him battle the villain Regent in Amazing Spider-Man #15 (2016).
Mary Jane’s most consequential stint as a superhero can be seen in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, a series which explores a timeline where Peter and Mary Jane remained married and had a daughter. This version of Mary Jane wears a super-suit that mimics her husband’s powers. Thanks to these powers, Mary Jane has developed the superhero persona Spinneret. She fights crime alongside her husband Spider-Man, and their daughter Nestling.
A brief history of Mary Jane Watson and Felicia Hardy’s friendship
Mary Jane and Felicia have had a complicated relationship over the years. Their first encounter happened under stressful circumstances, which got their relationship off on the wrong foot. In Amazing Spider-Man #258 (1984) Mary Jane reveals to Peter that she knows he’s Spider-Man. Peter tries to deny the accusation, and their conversation is interrupted by the Black Cat. The sight of Spider-Man’s ally the Black Cat entering Peter Parker’s apartment through the window confirms Mary Jane’s suspicions.
Peter quickly finds himself caught between the two women. Mary Jane leaves the apartment in tears, unable to bear the weight of these revelations. Meanwhile Felicia is angrily questioning why Peter had another woman in his apartment. Needless to say, neither of the women had a chance to strike up a friendship in that moment. The two of them were formally introduced to each other under less stressful circumstances in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #123 (1986). At the time Felicia was moving into Peter’s apartment, just as Mary Jane was considering a romantic reconciliation with him.
It would be an understatement to say Felicia Hardy didn’t react well to Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage. In Amazing Spider-Man #331 (1990) Black Cat attacked Mary Jane, vowing that she would end their marriage and Peter would be hers again. However, her cold relationship with Mary Jane began to thaw as she dated Flash Thompson. Her romance with Flash kept her in Peter and Mary Jane’s social circle, and the two women slowly began to bond.
In Felicia Hardy: The Black Cat #1 (1994) their friendship had evolved to the point where the two women were getting together for coffee to commiserate about their struggles. Since none of Mary Jane’s other friends were aware of Peter’s double life, Felicia was a valuable resource to MJ during stressful times such as the Clone Saga. Initially their relationship was defined by Spider-Man, but now the two women share a powerful bond. Of course, they will need more than a strong friendship to survive the demons of Limbo. Felicia and Mary Jane’s adventures will continue in Mary Jane & Black Cat #2, on sale this January.
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