Mary Jane: Homecoming #1 Review

Story Title: The Cheating Thing
Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Writer: Sean McKeever
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa
Coloring: Christina Strain
Editor: MacKenzie Cadenhead
Publisher: The House of Ideas

One of the more quirky titles to come down the Marvel pipeline was also one of the most charming books of 2004. Alas the direct market just wasn’t (and still isn’t) ready for a charming romantic comedy based on the Spider-Man mythos and the series was abruptly cut-off by issue #4.

Thankfully the larger bookstore market for digest trades found a quite healthy home for McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa’s work and the high school adventures of Mary Jane Watson once more have a home on store shelves. Which is definitely a good thing if you enjoy a change of pace from the usual superhero titles that litter the shelves these days. Knowing how often a new X-title hit’s the shelves these days I figured we’d be seeing the team of McKeever and Miyazawa working on a run of “Lockheed: The X-Dragon” before we’d see Mary Jane is back on the shelves, but much to my surprise here I am holding the first issue of “Mary Jane: Homecoming.”

Ok first off a brief summary for those who missed the previous arc Watson’s best friend Liz Allen tried to push MJ into taking her best friend Harry Osborn to the school’s Homecoming dance. Miss Watson’s heart however was set in a deep crush on everyone’s favorite wall crawler. This was heightened when Spidey rescued her during a battle with Electro. After much urging Mary Jane finally agreed to go out with Harry for dinner and a trip to Sentinel the movie. Love seemed to be in the air but MJ was somewhat put off with Osborn’s habit of paying for everything. She tried out a handful of jobs before finding work at a hip dress boutique. Alas it turns out that there may be trouble in paradise for the Osborn/Watson love fest as Liz Allen’s convinced her boyfriend Flash Thompson is cheating on her, and wouldn’t you know it the big lug’s got a huge crush on our heroine. MJ tried to set Flash straight and he seemed to understand just how much Liz cares about her but wouldn’t you know it Liz Allen now thinks Mary Jane might be the one he’s cheating with.

And whew… with all that plot out of the way we’re ready to enjoy issue #1 of the Homecoming mini-series. Numerous plot points left dangling from the first arc come to ahead in this issue as Harry Osborn’s prospects of taking Mary Jane to the prom are threatened by his grades. It seems that Harry’s relationship isn’t exactly on the up and up with his father, who think he’s slacking off in school spending too much time with his girlfriend. Both MJ and Peter Parker want to help Harry out, but just how far will Osborn go to pass this test? Meanwhile Flash Thompson and Liz Allen’s relationship has been strained as Allen’s actions have grown paranoid about what the guy might be doing.

Sean McKeever is perhaps only second to Brian Michael Bendis in his ability at crafting stories about teenage relationships. The dialog is simple and clean with a very real feeling to it, and the plotline picks up easily everything left hanging from the earlier mini-series while still feeling fresh and accessible.

Takasi Miyazawa’s art on the other hand looks as wonderfully animated as ever and is a joy to behold. It has a very simple and clean look with beautifully subtle expressions. What’s perhaps most surprising is how apt Miyazawa shows himself at shifting gears when Spider-Man and the Green Goblin shows up in a brief action sequence. Between this and his brief run on Runaways one has to wonder just what Miyazawa might accomplish on a more action based title.

That said I’m perfectly happy with what the team is accomplishing on this title and hope to see many more adventures set in this little mini-universe.

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