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Mary Jane

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

It's always great when someone who claims their own opinions represent everyone's gets proven wrong.

Every guy remembers the girl who got away. For Spider-Man, that girl is Mary Jane Watson. For reasons neither of them can quite put their finger on, a relationship that should have been a love for the ages just never worked out. After the break-up, MJ headed west to pursue her acting career, while the wall-crawler stayed in New York to defend the city he loves. They still share fond feeling for each other, but whenever they try to get together something seems to get in the way.

So Joe Quesada decides that Spider-Man's marriage makes him boring, and that everyone is tired of Mary Jane. Since divorce would be distateful, he instead orders a story in which Satan gives her a pre-emptive abortion. Stay classy, Joe. In February 2009, Hasbro asked fans to vote for who they wanted to see in the Marvel Universe line, and who beat out 69 other characters to be the #1 choice? That's right, the girl "nobody" wanted.

MJ uses the standard Marvel Universe female body, since all women are interchangeable. That's what toys teach us. To be fair, though, Mary Jane was a supermodel, so her having a better-than-human physique isn't without precedent. In fact, one of people's complaints about the Parkers' marriage was that it was hard to take him seriously as a loser when he has a hot wife. She's a model trying to be an actress, right? That basically makes her the 616 version of Karolina Kurkova: sure, she may be a big name in the modeling world, but still no one had ever heard of her until she got cast in GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

When the figure was first shown at Toy Fair 2010, initial reactions were that she looked terrible - and it's true, she did. She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a painted belt (yes, on the shirt), knee-high red boots, and her legs were painted to look like jeans. Nothing seemed to fit together right, and the thing was a total mess. In fact, some predicted that she'd be a pegwarmer, and Hasbro would use her slow sales as justification for not doing any more female figures. Well, no worries: the only figures in this wave that are harder to find are the chase variants. (I still need an unmasked Patriot, consarn it!)

MJ got a change of clothes before she was released, and it was a change for the better. She's now wearing a sleeveless black top and tan pants - comic fans will recognize that as her "jackpot" outfit. Yes, the clothes are still just painted on, but they were pretty tight and form-fitting to begin with. The major difference between the comics and this figure is the lack of a belt and the addition of a Spidey-heart design on the chest.

One thing that didn't get changed between the proto and final release is the head, and that's a shame - it's easily her weakest feature. It's actually kind of cute from the sides, but the proportions are all wrong. It's too flat on top, like she's missing part of her skull. You'll definitely be able to find a good angle for display, but head-on she's pretty bad.

The figure has a pack-in that could either count as an accessory or a second character, depending on how you want to look at it: Ms. Lion, the dog (allegedly a Lhasa Apso) from the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon. Oh, and also from the Pet Avengers, though this is clearly the animated design. It's a solid piece, cast in brown, and given red and black paint aps.

Mary Jane comes with a display stand featuring her name and waist measurement. Since she was part of Series 2, and Hasbro was still trying to maintain the illusion that they were ever going to update their Fury Files website again, she includes paper accessories. The memo from Victoria Hand to Norman Osborn draws attention to how often MJ is seen around Spidey, and the SHRA card features art from both Mike Deodato and Adam Hughes (the same AH! art used for the statue that half the internet decided to get mad about a few years ago). Despite Deodato's track record on the packaging art for this series and his two years of work on Amazing Spider-Man, his MJ art actually looks pretty good. How unexpected!

You already know that so-called "Fans' Choice" figures are usually a scam, but there's no denying Mary Jane deserves the spot: the fans picked her to get the label on the package, and she sold accordingly. There are some problems with the figure that can't be glossed over, but Mary Jane Parker is still a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe line.

-- 04/11/11

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