So McKeever must have read my review for issue six where I raised the point that MJ starts out by saying she's going to explain where her problem-avoidance comes from but instead ends up telling Liz about the first time she really became obsessed with Spider-Man (McKeever did answer the question in this issue just in case you were wondering).
Mary Jane tells Liz that a year ago a senior she was dating, Ned Leeds, broke up with her and sent Mary Jane's perception of life into a tail-spin. She started acting all Gothic, wearing nothing but dark colored clothes with deep mascara, and complaining about how the world sucks and that every time she starts to get happy, something comes along and knocks her back down, so what's the point of even trying anymore?
It turns out that what finally got Mary Jane to smile again was Spider-Man. She saw him for the first time trying to help the police out and instead of being thanked for his efforts, the police captain chews him out for getting in their way. Spider-Man goes into how they just don't get it and that was all MJ needed to see to feel like she could relate to him and, just maybe, he could relate to her.
Half way through her flashback, Mary Jane is interrupted by Liz telling her that she was suppose to tell Liz why it is that MJ avoids all her troubles instead of dealing with them. Instead MJ tells Liz about how she first became fixated on Spider-Man. MJ assures her that the Spider-Man thing and the Peter Parker thing are related somehow.
Back into her flashback. It's still one year prior and MJ now sees Spider-Man as a kindred spirit. Cutting out pictures of Spider-Man out of the school's newspaper in the library gets MJ a quick pass straight to ... the guidance counselor? He asks her about her new look and then they start talking about how the world is changing what with all the supers running around in tights and what not. The counselor does manage to tell MJ that she really just needs to deal with her ever changing world and grow up but he does it in a way that doesn't insult her (still don't understand how damaging school property and giving the librarian lip gets her sent to the guidance counselor and not the principal but whatever).
At the Coffee Bean, Harry Osborne, Flash Thompson and Liz are talking about MJ's new crush on Spider-Man. Harry doesn't think it's all that healthy but Liz seems to believe that it's just a crush and it'll pass but as long as he makes her happy then Liz is all for it. MJ shows up and they beat tracks into the city where there has been a Spider-Man sighting. Once there it looks like they might have just missed him when out of no where Spider-Man comes swinging right over their heads.
Spider-Man is battling his number one foe, the Green Goblin (and we must remember that this is back right after Peter received his powers so this could very well be their first encounter). The Goblin blows up part of a roof, sending rubble down onto the pedestrians below on the street. Catching everything in a giant web held up between the buildings gives the Goblin enough time to get away from the Web-Head. Standing atop the debris Spider-Man catches Mary Jane down below looking up at him. They stare at one another long enough to have a moment before Spider-Man swings off.
On the subway back home Harry, Flash and Liz get to their stop to head to the Bean but MJ decides she's had enough excitement for one night and heads home. She starts scraping off her black nail polish commenting how silly she's been acting when who should enter her car, Ned with his arm around his new girl. He says hello but the new girl pulls him off to the next car on the train, leaving MJ feeling completely alone and right back where she was when Ned and her first broke up. And things were just starting to look up.
Back at school Flash really lays into Peter for moping around through the halls. Harry asks him why he's being such a jerk after what happened to Peter, of course he's referring to the Peter's uncle getting shot. The next scene has Jessica trying to cheer up Mary Jane also telling her this whole phase just has to stop. MJ storms off asking why her feelings are any less valid just because she was once the happy-go-lucky girl, right into a class room where she finds Peter all alone sitting in the dark. This is exactly what Mary Jane needed to show her how foolish she's been acting. She's upset because a boy broke up with her, and even though that's a perfectly reasonable thing to be upset about, here's Peter dealing with real pain, real grief.
So that's how Mary Jane learned the best way to deal with her pain is to just hide it because no matter what she's feeling, there's probably someone else out there who has it worse. Liz calls her on how stupid and unhealthy it is to avoid her problems and the best way for her to start tackling this issue is to face Peter and tell him exactly how she feels for him. Just then Peter walks in with Gwen asking if they could join Liz and MJ, also asking how things are going, whereas Mary Jane replies that things couldn't be better. Looks like she won't be telling Peter her true feelings any time soon.
We finally learn why it is that Mary Jane hides her true feelings instead of dealing with them and it all comes back to Peter. Mary Jane realizes that her moping around depressed about her life and the world in general because Ned Leeds broke up with her, pales in comparison to the real pain that Peter feels for his Uncle Ben, who was killed one week ago. How can she justify changing her entire outlook when breaking up with a boy is just so trivial?
Last issue Mary Jane started to feel a real connection with Spider-Man, seeing a little of what she's going through in him, and it helped pull her out of her mood a small bit. But it was how she related to Peter, sitting alone in a dark deserted classroom, crying, that made her finally grow up and decide to put all that teen angst behind her.
I gave this issue the lowest rating out of the whole series up to this point because, even though the writing was still dead on, the art work is really suffering. Some of the panels, especially those featuring Spider-Man and the Green Goblin battling looked like something someone could make with a Microsoft paint. Everything is just thin, solid lines that feel more like outlines than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I think the simplistic art work well in some situations, like in character development sections but in a huge fight scene, especially one with the Green Goblin, you really have to go all out and make it something special.
Even though the art suffered in place, McKeever's writing is as good as ever and I'm really glad that he finally got around to answering why it is MJ hides her true feelings. I was a little miffed last issue when it wasn't even brought up, but that was just the first part to a two-part story so maybe I should learn to be more patient.