Sean McKeever, the writer of the previous issues of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane from the last volume, including the two mini-series, has established a nice environment where Mary Jane is now the center of attention and Spider-Man and Peter Parker are both supporting characters. Under McKeever's time at the helm he has given life and depth to the characters that reside in Mary Jane's small, high school world.
Only time will tell where Terry Moore, the writer of the indie, sophisticated soap opera that was Strangers In Paradise, will take us. Hopefully, with everything that McKeever has contributed - and it has been a lot - Moore will be able to reach higher ground and develop these characters further.
During what is obviously a dream sequence, Mary Jane does a nice Ann Darrow impression with Spider-Man playing the role of King Kong carrying her to the top of a building as police helicopters try to shoot him down. Having joked with Spider-Man saying she needs to think about it after he asks her if she'll go out with him, MJ tries to calm him down telling him not to be silly. That they were meant to be together. Spider-Kong is relieved but as they make their way down a rocket hits the building they're clinging to, Spider-Kong loses his grip on MJ and they both fall. This being nothing more than a dream, Mary Jane wakes up safely in her bedroom with the alarm going off.
It appears to be Mary Jane's first day of her sophomore year at Midtown High, and after a quick blow-dry, she's out the door with her mom telling her she's going to be late. Outside of school she meets up with Liz Allen, her best friend, who just so happens to be sporting a short, black hair cut now. Soon at Mary Jane's locker, Liz tells her that she found out by looking it up online that MJ is sharing her first class of the day with Harry Osborn. Things still are not the same between MJ and Harry after Peter and MJ made up in the last series and MJ broke up with Harry.
As Liz is making fun of MJ for brown bagging her lunch, saying that that's so last year, Flash shows up and he and Liz take off. All of a sudden MJ's cell goes off (hope she remembers to shut it off when she gets to class) with a text message from Peter telling her to have a good day. She tells him she'll call him later using the appropriate "leet" speak.
In MJ's first class, not only does she have to share it with Mr. Cool-as-Ice Harry Osborn, but with Gwen Stacy as well. She's still not completely friends with Gwen yet what with all the stuff between her and MJ and Peter last year, but whatever. Writing a note she passes it through Gwen to get to Harry, who quickly bunches it up into a ball and bounces it off of MJ's head.
Later at MJ's acting class, the first girl up doesn't make much of an impression on Blane Marshall, the acting teacher, who is your stereotypical snotty, stuck-up, high school drama instructor. Having dismissed the first girl the next one up is a girl named Zoe McCall who gets up in front of everyone and manages to cry on cue, wowing not only the rest of the students but Mr. Marshall as well. MJ's compliments her on her acting, but it appears that Zoe wasn't acting at all. Not knowing what to do, MJ does nothing.
After school, Mary Jane and Liz meet up out at the football field on the bleachers to watch Flash practice. Well, Liz is there for cheerleading practice and Mary Jane is really there to hang out with Liz. Liz mentions that one of the girls had to drop cheerleading and offers MJ the position, but she declines. It seems that she needs to get a job if she wants to have any spending money. Plus, her mom says that she must pay her own phone bill (oh, the horror), which amazes Liz. At that Peter makes his first appearance coming over to the girls. MJ asks him where he's been all day because she hasn't seen him around, to which Pete explains that he's taking all International Baccalaureate courses this year. They say now much work it's going to be but Pete shrugs it off saying it'll be fun. Liz then mentions that after only one class of Calculus she already knows she's going to flunk, but Peter, being the nice guy that he is, offers to tutor her if she wants. When out of no where a football bangs into the bleachers where, just seconds ago, Pete's head was (good thing for that Spider-Sense).
Of course the football came from Flash Thompson who makes an insensitive comment about how they shouldn't be hanging out gossiping like a bunch of old ladies. This was intended as a crack at Pete, but of course the girls take offensive at it and Flash is then trying to dig himself out of the mess he started. With Liz yelling at Flash, MJ and Pete walk off together. MJ starts talking about her new job at a hair salon near her house where she'll be helping out. It's nothing special but it's money. As she's explaining this, Pete looks around and then makes an excuse about how he forgot something and takes off leaving MJ to wonder about how if anyone needed a personal organizer it's him. But he's still sweet and all.
MJ sort of sticks around to find out what's so important that Pete had to ditch her as he walked into a store. Hoping it's not for some other chick, she sees Pete buying a camera that's on sale inside. She laments on boys and their toys, but is glad that it isn't a girl that grabbed his attention away from her.
At home, MJ is greeted by a dark house and a note on the frig saying that her mom's working late and there's dinner in the freezer. One look at "dinner" and MJ grabs some soda and some cheese spread and heads for her room. She's thinking about the homework she has to do plus what's she's going to wear for her first day at her new job tomorrow when the phone rings with her mom calling to check that she's fine. MJ has been pretty annoyed with her mother lately trying to be the "perfect" mom, but the fact that she's never home doesn't help and things have been worst since her parents split up.
Falling asleep Mary Jane goes through a gamut of emotions from anger at her mom, to anger at herself for being angry at her mom, to being sad that things aren't different. As she finally falls asleep wishing that she had someone who cared enough about her to check in on her, Spider-Man appears at her window but finding her sleeping, swings off into the night.
There is not much going on here besides reintroductions of the supporting characters (Harry, Gwen, Liz, Flash and Peter) and there is only one avenue for a storyline that was briefly mentioned, that being the new character Zoe and how she's hiding some secret turmoil which allows her to cry on command during the drama class. Besides that and the mention of a new job for Mary Jane, something that isn't that original what with MJ getting a job in the last series, I just don't see where this mini-series is taking us that is new and exciting.
Harry is still being a jerk to MJ and ignoring her, Liz now has black hair for some reason, Gwen is still trying to be friendly with MJ and for some reason MJ is ticked at her for "flirting" with Peter last year, which doesn't make any sense. Um, yeah, the two of them were dating while MJ and Harry were going out, so of course they were flirting. She can't really be mad at Gwen for that. Peter still does his disappearing act only the one time it's presented in this issue isn't so Peter can change into Spider-Man to save the day, but to duck into an electronics store to buy a camera.
Not too disappointing but nothing special either. After the amazing run that Sean McKeever had on this book, Terry Moore picks up where McKeever left off but then doesn't take us anywhere. I suppose that if this was the first issue to a brand new, on-going series, it would be fine, a little flat, but fine nevertheless, but since this is the first of a 5 issue series, there's nothing building up here. We meet the characters, who we've already met before, MJ goes back to school after the summer holiday and is starting a new job the next day. Other than that, there's no plot, there's no conflict, there's just nothing going on. Maybe there will be something with the new character Zoe and how she was able to cry for whatever bad reason that is going on in her life, but other than that, I don't see what this mini-series is about.
Another thing that bothered me about this issue was one panel in particular. In it, MJ explains through a word box that Peter is telling her to have a good day with a text message to her cell phone, but then the image of the panel is a close up of the cell phone with the exact message displayed. This is just poor comic writing. Comics' magic comes from it's ability to show you something and at the same time offer up some narrative to give more depth to what is being seen. Having the words directly reflect the images is just mediocre at best.