In Amazing Spider-man 15 from August 1964 Stan Lee begins to introduce us to Mary Jane Watson.  

Does he show us a picture?  No. 
Does he have her speak?  No. 
Does Mr. Steve Ditko show us a cameo of her?  No. 
What we get is two elderly ladies talking about their niece and nephew.  We don’t even get her full name until the next issue.  It will be a stunning 27 months before we get a full image and some dialogue from Mary Jane Watson.  During that two-plus year timespan, Mary Jane is mentioned at least NINE times.  He wants this reveal to mean something so he holds it in hiding for months.  Like when your parents bought you an early Christmas gift, teased you about it and finally on Christmas you could open it.

In some ways, this feels like Wilson from the 90s show Home Improvement.  Mary Jane is the neighbor talking over the fence but we never really see her.  

To provide some perspective from issue 15 (8/64) until issue 42 (11/66) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita Sr. add all of these things to Peter Parker’s life.

1st Appearances
Kraven the Hunter in issue 15
Ned Leeds in issue 18
The Scorpion in issue 20
Princess Python in issue 22
Spencer Smythe in issue 25
Crime-Master in issue 26
Molten Man in issue 28
Cat Burglar in issue 39
Gwen Stacy in issue 31
Harry Osborn in issue 31
The Looter in issue 36
Rhino in issue 41

Important Life Events
Aunt May has a heart attack in issue 17
Peter and crew graduate high school in issue 28
Peter starts college in issue 31

But through all those first appearances, second appearances, and important life events, Mary Jane Watson is kept from us.

Obscured face of Mary Jane WatsonMary Jane Watson hiddenPeter Parking meeting Mary Jane for the first time

The first cameo appearance of Mary Jane happens in issue 25 in June 1965. (Yellow Dress)

The second cameo appearance is in Issue 38 in July 1966 with Mary Jane’s face obscured again. (Pink Sweater)

Finally, in issue 42 in November 1966, we have the big reveal and the instant classic line from Mary Jane,

Face it Tiger, You just hit the jackpot!

From a reader’s perspective, it’s tough waiting so long for this reveal but when you think about it, it feels right.  Throughout life, we have to wait for those big moments.  That first chance you get to kiss the girl you like or your opportunity to drive for the first time.  Waiting builds excitement and expectation making those moments more special.  Peter’s face expertly drawn by John Romita Sr. conveys the moment perfectly.

By Ron Cloer  


2 Replies to “The Long and Winding Road of Mary Jane Watson”

  1. For me, this is by far the hottest reveal of a female character in comic book history. An absolute beauty without any cleavage or skin. That’s the mark of those times but also to Romita’s artistic genius.

    1. Agreed, it was and is still a special introduction. Romita took over from a legend and nailed it from his first work in issue 39. Those last few panels where Romita and Lee show Mary Jane are fantastic!

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