Monday, April 6, 2015

If At First You Don't Propose...

In a prior post, we took in the romantic moment when Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson discovered that they were in love with each other. And of course these two went on to eventually tie the knot. But when exactly was the moment when Peter finally popped the question?

That depends. Which time did you have in mind?

Since Peter's life hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, having more downs than ups, perhaps it should come as no surprise that even this milestone would be an uphill struggle--and before wedding bells would finally be heard, he would end up proposing to Mary Jane on two separate occasions. Facing off with the Vulture probably seemed easier by comparison.

The first attempt took place a little over three years (our time) after they realized they cared for each other, and Peter had been giving thought to bringing some stability to his life since things weren't going particularly well for him at the time. And after a little suggestive prodding by his hospitalized Aunt May, Peter decides to go for it:

It takes an entire issue of fighting between Spider-Man, the Rocket Racer, and the Big Wheel before Mary Jane is ready to give Peter her answer. And talk about kicking a man when he's down:

Obviously in those three years, Peter and MJ seemed to have cooled things down a bit between them, if MJ is talking about keeping her options open with other guys.

It would be another nine years before Peter would decide to take another shot at a marriage proposal to Mary Jane. This time, the couple are in a good place, and so is Peter himself. His life is running smoothly... he's grown content and resolved with his life as Spider-Man... he's confided in MJ regarding his double life as the web-slinger... and he and MJ are in love (if not exactly professing it). In fact, Peter is so happy, he's uneasy about it. But that's about to change:

Unfortunately, Peter's timing is about as honed as ever. Mary Jane is having family problems with her sister, Gayle, and is about to depart for Pittsburgh. There could be a better time to ask someone to marry you than when their foot is halfway out the door--but if Peter were to realize that, then it wouldn't be called "pop" the question, would it?

Given MJ's body language, it doesn't exactly take Moondragon to make the call on this one:

But in comparison to the way she practically blew off Peter's proposal the last time, Mary Jane seems at least to acknowledge the weight of this decision for both of them; and in all fairness, she does have a lot on her plate right now, as estranged as she is with Gayle while also facing the prospect of dealing with her uncaring father. So, like the last time, a crisis intervenes to postpone the issue:

In Pittsburgh, the situation with Gayle ends with a hopeful outlook--and so Mary Jane is finally free to choose her life's direction, just as Peter has done. And now that the two are on the same page, in love as well as life, this second proposal sees a more successful resolution:

It seems that Peter didn't spring for another box of Cracker Jack this time around--but let's assume he hung onto that engagement ring so that it could see the light of day again when these two returned to New York. And what came next, of course, is history.


Kid said...

I have to be honest and say that Peter marrying Mary Jane was the worst idea ever. As was Clark marrying Lois. Comics started to go downhill once writers began placing the characters they'd read as kids in situations that reflected their own current status. That meant that adults who couldn't leave comics behind could relate to their favourite characters, but it was harder for a younger audience. Next time the Big Two have a reboot, they should click the reset button back to when their characters were most popular.

Comicsfan said...

Kid, the jury's probably still out on whether the Peter/MJ development had merit. For all of those who gave their status as a couple a thumbs-down, there's an equally vocal percentage of readers who thought that dissolving their marriage was a terrible idea. Frankly, I was glad when Peter's first proposal didn't go anywhere; but as other writers took over, and Mary Jane began to mature, I thought she made a fantastic partner for Peter, particularly when she learned of his identity as Spider-Man.

Yet, like yourself, Marvel had its eye on its younger readership, and the title got its reboot--not only pronouncing ixnay on Peter/MJ, but pushing the mother of all reset buttons on Peter Parker, his life, and his friends, bringing everything back to status quo. I remember jotting down some thoughts on "Brand New Day," and how I gave it a try but eventually dropped the title altogether: "I see little point in investing my time and interest in a character who might again fall victim to the reset button someday, because he's evolved to the point where he's become too difficult to write for." It didn't take long for other Marvel titles to begin giving continuity the boot--until we were left with the characters, but little of their substance and history. That's what I call going downhill.

Kid said...

I didn't catch any of those changes, CF, because I'd wandered away from the Spidey mags a good while before any of that happened. What originally made Spidey work for me was that he was a nerd, and was far from Mr. Popular. Then he becomes handsome, marries a super-model, and has loads of pals who all like him. In my head, I'm still a gawky, teenager who's shy around women, so I just couldn't relate to him. Yet give me a silver-age Spidey to read and I'm in comicbook heaven.

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