Memorable Marvel Moment: Mary Jean Beats the Chameleon

(Chantaal’s note – We continue with the Memorable Moments of Marvel Women series!  Welcome Laura from Greektress, today’s guest blogger.  If you want to write up a moment, email us at girlsreadcomicstoo@gmail.com.  We’d love the help, there are still a few available!  We’ll be showcasing one to two moments a day, and we’ll have the polls to pick the final five up the first week of March.)

Mary Jane beats the Chameleon with a baseball bat.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t remember what issue it was that Mary Jane beat the Chameleon with a baseball bat. (For the record, I believe it was Spectacular Spider-Man #245, written by J. M. DeMatteis with art by Luke Ross and John Stanisci.) I’ve never re-read the issue. I don’t even own a copy. Back then I was a teenager reading my older brother’s comics. I even have a notoriously bad memory for details and bits of continuity. This moment has stayed with me in vivid detail over the years, even if the rest of the story didn’t.

The Chameleon had discovered Spider-Man’s identity and gone to Peter and Mary Jane’s home with the intention of having sex with Mary Jane under the guise of Peter, while Spidey frantically tried to race back home to save his wife. It was potentially horrible, had it actually gone down the way these things normally happen in superhero comics. And we know what happens in Spider-Man comics to the love interest when a villain finds out his secret identity, right? Even if spider-Man had rescued Mary Jane, it would just be another moment where the girlfriend/wife/significant other plays the victim. Fortunately, that’s not really Mary Jane’s style. She realized the man who arrived at her house wasn’t, in fact, her husband and played along until she got him upstairs and was able to grab the baseball bat she kept around for just such an occasion. Then she proceeded to beat the crap out of him. (Then Peter got home, saw what happened, and they both had a good laugh over it all, which ultimately allowed the Chameleon to escape, but that’s beside the point.)

Looking back, it’s not surprising to me that this moment was written by DeMatteis. He was responsible for several of MJ’s other best and strongest moments, and his multiple runs on Spider-Man comics are a big part of the reason why Mary Jane Watson is one of my all time favorite characters, despite her lack of superhero alter-ego.

Perhaps I just hadn’t read enough comics at that point, but I had never seen that before. I had seen her stand up to would-be victimizers before, but usually it was a team effort – her and Spider-Man working together. Mary Jane Watson-Parker, who was not a superhero, successfully defended herself from a super villain without any help from her super-powered husband. It was fan-flipping-tastic. Even more than that, it represented a kind of strength I could realistically aspire to, as a young woman. I would never don spandex and fight crime, but I could defend myself. I could take action against threats, instead of being afraid.

Why was Mary Jane beating the Chameleon with a baseball bat such a memorable moment for women in Marvel Comics? It defied the cliché and upturned what readers had come to expect from women in comics.

Many thanks to Laura for a great write up! Visit Greektress, and say hello to her on twitter @Geektress.

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About Chantaal

A book reading, nail polish hoarding, makeup loving, TV marathoning, comic book talking Philosophy major. I want to be Rashida Jones when I grow up.
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3 Responses to Memorable Marvel Moment: Mary Jean Beats the Chameleon

  1. Pingback: Memorable Moments of Marvel Women | Girls Read Comics Too

  2. Benjamin Lopez says:

    An excellent moment for women in comics. Thanks for the article, the scans and most importantly, thanks for sharing your opinion and experience.

  3. Bullgrit says:

    I just learned of this event today, and looked to Google to learn more. Thank you for posting the pages so I could see first-hand how it went down. Mary Jane was always my favorite superhero-spouse.

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