Amazing Mary Jane: Down in Flames, Up in Smoke

I’m on a quest to read all Spider-Man stories, one collection at a time. Today, I took a break from Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run to read Amazing Mary Jane: Down in Flames, Up in Smoke. This limited series features Mary Jane’s adventures in California.

Reading Order:

Plot: In this story, Mary Jane and Mysterio attempt to complete “Up in Smoke”, a movie about Mysterio’s life, with a cast and crew consisting of Hollywood stars and former supervillains. Of course, trouble awaits, as the Savage Six decide to attack the set, unhappy with how they are being portrayed in the movies.

Review: I’ve been excited about this story for a while, so I was looking forward to reading it after MJ left to film her new movie with Mysterio (in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #29). It was fun to see MJ try to take on a starring role in the action and to lead the story. Mysterio also has a starring role, and in this story, he is shown as an emotional visionary, looking to cement his place in the world by filing the greatest story ever told: his life. As a standalone story, this series is easy to read, with the only context needed being that Mary Jane is an actress who traveled to LA for a gig, leaving behind her boyfriend, Spider-Man (though they keep in touch over phone/video every day). The final battle seemed forced and almost as if it was being written as they went along. For all its weaknesses, this story was still fun to read. Perhaps not on par with Nick Spencer’s first storylines, but keeping in line with the quality of his latest work. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled, so any hopes of seeing this series grow into it’s own thing have been put on hold. On a final note, the TPB covers issues 1-5. There was a 6th issue published, which was the start of the second story arc, but with the cancellation of the series, this issue is not considered canon. I’ll see if I can find a copy of the issue to read and add to my collection.

Rating: 3 (out of 5). The story was fun, complete with action sequences, witty dialogue, and funny montages. Despite its strengths, the plot and events felt more like a a B-plot in the main Spider-Man series. The stories did not have enough strength to carry their own issues, let alone their own ongoing series. To add to its weaknesses, some parts of the dialogue and some of the events read more like fan fiction.

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