Mary Jane and Black Cat: Beyond #1 Review

Writer: Jed MacKay

Artist: C.F. Villa

Color Artist: Erick Arciniega

Cover Artists: J. Scott Campbell & Sabine Rich

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Reviewer: StoryBabbler

Peter Parker was hospitalized after an unexpected fight with the U-Foes. While he recovers, Peter’s closest loved ones watch over him during this time, including his current girlfriend Mary Jane and his past flame and sometimes crimefighting partner Black Cat. But when Peter’s life is in jeopardy, Mary Jane and Black Cat: Beyond #1 shows the two team up to save him.

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So, this comic book is something that took me by surprise for all the best reasons. It had a team-up I’ve wanted to see for a while now between MJ and Black Cat, at least to get the characters together. They get a story that actually connects to Spider-Man in an organic way and is actually fun and enjoyable on its own. Plus, there’s genuine emotional development between the two main characters.

So, let’s get right to it, Black Cat and Mary Jane are cool in this comic. Jed MacKay knows how to write not only Black Cat but MJ pretty well, giving them both distinguished voices that are consistent with their core personalities and characterization in recent years. Plus, he’s able to make sure they both bring something to table as far as skills and talents go in their own ways. Black Cat is the master thief and butt-kicking anti-hero, while Mary Jane is a skilled actress with a charming personality.

The story itself is pretty good that stands on its own two feet whether you read it in isolation or as part of the wider Beyond storyline in the main Amazing Spider-Man series. Essentially, the super-villain The Hood is threatening Peter Parker’s life and makes a deal with Black Cat to retrieve his missing hood. That’s not a spoiler, it’s in the previews. This sets off a fun adventure with the leading ladies as we see what trouble they get up to together. This is helped by the art from C.F. Villa and the colors which make the characters look vibrant, colorful, and gets facial expressions pretty well. The artwork also convey’s the book energy pretty well whether it’s the action or dynamic shots it delivers.

At first glance, it might seem like the comic will depict them as oil and water forced to work together while hating each other along the way like a bland sitcom episode. But in fact, the opposite happens and these two bond in various ways that make sense and might catch some readers off-guard in a good way. MacKay really makes these two work together not only as a quasi-superhero duo but as friends hanging out with each other as he capitalizes on their history instead of discarding it to build and develop their bond.

Now, this reviewer has mixed feelings on Jed MacKay as a comic writer. He has a great way to balance out the comic action with compelling emotional engagement, and can give many characters distinguished voices. Look no further than his Death of Doctor Strange series with how he characterizes everyone from Dr. Strange to Wong, Clea, and the rest. However, it’s when he delves into humor that turns me off as it seems like he tries too hard at times to copy the MCU’s brand of quippy humor. Best example of this is his Taskmaster series where the cool mercenary is made into a joke half the time.

This extends to how he writes supervillains, because sometimes he nails it and makes them credible villains and threats to the main characters. But sometimes he undermines their menace for a joke or gag to make them more humorous. Look no further than how he writes villains in this comic. None of them are serious threats, there’s no true danger here to either Black Cat or Mary Jane when there could’ve been plenty for them to deal with. So, it’s a flip of the coin at times whether or not you get the full package or just some of the good things. Thankfully we got more good than bad in this comic.

Final Thoughts:

Mary Jane and Black Cat: Beyond #1 gives a cool team-up between the two leading ladies. The story provides a solid reason why they team up so it doesn’t feel forced, and the adventure they have is actually fun. The comic keeps both MJ and Black Cat distinct heroines and delivers some sincere emotional development between the two. This comic works in the Beyond storyline and as a great standalone story featuring these two characters.


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