Invincible Iron Man Mary Jane

Customers do not like it when businesses pull a bait-and-switch, which is why Marvel fans should be wary of purchasing Invincible Iron Man #4. The cover features Mary Jane posing with an Iron Man faceplate and a “Stark” employee ID badge. Sounds interesting, right? Wrong.

Bendis’ fourth issue of IIM continues Stark’s hunt for Madam Masque and his investigation into why she is collecting mystical artifacts. Mary Jane does make an appearance in the book — she’s opening a new night club in Chicago — but anyone hoping for banter between she and Stark will be sorely disappointed.

IIM #4 moves the story’s progression forward at a snail’s pace, although it does introduce “biotech ninjas” working for a new terrorist organization. Bendis’ incorporation of bio-hacking and trans-humanism into the book is a welcome surprise, and another example why his tales are a cut above other titles.

As was mentioned in my review of The Amazing Spider-Man #3, Dan Slott’s schizophrenic handling of The Zodiac (Are readers supposed to take this threat seriously, or are these guys a big joke?), blunts readers’ excitement in terms of wanting to unravel the mystery. Bendis treats his terror network seriously — ipso facto, so does the reader.

Iron Man biotech ninja

In short, if you’ve been reading Invincible Iron Man since the beginning, then the fourth installment is worth your time. If you are a Mary Jane fan who thought she would be featured prominently this month, then you should save yourself $4.00.

Mary Jane may have a substantive role to play in Tony’s life going forward, but at this time Bendis is simply laying the creative groundwork for that to happen.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

14 comments

  1. I expressed some concerns for MJ’s portrayal in this issue on comicvine and found many who usually agree with me on issues concerning the character disagreeing with me and finding it surprising I was worried…which, on reflection, I guess I was a bit too quick to judge. I must have been truly spoiled lately by not just MJ’s very tight and strong portrayals in RYV and the recent daily strip storylines, as well as the swift and immediate changes to characterizations in other All-New Marvel titles…I was a bit flummoxed to find MJ maintaining the same irritable traits she had been displaying since she was written out in 2014, and, worse, seems to have went back on her vow to stay put in her home city as per the end of Superior..but from the way the story is unfolding in those few pages she does appear, it does seem like a very good transition from one existing status quoe to another. MJ will be a part of Tony’s company because her nightclub will be destroyed and Tony will offer her a job out of guilt.

    I applaud my friends for maintaining a healthy “wait and see” approach. I can only advise other readers falling for the bait-and-switch the same.

    That aside, it was another very good issue.

    1. MJ will be a part of Tony’s company because her nightclub will be destroyed and Tony will offer her a job out of guilt.

      This makes no sense to me, even though you’re probably right. As a nightclub owner in the Marvel Universe — one who already had a club destroyed by super villains — my guess is that her new building would be insured for such a disaster. On top of that, if her passion is to be a club owner, then why would she take a job with Stark? Why wouldn’t Stark just cut her a check to rebuild if he felt guilty over the damage?

      I guess we’ll find out, but Bendis needs to be pretty darn creative to make this all work out.

    2. It’s possible MJ took a bit of a “Wrestlemania I gambit” on this first night for the club, putting every penny into the launch night to attract a large sum of people…including anything that insured her building. That would be pretty stupid, but, alas, it wouldn’t be the first time MJ has been dumbed down for the sake of the plot.

      That’s another thing that bugs me, MJ claims nightclub ownership was a “lifelong dream”, but we know her aspirations were always to be an actress be it in the movies or the stage. Since the Mephistoverse’s creation, she’s moved far away from her traditional roles just as Peter has moved away from his and neither ring true of either character.

    3. “It’s possible MJ took a bit of a “Wrestlemania I gambit” on this first night for the club, putting every penny into the launch night to attract a large sum of people…including anything that insured her building.”

      If you’re right (and you may very well be), then it will be disappointing for Marvel to bring Tony and MJ into each other’s orbit by robbing her of intelligence.

    4. I passed our conversation over to a guy on Comicvine called Animehunter and he had some other ideas about how to fit this all in. Here they are

      “Her clubs gets destroyed and although she would have insurance, it’s not not enough to rebuild plus her insurance premiums would increase, thereby making the business too expensive to run thereby making it no longer viable.
      The reputation of the club gets severely damaged to such an extent that it will no longer make a profit.
      so if you add those 2 plus, she has likely taken out a loan to start the club, if that is the case, then the bank might come along and as for their money back, which would me that all the insurance money would go to pay off the bank loan.
      In short

      She more than likely has insurance to cover damages, but the success any new night club is dependent on its opening night, what happened would constitute a failure of said opening night and I wouldn’t be surprised if she took out a loan to fund the opening of the club, in which case, the bank will more than likely ask for its money back, since they would have lost faith in the business, due to the reputation it would have gotten because of the incident, leaving her with nothing to fix the damage caused and even if she was able to, nobody would come to her club, fearing a repeat of something similar happening.”

    5. I’m sorry buddy, but all of this strains credulity and once more hinges on the idea that MJ would essentially jump into club ownership without the finances she needs to weather Marvel-type storms. Animehunter’s idea seems like a valiant attempt to defend an editorial decision by Bendis that has a high risk of being a bit cheesy.

      “The success any new night club is dependent on its opening night.”

      I’ve seen this said on television shows and, while it my sound like a good line, I think it’s in many ways a gross exaggeration.

      Is opening night important? Of course. Will it make a break a club? Probably not. There are so many factors affecting what makes a club a “good” club that saying opening night is the end-all-be-all seems absurd.

      What is the atmosphere like? Who was the opening night DJ? What are the bartenders like? Where is the club located? Who is on the VIP list? Are you telling me if MJ had a slew of Hollywood stars who regularly started showing up on the second night after a bad first night that the club would tank? I don’t think so.

    6. Thanks again for your counter-points Doug, it’s nice to get a very clear and consequentially-minded thought process to all of this…thinking in a character’s shoes about what precautions to take and what the expectations of a booming buisness are, and that a big gamble doesn’t necessarily mean instant failure…and how these things aren’t quite acknowledged because the plot demands we get from here to there is an irritable trait in concurrent comics.

      I now hope Bendis puts things together cohesively in a way that makes sense…it does seem cheesy and a little too basic, but then I think too simplisticly about the landscape these days and I’m not as worldly…I think that’s the problem with a lot of writers now…they don’t feel like they’re in the world long enough outside of summits and meetings and play about at their laptops googling the world.

  2. “Since the Mephistoverse’s creation, she’s moved far away from her traditional roles just as Peter has moved away from his and neither ring true of either character.”

    Yeah, if Marvel wanted to make any major changes to the franchise’s status quo and characters, they missed the boat a good fifty years ago for most stuff, and brought in “One More Day” about twenty years too late. I’m no expert, but it seems like adding Venom was the last major change/addition to the franchise that has actually stuck and became a part of the overall mythology. I mean, if you look at the franchise as a whole, the mainstream “Spider-Man” comics — ostensibly the source material — have very little to do with what most people think of when they think of Spider-Man.

    I find it really interesting that the “Renew Your Vows” series, which was pretty much a continuation of the pre-“One More Day” iteration of the brand was not only practically universally well-received by the “Spider-Man fanbase (regardless of stance on “One More Day”), but it was also one of the top selling series in the “Secret Wars” line and regarded as one of the best parts of the whole enchilada.

    I’ve gathered that “Secret Wars” as a whole, is considered to be not bad, but nowhere near as great or important as Marvel hyped it up to be. On the other hand, RYV pretty consistently described along the lines of: “This is the best “Spider-Man” series in the lineup, and one of the best “Spider-Man” stories in recent times. Even if you’re not interested in “Secret Wars” itself, RYV is well-worth your time.” This would really suggest that the more traditional “Spider-Man” still has some juice left in the tank and was not only canceled prematurely, but really needs a revival soon.

    Regardless how the comics turn out, the cover is a nice portrait of MJ, even if it’s on the wrong book.

    1. i concur. RYV got high praise even from people not too satisfied with Slott’s work currently. Both Slott and Roger Stern actually hate the marriage and how MJ evolved over the years, yet both can write her and her relationship with Peter very well when prompted. RYV is not without it’s critics, and the ending is a bit weird and lazily put together (ending a life-and-death struggle by making the Regent laugh), but for five issues it reminds you of an easier time, and I sincerly hope that, outside of the mobile Unlimited game where you can play as Annie, it is not the end of that version of the Parkers.

      It should be noted that DC have recently launched a “Lois and Clark” title featuring the pre-Flashpoint versions of Superman and Lois raising their kids while inhabiting the New 52 universe, and it’s been confirmed the villain of RYV exists in the current Marvel universe post-secret wars, so maybe they have plans to revisit the RYV Parker family sometime next year, or, better still, in 2017, which will mark 30 years of Peter and MJ’s marriage.

    2. “RYV is not without it’s critics, and the ending is a bit weird and lazily put together (ending a life-and-death struggle by making the Regent laugh)…”

      I did think that the biggest weakness of the series was that the plot didn’t have much room to breathe, but, since the only comic book series I collect uses decompression, I wasn’t sure if I had a skewered perspective on what “normal” comic book pacing is.

      I actually didn’t think the ending was that bad. I’ll concede that having the big bad wipe out the most powerful superheroes and become king, only to be taken down by a family of three was not the best way to end the comic, but since Regent was powered down at the moment of his demise (most of the tanks he was using to siphon off the superpowers and the armor he needed to use them were destroyed), he wasn’t fighting at full force the way he was at the beginning when he took out the X-Men and the Avengers. Having him loose by laughing was not very well thought out, although I could buy that he thought he had the upper hand and got overconfident.

      Actually, my biggest complaint was that the story just seems to end abruptly. On the other hand, the visual bookending to the first issue, the clues planted for the Parkers’ future outside the scope of the story, and the fact that the story whole theme (can Peter balance his responsibilities to his family and his calling or are they mutually exclusive) was answered do make this somewhat forgivable .

      I’d be a little surprised if RYV came back, despite going on record that it’s sorely needed. Marvel could hop on the DC bandwagon and do a “Spider-Man” version of “Lois and Clark” (given that “Secret Wars 2015” was basically Marvel ripping off DC’s bad habit of rebooting their comics multiverse through an “in-universe” story that causes all of reality to be altered). However, they were advertising this as the “last Spider-Man story,” which leaves me wondering if the their intent was to tell us: “Hey, look, you want a married Spider-Man story? Sure, here. You have a world were Peter and MJ Parker have a happy ending. Now, could you please stop bugging us to bring back the 616 married Spider-Man, which was a mistake that broke the character in the first place?” The fact that the only real carryover so far is the Regent character (who was generally considered to be the weak link in the series, and doesn’t even work outside of the “Secret Wars”/RYV setting) doesn’t instill me with confidence that Marvel understands why RYV sold so well, much less how to properly use it going forward.

      The fact that RYV gleefully points out there’s a to be continued is the only real evidence that I can see for a possible continuation. While it did sell well and was well received (and Marvel has commissioned series, like “Silk” and “Spider-Gwen,” on far worse odds of success), I kind of get the impression that Marvel wants to completely reinvent themselves and seem to be working hard to eliminate anything that’s a throwback to the traditional versions of their properties.

      (As a side-effect, that means that the comics are going to be nothing like the movies, which are going to be the most likely place that new comic readers will be cultivated. I know that was my case. The reason I got into “Ultimate Spider-Man” was because it was just like the movies I’d seen. I also know I won’t read a modern “Spider-Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” or “Thor” comic despite liking those movies specifically because the comics are so vastly different. The reason I would read a superhero comic in the first place was to get more stories like there were on the big screen, not read stuff that was completely different.)

      However, I suppose at the end of the day, we should be grateful that RYV turned out to be a good graphic novel in and of itself, no matter what does or does not come after it. Even if Marvel doesn’t remember, we will, and that’s the important thing.

    3. Good points. The marriage remains active in the daily strips also…although that in itself is far from the ideal Spider-Man comic, given it’s wacky plots, but it’s still loads of fun.

    4. Yeah, the newspaper comics are hard to take seriously sometimes, but they do at least seem to be written by someone who has affection for that version of the characters.

    5. I think the strips are kind of underrated…the plots and occasional moments are silly, but the way the stories shift and swerve sometimes makes it fun to follow and it is no way boring or predictable like most mainstream comics because they’re a bit wacky. I’ve had loads more fun with it than the regular market these last few years.

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