I absolutely love issues #257 & #259 of Amazing Spider-Man. Both are great reads and propelled the series forward with some startling revelations.
In ASM #257 Mary Jane drops by to cheer up a Peter and celebrate her finding steady work as a model. Before she can even open the bottle of champagne, Puma, the latest baddie after Spider-Man crashes into Peter's apartment. Fortunately, Peter gets MJ to saftey before Puma makes the place look like a rockin' party went down. MJ hears all the rukus and knows that Peter is in some kind of danger. The girl fights for all she's worth to bust the door open and eventually succeeds, but Peter is nowhere in sight.
Before I go on any further, I'd like to state that the aforementioned scene is one of my favorites in Spider-Man comics. MJ is a strong person. She knows Peter's in trouble and she's concerned about him. She doesn't care what happens to her, she just wants to know what could possibly be harming Peter. Do they make women like this anymore?
Anyhoo, after the fight between Spidey and Puma is over and Puma shows us that although he's an assassin, he does have a sense of honor, Peter returns to his apartment where MJ wraps her arms around him, relieved that he's OK. Peter fumbles for an excuse for all the noise MJ heard, she tells Peter to stop lying to her. This is where MJ drops the mother of all bombs on Peter, and no she doesn't tell him she's pregnant. She's got some info that's going to change things between the two of them forever.
OH. SNAP. I can only imagine the reaction of fans reading this comic back in 1984. This isn't some super villain that told Peter he knows he leads a double life. This is a friend revealing that she's known his biggest secret. Part of the reason Peter keeps his identity a secret is because he doesn't want others to carry the burdern of knowing what he goes through as Spider-Man. Well, Pete, you've just found out that one of your friends has been carrying that burdern for years.
Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz were the team that brought us the revaltion of MJ knowing Peter is Spider-Man. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision. Tom and Ron stated in Comics Creators on
Spider-Man that they'd talked about it for a while and felt that
MJ had known. Call me crazy, but I think things are always a lot more interesting when a friend or family member knows that the main character is a super hero. It made me actually give a rat's about aunt May when she told Peter she knew in ASM #38, vol. 2.
ASM #259 is another milestone issue. Since MJ know's Peter's big secret, she thinks it's only fair that he should know about hers. At first Peter is uneasy about MJ know he's Spidey. He even ponders on trying to convince her that he isn't Spidey, as foolhardy as it may be. Really, the girl knows. Nothing Peter can do or say will convince her otherwise.
I heard about MJ's broken family background but to actually read the issue where she tells Peter about her troubled past, man. It's like getting a story straight from the source. Her mom & dad married right outta high school and had a couple of kids. Gale, the first born. MJ was born four years later. MJ's dad was pretty good as college professor on campus but he wanted more. He dreamed of becoming a great writer. When he couldn't concentrate to produce a good tale, he took out his frustration on his family. At one point, he even struck MJ's older sister. To hide her pain, MJ adopted the facade of a party girl. MJ moved around a lot, but felt the most at home when she stayed with her aunt Anna. During a period she was staying with her aunt, she sees Peter Parker years before they'd meet.
Gale also married young like her parents did. With a second kid on the way, Gale's husband bailed. Guy just wasn't man enough to own up to his responsibilities. MJ's mother died, leaving her and Gale alone. MJ didn't want to give up her dreams to help her family so she ran and has been running ever since.
After bearing her soul to Peter, he knows it wouldn't be right to try and her convince her he isn't Spider-Man. Viewing the redhead in a new light, he's proud to have her as a friend.
These issues are some powerful stuff.