Appearing in "Growing Pains!"

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Synopsis for "Growing Pains!"

Answering a call for help from Mary Jane, Peter Parker has traveled to Pittsburgh. Although he feels guilty for leaving New York City while Alistar Smythe is on the loose, the wall-crawler is the only one Mary Jane can rely on, while the city has many protectors. Web-slinging to the hotel, Spider-Man slips into the alley next door to change back into his street clothes and gets a room. He puts on the news while he checks the phone book for the address to Gayle Byrnes, Mary Jane's sister. His mind is put at ease when he hears a news report about how the Spider-Slayer's rampage ended shortly after it started and that nobody was injured. However, Peter is unaware that Alistair Smythe has figured out where Spider-Man has gone and is now having his Spider-Slayer equipment loaded onto a plane bound for Pittsburgh. Later, Peter takes a cab to Gayle's house and Mary Jane is glad to see that he has come to see her. He is surprised to see that Mary Jane's father, Philip is there. When Mary Jane refuses to call him dad, they start to argue about how Philip walked out on Mary Jane's mother years ago.[Continuity 1] Mary Jane has had enough and decides to leave, taking Peter with her. As they head out, they catch Mary Jane's nephew Kevin as he goes off to school. She tells Peter that they have been staying at the neighbor's house. Getting into a car, she tells him that she needs to talk, and Peter is more than willing to listen.

Later, at Point State Park, Mary Jane recounts how her father left her mother, and in turn, she left her sister Gayle after their mother had died. She tells him that since then, Philip academic standing eroded and he got into the business of selling rare manuscripts to private collectors. He had recently set his sights on the Tavistock Paper, a monograph written by Benjamin Franklin. The paper was on loan to Duquesne University, where Gayle was working. Philip then convinced to try and steal the paper. Gayle hid the paper intending to sneak it out of the university after work, but she was caught on camera and was arrested. Philip now wants Mary Jane to figure out where the paper is and recover it for him. Philip promised to leave and never bother the family again and Gayle would be released due to lack of evidence. When Peter asks why Gayle would agree to make the theft, Mary Jane explains that blood ties are hard to break, and she figures that Gayle did it to come to terms with her feelings toward their father. Peter tells Mary Jane that making a sacrifice for the family is a noble idea, however, it is a waste if done for the wrong reasons. He points out that Philip only cares about his family now because he has a use for them. However, he tells her that he will support her through whatever decision she makes. She is grateful that Peter is there for him, and that she loves him and the couple kisses.

Back at Gayle house, Mary Jane surprises by Peter when she tells her father that she will help him. While this is happening, Alistair Smythe has set up operations in a warehouse. After paying for the space and labor, he privately uncrates the components of his Spider-Slayer and prepares to hunt for Spider-Man anew. Later, Peter and Mary Jane are visiting Gayle at the jail. However, Gayle is still bitter over how Mary Jane left her to struggle on her own years earlier. When Mary Jane can't get through to her sister, she gets frustrated and leaves. That's when Peter tries to get through to Gayle, telling her that Mary Jane only wants to help. He explains that they are trying to find the stolen papers so Gayle can be freed. When Gayle is still reluctant, Peter tells her not to let her father ruin the lives of her children like she has done with her and Mary Jane. He drives him the point by asking her who will take care of Kevin and Tommy if Gayle is sent to prison. Still, Gayle puts up a tough front, but Peter finally breaks through and convinces her to help.

Back at the warehouse, Alistar has completed reassembling his Spider-Slayer, vowing to succeed in destroying Spider-Man where his father failed.[Continuity 2] Still able to track the wall-crawler due to the chemical gas he sprayed him with the night before, Alistair enters his Spider-Slayer and emerges from the warehouse. At that moment, at Duquesne University, Peter and Mary Jane have come to recover the stolen papers. Peter learned from Gayle that she hid them in an old sensory deprivation tank in the basement of the facility and they quickly recover it. Suddenly, Smythe's Spider-Slayer comes crashing through the wall. Running for cover, Peter uses his web-shooter to take out the lights and tells Mary Jane to try and get away. However, Smythe catches her in the Spider-Slayer's spotlight and recognizes her as the woman he once thought was Spider-Man.[Continuity 3]

This creates enough of a distraction for Peter to change into his Spider-Man costume and face Smythe himself. Spider-Man then lures the Spider-Slayer outside and tries to head to the suburbs where nobody can get hurt. However, as he crosses one of the bridges, Smythe rips out the girder out from under Spider-Man, coils him up in one of the Spider-Slayer's arms and attempts to drown him in the river below. By this time, Mary Jane has followed the chase in her car and rams into one of the Spider-Slayer's legs. This allows Spider-Man to break free and come up for air before he can drown. Spider-Man tries to lure Smythe up Mount Washington, but discovers that it is a densely populated area. Before he can turn back, the Spider-Slayer attacks him again with ethyl chloride. Mary Jane helps again by borrowing a baseball bat from a nearby child and uses it to attack the giant robot. Angered by the interruption, Smythe turns his attentions to Mary Jane. However, before he can kill her, Spider-Man shakes off the effects of the gas and jump kicks the Spider-Slayer from behind. The wall-crawler then furiously rips the Spider-Slayer apart to get at Alistair. Before he can harm his foe, Spider-Man remembers Mary Jane and tosses Smythe aside and checks to see if Mary Jane is safe.

Spider-Man then turns to Smythe and warns him against coming after Mary Jane or any other innocent person again. With the threat over, Mary Jane stays behind to give a statement to the police while Spider-Man swings off to clean off the chemical tracer off his costume, agreeing to meet Mary Jane at his hotel later. Soon the pair return to Gayle's house to turn over the manuscript to Philip. However, Peter has decided that he can't let Mary Jane's father get away with a theft and decides to tag him with a spider-tracker so he can arrest him later. However, Mary Jane is merely getting a confession out of her father for the police who have arrived to arrest him. As her father is being taken away, Mary Jane confides in Peter that seeing him risking his life against the Spider-Slayer helped her find a courage she didn't know she had, and the couple have come to realize that they are good for each other. Two days later, Gayle is released from jail and reunited with her children. She thanks Mary Jane and Peter for their help and they make their goodbyes. Later, at the airport, Mary Jane has decided to stop running away from the people she cares about and tells Peter that she accepts his proposal and will marry him.

Solicit Synopsis

A frantic plea for help from Mary Jane Watson in Pittsburgh plunges Peter Parker into the middle of a traumatic family crisis and Spider-Man into a city-spanning fight for his life against the Spider Slayer! Plus: Mary Jane Watson gives her answer to Peter Parker's proposal of marriage!


Continuity Notes

  1. Philip Watson walked out on his wife, as explained by Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man #259
  2. Alistar's father, Spencer, had attempted to capture Spider-Man with Spider-Slayer robots since Amazing Spider-Man #25. However, due to regular exposure to the radioactive isotopes used to power his machines, Spencer eventually died of cancer in Amazing Spider-Man #192.
  3. Alistair Smythe once captured Mary Jane thinking she was Spider-Man, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #19.

Publication Notes

See Also


  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks

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