A lot of people give David Michelinie’s run on Spider-Man, and his portrayal of Mary Jane/the marriage flack.
Regardless of how on point those criticisms are one thing I think was pretty cool was that he retained MJ’s love of partying and using it to help deal with her problems. At the start of his ASM run she addressed her issues with her family and was no longer running away from her problems as her default setting.
But she still if stressed out or having problems (like when she was out of work) would go out dancing to help her cope. It was her equivalent of Peter going off web-swinging (yet another reason she is such a great match for him). But she had grown up enough to not use that as a crutch so it wasn’t like she’d hit the clubs most of the times she was concerned about Peter or things were getting too much for her. She just did it every so often, which was refreshing because had it been handled more poorly you’d have seen her do that all the time because she was constantly stressed or something.
As was though when she was out of work she hit the clubs up a few too many times and she and Peter had maybe one argument over it.
What was perhaps really, really great about it though is that at no point ever does Peter feel at all jealous, threatened or anything like that over MJ going off alone to dance with strangers, including other men. There isn’t even a moment where Michelinie’s issues making a point of saying:
Look. Peter Parker has no problem with his wife dancing with other men
It is treated as such a non-issue that it’s never even brought up, the most we get is in ASM #298 where MJ has taken Peter to a club and when offered a dance by someone else asks if he doesn’t mind. But the scene could just as easily be read as MJ is asking if Peter doesn’t mind her leaving him alone in the club she’s dragged him to.
Peter having such an attitude and that dynamic between them is I feel very positive and more poignantly (from a creative point of view) refreshingly avoids cliche.
One might argue that it is not the attitude most men in the late 1980s New York (or even now perhaps) would have, thus it goes against the everyman concept of the character. But at the same time the trick with long running super hero characters like Spider-Man is that you have to negotiate a balance between their core concept, their role as heroic (as in ultimately morally decent) human beings, their personal history as characters and at the same time doing something creative and novel.
its difficult to do and I’d argue few if any writers can perfectly balance all of those things simultaneously, though I also find (especially among modern writers) that they simply prioritise one at the gross expense of the others, and it usually is the novelty part. *coughParkerIndustriescough*
In this case maybe someone out there could argue that no, most men wouldn’t be as chill about their wives going off dancing like this. But for Peter Parker who knows Mary Jane as well as he does, has been through very deep bonding experiences with her, he knows this stuff doesn’t mean anything or would lead to anything illicit. His wife just likes to dance or even lightly flirt for fun or to destress, that’s the end of it. It’s like how he knows in her job as an actress she might have to pretend to be in love with someone or kiss them for the camera but she isn’t actually in love with them. At the end of the day it’s just how she deals with things like how he wears spandex and fights crime to deal with things (which is weirder when you think about it). And if she’s proven that she is utterly loyal to him countless times, between agreeing to marry him, supporting him through Gwen’s death and even keeping his secret for many years without his even knowing it.
Long story short, I really like this aspect of Michelinie’s run, whatever else may or may not be wrong with it.