Following the issue #600 spectacular, things in “Amazing Spider-Man” are returning to normal -- more or less. The climax of #600 saw the long-awaited return of Mary Jane to the pages of "Amazing," and not a moment too soon. Her absence has been felt.
Of course, this being Spider-Man, things aren’t quite as simple as they could be. Since the pair were mystically released from the bonds of marriage and then broke up “off camera," readers have been in the dark as to exactly what was going on between Peter and MJ. This issue starts to clarify that. More interestingly, though, the “brain trust” has apparently re-introduced MJ with a specific agenda in mind -- the return of her “party girl” persona.
As someone more familiar with MJ as a limply-defined, hand-wringer, more accustomed to waiting by the window than hitting the tiles, it’s a welcome return to the character’s roots, and an interesting anecdote to years of stories where MJ was only being used because there was no way out of involving her.
Peter, for his part, spends the entire issue trying to remember a drunkenly-conceived plan to meet up with MJ as his life goes typically awry. It’s an entertainingly classic setup, made all the more memorable because of Mario Alberti’s masterful pencils. Alberti’s work turned the mildly entertaining “Spider-Man/X-Men” miniseries into a must-buy, and his work here further elevates what is, truth be told, already an entertaining issue.
The issue also contains a backup strip from Brian Bendis and Joe Quesada, which builds off events in “New Avengers” as Peter and Jessica Jones discuss their history together. Although it lacks the hilarious punch of the “New Avengers” scene it follows up, it makes for a fitting acknowledgement of Spidey’s role in the Marvel Universe -- although the implications are enough to make any “Alias” fan feel concerned at what the future might hold for Jessica Jones.
All things considered, "Amazing Spider-Man" #601 might actually be a better package than #600. It might lack its predecessor’s value for money, but the quality is far more consistent.