By Nisha Gopalan
August 01, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the male-dominated superhero biz, it’s almost heroic to revisit the Spider-Man story through the eyes of his perennial crush, Mary Jane Watson. Unfortunately, this young-adult novel (a first for Marvel) isn’t very compelling. For each of her token trials (an eating disorder, a deadbeat dad), a more heartbreaking one awaits the webslinger (his parents’ deaths, his uncle’s murder). Even attempts at humanizing the girl next door — she’s a babe, but she’s poor — are trumped by the arachnid’s shlub-to-stud transformation. As for that flat Nancy Drew subplot about a dastardly millionaire spiking kids’ energy drinks? Totally clueless.

Mary Jane

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