Well, this is weird. Mary Jane Watson, model, nightclub owner, and ex-wife of Peter Parker (it's a fact, you gotta deal with it) is making a transfer to the Iron Man supporting cast in the fourth issue of Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez's Invincible Iron Man this December. Marvel made the announcement on its website today, declaring that she will take on a new, "unexpected" role.

Marvel won't elaborate, with Bendis noting, "what kind of relationship they end up having is a big part of what I would like people to buy the book for." Bendis also says he picked up the character because no-one else was using her. That's a little sad to hear; Mary Jane is a major character, and she ought to always have a role to play. Leaving her on the sidelines is like benching Lois Lane.

But Marvel, which doesn't do reboots, rebooted the Peter/Mary Jane marriage out of existence in 2007 by turning its most responsible hero into an Actual Satanist, and readers have come to learn that Mary Jane doesn't get a whole lot of story time if she's not the girlfriend of a superhero.

So... is she going to be Tony Stark's new girlfriend? Tony certainly has a taste for supermodels and redheads; in fact it would be a challenge to tell some artists' versions of Mary Jane and Pepper Potts apart. (Good luck to series colorist Justin Ponsor if those characters are going to meet.)


Variant cover by Yasmine Putri


But reducing MJ to the latest notch on Tony's bachelor bedpost doesn't sound like an exciting direction for the character, and Bendis took pains to note that MJ is "a grown-up woman who has been through a lot," which sounds to me like the recognizes that she's more than just an accessory.

MJ could end up being Stark's publicist or crisis manager (the sort of roles that owning a nightclub will definitely prepare you for if you live in a soap opera world), but there's hints that she may be something more. We've known for a while that Bendis plans to launch another series spinning out of Invincible Iron Man, and we've heard hints that Invincible Iron Man #4 will start setting that up. So there's a good chance that we're looking at a Bendis-written Mary Jane book that focuses on her mysterious new role.

What sort of role could that be? A new Iron Maiden? Rescue? War Machine? Or something that holds on to her civilian identity, but plays with her experience with superheroic insanity?

My pick? Make her the new CEO of a Stark Industries-owned Damage Control. Face it, tiger; that would hit the jackpot.