ARC 2: KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…
Coming to term with the recent events and his discussion with Byron, Peter makes an important decision and meets with Mary Jane several days later. Before she can say anything he goes into a long speech about his feelings for her and how because of how much he cares for her he can’t continually keep putting her in danger. For both of their sakes, as he puts it, he needs to end their relationship. MJ is taken aback by all of this as she’d come to the conclusion that she wanted to stay together, and in fact needs his support now more then ever. It hurts to hear the decision he’s made and also angers her that he’s not giving her a say in the matter. Even though Peter wants to remain friends, the situation is going to put a strain on that friendship and causes a rift that will take a while to heal.
As the old saying goes; when it rains, it pours. Already emotionally shaken by the decision he’s made, Peter almost doesn’t register his spider-sense kicking in when he’s attacked out in the open by what appears to be a new incarnation of the Hobgoblin. With the number of Goblin variations that have been around recently, this should come as more of a nuisance then anything. But what he finds really troubling about the attack is that it happened to Peter…not Spider-Man. Although all evidence points to the fact that this new Goblin knows his identity, with the confrontation with Elliot still weighing on his mind Peter doesn’t want to jump to conclusions too quickly. His initial thought is that it must be Norman Osborn once again. But if this were the case he would naturally don his Green Goblin attire rather then the Hobgoblin motif, and he certainly would have no qualms about letting him know who he is. Aside from Osborn, there are so many potential possibilities as to who the new Goblin could be. But if it is someone he’s encountered before, when and how did they discover who he was? As much as he was hurting about having let MJ go, now he feels confident that he’s made the right decision. But even so, if Hobgoblin knows who he is, what’s to stop him from going after the ones he loves?
While Peter is busy dealing with these new found dangers, Mary Jane is about to begin her own struggles as she attempts to heal. Once she’s released from the hospital, her doctors arrange to have a nurse from their rehab center come to MJ’s home twice a week to assist with her recuperation and exercises. MJ is caught completely off guard when the rehab nurse who arrives is none other then Jill Stacy.
We’ll stop here for a bit of background for those unfamiliar: Jill Stacy is the cousin of Peter’s deceased love Gwen. She made her most recent appearance in the Spider-Man books during the Pre-BND era, first appearing towards the end of the “Clone Saga” along with her father Arthur and brother Paul. During that time-frame, Jill befriended both Peter and Mary Jane when she began taking courses with MJ at ESU. Things became complicated after MJ’s apparent “death” in a plane explosion as Jill and Peter became closer with Jill ultimately making romantic advances towards him. Eventually it was revealed that MJ was not dead, and with her return Jill quietly and respectfully withdrew from the picture as well as from the Spider-Man comics.
That’s established character continuity. Now we move on to the additional back-story I’ve come up with for the sake of the tale I’m about to tell.
Since her departure from the book Jill has undergone a number of life-changing events. Shortly after leaving the city, Arthur is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. This news led to her taking an extended leave of absence from Empire State so that she could help tend to their ailing father. Paul, already having been at odds with his father in the past, finds himself in an awkward position and can’t come to terms with what’s happening. That being the case, he abandons Arthur to his fate, leaving Jill to care for him on her own. The lack of support from her brother makes the situation for Jill even harder then it already would have been. Even so, she was at his side almost every day and she was with him at the end. Paul’s absence actually helped to strengthen the bond between Jill and Arthur during those last years, bringing them closer then they’d ever been before. This ultimately made his death an even more shattering blow to Jill. But rather then letting it break her down, Jill used the pain as a motivation to go back to school and receive her nursing degree, eventually beginning her current career in physical therapy and rehabilitation. In an ironic twist of fate, this new career would ultimately bring her back into the lives of both Peter and Mary Jane when Jill ends up being the one assigned to assist with MJ’s rehabilitation.
There’s an odd mixture of emotions attached to Jill’s reintegration into the books. On the one hand, having an old friend by her side and helping with her recovery is a welcome blessing for Mary Jane. Already having been friends before, Jill’s presence and help at this very critical and emotional point in her life actually brings her and MJ even closer as friends then they’d been before. For all the positives that this brings into Mary Jane’s life, there’s an equal level of awkwardness that comes into Peter’s when he’s reunited with Jill. With Peter and MJ having split up so recently, and she and Jill now becoming so close, it almost feels to Peter as if he’s being replaced. In addition, to be suddenly confronted with a woman who not only reminds him so much of his first love but also has expressed interest in him before just adds to the emotional baggage Peter is having heaped upon him. Thankfully, whatever Jill may have felt for him in the past seems to now be a part of her past. As far as he can tell, all she seems to want from him is friendship and she’s focused entirely on helping MJ with her healing.
If this all sounds a little soap opera-y, don’t worry. The bulk of this is really meant as sub-plots to be worked into the ongoing storyline. There will still be plenty of Spidey action exploits to go around as these events play out in the background. The integration of Jill back into the storyline should be a gradual one with little to no fanfare. She will not be someone appearing in every issue, but instead be mostly in the background at the start, allowing her time to grow as a character and endear herself both to Peter and to the readers. As time moves on there is going to be an attraction between the two that will seem almost inevitable. If nothing else, this will set up a potentially interesting triangle situation. With Jill not aware of his duel identity, Peter will once again be involved with someone romantically whom he’ll need to make efforts to keep his secret from. On the other hand, Mary Jane and Jill will continue to grow closer as friends. So essentially you have this bizarre triangle between Peter, the ex-girlfriend that he still loves who knows his secrets, and a potential new love that doesn’t know his secret and is also best friends with his ex.