Paper Doll was once Piper Dali [oh Lord], a teenaged girl who became obsessed with Bobby Carr movies the night she stumbled into her father’s dimensional compressor. In the present, she has put her murderous sights on Carr’s new mystery squeeze, Mary Jane Watson.
Spidey’s at Carr’s house, taking pictures for the DB, when the Doll attacks. He sets his camera to automatic and defeats Paper Doll by dragging her into Carr’s pool, exploiting her diminished lung capacity. MJ rides the battle out in Carr’s panic room, and Peter never knows she’s there.
With Paper Doll unconscious, Peter takes his camera’s memory card to Dexter Bennett, snaps it in front of him, and says he never even looked at the photos. Bennett fires Peter and warns him that he’s now on “the list.”
Before departing for LA, Mary Jane signs an autograph for Sara Ehret, a “huge fan.”
According to several interviews, Dan Slott originally conceived “Peter Parker: Paparazzi” as a two-parter, but later expanded it to include Mary Jane. It appears that, since by then the writers had already mapped out most of the year, MJ’s involvement couldn’t make waves big enough to affect their plans. So, instead of the honest to God answers that any satisfactory Mary Jane appearance would need to include, we only get more teases and vague verbal hints that MJ might know some secret about something somewhere. Straczynski already wrote a perfect Pete and MJ near miss story in Vol. 2 #49, in comparison to which this is a hollow, pointless exercise.
Besides that one huge flaw, I enjoyed this issue. Grossly deformed characters or not, Marcos Martin’s art masterfully guides the eye through pages and individual panels with an effortlessness paralleled by few other storytellers. Occasionally, Martin forgoes conventional panels and finds new ways to present narrative through art. One page shows Mary Jane standing in front before a security monitor set, each screen showing part of Spidey and Paper Doll’s thrilling showdown as they fight through the mansion. Other times, Marcos will represent several panels worth of movement in a single image. His pictures flow so clearly that one hardly needs text to follow a sequence. That’s a good thing, because Slott’s dialogue never reads as smoothly as Guggenheim’s or Wells’.
Paper Doll continues to be a creepy, yet visually hilarious villain, so she stands out as the most promising new bad guy in literally decades. She has a logical weakness, and I liked seeing Spider-Man once again use his brain to discover an enemy’s vulnerability.
This issue also provides an important piece in the puzzle of Sara Ehret, which is still the most interesting BND subplot. It now seems more likely that Sara simply enjoys dressing up like her favorite celebrity and less likely that she’s a fragment of Mary Jane’s pre-OMD personality, as some have suggested.
Peter leaving The DB and moving into Vin Gonzales’ apartment with the help of his entire supporting cast gave a nice sense of closure to the ending. It feels like the new status quo’s pieces are all in place, and, after a generally decent but seldom great 16 issues, I finally see a brand new day approaching.
Label on Box: “DO NOT OPEN! PETER ONLY!”
3.5 webheads out of 5. As in his first arc, which introduced Spider-Man’s misguided new reality, Slott made an unexciting premise into an okay story. Hopefully he’ll do even more with his next effort, August’s “New Ways To Die.” It certainly looks good on paper.
REVIEWED BY: CrazyChris