Comics
Published January 18, 2024

MJ Watson's Jackpot Powers, Explained

How did Mary Jane Watson end up with super-powers? Rediscover her path to becoming Jackpot here!

Life in Spider-Man's orbit is guaranteed to be a wild ride, and no one in the Marvel Universe understands that better than Mary Jane Watson. Peter Parker's on-again, off-again Spider-beau has seen him through some of his most trying times. Over the years, she has evolved into someone that even the strongest heroes can rely on, regardless of whether or not she possesses powers herself. 

However, after killing a dark god and returning from a ruined reality with mysterious new powers, MJ has joined the ranks of the super hero community proper. Now, she's ready to protect New York City from the ongoing GANG WAR as Jackpot, a multi-powered heroine. Although Mary Jane has always possessed a heroic streak, the path to her powers was a bit less obvious. Let's break down how the Marvel Universe's most steadfast civilian finally caught her lucky break.

MARY JANE'S SACRIFICE PLAY

Jackpot's origins began on an alternate Earth. There, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson found themselves pursued by Benjamin Rabin, an arcane mathematician hell-bent on summoning Wayep, the Mayan god of mischief. 

After slaughtering his cellmates at Ryker's Island, Rabin began to call himself the Emissary and used his complex equations to mark Peter and Mary Jane as the final sacrifices for in his ritual. By AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2022) #21 by Zeb Wells, John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz, and VC's Joe Caramagna, Rabin had branded the pair, literally marking them for death. As part of these dark machinations, he also sent them to a reality where Wayep had already conquered Earth.

On this ruined Earth, Peter and MJ met Paul, a lone survivor who saved them from Rabin's monsters by using glyphs just like the ones wielded by the Emissary. Before Wayep destroyed his Earth, Paul was Rabin's student—and his son, as he later revealed. In their study of quantum mathematics, the equations developed by Paul, Rabin, and their colleagues led to a hieroglyphic script that could be used to cheat reality, just like magic. 

According to Paul, the right glyph in the right situation had limitless power, capable of anything from creating matter to perpetual motion. The symbology was essentially a direct line of communication to the gods—which is exactly how the Emissary made contact with Wayep in the first place.

Not long after Paul finished explaining his situation, Wayep himself came calling and gunned for Peter's head so that his path to Earth-616 could finally be clear. When Spider-Man found himself outmatched, Mary Jane saved the day by using a spider symbol-powered device built by Paul to escape this Earth. Just as Wayep was about to crush Peter in his hands, MJ planted the device onto Spider-Man and activated it—and the resulting portal didn't just send Peter home; it also sliced Wayep in half.

MARY JANE HITS THE JACKPOT

Though it saved her world, Mary Jane's judgment call was also a major sacrifice. The danger of Wayep had passed, but she found herself stranded with Paul on his destroyed Earth, where the danger of Rabin remained. 

Resolving to stay right where Peter left her until he came back, MJ and Paul set up a home base and defended themselves from Rabin's "glyphoid" beasts. Meanwhile, Paul developed a new device to test the possibilities of different glyph combinations, hoping to branch out from using just one symbol at a time as he previously had. 

Development was slow going, but after Mary Jane compared the device to a slot machine, Paul made a breakthrough by incorporating symbols of luck and chance into the machine. He had plenty of time to iterate his design as, thanks to a dilation of time between the two realities, years passed in what was just a few months for Spider-Man back on Earth-616. In that time, Paul and MJ grew closer, adopted a pair of orphans they found, and built a happy, stable life for themselves as a family. 

This all ended when Rabin found them once again, prompting MJ to take up Paul's "Jackpot device" for the first time in defense of her family. While this battle with Rabin finally sent MJ home, it also marked the start of her journey with the lucky gauntlet.

MARY JANE TAKES A CHANCE

Paul's completed machine works just like a slot machine. In other words, it draws an ability with each spin; the random combination of symbols determines the power's strength and usefulness. A decent pull could result in powers like aerokinesis or super-strength, while a bad pull could result in embarrassments like projectile cotton candy or the ability to turn into pudding. 

As MJ revealed to Felicia Hardy in MARY JANE AND BLACK CAT (2022) #2 by Jed MacKay, Vicenzo Carratù, Brian Reber, and VC's Ariana Maher, a skull symbol guarantees a terrible power. While the chances of it happening are slim-to-none, both Mary Jane and Paul worry that drawing three skulls could result in certain death. During her journey through Limbo with Black Cat, MJ avoided using her device for this reason, as she wanted to make it home to her kids in one piece.

However, those same kids turned out to be magical deceptions created by Rabin and disappeared once the Emissary was finally defeated. Devastated by their loss, MJ and Paul found themselves deep in the throes of grief. Then, due to a growing city-wide gang war, MJ once again donned her gauntlet in JACKPOT (2024) #1 by Celeste Bronfman, Joey Vazquez, Edgar Delgado, and VC's Ariana Maher, albeit with some handy new mods and a brand-new costume. 

To minimize the worst possible outcomes of her spins, Paul installed a removable limiter on the device, slightly shrinking its "range." Although MJ was much less likely to spin up an Omega-level ability, this also meant she didn't have to worry about drawing anything completely useless. By forcing Jackpot's range of powers to be more mediocre, Paul's limiter also kept her safe from the dreaded triple skulls. 

Thankfully, in Jackpot's case, "mediocre" actually means "consistently useful," which is great news for the heroes of New York. As long as Jackpot's luck holds out, they've got a fighting chance at ending the GANG WAR consuming their city.

New York City hits the Jackpot in JACKPOT #1, now on sale!

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