Spider-Man and Anna Maria Marconi: The Healing Power of Love

Welcome to the fifteenth installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  This time we’re looking at one of the most prominent themes around romantic love – how love heals, how the right person’s love can save us.  When I began this series I made myself a promise.  No alternate reality Peter Parkers.  No movies.  No TV shows.  No other comic universes.  I’d explore Peter Parker’s romantic exploits in Marvel’s main 616 universe and when I had exhausted those relationships, the series would end.  Anna Maria Marconi will date Peter Parker in the 616 universe…but she dates “Peter” when he’s dead and his archenemy Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus is controlling his body.  So she dated Doc Ock even though she thought she was dating Peter.  I’m including their relationship as a) it’s a significant one in the 616, b) the reader alone knows it isn’t Peter, and c) most important of all, their relationship illustrates something about love Peter Parker himself isn’t yet mature enough to find on his own.  It’s a trope that can’t be ignored when writing about love so here we are.  Otto’s time as the Superior Spider-Man is one of comics’ greatest redemption stories.  Reflecting on the role romantic love plays in his salvation helps us consider the role such love plays in our own healing and growth, too.  

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Spider-Man and Lily Hollister: She’s My Best Friend’s Girl

Harry’s been a friend.  You know he’s been a good friend of mine.  But lately something’s changed, it’ ain’t hard to define.  Harry’s got himself a girl and I wanna make her mine.  It’s time for the latest installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Here we see Peter in a good place.  His best friend Harry Osborn is alive!  Harry’s returned from an extended stay in Europe where he got sober.  He’s in a new relationship with Lily Hollister, a girl he really likes.  He’s starting his own business out from under the cruel shadow of his infamous father.  He and Lily are trying to fix Peter up with her best friend, Carlie.  There’s so much to celebrate!!!  Oh, and Peter also kinda has a thing for Lily.  He thinks she’s cute.  In fact, he thinks she’s a “knockout.”  In fact, he kinda struggles with not thinking about her.  But it happens, right?  While the significant other of a best friend should set our Bad Idea Sense tingling, sometimes we can’t help but be drawn to them anyway.  Oh Peter, tread carefully here…     

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Harley & Ivy’s Lessons in Life, Love, and Unburdening c/o the “Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour”

I adore HBO Max’s Harley Quinn: The Animated Series.  It fundamentally shifted my relationship with the character.  Before I watched the show, I enjoyed Harley Quinn.  After watching it, I began tracking down every Harley comic I could find!  In the process, she became a very important character to me.  Naturally, I was excited when I heard of Tee Franklin (writer) and Max Sarin (artist)’s Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour, billed as Season 2.5.  The comic captures everything I love about the show and features serious character development for both Harley and Poison Ivy, something all too rare in stories set between films in a series or seasons of a TV show.  This development, woven through a story with all the profanity, insanity, and hilarity you’d expect from Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, enriches the characters and serves as a beautiful model for readers.  Any comic which can do all that while also including the line “Piss cakes of a dick” is a true gift :D.

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Spider-Man and Danielle: Wait…Is This A Date?

The time has come for this series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) to hit LUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN!!!  What lays ahead to consider in ol’ Peter Parker’s romantic misadventures?  Only one of the most vexing (and potentially awkward) of all romantic quandaries – how do you know if you’re actually on a date with someone or not?  Warning: Reading this piece may yield spontaneous full-body shame cringes which involuntarily rise when we remember awkward memories so proceed with caution.  If there’s one thing looking at all Peter Parker’s romantic exploits teaches us, it’s we’re never alone when it comes to awkwardly pursuing love.  When the web-head meets Danielle, the woman working at a jewelry store he returns stolen diamonds to in the all love stories-oriented Amazing Spider-Man #605, sparks fly.  Emotions run high.  She actually talks to him.  It’s a tractor beam – vzzzzzzzt – and it sucks Peter right in.  But, regardless of sparks and emotions we feel when we meet someone new, how do you know when your hanging out has become a real date?  

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Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy – Fiction’s Fearless Females

It’s International Women’s Day and for the fourth year in a row I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers – Kalie of Just Dread-full, Jeff of The Imperial Talker, and Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2 – to celebrate some of our favorite female characters in all of fiction.  This year I was having trouble deciding on who to write about.  I wanted to rewatch Harley Quinn on HBO Max and read Tee Franklin’s Harley Quinn the Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour but should I write about Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy?  Then it hit me!  The entire show (and comic which serves as Season 2.5) is anchored in their relationship.  I would be hard pressed to write about one without writing about the other.  Plus, for a series celebrating “fearlessness,” it’s within their friendship where Harley and Ivy find and demonstrate the most incredible courage.  Standing beside each other, they (ultimately) own and face their greatest fears.  So I’m writing about Harley and Ivy and the type of friendship we should all be so lucky to have.

Given the focus of this piece it’ll have major spoilers for S1&2 of Harley Quinn as well as light spoilers for Tee Franklin’s (as brilliant as it is beautiful) Harley Quinn the Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour.

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Spider-Man and Debra Whitman: Substitute People and Surrogate Relationships

It’s time once more to talk about relationships and who doesn’t love that?  Clearly I do as this is the twelfth installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature, illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we have in life.  While I knew nothing of Debra Whitman as a character before I began researching this piece, I found great affection for her by the end.  In the relationship she shares with Peter Parker we find an openness and vulnerability which, if received and reciprocated, would prove a beautiful foundation for a relationship.  Instead, Debra’s time with Peter becomes a cautionary tale about the importance of setting, articulating, and maintaining our boundaries and having our needs met within a relationship.

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Spider-Man and Jean DeWolff: The Lonely Echo of Unrequited Love

It’s time once more for another installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  The last piece in this series examined the high school crush, paying special attention to all those crushes we carry deep in our heart and never voice.  This piece looks at unrequited love beyond high school pining.  While it can be present in high school, particularly as we get older there can be a heavier side to the unrequited lover.  Living with a love unvoiced wraps one of the most important parts of our being in a very lonely shell.  Jean DeWolff, in addition to being part of one of the most famous stories in the first twenty-five years of Spider-Man’s comic history, illustrates this painful reality in a particularly poignant way.

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Spider-Man and Jessica Jones: Harkening Back to the High School Crush

For the TENTH entry (we’ve hit double digits! ahhhhhh!) in this series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) it’s time to go back to those awkward, social-anxiety-filled days of high school!  This celebratory tenth installment will examine one of the most universal romantic experiences which naturally leads to a wildly pervasive trope – the high school crush.  Aww, those were some good (and, you know, maybe a little scarring) times.  I’m sure many readers who are longtime Spider-fans would expect this post to be about Peter Parker and Liz Allen.  But I think Jessica Jones is a far better fit.  Trust me, read on and it’ll all make sense.  Let’s take a look at Jessica Jones and Peter Parker as we reminisce about all the thrills and gut-wrenching turmoil of our high school crushes!

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The Fantastic Four and the Science of Soul Mates

Perhaps the most oft repeated observation about the Fantastic Four is they are a family first, superheroes second.  This piece of their identity has been their cornerstone since Stan Lee ushered in the “Marvel Age of Comics” with their creation in 1961.  With the FF poised to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dan Slott was given the reins of  “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” in 2018.  Understanding the nature of the FF – a family of explorers and travelers who save the day when needed – he uses it to examine a captivating concept which seems uniquely suited to the Fantastic Four.  When their explorations take them to the planet Spyre, Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm/the Human Torch, and Ben Grimm/the Thing meet the Overseer, the leader of the Spyricans, a people who have technology they claim will show you your Soul Mate with absolute certainty.  Families are born in the bonds of love and there’s no love like a Soul Mate…should such a thing exist.  What better place to drop explorers defined by their family than the questions raised at the intersection of loving communion and a technology that can predict the mystical movements of the heart?!!?

As readers we can’t help but take this journey with the Fantastic Four and wonder are Soul Mates real?  And if they are, would we want to know?

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Spider-Man and Mockingbird: The Allure of the Workplace Romance

Welcome to the ninth installment in this li’l series using Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird is a scientific genius, Avenger, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and super spy whose relationship with Peter Parker would be a central part of Dan Slott’s final years writing The Amazing Spider-Man.  In Bobbi Morse, Peter found a witty, compassionate partner who could kick his ass and/or inspire him when he needed it.  Every bit as smart as Peter, she’d meet him in his brilliance and push him further.  As Mockingbird, she stood beside Spider-Man to face everything from Skrull invasions to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign to the Zodiac terrorist attacks to Hydra takeovers.  Being a superhero herself, Bobbi could share Peter’s entire life.  Oh, and they worked together.  Which is good because, you know, nothing can ever go wrong when you date a coworker.

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