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.
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.
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!
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.
I never would’ve guessed when I started this series it would hit an eighth installment. What can I say? Peter Parker’s dated a lot of women. This series explores the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics. Michele Gonzales is an interesting chapter in Peter’s romantic history, as his roommate-turned-drunken-hook-up. Yet the one night stand isn’t what’s most unique about Michele in regard to Peter. Of all the women in his life, Michele Gonzales absolutely refuses to ever take any of his shit. Granted, plenty of women have called Peter out, held him accountable, and challenged his negligence. But Michele does so from the beginning, never accepting a single one of Peter’s lame excuses. She knows what she’s worth. She knows what a healthy partner and/or good person should be. She has no time for bullshit or games. And I love her for it!! Peter’s baggage and bad habits kept them from becoming a couple yet, in that, Michele and Peter’s flirtationship reminds us of what we may be missing out on when we fail to own and address our own issues.
In the seventh installment of my li’l series exploring the variety of romantic archetypes found in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’m examining Peter Parker’s relationship with Betty Brant. This relationship represents a lot for Peter. She was his first date. She was his first girlfriend. She was his first crush-he-saw-as-love. But as they grew up their relationship became complicated. We love to invoke that relationship descriptor – It’s complicated – and Peter and Betty perfectly embody it. We’ve all been there ourselves though, in one way or another, so in their relationship we find something that resonates and – maybe! – something that makes us feel a little bit better about our own complicated loves, too.
In this series, exploring the variety of romantic archetypes found in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’ve looked at some sweeping romantic experiences. Your first love! Your Soul Mate! Your “What if…” person! Love offers us great variety in experiences when we seek it. But SOMETIMES romantic exploits carry a far more significant risk. SOMETIMES we find ourselves looking at a friend – someone we’ve always clicked with, someone we enjoy being with, someone we fit with so naturally – and wondering if there could be something more to that relationship. Then SOMETIMES we try to claim the Siege Perilous and make that friend a significant other. This is not for the faint of heart. However, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel are courageous individuals so, like so many of us before them and since, they braved this harrowing quest fraught with great risk to see if they could find that something more with each other….or if they’d end up falling right back into the Friend Zone.
For the fourth installment of my series exploring the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics, I’m considering the first great love of Peter Parker’s life – Gwen Stacy. To write this, I went back and read the entirety of Gwen’s time with Peter, beginning with her first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #31 (from December 1965) through issue #120 (from May 1973). Over the years, Gwen has taken on a hallowed significance in Peter’s life as his great, irreplaceable lost love. But in reading these comics I realized she – and her relationship with Peter – illustrated something far more universal and far more interesting. Gwen and Peter perfectly present our first love with all the awkward, emotional, angsty, and idealized moments that come with it. Continue reading
Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker got married on 9 June 1987, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. For someone who began reading comic books in March 1986, their marriage was a central tenant of my experience of Spider-Man. You don’t have Spider-Man without Peter Parker and you don’t have Peter Parker without Mary Jane! Despite Marvel’s editorial staff having “instant regrets” about their wedding, fans have passionately embraced the marriage for over twenty years. As their relationship evolved, especially as it approached it’s end in 2007’s “One More Day” storyline, Mary Jane and Peter were increasingly painted in the light of Soul Mates. Their relationship then allows us to ponder one of romantic love’s most intoxicating questions – are Soul Mates real? It’s end allows us to reflect on the potential of finding and losing the one. Now let’s see if I can write about them without getting overly emotional and/or angsty… Continue reading