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.
Comic books are a vast medium. Every genre you can imagine can be found between the covers of one comic or another. While often seen solely as the setting of superhero stories, there are horror comics, memoir comics, true crime comics, comic adaptations of classic literature, fantasy comics, sci-fi comics, comic adaptations of films, YA comics, comics about history, comics which continue the runs of favorite TV shows, and on and on. The comic medium truly has something for everyone. And, as someone who’s loved comic books for nearly forty years, I don’t care about any of those other stories XD. I’m sorry! But I don’t! Bring me my superheroes! I have novels and movies and TV shows and short story collections and memoirs and nonfiction books for all those other experiences. When I open a comic book, I want my Marvel heroes, my DC heroes, and nothing else. Except Saga. I want Saga. I want all the Saga. Saga is the brilliant, blazing, beautiful exception to my rule! With sixty issues released and forty-eight still to come, Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist) have created a masterpiece of love, family, loss, trauma, trial, and healing…while also telling one of the most poignant antiwar stories I’ve ever read.
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.
It’s time for the fifth installment in my li’l series using only Spider-Man comics and characters to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life). Cindy Moon attended the same scientific demonstration Peter Parker did when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his powers. Before it died, the spider would bite Cindy, too. She gained the same basic powers as Peter – albeit with a more attuned spider-sense, faster speed, and the ability to spin organic webbing from her fingertips – and would eventually take on the name “Silk” and become a superhero in her own right. She and Peter also have an overwhelming physical/sexual attraction to each other. Their relationship, such as it was, represents those “purely physical” attractions we have in our lives. It’s fun and it’s so hot but it was never really going to last nor was there any way they could’ve ever been “the one” as it was only ever just a physical thing. Continue reading