Top 10 Loves of Peter Parker (Part 1)
This week, Longbox Graveyard is pleased to welcome a new guest blogger in Dan Gvozden, an esteemed member of the Super-Blog Team-Up crew, and also the master of the extraordinarily awesome Superior Spider-Talk site (which you should visit RIGHT NOW). Dan has generously offered to fill a gap in my Spider-Man knowledge by counting down the Top 10 Loves of Peter Parker. Even a Spidey tyro such as myself can think of two names to put on Spidey’s list … but filling out a full ten requires a genuine Web-Head Authority! And so, without further ado, I present the Superior Spider-Talker himself, Dynamic Dan Gvozden!
We all know the “Parker Luck” and how it sets out to make every aspect of Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man into a trip down misery lane. It is the bedrock of what makes Peter such an enduring and enjoyable character and it also provides the many obstacles that he will eventually have to overcome as part of his eternal struggle. If there is one struggle that seems to be ongoing for Peter Parker it is in his dating and romantic life.
If superheroes are really just soap operas printed on a page with a limited color set, Peter has the soapiest life of them all. Sure the “Parker Luck” plagues his relationships, but for a guy with such bad luck he sure isn’t in short supply of women in his life. Whether it be for a single date, a roll in the hay, or a long-term romance, I present to you my Top 10 Loves of Peter Parker:
10 Sara Bailey
Sara who? Do you mean that Spider-Man had a relationship with Jean Grey’s deceased sister?
No. Sara Bailey is a character who was introduced in Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine who has made my list for one reason alone, she and Peter Parker were engaged. You see, after getting sent back in time to the Cretaceous Era with Wolverine, a very bearded Peter Parker (it’s a good look) begins to construct sculptures of a woman who appears to him in his dreams. This woman would turn out to be Sara Bailey.
Peter and Wolverine, in present time, attempted to stop a villain named Orb — his head is a giant eyeball — from robbing a bank but accidentally messed around with some time diamonds. These diamonds send them blasting through time, again and again, until they discover that Mojo has been manipulating them for a television show he’s running. Mojo also implanted the memories of a woman that appear in Peter’s head so that he might have a love interest in Mojo’s show.
After getting transported to the 18th century, Spider-Man and Wolverine become cowboys and Native Americans, respectively, and blood brothers. Peter has taken one of the time diamonds and fashioned an engagement ring out of it for Sara, whom he has fallen in love with in the three years that they have been abandoned in this timeline. Eventually the ring reactivates and sends the three back to the present where Peter reunites with Sara, a bank teller from the original heist they were meant to stop, only to find out she doesn’t remember him at all. The story ends with Sara discovering the archaeological remains of the statues Peter built for her with Peter sitting by the stump of the tree where both he and Sara once carved their names. Oh, that “Parker Luck!”
9 Liz Allan
Liz is one of the first of Spider-Man’s supporting cast and one of the first romantic interests for Peter. She first appears in Amazing Fantasy #15 but isn’t named until Amazing Spider-Man #4 where Peter expresses his desires towards Liz. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Peter, she is Flash Thompson’s girlfriend at the time and thinks next to nothing of Peter. However, in Amazing Spider-Man #12 Liz gains respect for Peter when he is unmasked by Doctor Octopus and is revealed to be a brave young lad, rather than just some “bookworm.”
What follows is a madcap struggle between Betty Brant and Liz Allan for Peter’s affection, oftentimes in front of Flash who Liz is still dating. Peter thinks Liz is only interested in him now that he’s dating Betty Brant, and Betty sees Liz as just another airhead out to steal her boyfriend away from her. Liz finally admits her full feelings for Peter at graduation before running away to care for her brother Max Raxton, the Molten Man. Looks like it wasn’t meant to last, but Liz’s feelings for Peter are notable as they form one of the first romantic dramas he ever was involved in.
8 Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
In Ms. Marvel #34, Carol Danvers is running away from some government cronies’ gunfire, as she’s lost her powers, and Spider-Man swings in for the save. The two bicker but Peter, without consciously realizing it, asks Carol out on a date. Some times goes by and in Ms. Marvel #47 we get to see “The Amazing Spider-Date.”
The two decide to go to a fancy restaurant, with Carol paying for dinner due to Peter’s lack of money (yikes). The two banter about superheroics for a little while, Norman Osborn happens to be hunting them down at the time, and then the date goes stale, as most first dates have that awkward tendency to do. However, they eventually encounter just the thing to spice up their night … armed thugs.
The two leap into action and decide to forgo the fancy restaurant for a chilidog from a street vendor. Not much more happens with this relationship except for in the one-shot Siege: Spider-Man where the Venom symbiote takes over Ms. Marvel’s body and tells Spider-Man about her emotions towards him. No writer, other than these issues’ writer Brian Reed, has brought up this relationship again so I guess that it was always meant to be short-lived.
7 Debra Whitman
Deb Whitman first appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #36 as the secretary at Empire State University’s Graduate School Professor, Morris Sloan. She’s one of the more average Spider-Man love interests, as she wasn’t portrayed as a supermodel or as a person with a particularly strong personality. It made her a stronger character as a result and one with an interesting past.
Her history informed much of her relationship with Peter Parker, who at the time was growing as a character in both confidence and in his career as a crime-fighter. Deb had been abused by her previous husband, who she separated from but never fully divorced, but remained a weak and easily pushed aside personality. This was often how Peter would treat her, running out on their dates more than any other of his love interests. Peter’s actions towards her are upsetting at best and downright emotionally abusive at worst. Debra threw herself at Peter issue after issue only to have him push her aside.
It took forever for Debra to grow a backbone but when she finally did she began to date her old college boyfriend, Biff Rifkin. It was the first time that readers would begin to root for another man to get Peter’s girl, as he wasn’t deserving of Debra’s affection. Biff treated her well and would spend all the time that she needed out of a relationship.
This would have been a fitting end to her character but the writers took a path that I’ve always considered as inappropriate. In Spectacular Spider-Man #68 she deduces that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and goes running to tell her shrink. This begins a complicated series of mind-games where her shrink convinces Peter to dress up as Spider-Man and confess to her that he is Spider-Man. Deb, who is being portrayed as a “typical crazy woman,” realizes how crazy it is that Peter appears to be Spider-Man, decides that she must have made it up in her mind and boards the first bus out of town.
Debbie wasn’t seen for years until Peter unmasked during “Civil War.” Once Deb hears this news she publishes a book called “TWO FACED: How Spider-Man Ruined My Life.” She seems upset about the book and later reveals that with her mother being sick she needed to exaggerate the details in order to sell more copies. Eventually she would tell the truth to the Daily Globe. Truth be told, it looks like these two never had a shot at making this whole thing work … except this time its Peter’s fault.
6 Carlie Cooper
Carlie Cooper appeared almost out of thin air at the beginning of “Brand New Day” and seemed to be designed to be Peter’s newest girlfriend, despite her short time dating Vin Gonzales. She was good friends with Lily Hollister, Harry Osborn’s girlfriend the time (who would later go on to kiss Peter Parker and be a Goblin), and quickly became a key part of Spider-Man’s supporting cast. This appearance from thin air could be why fans have had such a negative reaction to Carlie, an officer with the New York Police Department’s Crime Scene Unit.
I’ve always liked Carlie as a character because she has what many of Spider-Man’s love interests don’t, particularly Deb Whitman: a backbone. When Peter can’t find the courage to ask her out she gives him an ultimatum that gets him to finally admit his feelings and ask her out. It is this attitude that makes it totally appropriate that she joins a roller derby group as “Crusher Carlie.”
When “Big Time” begins Peter and Carlie have been dating for awhile and are discussing the idea of Carlie moving in with him, with her deciding that it is probably too early in their relationship.
Peter never tells Carlie that he is Spider-Man and considers doing it for quite some time. With Peter joining the Future Foundation, after the perceived death of the Human Torch, he begins to get a bit overextended and tells her that his trips are business trips for his new employer Horizon Labs. When Carlie finds out this isn’t true she gets angry and drunk and decides to get a Goblin tattoo to make Peter mad, as she knows that he killed Peter’s ex-girlfriend. Luckily she relents and instead gets a Spider-Man tattoo, which she worries, will complicate her relationship with Peter.
Carlie slowly begins to piece together Peter’s relationship with Spider-Man and confronts him about it, offering Peter the perfect opportunity to come clean to the woman he is dating. However, he chooses to lie to her again … well … a white lie. He tells her that he builds all of Spider-Man’s technology, which is technically true.
Shortly afterwards she is turned into a giant spider, as part of “Spider-Island,” and Peter quickly forgets about her and returns to Mary Jane’s side. His callous disregard for her wellbeing upsets her and leads her to figure out that he is Spider-Man. This is when Carlie goes from being a typical love interest to one that I respect quite a bit. Instead of allowing Peter to apologize and make excuses she flat out dumps him. I loved this moment as Peter totally deserved it and it allowed a woman to have a powerful moment in a Spider-Man book, an event that is unfortunately all-too-rare.
The two have stomached a professional relationship and Carlie has confided in Mary Jane, as the two are the only civilians who know Peter’s secret. Now she’s just been cured of the Goblin Serum and Peter’s body has been taken over by Doctor Octopus so who knows what’s in store for Peter and Carlie. No matter how things shape up it doesn’t appear that romance lies in the future for these two.
With the preliminaries taken care of, Dan will return to Longbox Graveyard next week to count down the rest of Peter Parker’s Top 10 Loves! We will see you back here next week, and in the meantime, please join me in thanking Dan for his contribution to Longbox Graveyard … and be sure to visit Dan’s site — Superior Spider-Talk — where you will find more Spider-Man features and podcasts than you can shake a web-shooter at!
(And be sure to let us know what you think of Dan’s list so far, in the comments section, below!)
NEXT WEEK: #128 Top 10 Loves of Peter Parker (Part 2)
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