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When We First Met – The Many Loves of Peter Parker

by  in Comic News Comment

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ’em out!

Today we look at the various love interests of Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man!

The very first love interest for Peter Parker appeared on the first panel of the first page of the first Spider-Man story. There’s Liz Allan in Amazing Fantasy #15…


However, it was not until Amazing Spider-Man #4, after a number of appearances, that we actually learned Liz’s name…


Betty Brant is a tricky one. In Amazing Spider-Man #2, J. Jonah Jameson has a secretary…


Is that Betty? Beats me.

Amazing Spider-Man #4 is her first OFFICIAL appearance…


The next issue opens with a refresher on Spider-Man’s supporting cast, and it is where we first learn Miss Brant’s first name…


and Liz’s last name…


Spider-Man’s next love interest, his most famous, first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #25. Mary Jane Watson has her face covered here…


I don’t think I need to show you her first full appearance, do I?

In Amazing Spider-Man #31, Gwen Stacy debuts…


but I think many fans would agree that the character we think of as Gwen Stacy didn’t REALLY debut until John Romita was firmly in place as the book’s artist.

Take your pick for what you’d dub her first appearance as the Gwen that she would end up becoming, Amazing Spider-Man #46…


or Amazing Spider-Man #47…


Man, Romita sure liked to draw Gwen Stacy.

Peter was busy with either Gwen or Mary Jane for the next decade or so, but after Mary Jane broke up with Peter, the Spider-Man writers needed new love interests for our intrepid hero. While she was not likely intended to be so at the start, the Black Cat, who made her debut in Amazing Spider-Man #194, eventually became a major love interest of Spider-Man, and one of his few serious girlfriends…



The same month Black Cat debuted in Amazing, Bill Mantlo was introducing love interests at Empire State University, where Peter was beginning to work as a teaching assistant. Mantlo was doing a sort of Betty and Veronica thing with the stuck-up Marcy Kane (by the way, Marcy’s story went WAY weird eventually. I’ll likely feature it sometime somewhat soon, so please don’t talk about Marcy’s later plots in the comments section. Thanks!)…



and then “aw shucks” goodness of Debra Whitman. Interestingly, though, Debra Whitman actually first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #196…


but it seems to me that Marv Wolfman was just setting her up for Bill Mantlo’s Spectacular Spider-Man stories. I’d imagine that Mantlo actually invented her, but I don’t know for sure. Either way, she showed up in Spectacular Spider-Man #36 and became a notable on-again/off-again girlfriend of Peter’s…



Marcy and Deb kept Peter busy in the late 1970s and very early 1980s and then Black Cat was his girlfriend for a year or so towards the mid-1980s. Then he married Mary Jane and he had no other love interests for years.

I am only considering character who served as love interests for multiple issues of Spider-Man’s own title, not one-off girlfriends or love interests like Captain Marvel who was only really a love interest for Spidey in her own title.

Two interesting characters who never actually ended up dating Peter, but were definitely love interests were Peter’s old friend, Glory Grant (who he met in Amazing Spider-Man #140)…


and Gwen Stacy’s cousin, Jill, who PEter met in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #76…


You see, for a short period of time during Howard Mackie’s run on both Spider-Man titles, Mary Jane was missing and presumed dead. Peter never really started dating heavily, but there was this constant sexual tension with him and Glory and Jill. So I’m counting them.

Post-Brand New Day, Peter had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Michelle Gonzales, who debuted in Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #3….



Michelle is the sister of Peter’s then-roommate, police officer Vin Gonzales, who was involved in some bad stuff as a cop. After Vin went to jail, Michelle moved in and she and Peter had a contentious but chemistry-filled relationship (complicate by the time that the Chameleon impersonated Peter and made out with Michelle).

Finally, we have Peter’s most recent girlfriend, introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #545, Carlie Cooper!


Carlie eventually learned Peter’s secret and while the two have broken up, she is still glad to help out Peter in his Spider-Man duties through her connections in the police force.

EDITED TO ADD: Due to popular request, I’ll feature one of Peter’s girlfriends from outside the two main Spider-Man titles. Chris Claremont, you see, had his own personal girlfriend for Peter Parker in the pages of Marvel Team-Up and one issue of X-Men, Cissy Ironwood.

She is first mentioned in Marvel Team-Up #79 in just an offhand “I am late because I was with Cissy.” That’s it. No explanation for who Cissy is.

Then she appears in the next issue…


A few months later, she appeared in the Marvel Team-Up Annual #2 and I can’t help but wonder if Claremont originally intended the Annual appearance to be her first appearance, as it reads more like a first appearance than Marvel Team-Up #80…



The issue clearly says 203rd celebration of the USA, so that’d have to make it 1979 and since Marvel Team-Up #79 was Christmas 1978, then you’d think that the Annual did, in fact, follow it. But note that there WAS no Marvel Team-Up Annual in 1978 (or 1977, for that matter), so my totally unsubstantiated theory is that the Annual was done first and was intended to be her first appearance, which is why Spidey casually throws the name “Cissy” out in the December issue and why her first appearance doesn’t seem like a first appearance. The number 202 could easily have been edited to become 203 and run in 1979. That’s neither here nor there, though, of course.

So there ya go, the many loves of Peter Parker!

If there’s any character of plot or piece of comic lore that you’d like to see when it debuted, e-mail me your suggestion at bcronin@comicbookresources.com