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Spider-Man's Short-Lived Romance With His Married Friend

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Okay, as you may or may not know, I have been doing a column for a while now called If Her Hair Was Still Red, which looks at the history of Mary Jane Watson over the years as she evolved as a character. In that feature, I've hit upon Marv Wolfman's run, where he had Peter propose to Mary Jane in his first issue and Mary Jane fairly callously turn him down in the next issue (by Wolfman, Ross Andru and Bob McLeod). At that same point, Peter then runs into a mystery person after being shot down by Mary Jane.

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Here's the thing, though. That mystery woman turned out to be Betty Brant, Peter's first love interest in the comics....

Betty got married in Amazing Spider-Man #156 (by Len Wein, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito) and headed off to Paris for a honeymoon that doubled as a work assignment for her new husband, reporter Ned Leeds...

The problem for me with my "If Her Hair Was Still Red" column is that while Betty's return obviously has SORT of a connection to Mary Jane, it doesn't REALLY, as Mary Jane is barely in these issues. Therefore, I figured that it made the most sense to just condense the entire Peter/Betty Brant short-lived/ill-fated/likely ill-considered romance into one column and I can just reference this in future "If Her Hair Is Still Red" columns (I'll have a new "Still Red" column up later today! I thought it was going to be the long-awaited Red Sonja one, but I miscounted. We're probably still at least two columns away from Mary Jane as Red Sonja. It's worth the wait!).

Okay, so, as noted, Betty shows up in Peter's apartment in Amazing Spider-Man #184 (by Wolfman, Andru and Frank Giacoia) and she has left Ned...

Again, this was their honeymoon. So she left him on THEIR HONEYMOON.

But wait, there's more - SHE DIDN'T EVEN TELL NED SHE WAS LEAVING HIM...

Later, Betty practically throws herself at Peter at lunch...

Peter then doesn't graduate (he was a credit shy), but Betty attends the graduation ceremony. Peter quickly gets the necessary credit.

Meanwhile, Betty comes over to Peter's place again in Amazing Spider-Man #186 (by Wolfman, Keith Pollard and Mike Esposito)...

but don't worry, they just talked...

But still, this is all a really bad idea so far.

Peter realizes it himself in Amazing Spider-Man #188 (by Wolfman, Pollard and Esposito) and tells Betty he can't date her (quick cameo by MJ - we'll see more of that scene in a future "Still Red," as Wolfman must have eventually decided that he did MJ wrong a bit, so he revisits her reaction to Peter's proposal more later)...

However, Betty doesn't take this lying down, and in the following issue (by Wolfman and artists John Byrne and Jim Mooney), she makes her move...

Now, a matter of debate for many years has been...did Peter and Betty have sex there?

I once asked Marv Wolfman and he said he intentionally left it up to the reader. So what do you folks think?

There's not much actually with Betty and Peter for the next few issues (which makes you sort of hope he didn't just sleep with her and ghost her), but things take a dramatic turn in Amazing Spider-Man #193 (by Wolfman, Pollard and Mooney) when Ned Leeds shows up...

I love Peter's douchey "That creep, Ned Leeds!" bit.

The next issue, Ned comes to Peter for help with Betty...

And finally, in Amazing Spider-Man #195, Peter tries to do the noble thing in the most idiotic way imaginable, as he decides to act like a jerk to Betty to make her go back to Ned...

Ooph.

Not Peter's best moment, all in all.

Thanks to my pal, Joshua Lapin-Bertone, as he's been all over this relationship for years now.

If anyone has a suggestion for a future Knowledge Waits (basically, anything comic book related that you think would be interesting to see me write about), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com

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