Welcome to the latest installment of Bad Romance, our Valentine’s Day look at the strange, sometimes stomach-turning twists and turns in the lives and loves of our favorite superheroes. This time out, we take on one of the heroes who’ve loved and lost many times…and see just how strange those loves have been. That’s right, it’s the amazing, spectacular, sensational…um, web of…Spider-Man!
To help us through Spidey’s world, we got some help from a writer who knows her twisted Spidey Super Stories: Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of the miniseries Osborn taking us into the mind of Spidey’s greatest foe. Surely someone who’s hung out in Norman’s world could handle four decades of dysfunction, right?
We may have broken her. Read on to see just what she thought of Spider-Man’s bad romances…
Spider-Man's love life in general: Depending on how you read things, he broke Gwen Stacy's neck trying to save her from falling (very few fans still buy the “shock of the fall killed her” bit). And things got so complicated with Mary Jane that Mephisto had to rewrite time. It seems like our boy just can't settle down with a nice girl. But when you look at the people surrounding him, it's no wonder our boy's screwed up.
Kelly Sue DeConnick: “Aw. This kind of makes me want to adopt Peter. Have him over for spaghetti and tell him it's all going to be all right”.
Possibly-Aunt May and possibly-Richard Parker in TROUBLE: So the short version is that in a story with characters named “Ben and May” and “Richard and Mary,” the promiscuous May hooks up with Richard, and through various machinations, Richard and Mary adopt her baby, Peter.
Hints at the time were that this story would wind up in continuity; instead it was swept under the rug, to many a fan's relief. Somehow, it just didn't add much to the mythology knowing Aunt May was once a 'ho.
DeConnick: “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
“(Also: I take umbrage at your casual usage of ‘‘ho.’ Was she walking the streets? Taking cash for sexual favors? No? Well then, on May's behalf, eff you, buddy.)”Future Spider-Man inadvertently killing Mary Jane with radioactive “web fluid” in Kaare Andrews' REIGN: So the idea in this future story is that Mary Jane died from years of being exposed to the radioactive fluids in his body. This could be read as sweat or tears, but pretty much every reader gathered that he'd transmitted radioactivity into her when they had...um...pop-pop. (Newsarama Note: The mere fact that Zack calls it that tells us he’s not ready. ) There is a joke here about using protection, but I'm too busy repressing memories to think of it.
DeConnick: “Yeah, yeah, Man of Steel/Woman of Kleenex>, love is toxic, etc.
“My cell phone's going to kill me too.”
Peter Parker and Michele Gozalez/The Chameleon and Michele Gonzales: So...Peter got drunk and had sex with his roommate, then tried to tap-dance around the issue. Then the Chameleon impersonated him and took a tour of the kitchen floor with Michele. Fred Van Lente insists they just made out, but readers were left wanting to scrub themselves.
DeConnick: “I am so regretting agreeing to do this. ‘Quick and easy,’ you said.”
Ben Reilly and Jessica Carradine: Soooooo...Ben was a clone, and Jessica turned out to be the daughter of the burglar that killed Uncle Ben, and blamed Spider-Man for this. Aside from Parker Luck proving genetic, anything involving “clone” and “love interest” just rubs me the wrong way.
DeConnick: “Who rubs you, what? Seriously: I want no part of this.”
Peter Parker and Debra Whitman: Already mentally unstable from an abusive marriage, she began to go mad from a conviction that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. Peter, after much coaxing, tried to tell her the truth, which she didn't believe, thanking him for the “intervention.” She regressed mightily when Peter came out as Spider-Man, but the events of “One More Day” erased that. Thank God for Mephisto!...wait.
DeConnick: “I wonder if she's any relation to the Whitman's Sampler guy. I could use a box of chocolate right now.”
Miles Warren and Gwen Stacy 2.0: The middle-aged Dr. Warren was so infatuated with his young student that he cloned her, or in some stories created a genetic virus that transformed another student into her. The result was possibly the single most terrible and evil act ever inflicted upon Spidey: The Clone Saga.
DeConnick: “I don't get the clone hate. Do you know how many things are not getting done while I ponder this? You know what I'd give for a clone or two? More than this box of crappy chocolates, that's for damn sure.”
Jean DeWolff and Stan Carter: He was really the Sin-Eater and killed her. That's about as bad as it gets.
DeConnick: “Wasn't she also a chain smoker and a stalker? I'm thinking maybe he did her a favor.”
Eddie Brock and Anne Weying: She still had feelings for her ex-husband, but he had a new relationship...with the Venom symbiote. It even dallied with her a few times, until her experiences drove her over the edge...literally.
DeConnick: “I love that name, ‘Eddie.’ Have you ever seen Eddie and the Cruisers?”
Flash Thompson and the Black Cat: Rather upset that Spider-Man married Mary Jane, Felicia Hardy took revenge by dating Peter Parker's best friend. She fell for him for real, but that Flash never got the whole story -- and still doesn't know the truth about Spidey -- leaves an air of uneasiness hanging over the whole shebang.
DeConnick: “’Flash,’ on the other hand is a crappy name. It implies unkind things. If I were him, I'd change my name to ‘Eddie.’”
Spidey and Black Cat 2.0: Well, one demonically-assisted annulment later, Spidey's a single boy again, and enjoys the odd hook-up with Felicia...who insists on keeping it casual, and more importantly, his not telling her his real name and leaving the mask on. What's more unsettling, that she insists on this or that Spidey goes along with it?
DeConnick: “That is unsettling? Seriously? Have you read the rest of this list?
“I find the Spidey/Black Cat thing to be one of the healthier relationships in, oh, most of comicdom. I hope he gets her a gift card to Babes in Toyland for Valentine's Day. They make nice masks.
Doc Ock and Stunner: The short version of this is that a lonely, obese receptionist created a super-powered supermodel body so she could date Doc Ock, and later sacrificed her mind to resurrect him. The sheer amount of self-esteem issues at work here are astonishing.
DeConnick: “Yeah... yeah, this one makes me sad. And angry. Sangry.”
Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy: THIS NEVER HAPPENED THIS NEVER HAPPENED THIS NEVER HAPPENED...maybe that's not the best perspective. Still, no one who has read/heard of this storyline has been able to unsee the images it unleashed.
DeConnick: “I'm sorry, what? I was vomiting.”
Norman Osborn and Lily Holister/Menace: Why does Norman have a thing for potentially impregnating his son's exes? And what do impressionable young women see in this menacing older guy? Kelly Sue, you've been in this guy's head, what's the appeal?
DeConnick: “Let me get serious with you for a moment: the only thing Norman Osborn fetishizes is power. In that context, it all makes perfect sense.”Aunt May and Doc Ock: Sure, he only almost married her to get a nuclear power plant (?), but the implications of this relationship have scuttled around the Marvel Universe for years (Twisted Toyfare Theatre memorably and grotesquely parodied their fling). Still, not as bad as…
DeConnick: “I hate you.”
Aunt May and Mole Man: I'm very glad my paper doesn't carry the Spider-Man newspaper strip right now.
DeConnick: “What did I do to deserve this?”
J. Jonah Jameson and Marla Madison: To be fair, the most functional relationship on this list, though they did initially bond over killer robots.
DeConnick: “Don't ever call me again, Zack.”
Next: Bad Romance mercifully concludes as we determine which all-star super-team has had the most bad romances – the JLA or the Avengers. With not one but two special guest commentators! Be there!Part 1: Legion of Super-Heroes Part 2: Teen Titans Part 3: Joe Casey Breaks Down the X-MEN