Lonely Hearts Ep. 11: The Many Loves of Peter Parker

Peter Parker – Spider-Man – He’s has so many romantic interests, it’s difficult to decide if he was lucky or unlucky. Bass, Siskoid and Furn draw up their Top 5 Parker loves in this episode. Also featuring Romance Comics Theatre!

Listen to Episode 11 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings apply), or subscribe to The Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: Lonely Hearts Ep.11 Supplemental

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30 responses to “Lonely Hearts Ep. 11: The Many Loves of Peter Parker

  1. Sad I wasn’t there, cause I’ve seen the horrible 90’s. I want to add, Peter once superstrength punched his pregnant wife MJ across the room during the clone saga and then he RAN AWAY while she wimpily called out for him. People need to give Hank Pym some slack, cause that slap is nothing compared to the 90’s Peter.

  2. I am sorry that the never-ending violence of our show has spread up north. I have a never-healing bruise on my left upper arm.

    Great show! Some very interesting discussion, and yes, I can see the symbiote being on the list, as disturbing as that seems.

    I’d have to go with Gwen for #1. I think one reason the Peter/MJ marriage didn’t last in the comics, is that it was built on very shaky ground. It was essentially a gimmick. Stan Lee had moved the characters closer in the comic strip, and he wanted to marry them. The comics had MJ out to pasture for years, and had recently brought her back, revealing she always knew Peter was Spidey, and that she was not the shallow party girl she was most often portrayed as. But, they weren’t really a couple. Then Jim Shooter decided corporate synergy trumped good storytelling, and rushed a brief engagement storyline and wedding annual into production.

    I thought it was interesting that Gwen’s ghost still hung over them, even after some writers like David Michiline developed them into a strong married couple. Clearly, Gwen was Peter’s first choice. Peter knew it. MJ knew it. But she was gone. This was a very adult problem to deal with. But somewhere along the line, comic writers decided “mature” meant violence and out-of-the-box shocking character revelations, so it was more “mature” to reveal that dear-departed, near-sainted Gwen had secretly been shagging Norman Osborn and fostered twins that were age-accelerated to fight Spidey. Sigh.

    Other media (especially the Raimi films) have made MJ “the one”. But I never cared for Dunst as MJ much either. She was okay in the first film, but progressively sleepwalked through the last two. Emma Stone was great as Gwen. Her and Garfield had a very believable chemistry. Bryce Dallas Howard wasn’t bad either, she just didn’t get much to do.

    I grew up reading the Marvel Tales reprints, so between those and the 60s and 80s Spidey solo cartoons, I’ve always had a soft spot for Betty Brant. I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention her and Peter shacking up while Betty was separated from Ned Leeds in the late 70s. Quite scandalous for a code-approved book!

    And yeah, Marty is right. Peter totally punched his pregnant wife in a move even worse than Gwen/Norman. The fact that it was drawn by the over-bombastic Sal Buscema didn’t help matters.


    1. Like I said, Chris. The 70s are murky for me. I think by the time I knew who Ned was, his throat was being cut in that Spidey-Wolverine special.

      1. Yeah, and THEN they revealed he was the Hobgoblin… after he was dead. Biggest FU to readers of the 80s I can think of. Sigh.


    2. The Peter/Mj marriage was not built on a gimmick. they had dated/were dating before the marriage and the plans to get them engaged were always there, they just never intended to go through with it.

      Bt the actual reason it failed was because Quesada was hung up on it and has this toxic idea about marriage in comics.

      They weren’t really a couple except for that one Wolverine issue where they are clearly a couple and Peter calls her his girlfriend.

      The whole gwen was clearly peter’s first choice thing is also BS. In the 1970s AND 1980s AND 1990s multiple stories made it clear he loved MJ more than gwen. he literally said that in one issue. Not only is that Gwen>MJ narrative just entirely false it’s also really fucked up as it’s saying he was never able to grieve and move on from her.

      The sainted Gwen thing is also a myth. Before she died Gwen wasn’t like that. I hate Sins past but it gets blown out of proportion. she slept with Norman ONCE when she and peter were not together and that was it.

      And Buscema is a legend.

  3. For me, my Spider-Man experiences are mostly the 60’s Spider-Man cartoon and the 80’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon all the way, then the Marvel Super Heroes pen-and-paper RPG pretty hard during that same 80’s era. The RPG combined with the Marvel Universe comics was my education on Spidey but I’ve never really read any Spidey comics except for the serialized newspaper series from when I was a kid.

    1. I watched the hell out of both shows. Didn’t recall Dr. Doom in the opening credits of Amazing Friends though! What a non-sequitur!

  4. The three of you (no offense, Marty) should do a podcast that is entirely based on reading feedback. The tangents, the threats of violence as reward for social media following, everything in the Mail Bag segment this episode combined to make the most enjoyable podcast I’ve listened to in a month.

    The best part of this podcast, I really believe, is its re-listen value. I had to go back to the first ten minutes of this episode to catch some of Bass and Furn’s off-topic bantering:

    “We killed him and we ate him.”
    “Not really.”
    “Not in that order.”

    and: “Spider-Man without the hyphen makes him Jewish.”

    As for the topic of this episode, Aunt May is without question the most important person in Peter Parker’s life, but I would rank his Top 5 Loves thusly:

    1. Mary Jane Watson
    2. Gwen Stacy.
    3. Betty Brant
    4. Black Cat
    5. Liz Allen

    Honorable mention goes to the Venom symbiote because Furn made an amazing case for it! I read Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run from when he took over as the solo writer post-Brand New Day up until Superior Spider-Man, so I know I read a lot of Carley Cooper… but she left little impression on me.

  5. Given my affection for Spidey, I feel like I should have more thoughts on this, but it made me realize how limited the scope of my actual comic book reading is regarding the character (well, any character really as I’ve never found anybody I felt like doing a deep dive back into the old stuff for.) MJ (comic book version) would be my own #1 pick, but I’m not sure I could even fill out the rest of the list. I feel Gwen Stacy gets overpraised for her impact and what little I’ve seen of her as a character on the page doesn’t grab me. It’s the same way I feel Green Goblin gets overly praised. He’s done some notable stuff, but as a character he’s never done much for me.

    Black Cat would probably be my only other pick of note because… well… she’s smoking hot. And now having written that out I feel that I need to shower.

  6. “So you’re saying Baudelaire was right.”

    I’ll take Things That Will Never Be Said On Another Fire and Water Network Show for $100!

    1. What’s Trebek still doing here?

      That is an unfortunate but common misattribution on Bass’ part. I didn’t correct him, because I keep my wrist slaps for Furn alone.

  7. I have only sporadically collected Spidey over the years. But as a kid I bought the hell out of Marvel Tales, the reprint book. As a result, the period I feel I know the best is the around the death of Capt Stacy and on.

    And while I do have a penchant for liking comic redheads, it has never been Mary Jane for me. It has always been Gwen. And the fact that Gwen is a concensus #3 pick for this crew makes me question the veracity of this whole episode. Is this a belated April Fool’s day episode. Between Gwen being third and the odd cases for elderly relatives. I felt I was being punked.

    It might be that Gwen was portrayed as being perfect, their love too pure for me to move beyond her. Gwen seems angelic and transcendent. How can me mortals hope to be deemed worthy? And yet, she loved Peter.

    I can remember one of those MT issues where Gwen is supposedly in London and Peter is just sad sacking his way down the street when he hears her voice. He turns around and sees her, a wonderful shot by Romita, and they run and embrace. That was Gwen.

    Black Cat, Mary Jane, and Betty? All earthly loves. Nothing as divine as Gwen.

    1. I’ll go to bat for Furn: He did put Gwen at #2.

      But I’m not sure what to think of your argument. I’ve always been one to celebrate flaws, and who loves people FOR them rather than IN SPITE of them. Probably because of my damaged improv comedy wiring.

      1. I guess what I am saying is that the Gwen/Pete love seems too pure for the real world. Too big.

        It is the comic equivalent of other love stories that seem ‘too big’. Romeo and Juliet. Orpheus and Eurydice.

        Part of me hopes that that sort of love is possible, exists. And with that hope is a desire to see it actually happen and not end tragically.

        Sorry to rant.

        1. Yeah, I put her at #2.

          Only reason she isn’t #1 is because she’s dead/was dead. (Whatever, let’s not get into that.) See; Gwen’s relationship with Peter, I argue, is the best one of all, however it was cut drastically short on account of her dyin’ until it killed her.

          Which put an end to that relationship, but still defined Peter’s life in a very impactful way. As I mention in the episode, where Uncle Ben’s death cements Peter’s transformation from casual nerd who received a special gift into the Amazing Spider-Man, Gwen’s death forced him to become an actual superhero; instead of a dude in a suit with powers, pretending to be one.

          I mean, the case could be made that for Gwen to be #1, MJ would’ve had to die. Which I could see making my list that way if that had happened. But again, MJ and Peter have a long history from the get-go, and of all his many loves (Besides Aunt May, the TRUE one-and-only woman in his life) MJ has been there right along side Peter.

          Fate is what it is, and while Peter and Gwen’s relationship does have that larger-than-life grandiose angle to it, it was never meant to be any more than what it was. Had Gwen not died, it would’ve turned sour, as all of Peter’s relationships do, because of his moonlighting as the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. They might’ve remained friends afterwards. It would be an awkward friendship, both sides constantly wondering what might have been, while Spidey is dodging buicks being tossed his way by a pissed off Rhino.

          Or whatever it is a Spider does.

          1. You like legit need to read this to correct a lot of the misconceptions you are holding


            Not to mention the argument of how

            a) Spider-man ruins ALL of his relationships because he moonlights as Spider-Man. Not only did more than one relationship not get ruined by that but that wasn’tt he reason his relationship with MJ failed.

            b) He was a dude pretending to be a hero up until gwen died. no, he was just an actual hero. risking his life to save people out of a sense of duty and responsibility = hero

            And for having the best/most organic relationship….just read the articles seriously

            Also there is no such thing as ‘true’ love or Aunt May being the actual true love of his life. Aunt May is his mother. Mary jane was his wife. they are just different he doesn’t love May over MJ.

            And it was never Peter being Spider-man that would’ve fucked over their relationship. gwen was a bipolar lunatic if you care to double check your sivler age sutff. their relationship was bad in and of themselves NOT because he was Spider-man.

    2. Which is why Gwen as a character and love interest sucks dramatically….if what you say is accurate…whcih it isn’t the ACTUAL gwen of those issues was a far cry from angelic. She was a mess of a weeping, whining Daddy’s girl who played headgames. the angelic Gwen is an invention of her AFTER she died

  8. Another great show, and of course I was being honest in that Facebook comment. I ❤️ you!

    I do, though, reckon that next time you do a show like this (Bruce Wayne would be a good subject) you should remember the title of the podcast – ‘romance’ is in there, so no uncles or aunts or sentient suits. The symbiote business was entertaining, but should’ve been a tangent; obviously, there simply aren’t enough significant loves in Peter’s life to merit a list of five. It’s basically MJ v Gwen.

    And I go for Debra Whitman – kidding, what a useless flake she was.

        1. If we’re pulling back the kimono, Mike is just posturing for the bit; the ship goes where it wants to go, and he’s just as complicit with the deviations as the rest of us.

          If not more-so, because he’s the one who edits these, and makes the conscious decision to leave a good chunk of them in, regardless if we’re ‘on-topic’ or not.

          As for sticking to JUST Romance? it’s 2016 mah dawg; Love is Love. We don’t ascribe to no archaic definition of relationships no’ mo’.

          This ain’t yer daddy’s podcast! Buzzwords!

  9. In one of the earliest Spider-Man comics I bought, Debra Whitman was mentioned once in passing, but she was still the closest to my type of all Peter’s girlfriends, and her story as related here sounds the most interesting. He was with Black Cat when I started reading, and the problem with that is she was nothing but a Bronze Age Catwoman analog and still is to this day.

    I liked Mary Jane Watson, and think she’s the best fit for Peter. That said, without ever consciously noticing, I mostly stopped buying Spider-Man comics after the wedding annual. Unlike Superman, Spidey makes sense as a perpetual young adult without such commitments, but I’m not sure anyone was well served by playing out the marriage thread for twenty years before cutting it. Gwen Stacy was before my time, but she always seemed too good and clean and proper for Peter. It vexes me how Kirstin Dunst and Emma Stone would have been better in each others’ roles.

    All the talk in the comments makes me think that if Gwen Stacy had lived, she might have been an excellent adversary. Surely some other tragedy would have sprung up, then a bitter break-up, and Gwen legitimately feeling she has to do something about the Spider-Man menace. Cop? Informant? Villainess? Lots of out-of-the-fridge possibilities there.

    I think The Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast is overall more entertaining than CBS’ Supergirl. It would be a cleaner victory if you guys had the budget for 90 seconds of CGI Martian Manhunter every few episodes like they barely do. I seem to recall arguing with Siskoid over Elliot Smith’s contribution to James Bond themes, and I love Fiona Apple.

    1. The hero who’s defining theme is his responsibility and aging through life as he grows up should remain young and single…uh huh.

      not saying Superman shouldn’t have gotten married. it made enormous sense for BOTH of them.

  10. “the post-OMD stuff was really really good”

    Dude….no…..The post-OMD era of Spider-Man, Slott and all, is utterly dreadful low brow crap which goes against everything the character fundamentally is.

    And no it’s not simply because he isn’t married or how we got there, though that’s big enough a reason to hold against the run in general.

    Brand New Day and Slott’s run fundamentally misunderstand Spider-Man and treat him as though he was still a teenager in a 20 year ld’s body.

    He is an irresponsible, manchild douchebag loser who is a far cry from the way legitimately competent writers like Straczynski or Dematteis used to write him.

    “Spider-man isn’t viable with ANY woman.”

    Said the dude who stated he is not particularly knowledgable of Spider-Man

    “All superheores aren’t viable with anyone”

    Yeah and neither are cops, fire-fighters, doctors, soldiers or anyone remotely like that either.

    “Peter was sort of abusing Deb Whitman by lying to her”

    How dare Spider-Man protect his secret identity which if ever exposed through carelessness or what have you would result in the death of his loved ones and other innocents.

    This is an insult to actual abusive relationships are like

    “Deb Whitman left town a broken person”

    Er….no she didn’t. Read Spec #74 again.

    He and Michelle never dated. They were implied to have had drunk sex but even that is now disputed. She was his roommate and was an insane and abusive woman. She also had no links of substance with Carlie.

    Spider-Man has never dated any of the Spider Women.

    “Peter’s relationships never work because they are toxic”

    Yeah no. put aside how that’s just cynical, you take that view on Spider-Man you blow up the whole character and franchise. So good job there

    BTW ‘Spider-man will ALWAYS destroy his relationships’. Except for all those relationships which ended for reasons OTHER than his being Spider-Man, like Cissy Ironwood or the Black Cat.

    Shit you can’t even count Mary jane. Their breakups were entirely out of character and not viable to hold up critically when discussing this topic. In fact their first break up had NOHING to do with his being Spider-man and everything to do with her commitment issues

    “Betty Brant was an older woman scenario”

    No she wasn’t. Stan Lee in a letters page stated she was younger than Peter. It was the 1960s things were different.

    Also they didn’t break up because Peter was a risk taker. They broke up because betty brant was fucking lunatic who did crazy shit like telling Peter he couldn’t date other people even whilst she did it.

    “Spider-Carnage that wonderful character who used the Spot to destroy the universe and could only be stopped by Spidey recruiting people from across the multiverse”

    – Spide-Carnage was awesome as he was our hero twisted by an insane evil influence with a strong visual created by super artist Mark Bagley
    – He didn’t use the Spot he used Smythe
    – Madame Web recruited people across the multiverse not Spider-man. Spider-man only visited 3 universes one of which was AFTER the ation ended
    – Furthermore the Spider-man from ur world was an actor on Tv NOT in the mall
    – He didn’t come up with any sort of idea of finding Uncle ben. Spider-Carnage happened to wind up in a universe where ben was alive and the main Spider-man from the show used him to give Spider-Carnage a reality check

    “Spider-Man sabotages every relationship he is in”

    uh huh…HOW?

    “Carlie Cooper was the best post-OMD love interest and most viable character”

    If by best you mean least shitty then sure.

    They did not work together in their real lives whene they were together.

    “Gwen would’ve worked out and he was least angsty with her”

    Y’all REALLy need to re-read the Silver Age stories because the exact opposite is true. Gwen was a headfuck who had a bad relationship with peter. They LOVED each other bt they were not good together. Hey more than likely were never gonna work out.

    “Spider-Man is the real persona why doesn’t he just stick to being that”

    Peter Parker AND Spider-man are who he really is. Not only did his being Spider-Man NOT destroy all his relationships, but you are essentially asking whydoesn’t a cop just be a cop all the time.

    He is Spider-Man out of a sense of obligation it’s not the life he WANTS to live. So of course he’s gonna want Black Cat to love him for HIM as opposed to only part of himself.

    1. Obviously, you have a passion for the character and his history, excluding the last decade or so, but you might want to dial it back there, buddy. I’d defend some points, but I don’t even know who said what. The show is just four guys in a room with varying levels of expertise (if any) riffing on a topic. You can be sure that:
      1. None of it is fact-checked.
      2. The research is done quickly, and does not include reading the entirety of a Spider-Man run even if such were available to us.
      3. Opinions are solely those of the speaker, and they ARE opinions, not statements of fact. If they stimulate conversation in the comments, then good, tell us what we got wrong factually, tell us your dissenting opinion, etc. (But don’t assume that an opinion is a fact.)
      4. I’d also say, in this case, that a “love interest” is not the same as a “relationship”.
      5. And that this isn’t the Silver Age, it’s now, and I think my panelists are within their rights to have a modern impression of Spider-Man and his loves, probably mostly made up from the movies and cartoons, or whatever they’ve actually read.

      The only thing I WILL defend is the post-OMD Spider-Man. I don’t think you characterize it well at all. Either you read it, and I’ve got to ask why you kept reading a comic you so hated for years on end. Or you didn’t and made up your mind long ago and have about as much of a handle on it as I do the 1970s stuff you take me to task for. Either way, it’s an opinion, just as my positive comment on it is. They can both be valid. I’d just rather talk about stuff I liked than stuff I didn’t – our motto here at the Fire and Water Podcast Network is “Find your joy”.

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