Sha Shan is gone and Ned is dead. Betty and Flash are now together without the complication of their significant others. Now they aren’t having an affair…they’re just dating while Ned’s corpse isn’t even cold yet. Along with the shadow of Ned, Betty/Flash must face…

*Zombies

*Demons

*Ghosts

*Cults

*Being homeless

Can Betty have a healthy relationship with Flash while still getting over the recent murder of her husband? Probably not but it’ll be fun to watch.


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We open with “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 289, which is a major turning point. Peter is at the airport with Robbie, Marla, Betty and Jonah as Ned’s casket is being carried from a plane. As usual Peter is feeling guilty. As usual Betty is being insane.

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Curiously this is the first we’ve seen of Betty since she saw the Hobgoblin unmasked beating up Flash. If she remembers the event, she’s not saying. It appears she’s a bit looney right now anyway. Later that issue, Betty makes a scene at Ned’s funeral. Most widows react tragically when their husbands die, but Betty could teach them a thing or two.

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Indeed Jonah.

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“I sure wish my boyfriend and my husband had gotten along better. Oh well.”

Betty assures Peter that she’ll be fine because her mother is on her way to visit. So Peter takes his leave.

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I find it odd that Peter refers to Bennett was part of the old crew since they hung out…never.

There had been scattered occasions throughout the last few issues of Betty speaking of her mother in present tense. More on those when we get back to our regular “Bertone Hates Betty” feature because what they reveal is very interesting. As you read above, Flash disappeared from Betty’s apartment after the Hobgoblin attacked. We now find out what he is up to.

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Flash Thompson has hit rock bottom. I once again applaud Marvel for making me feel sorry for him which seems impossible after the way he treated Sha Shan. That is the mark of strong characters and good comic book writing.

As most Spider-Man readers know, there was more to Ned’s death than “Spider-Man vs. Wolverine” led us to believe. The Kingpin is mad that the Foreigner killed Leeds without consulting him so he calls Spider-Man to show him the photographs of Leeds murder in the hopes that Spidey will go after him. It’s then that the readers and Peter find out that Ned was (or wasn’t) the Hobgoblin.

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That picture has somehow become the most iconic image of Ned Leeds. It’s in the “Spider-Man Unmasked” trade, his Wikipedia entry, his profile picture on “SpiderFan” and more. If you need more proof just Google image “Ned Leeds” and be shocked at how many times that image comes up. What a sad legacy for such a long time supporting cast member.

The Kingpin further reveals that Jason Macendale was given Leeds Hobgoblin gear after the hit and is now the current Hobgoblin. But aren’t these entries suppose to be about Betty and Flash’s relationship? Let’s catch up with Flash.

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Spider-Man is too wounded to move and is about to be finished off by Hobgoblin 2.0 when Flash shows up for some character redemption.

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I really love this moment with Flash. He thinks he’s down for the count and expresses legitimate regret over all the bad he’s done over the coarse of his arc. I feel like this is the conclusion of an emotional journey for Flash that started in “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 85 (ironically another important Hobgoblin issue). These entries I’m writing are ultimately suppose to be about the history of Flash and Betty’s relationship, but I feel it’s important to show what was going on in their lives at the time, especially since alot of Flash’s predicament was tied into his affair with Betty.

Nice symmetry with Macendale breaking his ribs. Kingsley had the same injury when he first fought Spider-Man.

Spidey gives Flash mouth to mouth (sorry shippers you’ll have to buy the issue to see that) and we cut to Flash in the hospital.

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So now Flash has been cleared of being the Hobgoblin and can begin a new chapter in his life. He also winds up inspiring Peter (inadvertently) to keep being Spider-Man (he had been toying with the idea of quitting since issue 275).

What now? Where does this leave things with him and Betty? Especially now that Ned is dead?

We never see Flash find out about Ned’s death, but when we cut to “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 128 he already knows. I’m curious about his initial reaction but in the long run it’s not important and I’ll just file it away into “off panel” land.

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So now Betty has gone from thinking that Ned might be buried alive to full on thinking that he’ll be coming home from work any minute. “He’s simply a bear if everything isn’t just so” makes me laugh given Ned’s angry behavior before he died. Who dressed Betty here? Ann B. Davis?

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Come to think of it, shouldn’t Betty be the one rushing to see Flash? He’s the guy in the hospital bed. I’ll have to give her a pass on this one since her estranged husband died and she’s so off her rocker she probably doesn’t realize Flash is in the hospital.

We get our first indication of how Flash intends to play the awkward relationship with Betty. He intends to be supportive but try not to move in since Ned just died. It’s nice in theory and shows that at this point Flash cares about Betty on a deeper level than he previously did.

BUT

Betty and Ned were broken up when he died. They were rapidly heading for a divorce and she was even called his “ex-wife” on one occasion. Ned moved out and broke up with Betty in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 280. Ned died in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 289 (concurrently with “Spider-Man vs. Wolverine”). That’s about 9 issues of them being apart. That isn’t to say that Betty wouldn’t be upset about Ned’s death or treated as a widow. It does mean that Flash doesn’t have to feel too bad about “moving in”. However, I’m of two minds about it, because part of it is in bad taste.

Nurse and doctors be damned, Flash sneaks out of the hospital in “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 129.

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Ironically Peter is distressed because Flash has stopped him from chasing after Felicia, the woman who would be Flash’s next serious relationship.

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It’s odd that Peter doesn’t seem convinced of what Flash is saying. Especially since Peter witnessed Betty’s behavior for himself in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 289. Oh well, that was “Amazing” and this is “Spectacular”. There are are bound to be some discrepancies. Oh wait…both issues were written by Peter David.

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Is Flash motioning for Peter to leave?

Don’t ask our “Amazing Spider-Man” reviewer Donovan what he thinks about Betty not knowing what Ned looks like. He rightfully hates it. Insane or not…she doesn’t know what Ned looks like? I’ve heard stories of this type of thing happening…but really?

The details of Flash and Betty’s relationship are a bit vague during this period in the material out at the time. We do learn from later recaps, biographies and other stories that despite Flash’s intetions to be a gentlemen, he and Betty did continue their relationship. Perhaps it was slowly but he mentions that he and Betty are seeing eachother in “Amzing Spider-Man” Annual 21 and they are clearly in a relationship by the time of “Cult of Love”. However it evolved, it happened off-panel because this is a Peter Parker comic book not a “Betty and Flash” comic book.

But I do wonder about how healthy their relationship is. I don’t want to come off as one of the young people pretending to be an expert on romance that JR mentioned on the podcast. However I note the fact that…

*Her husband just died and she’s struggling to get over it.

*She is having a mental breakdown.

The first point alone is a hard one. How does one grieve over her husband while dating somebody else? I’m not talking about widows who remarry, I’m talking about dating someone who is with another man DAYS after their husband is buried. I understand that some people never get over the death of their spouses but can still remarry and be happy…but that is different than trying to get over the death that happened DAYS AGO while dating someone. It can’t be healthy for the relationship. Especially if she thinks said husband is still alive. How does Flash’s ego handle Betty crying for another man?

I’m not saying this is wrong on a morale standpoint…I’m saying it’s wrong a mentally healthy standpoint!

Well she finally admits that Ned is dead. No more of this “Ned is alive” stuff right?

Nope, she continues it in “Amazing Spider-Man” Annual 21.

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“Two of my best friends getting married in a matter of days, I’d forgotten”. I suppose I’ll have to excuse that one for now because of her mental state. Speaking of her mental state, perhaps a woman who can’t tell the difference between people being alive and dead shouldn’t be handling important office work. The Bugle’s payroll may get screwed up. If she thinks Ned is dead, she might be paying him..or sending checks to other dead employees like Fred Foswell.

And even if Ned was alive Betty, YOU BROKE UP 9 ISSUES BEFORE HE DIED. I understand she’s insane right now, but just wanted to point that out.

The upcoming Parker wedding gives Flash reason to reflect on his current love life.

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“I really blew it”  Nice to see Flash admit his wrong doings to Sha Shan. Big understatement though. Flash is still “seeing” Betty (whatever that means) and feels guilty about it. Yea, Ned and Betty were broken up for a while before he died, but I wonder if Flash gets any grief for being seen around town with Betty.  Must be awkward to date someone who thinks their husband is still alive and will be coming home for pot roast any moment.

Retcons be damned, Peter and Mary Jane get married and the event brings Flash, Betty and Sha Shan all in the same vicinity.

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The book is about Peter, so the focus is on Peter instead of the awkwardness for Flash and his girls.

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Ouch! They had to sit Sha Shan at the table directly next to Betty and Flash. It almost looks like they are staring directly at eachother.

With the exception of “Web of Spider-Man” Annual 3, this is the last time we see Sha Shan until “Brand New Day”. She was Flash’s girlfriend and nothing else, so when she stopped dating Flash she had no role in the book.

While Betty and Flash are still unofficially “seeing eachother”, I don’t think they are at the wedding “together”. Betty is probably waiting for Ned to walk in at any moment.

According to one self-proclaimed Spider-expert (they once stated “it’ll be hard to find a more well read Spiderfan than I”) this is the last we see of Betty and Flash’s relationship. They blamed the marriage for ruining all the subplots going on at the time. They said that the story of Flash and Betty’s relationship was forgotten as soon as the marriage happened and the next time Flash appears he was with Felicia.

That is one interpretation. You can listen to what they said. Or you can read the rest of this article and see issues where Flash and Betty’s relationship played a central theme AFTER THE MARRIAGE.

But “Web” issue 38 is not one of those.

Flash and Betty are both seen at Peter’s “Goodbye Chelsea apartment” party in “Web of Spider-Man” issue 38.

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Betty still thinking Ned is alive? Being completely crazy? Forget about that, according to what she tells Glory she’s “much better now”. Another development to file away into “off panel” land. “Much better now” also seems to be a very dismissive thing to say in light of what she went through. “I thought my mom and husband were both alive even though they are both clearly dead…but I’m much better now”.

Unless Betty is lying to herself, Glory and the readers. From  what we are about to see, that seems to be the case.

We next see Flash and Betty in “Web of Spider-Man” issue 40. It’s the first part of a four party storyline called “Cult of Love” where the couple will play a central role.

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Flash’s view on his relationship with Betty is certainly much more positive than it was around Peter’s wedding. She is now the best thing that’s happened to him. Poor Flash. I think Ned said something similar during the Romita era. Whatever ambiguity there was about their relationship in the days following Ned’s funeral seems to be gone now.

I think (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) this is the first civilian job Flash has ever held. That made me wonder about the old days where Sha Shan and Flash were living together. She was a librarian and if she was the only one bringing home the money while Flash was struggling to find his place in life, I wonder if Flash resented her for it and that contributed to their relationship troubles.

Betty is vague to Flash about who was chatting with her. We get a “Several weeks later” time-skip and Betty is missing. Her apartment is being sold and she hasn’t shown up to work at the Bugle (more on that in a future article). Flash suspects it might have to do with the suspicious guy who was talking to her.

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I find Flash’s choice of words funny. “Betty Brant…Leeds, whatever”. While he must acknowledge her marriage to Ned Leeds it seems to be a hard pill to swallow. Even though Ned is dead and Betty may have accepted it by now, his shadow is probably still looming over their relationship.

Flash and Spider-Man each do their own investigating about the company this guy keeps and it leads Spider-Man to a group called the “Students of Love”. He travels to their estate and attempts to free Betty (who has her hair hacked off), but it doesn’t go so well.

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“So I’ll show you that I trust you by uncovering your mouth”. And that was your first mistake Spider-Man…trusting Betty.

The rescue attempt continues to go wrong in “Web of Spider-Man” issue 41.

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Thank goodness for that psychic blindspot!

Flash gets tired of waiting for help and teams with Ben Urich and Kate Cushing from the Daily Bugle.

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Due to witnessing some false miracles and the smooth talking of the cult’s leader, Spider-Man decides to leave the cult and Betty alone. He attempts to convince Flash to do the same thing in “Web of Spider-Man” issue 42. Flash calls shenanigans.

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Some good writing here by Peter David. You never would have seen the Flash of 100’s of issues ago questioning Spider-Man’s judgement. Here we have an adult who was grown up past his hero-worship of Spider-Man. His love for Betty is now stronger than his love for Spider-Man…which I suppose is a big deal when you’re dealing with Flash Thompson.

Flash and some questionable friends take matters into their own hands.

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There are many jokes I could make about what happens in the above panels, but it would be in bad taste so I’ll refrain.

Later that issue Peter goes to see Flash and is surprised from what Flash has done.

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In “Web of Spider-Man” issue 43 Peter, Flash and the priest begin the deprogramming process.

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I love the concept of Betty being tied up with a light shining on her face being interrogated. A small breakthrough is made but as the priest tells them, it’s going to be a long road to recovery ahead. I’m sure she’ll just feel “much better” magically like she told Glory a few issues ago.

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As Peter’s spider-sense warns, the Students of Love burst in and start fighting 1960’s Batman style. Luckily for Flash, nothing will stop Betty from getting her much desired cookie.

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Look at her face! She REALLY wants that cookie! It would be just tragic if Flash got his face punched in! Then he’d be too injured to give Betty her much beloved cookie!

Despite Betty’s pleas for cookies, the Students capture them but luckily Peter escapes, changes into Spider-Man and saves the day. A fire is started and the estate of the Students is destroyed.

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And with that last panel Peter David has succeeded in being the only writer who could make me feel sympathy for Betty. I’ll never forgive him for that. Don’t worry folks, my sympathy for Betty doesn’t last long..all I need to do is reread “Amazing Spider-Man” 184 and 280 and the good old feeling comes back.

While it was never stated within the four parter itself, many have assumed that Betty joined the cult due to her depression after Ned died. I wonder if that was hard for Flash…knowing that he wasn’t “enough” for Betty? One of the many reasons why it’s unhealthy to date someone while your husband’s corpse is still warm.

There are a few similarities between “The Cult of Love” and the “Sister Sun” story.

* Spider-Man and Flash Thompson team up to save the woman Flash loves (Sha Sha/Betty) from a cult.

* A third party comes along for the ride to save their sister from the group (Razorback/Kate Cushing).

* In the end the love of Flash is saved and the sister of the sidekick is not (Razorback’s sister wants to keep looking for herself and Kate’s sister is missing).

The stories are very different, but they did have those similar threads. I wonder if Flash notes to himself that he’s had to team up with Spidey twice to save his girlfriends from cults. Now Flash’s relationship with Betty is going to have to get more serious. He needs to pretty much nurse her back to sanity and have her stay in his apartment. We next see Betty in “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 148. The real Spider-Man only appears in one panel and the whole issue is basically a Betty and Flash feature written by Gerry Conway. Highly recommended. I guess that other person I previously mentioned was wrong about Flash and Betty’s relationship not appearing after the marriage and before Flash met Felicia.

This is the first time we’ve seen Betty since she left the “Cult of Love”. Let’s see how her sanity is doing.

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Same as usual I suppose.

Okay okay….I suppose I need to give context. “Inferno” (a crossover) is happening and it’s making Betty hallucinate that her husband Ned is a zombie rising from the grave to get her.

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You get the sense here that Betty has basically been rebuilding the pieces of her mind and sanity and Flash has had to take care of her like a child. We are seeing them during a crisis that tests both of their sanities, so it may not give the most accurate look at their relationship. But it is telling.

Flash must be thinking when he hears this, “Oh great not more of this NED IS ALIVE garbage”.

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Regarding the heater, let me quote Gerard Delatour and say, “You could practically hear them cocking that Chekhov’s gun”. As the dialogue indicates Flash has kept his promise from “The Cult of Love” and is now letting Betty live with him.

After months of thinking her dead mother and husband were both alive we get the sense that Betty’s sanity isn’t exactly that stable. Her internal thoughts in the below image is interesting as she’s trying to tell herself she isn’t insane. Once again “Inferno” isn’t helping, but even without it she did just get back from being brainwashed in a cult.

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Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Zombie Ned (really an “Inferno” demon) bursts in and chases Betty around the apartment. Then Ghost Ned (who is different than Zombie Ned) appears.

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“A ghost? A vision? A dream? A voice from inside me? I don’t know and suddenly I don’t care”.

Um? Okay I guess…

From what I’ve seen of “Inferno” I don’t think it made positive images of your loved ones appear to encourage you. I could be wrong because I haven’t seen alot of it. So this may just be more of Betty being insane. Unless it really is Ned’s ghost. Uy.

Flash is facing a crisis of his own against a demon masquerading as Flash’s hero Spidey. Through the whole fight all he could think of is how he needs to get free so he can save Betty.

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I love this issue. We get some growth for both Betty and Flash. While Betty deals with her sanity issues and her reliance on men, we do have Flash dealing with trying to face the fact that his glory days might be behind him. It’s not as compelling as Betty fighting for her sanity, but I’m glad both of them faced their strongest doubts this issue.

Betty uses Flash’s heater (I knew that Chekhov’s Gun would come in handy) to save Flash and herself. Unfortunately it’s at the expense of Flash’s apartment.

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“Oh well. I’d been thinking about finding a new apartment soon anyway”. UM FLASH? SHE JUST BLEW UP YOUR APARTMENT.

Okay okay..it was to save both of their lives but SHE BLEW UP HIS WHOLE APARTMENT. I suppose there could have been other ways to save themselves and defeat the demons…but perhaps I should give Betty a pass because there wasn’t enough time to think of something else. BUT SHE BLEW UP HIS APARTMENT. I know there was circumstances but GOSH I just can’t get over that!

Come to think of it the next panels show that demons are all gone (due to the events in “X-Factor” or something) so Betty and Flash would’ve been saved anyway. But Betty had no way of knowing that..so I guess I can’t blame her. BUT GOSH DARN IT SHE BLEW UP HIS APARTMENT.

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So Betty and Flash walk away into the sun. It would be a nice happy ending if they weren’t now both homeless and Betty wasn’t still insane and seeing her ghost husband (which again was probably not a result of “Inferno”).

I highly recommend picking up this issue. It’s one of my favorite Spider-Man stories.

We see the result of Flash’s new living situation in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 314. It’s Christmas and Peter and Mary Jane have been evicted. Peter is too proud to go back to Aunt May’s so he takes a tour of the supporting cast to see who could help him.

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Flash is homeless and sleeping in the back of a gym. On Christmas. His girlfriend who put him here in the first place? Nowhere in sight.

Flash is homeless on Christmas. How sad.

Maybe Betty’s around, but Flash’s choice of words (“I’ll bunk at the Y” as oppose to “Betty and I will bunk at the Y”) seems to indicate he’s on his own.

Maybe Betty is with family. But I don’t know what family she’d visit. Her mother and brother are both dead. We saw an unexplained nephew in “Webspinners” years ago and “Venom” issue 4 revealed that she had a living grandmother. “Amazing Spider-Man Family” had her mention a cousin once. If Betty went to visit them couldn’t she have taken Flash with her? Especially since he was homeless…on Christmas??? After all he’s done for her!

She blew up Flash’s apartment and as a result he has to spend Christmas homeless and alone.

Sorry. This is suppose to be a chronicle of their relationship and I’m letting some bias bleed through. With a category called “Bertone Hates Betty” what did you expect?

We next see the couple in “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 151. They seem to be wearing the same clothes from issue 148…I suppose they lost all their clothes when BETTY BLEW UP HIS APARTMENT.

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Betty and Flash spend the rest of the issue trying to help Glory with her problems. Betty even stops by the Bugle (which she hasn’t worked at since before she joined the “Students of Love”). It’s not explicitly stated but it appears she hasn’t gone back to work yet and is still rebuilding her life. No word this issue on where Flash and Betty are staying or if they are still living together.

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The last time we see Flash and Betty before their first breakup is “Spectacular Spider-Man” Annual 9. A biography on Betty speaks of her “blossoming relationship” with Flash Thompson and they show up to a birthday party for Mary Jane.

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Some odd art by Dan Jurgens. Look at Flash’s face!

As I said, this is the last time we see them together before their first breakup.

What caused the great Thompson/Brant breakup?

How explosive was it?

What happens as a result of it?

How does Betty react to Flash’s rebound girl?

Find out in part 5!

Leave comments because they make me happy or I’ll send Betty to blow up your apartment.

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11 Responses to “Flash and Betty part 4: Dating a widow”

  1. #1 Proto Goblin says:

    These pages seem less faded than the last entries, you mustve been keepn these batch of comics better stored. And oh ya CULTS AREN’T COOL BETTY!!!

  2. #2 Bertone says:

    I have all these books but sometimes I use…ahem…other sources…when I’m too lazy to scan.

  3. #3 Gerard Delatour II says:

    I’ve only heard a handful of explosions in my life, but I’m pretty sure that “BLOOM” is not an appropriate sound effect. :P

    This had me in stitches, Josh. Good work as always!

  4. #4 Sthenurus says:

    Maybe if she had spend more time on her husband instead of seeing another man behind his back she would remember his face…

  5. #5 Hobo-Goblin says:

    COOKIE!

  6. #6 Parabolee says:

    Thanks for these. They are fantastic, love to see more articles likt this. I really enjoy them!

  7. #7 Jon M. Wilson says:

    I don’t know if I’ve told you how much I enjoy this series you’re doing, Josh. Keep it up. The articles are read and loved by many, or at least by me.

    In the “don’t remember what (s)he looks like” department, I can attest to this happening after a great deal of time has passed, and it helps if the memories are from youth. Betty saying it as an adult about her dead husband after anything less than many years is bunk.

  8. #8 Parabolee says:

    While I am really loving these Betty and Flash articles, I wish you would finish the “Finding Gwen Stacy” series first.

  9. #9 Parabolee says:

    Sorry for those that might have missed his epic “Finding Gwen Stacy” series of articles. You can find them easily here –

    http://goo.gl/fgIUe

  10. #10 Bertone says:

    @Parabolee,

    the articles were finished (more or less) around the end of 07, start of 08 when I did them on LJ. The problem is converting them to Crawlspace via the original backups which I can’t just cut and paste (and that version of LJ’s scans daily was deleted). It’s not impossible, but merely time consuming. I will do it though..especially since people keep on asking. Glad you are enjoying these and sorry you’re missing Gwen!

    @Jon,

    Yea and the fact that her husband died days ago doesn’t help either.

  11. #11 BD says:

    Just read this one. I’m with Jon and absolutely love these articles. Your attention to detail is amazing. And your lines about the cookies and blowing up the apartment cracked me up. When I read these issues as a kid I mainly glanced over them as I paid more attention to the Spidey adventures. This gal is absolutely nuts!