What a summer this has been! We are now at the conclusion of our Betty/Flash retrospective. I can’t believe this took nine parts! It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end! There will be plenty of space devoted to reflection at the end of the article, so let’s begin.
In our conclusion to “Flash and Betty” we will explore…
* Flash and Betty’s relationship throughout the “Brand New Day” saga and bring them to the current “Big Time” era catching us up to the present.
* The return of Sha Shan and what it means for Betty/Flash.
* Closing thoughts on the coupling. Do they work in the long run? Should they marry?
* The genesis of this article and special thanks to all those who helped.
* A timeline of Betty and Flash’s relationship.
It’s a brand new day for Spider-Man, but how does it affect Betty and Flash? Read on!
When we left Betty and Flash, they had just helped an unmasked Spider-Man defeat Ms. Arrow, and Flash planned to celebrate by unleashing some tantric energy on Betty. They have reconciled and resumed their relationship after some struggles. So what now?
The entire line of Spidey books changed. I’m not going to get into detail over the transition from “One More Day” to “Brand New Day” because most of you already know, or can find the answer in greater detail on a million websites. The bottom line is, the entire Spider-Man series was taken in a new direction which meant lots of plotlines (such as Betty/Flash) were forgotten or replaced. The repercussions for the couple began when we saw Flash in the final part of “One More Day”
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 545
Flash is at this party unattached. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he and Betty have broken up. She could be working or taking care of countless other bits of business. The previous pages had Peter and Mary Jane do away with their marriage so there was alot more on our minds than “why is Flash here without Betty”.
Then Harry Osborn shows up alive and with someone who isn’t his wife Liz.
Readers flip through this book and it becomes…
“Peter and Mary Jane gave up their marriage?”
“They don’t remember?”
“He lives with Aunt May!?!”
“Wait! Harry is back!”
“Harry isn’t with Liz? Does Normie still exist!?!”
Flash attending a party without Betty was the furthest thing from my mind. However, one the last page of the story another bombshell is dropped.
The bombshell I had in mind isn’t exactly Peter’s webshooters (he had been using organics for the past few years). Flash’s hand is in the bottom right hand corner. Flash is drinking again. A full glass too!
Some readers picked up on it but most of us were too distracted by far more important stuff like retconned marriages and revived friends.
Flash drinking again should be a major development but my guess is Quesada simply forgot when he drew it in there.
However, we must ask ourselves what it means in-story. One theory is that Flash’s partial amnesia (see part 8 ) made him forget his days as a drinker. Perhaps he’s simply off the wagon. It’s pretty out of character for Peter to not say anything, but like the reader he’s too blinded to notice.
Months later, Marvel published the “Swing Shift” one-shot and it had Tom Breevort’s infamous “Spider-Man Manifesto” in the back. It gave us his ideas for the new direction of Spider-Man which included a big role for Betty.
I wonder what would have happened if the “Brain Trust” had gone down the route of having Peter and Betty have a night of rebound tantric energy. The scenario seems similar to what they eventually did with Michelle Gonzales. Fans didn’t react well to that. Would it have gone over better if it had been an established character like Betty? I imagine fans would have accused Marvel of ripping off Marv Wolfman’s Peter and Betty rebound story from the late 70’s.
They did go through with making Betty into Peter’s gal pal. She appeared frequently in early months of “Brand New Day” but eventually dropped off (like so many other characters and plotlines) due to the problems of multiple writers juggling multiple plotlines.
Betty’s job gets an upgrade in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 554.
The interesting thing about all this is that the crime beat was once Ned’s job after the death of Fred Foswell. Betty now has her dead husband’s job.
The kiss is innocent enough (unlike this one), but when I first read this I was concerned we would be getting romantic tension between Peter and Betty (especially after I read the manifesto). Thankfully I was wrong.
Betty’s love life was not mentioned during her early “Brand New Day” appearances. She and Flash were together before “One More Day” after the events of “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man”, so there was no reason to think they broke up. Betty’s relationship with Flash never figured into my mind at this time. The absence of it being confirmed or denied wasn’t something readers were thinking about because we were too busy wondering…
Why does Peter have webshooters again? Where did his other powers go?
How did Harry come back? Where are Liz and Normie?
Who is Menace? Who is Jackpot? Are either of them Mary Jane?
What do people remember about the previous timeline?
Between this and many other questions, it’s no surprise that Betty and Flash’s relationship was forgotten by both the readers and writers. “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 574 was advertised as “Whatever Happened to Flash Thompson”. With all that was going on, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that Flash was off the playing field. He has been gone for long periods of time before so this didn’t really strike me as odd.
We find out in the issue that Flash is serving another tour of duty in the U.S. Army.
Interesting to learn that Flash was on the inactive reserves. He could’ve been called back to serve anytime since the Romita era.
Flash begins to relate his life story..
Kudos to Marvel for remembering Flash’s abusive father. A thought occurs to me…perhaps Flash’s background as an abused child might serve as a partial explanation for his treatment to Sha Shan. Not that I’m justifying it…
I’m surprised that Flash is shocked about his FBI file. He was once arrested under suspicion of being the Hobgoblin.
At the end of the issue we learn why Flash is in the hospital and being awarded the medal.
Poor Flash! He just spent a period of time in a wheelchair a few years before this and finally got out! Talk about unlucky!
Since this is about his relationship with Betty, I won’t get too heavily into the depth of Flash’s new situation. I doubt I’d be able to do it justice.
Speaking of his relationship with Betty….are they still together? Did they decided to have long distance relationship while Flash’s is deployed?
We finally get some answers regarding Betty’s relationship status in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 583. Betty is trying to get Peter a girlfriend and takes him speed dating.
Peter asking Betty if she had any luck with the men there tonight implies that Betty is a free agent. Another scene between Betty and a friend of hers seems to support this theory.
It’s ironic that Betty’s “holding out for a hero” considering she was dead set against a hero type back in the Ditko days. If there was any lingering doubt that Betty and Flash are no longer attached, the end of the issue confirms it further. It’s Betty’s birthday and to her surprise, Peter was the only one who wanted to come.
It’s canon….Betty Brant has no friends!
How does this confirm her no longer being attached to Flash? I imagine that if she and Flash were still in a long distance relationship, the fact that her boyfriend was deployed in Iraq on her birthday would be something that would come up in the conversation. Betty narrates the issue and Flash’s absence on her birthday never comes up.
This means we have our third off-panel breakup! I suppose I should be used to this by now. Why did they break up? Unlike the last two we have almost nothing to go by…
My theory was that they ended things amicably when Flash found out he was being deployed. In the past, Betty has not been a fan of relationships where her man is gone all the time so she didn’t want a long distance relationship. Her biggest problem with Ned was him being gone all the time, and her relationship with Peter had her concerned about him taking dangerous crime photos. Flash will be in a dangerous warzone and a country away…a combination of her two former complaints.
This actually makes sense!
At least it did make sense until the publication of “Amazing Spider-Man Family” issue 4. It’s a story that takes place in the past (sometime before the surprise party I posted at the beginning of this essay).
How does this image disprove my breakup theory? As I said before this takes place before the surprise party in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 545. Flash attended that party so it was obviously before he was deployed to Iraq.
Here we have Betty talking about how she is sleepy on her cousin’s ratty couch. Flash and her have had extended stays at eachothers apartments before. If they were still together I think she would be staying with Flash on his bed rather than at her cousin’s on a ratty couch.
So why did they break up this time?
Theory 1: Usually when someone gets called to duty, it doesn’t happen overnight. I have a friend who knew he was going to Iraq months before he actually left. Perhaps Flash knew at this point (and it wasn’t discussed at Harry’s party) and he and Betty parted as a result rather then continuing their relationship until he left.
Theory 2: Because everyone forgot that Peter is Spider-Man, how much of the adventures with Ms. Arrow do Flash and Betty remember? Did they forget enough of it that they forget they were in a relationship again? They got together because of Deb Whitman’s book, and an unmasked Peter figured heavily into their adventure. Their memories of it have to be a bit screwed up. It would be hilarious, but I doubt it’s the case. Most likely they remember fighting Ms. Arrow with Spider-Man, but not the fact he was Peter.
Theory 3: Flash didn’t seem to hold Betty in a high regard during their last relationship. He doubted her sanity at every turn and was telling other people how crazy she was. Could that have been their downfall?
I’m going with “Theory 1″ because it makes the most sense given everybody’s past characterizations.
Flash returns to the U.S. (but forgets his legs) in “Amazing Spider-Man Extra” issue 3
Peter meets Flash at the airport….Betty does not. However their relationship ended, it was considered enough of a closed case that she didn’t greet him when he returned him. Not that she owes him that here….they are exes at this point.
Come to think of it, lots of relationships ended as a result of the transition from “One More Day” to “Brand New Day”.
Peter and Mary Jane split up.
Harry and Liz divorced off panel.
Marla and Jonah split up.
Flash and Betty had their third off-panel breakup.
Perhaps it was Marvel’s plan to distract us with Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage ending so nobody would care when they went after these other relationships. If it didn’t come across in the text, I was obviously joking.
Despite their relationship ending and Betty being absent for Flash’s homecoming, we begin to see her and Flash together from time to time.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 591.
Looks like their breakup wasn’t so bad that they couldn’t be friendly to eachother (unlike the early Mackie days). It supports the theory that they parted amicably this time around. Betty stills holds some affection for Flash as she seems to be keeping in constant touch with him (judging by the answering machine message) and supporting him in his activities. I imagine that once she heard about his injury she began to realize how much she cared about him similarly to how she reacted when she learned he came out of his coma.
Flash is Betty’s date to Aunt May’s wedding in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 600.
How is it that Carlie Cooper (who has interacted with Aunt May when?) is invited to the wedding, but Flash is only attending as Betty Brant’s “plus one”? Flash says that May was just joking about him starting fights, but I’m not sure if that was Slott’s intent. Aunt May knows Flash isn’t a bully anymore. Aunt May was one of the people who was helping Flash while he was in a coma. It was her idea for him to move into Peter’s building. Now he’s not good enough for a wedding invite (unless its as a “plus one”) while people like Carlie are?
Actually it’s kind of funny how most of the guests are Peter’s friends.
While Flash is Betty’s date, it seems that this is strictly a platonic affair. Betty doesn’t seemed phased by the fact that Flash is gawking at Michelle nor does Flash seem like he has any issues with talking about other women in front of her. Randy and Norah are a different story. The emphasis on “plus one” also implies that Flash is nothing more than that for this evening.
I look at the above panels and issue 583 and wonder when Betty Brant has ever had any sort of relationship or interaction with Harry Osborn. FYI, the cab is a fakeout…Harry’s not in there but rather Mary Jane returning to the book after an extended absence.
First we get the obligatory “girls rush to catch the bouquet and the men joke about it” scene. So cliche…sigh….
On the plus side, everyone is being real friendly to eachother. Flash and Randy were at odds during the Mackie days and it’s still odd for me to see him and Johnny Storm together without arguing.
The guys make the jokes about their dates trying to get the bouquet, but despite that I don’t think Flash and Betty are anything more than a casual date here.
Flash’s relationship status is next touched upon in the recap pages of “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 622.
“Most popular bachelor”? Recap pages aren’t always canon, but that sure is interesting. More on that later…
The Flash Thompson story in that issue is my favorite story from the entire “Brand New Day” era. It’s written by Greg Weisman of “Spectacular Spider-Man” animated series fame. It deals with Flash struggling to cope with the changes in his life now that he’s lost his legs.
Betty sure wears lots of purple. Go back and look at the other images…she rarely wears anything else.
We get more of Betty supporting Flash at his sporting events and even a little intimacy between exes with the kiss on the cheek.
We find out later in the story that Betty is really involved in Flash’s life. She has been going to his physical therapy appointments and keeping track of his progress. She calls Peter to come with her one day because she’s concerned about some setbacks Flash has been having.
Flash falls and doesn’t seem to be displaying the same confidence that he was earlier. Betty and Peter speculate on why Flash seems to be having a change of attitude.
I don’t like Betty smiling here in the second panel. The way her face is drawn by Luke Ross doesn’t seem to match up with what she is talking about. Peter calls Betty to discuss the matter further and Betty has some very interesting nighttime attire.
I spoke with Greg Weisman about this story in San Diego last year. He said that when Flash lost his legs, he seemed to be accepting of it right away which gave him the idea that Flash was going through the stages of grief backwards.
Betty is spending a lot of time with Flash again and is even wearing a large shirt of Flash’s to bed. Is this a sign that they are back together or even being intimate again? I asked Greg Weisman about this and he said…
Friendly exes was my intent, but I’m fine with the idea that it was ambiguous. gdw
Betty and Peter hope that Flash’s birthday party will raise his spirits. It sure raised mine when I saw some of the obscure characters Weisman threw in there…
The guest list includes Jason and Tiny who hadn’t been seen since “Untold Tales” and Josh who hadn’t been seen since the Silver Age, among many others.
We also see Flash’s sister Jessie and mother for the first time since the pre-reboot era. They bring Flash’s father who he isn’t too pleased about seeing..
I love so many things about this scene. While I suppose the storyline could never truly be considered “finished”, I still love Weisman coming back to this plot thread and giving it a partial resolution. I recommend you all to pick up current issues of the “Venom” series to the see the latest developments in the relationship between Flash and his father.
Holy crap Sha Shan got hot!
I do question Peter and Harry’s choice of physical therapist for Flash. It’s a very intimate position. The last person who you’d want to be your physical therapist is a woman who you once hit in the face after she found out you cheated on her. There are plenty of friendly exes and amicable breakups in the world of Spider-Man, but Flash/Sha Shan was not one of them.
I already discussed Betty’s interaction with Sha Shan here, but let’s quote the relevant portion..
The icicle speech balloons are a cool callback to the Ditko days but take a look at that scene again. Betty isn’t responding to Sha Shan…Betty starts it! Betty doesn’t greet Sha Shan with an apology or any remorse. No! She’s mad at Sha Shan! Why? What did Sha Shan do to her? It’s not like they had a Betty/Veronica relationship. Betty stole Sha Shan’s man! Sha Shan has a right to be mad! Betty doesn’t!
Betty Brant is the only woman who will have an affair with your boyfriend and then somehow be mad at you as if she was the victim
Despite Betty and Sha Shan’s resentment of one another, Betty continues to show up Flash’s physical therapy appointments. Perhaps it’s to make sure Sha Shan doesn’t get too close to Flash.
Weisman pointed out that Sha Shan was the type of physical therapist Peter and Harry thought Flash needed. His other therapist from the beginning of the story wouldn’t push Flash the way Sha Shan does. With the help of Flash’s friends, he overcomes his depression over his new situation.
This issue is a very big emotional turning point for Betty/Flash.
The return of Sha Shan forces both Flash and Betty to deal with the way they betrayed her when their affair began and for the three of them to make peace and move forward. Betty’s presence at the physical therapy session shows that however the girls feel for eachother, they will come together for the sake of Flash’s recovery.
Flash reuniting with and forgiving his father also helps him move past the cycle of violence and drinking he’d been dealing with since childhood.
As mentioned before, Flash goes through the stages of grief and comes to terms with the loss of legs. Earlier in the issue he came very close to signing up for a program which would have given him artificial legs.
But what about Betty and Flash?
As you can see in some of these pages, they are quite close. Betty is very involved in his life. He holds her hand at the party and she kisses him on the cheek at his race. They aren’t together, but they seem to be really friendly.
So why aren’t they together?
First off, just because two exes are single and on good terms doesn’t mean they need to be together. Even if they broke up because Flash was going overseas (speculation), the fact that he’s home again doesn’t require them to resume dating. We aren’t even sure what broke them up last time and if whatever kept them apart is still in place.
My theory is that they have learned from their mistakes. Their first relationship was plagued by the fact that Betty was going through a nervous breakdown and dealing with the loss of Ned. Their second relationship struggled to stay afloat while Flash was dealing with his drinking problem. Past emotional problems have been detrimental to their relationship so perhaps Flash and Betty are aware that he needs to deal with the loss of his legs and calm down from his tour of duty before and he and Betty even think about entering a fourth relationship.
Betty could also be hesitant due to the fact that she’s reluctant to get involved with a guy who is going through major emotional issues. That was the reason she avoided Flash in the “pre-reboot era”. She had even come to Pete because she unsure if she should get involved with Flash while he was working through all his problems. This could be a similar case.
If we are to believe the recap age, then Flash a popular bachelor. Maybe the “war hero” thing is getting him lots of dates and he is enjoying not being tied down.
Either way he and Betty are doing fine as friendly exes…for now.
We next see the two of them at Harry Osborn’s goodbye party in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 647 (aka the final issue of “Brand New Day”).
The girl dressed as Firebird is Michelle Gonzales, Peter’s roommate from that era. Reading this confrontational dialogue, I don’t miss her one bit. There was way too much of that during this era.
More Betty and Flash holding hands. I don’t think they came to this party together as eachothers dates. Betty’s comments make it sound like she ran into Flash here and is seeing his costume for the first time.
Betty apparently hung out with Flash for a majority of the party because pages later she’s still by his side when someone comes to thank him for his service.
Remember earlier when Betty said she was holding out for a hero? I’m sure this exchange didn’t go unnoticed by her.
The issue has a few backup stories including one where Spider-Man displays his typical guilt of blaming himself for everything bad that has happened to everyone he knows. In this case he feels responsible for Flash’s injury.
Flash asks Spider-Man to go out for a beer and neither of them see what’s wrong with this. We just had Flash forgiving his father after he earned his one year chip. What about Flash’s alcoholism? I speculated before that his partial amnesia (which I’m assuming is gone because it hasn’t been referenced in years) and other stresses may have thrown him off the wagon. I don’t like the thought that he is drinking again after all we saw in overcome in issue 622, but I have nothing but the pages to go by.
Why is he drinking again?
As much resolution as we got in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 622, Flash is still human. He’s back from combat in Iraq and his physical therapist is an ex who he had a nasty breakup with. I’d probably fall off the wagon too. I may not like it, but unfortunately it’s canon. I don’t think this was intentional though and seems to be more of a case of the “Braintrust” forgetting about this major aspect of Flash’s character.
“Brand New Day” is now over. A new era is here. No more rotating writers. No more crazy roommates pointing shotguns at Peter. Major changes and a brand new status quo took shape when “Big Time” began in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 648.
We see character beats by different members of the supporting cast, and Flash Thompson is among them.
Betty and Flash round four begins!
I wonder if Sha Shan returning was the competitive push Betty needed to initiate getting back together.
What made them decide to get back together? As previously noted, they have been very involved in eachothers lives and even somewhat affectionate. I speculated that both of them wanted to wait until their emotional issues were worked so they wouldn’t screw things up like they had in the past. After the events of “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 622, it seemed they were closer than ever and had put the past behind them. They are now ready to, as Flash says, move forward.
This is our stopping point. I originally envisioned this as telling you everything about “Flash/Betty” you needed to know to be up to speed in the current “Big Time” era. There have been some “Betty/Flash” developments since then in “Amazing Spider-Man” and “Venom”, but they are from our current era and this is a natural stopping point. Perhaps I’ll revisit their adventures from our current era at a later date when it’s ended. For now though, this is where we get off.
FLASH AND BETTY’S FUTURE
Where should Betty and Flash go from here? Are they destined for marriage? I think marrying off Flash and Betty would be a mistake for all involved. Perhaps things will change for their characters down the road, but the way they both are now, neither are ready for marriage. Betty by her own admission married too young and things went sour before the honeymoon even ended. While it appears she worked out many of her personal issues regarding relationships and devotion to men, her behavior in recent comics shows she still has the same demands regarding the men in her life as she did in the Ditko days. Until she gets over that, she’ll never be able to be content in a relationship. While Flash isn’t the manchild some people like to make him out to be, he still has some familial, emotional and dependency issues he needs to resolve before he “settles down”.
I also personally don’t see Flash and Betty as a couple who will get married, but rather as a couple who dates eachother between marriages. For those who watched “That 70’s Show”, Flash and Betty aren’t “Eric and Donna”, they are “Jackie and Kelso”. There is an episode of “That 70’s Show” where Eric is taken (via a dream sequence) to an alternate reality ala “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In that reality there are a few time-skips (I believe he see’s a full decade over all) and every year he visits, Jackie and Kelso run into eachother and hook up. Sometimes one of them is married to someone else…sometimes one was single and the other had a date with them. No matter what their status was they hooked up. The process repeated for years. That’s how I see Betty and Flash.
However, it might be fun for them to get married just so we could all watch it fall apart. Unless they have another off-panel breakup.
FAVORITE FLASH AND BETTY MOMENTS
As bad as it made the characters seem, I really enjoyed the moment in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 280 where both of the women in Flash’s love triangle (Sha Shan and Betty) visit him in jail. Flash is forced to face the consequences of his treatment of Sha Shan, and the look Sha Shan gives Betty haunts her and forces her to rethink her behavior. The drama found in that scene is one of the reasons why their relationship and Spider-Man comics in general are so captivating.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 148 has always been one of my favorite comics, even if it ends with Betty blowing up Flash’s apartment. The real Spider-Man only appears in one panel, so the focus of the issue is Betty and Flash overcoming their personal problems to the backdrop of the “Inferno” storyline.This issue is the perfect example of why Betty and Flash work. They could carry their own issue without Spider-Man ever showing up.
I loved the hug they shared in “Hobgoblin Lives” issue 2. He agreed to help her deal with clearing Ned’s name after all everyone had been through. It was a real tender moment between exes which was miles apart from the way they were being written in the other books being published that time.
I enjoyed Flash’s failed come on to Betty in “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 244. It started as a great conversation between exes catching up and helping eachother with problems until it went horribly wrong. That is pure “Betty/Flash”. There are lots of moments in the alcoholism storyline that I could put on here, but I’ll just put this one hand in the interest of space.
Even though it doesn’t portray Betty in the best light (but what does?), I really loved Flash and Betty’s bookstore reunion from “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” issues 15 and 16. The passion was there…the awkwardness was there and it was really funny to see Betty marking her territory in front of Ms. Arrow.
THINGS I LEARNED
Throughout writing this, I gained a larger appreciation for the chumps of the series….Sha Shan and Ned Leeds. Both were integral players and inevitable losers in the saga of Flash and Betty. Their characters were sometimes no more than story devices or arm candy which is a big reason why they have been written off. I still appreciate their place in history and enjoyed looking through their old appearances. Seeing Sha Shan serve sandwiches and Ned being shoehorned in as the Hobgoblin post-death were fun.
I was surprised to learn that even though Flash and Betty have shared scenes since “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 15, it was over a decade before the two directly interacted. Those are the types of things that don’t cross your mind until doing a project like this.
Another surprising thing is that during the Defalco/Frenz run Flash and Betty are rarely seen together. Even though their relationship moves lots of stories and characters, we never actually see much of the relationship on panel. It’s mostly issues of people reacting to it like Ned, Sha Shan, Peter or the Hobgoblin. Betty and Flash kiss in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 273 and although many plots move forward as a result of their relationship and we see the two moon over eachother, they are not seen interacting again until “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 284.
Although I had read through all these issues, it hadn’t occurred to me that all of Flash/Betty’s breakups were off-panel.
UNANSWERED FLASH AND BETTY QUESTIONS
In the interest of time and space, I won’t speculate on the answers here since I did that within each of the articles. I will merely reiterate the questions.
Why was Flash granted an invite to Betty’s engagement party and wedding when they didn’t even know eachother?
When did Liz and Betty get so chummy after hating eachother?
How did Ned know to spy on Betty? What tipped him off to the affair?
How did Sha Shan find out about them?
Ned waited seven issues to leave Betty after he found out about her and Flash. What was life like in the Leeds household before then?
Was Flash trying to get back together with Sha Shan in jail and forget Betty?
Ned had his own place and Betty was called his ex-wife prior to his murder. Betty has also called Ned her ex-husband at times. How far were they into divorce proceedings when he died?
Where was Betty the Christmas Flash spent alone and homeless (this was before they broke up)?
Why did Betty and Flash break up the first time? Why was the breakup sometimes portrayed as amicable and other times not? Why did she all of a sudden decide she was angry at him after years of being nice?
What was up with them in the reboot era books? One issue they are dating, then they are ignoring eachother on the street. What gives?
Did Flash start drinking again or not? Why did some books portray him with beer while others referenced him staying sober?
Why did Betty and Flash break up before “Brand New Day” and what brought them back together for “Big Time”?
Many of these questions aren’t important. Many of them are things you wouldn’t notice at first glance reading the books. We’ll never know the answers to many of them, but they are still questions to ponder.
ORIGIN OF A SERIES
I originally had the idea for this series shortly after the “Venom” comic began. It was heavily featuring Flash and Betty and I’ve always been amazed with just how much history the two of them have. When the couple got back together in the first issue of “Big Time”, there were some posters on another message board talking about what a big deal this was, little realizing just how “on again, off again” Flash and Betty are. There are not many other couples in comics like Flash and Betty. Usually the only relationships with this much history and this fleshed out are the ones the main superhero characters have. Aside from Peter and his love interests, who else could I have done this on? I doubt I could have written 9 parts on Harry/Liz, Jonah/Marla or Aunt May/Nathan. Flash and Betty weren’t just a couple that would snuggle in the background scenes of panels. Their relationship was a trigger and centerpoint for many adventures in the Spider-Man comics.
I started compiling images about a month before I posted the first entry. Researching for this series was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Even though I knew most of these stories real well, I found myself captivated rereading them and discovering new things I hadn’t seen in previous readings. One of the great things about Spider-Man comics is that there are so many great eras. For most of these entries, I found myself getting thrown back into some of these eras and reminding myself how much I loved them. I recalled how great the Defalco/Frenz run was, how much I enjoyed Conway doing double duty on “Web” and “Spectacular” and so on. With the exception of a few entries, these eras each become my current favorite while I was researching them. I was able to revisit so many great stories. Reading and reviewing comics should always be this much fun.
This series was originally envisioned as being much shorter. I was going through a very stressful period in my personal life so I threw myself into research to take my mind off of things. The summer of 2011 will be remembered as the summer “Betty and Flash” were in my head as a result. I had gathered about 100 images and figured those would do. I then decided to be much more thorough. In the end, I wound up using over 350 images from over 136 comics. Yikes! I hadn’t realized until I counted it out that I read over 136 comics for this! I originally envisioned parts 2 and 3 to be one part. I wanted to do the same thing with parts 6 and 7. Everything evolved as I was working on it until it became the finished piece you are reading on your monitor now.
This may seem cliche, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time out the thank the following people for their help in this series…
JR the Madgoblin – Laws of the universe say that if there was no Madgoblin, there would be no Bertone.
Marvel Chronology Project – For helping me double check that I had all the appearances that I need and giving me an idea for the order of some of those pesky 90’s appearances.
Poster Who Shall Not Be Named – For insisting to me that the stories I covered in part 4 and 5 didn’t exist and it was all the fault of the marriage for pushing Betty/Flash in the background.
Al Milgrom – For creating the coupling in the first place.
Crawlspace Readers – Thank you for all your feedback and love throughout this project. I know it sounds cliche, but this really would not have happened without all of you. Thanks for helping me make this the best retrospective I could and making Crawlspace one of the best communities ever.
Here is a Flash and Betty relationship timeline, going over their key points but leaving out some of the miscellaneous issues covered in the previous entries.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 15: Betty and Flash run into eachother for the first time.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 156: Flash attends the wedding of Betty Brant and Ned Leeds.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 24: Betty and Flash have their first on panel conversation.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 199: Flash comes to Peter on Betty’s behalf upset over the way Peter treated Betty when he dumped her.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 96: Betty develops feelings for Flash when he helps her hide from villains during a freak snowstorm.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 97: Peter see’s Flash visiting Betty at the Daily Bugle and they both act defensive and guilty.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 98: Betty and Flash have what appears to be their first date, all the while trying to justify their actions by putting the blame of their affair on their significant others.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 273: Betty’s husband Ned Leeds spies on Betty and Flash together learning of their affair.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 275: Flash’s girlfriend Sha Shan is now aware of the affair and leaves Flash. Ned confronts Flash but gets knocked to the ground in one punch.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 276: Flash is arrested under suspicion of being the Hobgoblin.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 280: Betty visits Flash in jail, but runs into Sha Shan and has an awkward moment. When she returns home she see’s Ned packing his bags, leaving her for good due to her continuing affair with Flash.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 284: Flash, sprung out of jail against his will but now free, shows up at Betty’s apartment when she returns home from work. He tells her he’ll be hiding out at her place till he clears his name.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 288: Betty comes home to see Flash getting assaulted by Ned in a Hobgoblin costume. She faints at the sight of Hobgoblin unmask.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 289: We learn Flash left Betty’s apartment after the Hobgoblin attack in fear for her safety. Betty is in denial about the death of her estranged husband Ned. Flash’s name is cleared of his crimes as the Hobgoblin.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 128: Flash calls Betty to offer his support in the wake of her husband Ned. He’s horrified to find out she still thinks Ned is alive.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 129: Flash attempts to snap Betty out of her hysteria and Betty breaks down and grieves for Ned in Flash’s arms.
“Amazing Spider-Man” Annual 21: Flash reveals to Harry and Peter (and us readers) that he’s still seeing Betty but feels he’s taking advantage of her. Flash, Betty and Sha Shan all attend the wedding of Peter Parker.
“Web of Spider-Man” issues 40-43: Betty, unable to cope with the changes in her life, joins the Students of Love. Flash and Spider-Man rescue her. Betty resides at Flash’s apartment as she puts the pieces of her life back together.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 148: Betty and Flash focused issue. The couple fights off their doubts and the demons of “Inferno”. Betty destroys Flash’s apartment with a heater in an attempt to save their lives.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 155: Despite recently appearing together in recent other Spidey titles, Flash Thompson reveals to Harry that he’s single. No mention is made of his relationship with Betty or how it ended.
“Peter Parker: Spider-Man” issue 75: Flash and Betty attend the Halloween party. Flash attempts to get through to Betty but she gives him the cold shoulder. He goes on to explain to fellow party guest Liz Osborn his relationship with Betty fell apart after Ned died.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 246: Betty visits Flash and sees him drunk and begging for help with his dependency problems. Betty embraces him and agrees to help him. Subsequent issues imply she spent the night with him.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 247: Flash shows up at the Bugle to see Betty, but she blows him off which surprises Flash as he thought they were back together.
“Spectacular Spider-Man” issue 251: Flash tells Betty he’s entering a treatment program. They tell eachother “I love you” and renew their relationship.
“Peter Parker: Spider-Man” volume 2 issue 3: Betty and Flash run into eachother and behave as if they aren’t dating any longer.
“Peter Parker: Spider-Man” volume 2 issue 4: Betty implies to Peter the relationship is over. Flash tries to rescue a kidnapped Betty and behaves as if she’s his girlfriend.
“Peter Parker: Spider-Man” volume 2 issue 18: Flash goes to the Daily Bugle telling Peter he’s going to break up with Betty Brant. Peter silently ponders the fact that Betty has been trying to dump Flash for months. We don’t see them breakup but assume they do.
“Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” issue 15: Betty runs into Flash and discovers he’s out of his coma (that she had since heard about). She kisses him and asks if his partial amnesia made him forget their history. Flash says he remembers they dated.
“Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” issue 18: Flash and Betty have a dinner date, which is marred by Betty being attacked in the bathroom by spiders (really Ms. Arrow). Flash doesn’t believe her and is eager to end the date and take her home.
“Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” issue 22: Betty and Spider-Man rescue Flash from Ms. Arrow. Flash tells Peter he’s going to make things up to Betty in a physical way. He says this as she rests in his arms, implying that they are now back together.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 574: We find out that Flash re-enlisted and has been stationed in Iraq. No mention is made of his relationship to Betty.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 583: Betty makes references to being single, confirming that her relationship with Flash is once again no more.
“Amazing Spider-Man” issue 591: Betty (platonically) accompanies Flash to a race he’s in.
Leave me a comment below or Betty will blow up your apartment. What worked in this series? What didn’t work? What would you like to see in the future? Thanks!