Appearing in "All You Need Is Love"
- Cult of Love (First appearance)
- Tracy Cushing (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
Races and Species:
- Cult of Love's van
Synopsis for "All You Need Is Love"
Flash Thompson is heading to the Daily Bugle building to tell Betty how he has got his life back in order since being cleared of being the Hobgoblin.[Continuity 1] When he arrives in front of the building, he sees Betty talking to a strange man and wonders who he is. The man departs without introducing himself and when Flash asks Betty who he is, she only says that he is a nice person, something you don't see much of anymore. A few weeks later, Spider-Man is swinging past Betty's apartment and recalls how he hasn't seen her in a while, and seeing a shadow in her window, decides to pay her a visit. Landing on the roof, Spider-Man changes into his civilian guise and thinks of all the troubles that Betty has had recently, the murder of her husband Ned, and her recent brush with death at the hands of the Sin-Eater. He hopes that Betty doesn't ever learn that her husband was secretly the Hobgoblin.[Continuity 2] Climbing down to the street, Peter knocks on her door and is shocked when another woman other than Betty answers the door. The woman introduces herself as Rita Hathaway a real estate agent who is in the process of selling Betty's apartment. Hathaway isn't sure where Betty is and she hands him a business card before he leaves.[Continuity 3]
Having changed back into Spider-Man, Peter swings across the city wondering what's going on with Betty as she is never this impulsive. On his way to the Daily Bugle building, Spider-Man spots Flash Thompson threatening the man that Betty was talking to a few days earlier. The wall-crawler pulls the man away and asks Flash what he is doing. Flash explains that Betty has gone missing and this man may know what happened to her. Flash explains that he had been staking out the Bugle building to see if he would reappear and when the man saw Flash he made a run for it. Spider-Man tells Flash that he can't go around beating people up and promises Thompson that he'll find Betty and tells him to walk away. Flash grudgingly agrees and walks away. Spider-Man then acts like he isn't suspicious of this man at all and helps him pick up his pamphlets off the ground, secretly pocketing one for himself before swinging off. Changing back into Peter Parker, the hero goes up to see Daily Bugle city editor Kate Cushing. He tells her that Betty might be in trouble, showing her a pamphlet from a group calling themselves the Students of Love. Kate knows all about the Students of Love, a cult and explains to Peter how her sister Tracy got involved in the cult years ago. She explains how her sister became depressed in her twenties and started hanging out with members of the cult. Her family gave her an ultimatum, leave the group or get out of their house. Kate remembers one day she woke up to find that her sister had run away from home. Concluding her story, Kate explains that part of the reason why she became a reporter was to so she could have the power to inform people of such organizations.
After hearing this heartbreaking story, Peter shows Kate the only clue, the business card given to him by the realtor. Seeing the business card, Kate shouts for Ben Urich to come to her office. She hands Ben the business card, telling him that she suspects that the real estate agency is a front for the Students of Love to earn money from the sale of property owned by their converts. Ben has heard of this cult before but tells her that their location is a carefully guarded secret for fear members will be de-programed. As Ben heads out to investigate the organization, Peter thanks Kate for her concern. Kate brushes this off as just another story to publish in the paper, but as soon as Peter is gone, Kate picks up the phone to make a missing person report to the police. Meanwhile, Flash Thompson has been following the recruiter for the Students of Love, he tails the cultist to a run-down building in a bad part of town. Flash thinks this is all a breeze until he gets inside and the front door slams shut behind him. He is then surrounded by the members of the cult who threaten Thompson with a knife. Flash refuses to go down without a fight, but tries to flee up to the roof of the building. Unfortunately, when Flash gets to the roof access the door is locked.
As the cultists close in for the kill, Spider-Man suddenly leaps down from the skylight. Spider-Man disarms the man with the knife, snapping it in his bare hands. Flash then punches his attacker out. However, the other cult members also pull out knives and charge at the pair. Spider-Man easily bowls them over but decides to let them leave when they flee. Flash is furious that his hero lets the cultists go like that. The wall-crawler explains that it wouldn't help them find Betty, but assures Flash that he will be able to follow after the recruiter thanks to a secretly placed spider-tracer.
Following the man, Spider-Man witnesses him hop into a van and drive off. The cultists think they managed to give Spider-Man the slip as they pass into the Holland Tunnel, unaware that the masked hero has hitched a ride on the roof of the van. The van drives deep into New Jersey pulling into a gated property. Once inside, Spider-Man leaps up into a nearby tree so he can spy on the organization. Spider-Man eventually gets to the mansion where he sees members of the Students of Love toiling away on gardens on the front lawn. Among the followers, the wall-crawler identifies Betty.
That evening, Spider-Man sneaks into the mansion through one of the windows. Walking through the sleeping area, the web-slinger finds Betty sleeping peacefully. Spider-Man wakes Betty up and tries to convince her to leave with him, but she screams, raising the alarm. Suddenly, a number of cult members come bursting into the room armed with weapons.
Spider-Man knew that Betty Brant Leeds has been troubled ever since her husband died. But even the wall-crawler never suspected that Betty's quest for serenity would lead her into the arms of a religious cult!
- Flash Thompson was framed for the crimes of the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #276 until he was cleared of wrongdoing in Amazing Spider-Man #289.
- Ned Leeds was murdered in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1. Peter thinks that Ned was the Hobgoblin based on evidence he found in Amazing Spider-Man #289. However, it is later revealed that Ned was a brainwashed pawn of the real Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #3. Betty was almost killed by the Sin-Eater, but narrowly avoided death as depicted in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #109–110.
- Hathaway notices Peter's wedding ring, and he says that he has been married for a few months. Peter and Mary Jane were married in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. However, years later, their marriage was erased from existence by the demon Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here. According to Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #13, in the new timeline Peter and Mary Jane were still engaged, as such one could assume that in the new timeline Rita Hathaway sees Peter's engagement ring as opposed to a wedding band.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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