Part of the appeal of Spider-Man has always been his status as an "everyman" character, a lovable loser we can all identify with at times. Unlike the superheroes who preceded him, he didn't have to pretend to be a nerd.....he was a nerd! As such, Peter Parker's awkward social skills got him into a number of embarrassing situations early in his career, but few were as embarrassing as his ham-handed approach to impressing the ladies.
So, if you're still searching for that Special Someone to spend Valentine's Day with, be sure to completely ignore the advice of:
As part of the special "Tribute to Teen-Agers" issue of The Amazing Spider-Man #8 (1964), Spider-Man and his rival The Human Torch (a.k.a. Johnny Storm) are busy making the local New York "teen scene" (click on the cover for a larger view). It should be noted that this particular story featured a rare collaboration of Marvel "Founding Fathers" Jack Kirby (pencils) and Steve Ditko (inks), bringing an interesting "blended authenticity" to the artwork that neither man would have been able to bring on his own (since Ditko's Fantastic Four and Kirby's solo Spider-Man interpretation had much to be desired).
But I digress.
As the story opens, we see Johnny Storm pulling up and turning heads in his fancy 1964 Corvette Sting Ray, as a nearby Spider-Man marinades in jealousy. As Johnny steps inside to impress the girls with some flame tricks and bathe them in infra-red energy (woah!), Spider-Man decides to join in the fun by weaving a "little" web-bat with his webbing.
I know it, you know it...we all know it. This can't end well.
(click on the panels for a larger view)
As anyone with even a molecule of social aptitude could have predicted, the grotesque web bat didn't go over especially well with the teeny bopper crowd.
Naturally, the hot-headed Human Torch was busting for a fight with Spider-Man, so he chased him to a nearby beach for a duel of flame and web-based tricks. A few pages later, the rest of the Fantastic Four suddenly appeared to convince the tempestuous teenagers to call a truce...which only seemed to make Spider-Man even more ornery.
What's this? Sue Storm making an undeniable pass at Spider-Man? Yes, Sue and Reed Richards were not yet married at this point, but still...Sue's very forward behavior introduced some unexpected controversy (not to mention hotness) to the Silver Age of Marvel Comics.
Sue's slinky moves obviously had a calming effect on Spider-Man, as webhead made a hasty exit...but not before insulting three quarters of the world famous quartet.
However, for the fair Sue Storm, Spider-Man left the ultimate awkward expression of geek-superhero affection: a sticky web valentine in the sand!
Happily, Peter Parker went on to develop a set of reasonably competent social skills, ultimately marrying super-model Mary Jane Watson. Not too bad for a guy who used to think bats and hearts made of webbing were a one-way ticket to Girlsville.