- Debra Whitman
Debra Whitman Publication information Publisher Marvel Comics First appearance Amazing Spider-Man #196 (September 1979) Created by Marv Wolfman
In-story information Full name Debra Whitman Supporting character of Spider-Man
Debra "Deb" Whitman is a comic book character in the Marvel Comics universe, and was a brief love interest of Peter Parker in the Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man comic titles in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She also had a prominent role in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
She is also one of the first characters to determine that Peter was Spider-Man, although she was later convinced she was delusional.
Fictional character biography
Debra Whitman was a secretary in the biophysics department of Empire State University. While there, she met Peter and they started dating. However, things kept coming up in his secret life as Spider-Man and he kept giving her excuses to get out of the date. Because of Peter's rejections, she started to date Biff Rifkin for emotional support, but her infatuation with Peter did nothing but grow.
Debra also suffered from a mental instability that led her to idealize people and invert values. With Peter it grew further into her hallucinating that he was Spider-Man. When she told her psychiatrist about her hallucinations, he asked Peter to wear the Spider-Man suit to give her a shocking confrontation with reality to get her out of the hallucination. Peter refused, and indicated Biff Rifkin as a more reliable source of information. However, Biff already knew Debra when she was married to Mark Whitman. One day he asked her about her black eye and she gave evasive answers. That night he went to their house and saw Mark beating her. He rescued her and took her to the hospital, but she insisted Mark was a kind and gentle husband, locked in denial.
Peter then wore the suit and told her he was Spider-Man. The shock made her come to her senses and decided to leave New York to get a divorce.
During the superhero "Civil War", Peter reveals his identity as Spider-Man to the world. Thereafter, Debra is seen on the phone speaking to her co-writer about her new book, entitled "TWO FACED: How Spider-Man Ruined My Life". She seems discouraged about the title and tone of the book, but is committed to a book signing later in the day. Enraged, she then hurls items around the room to get out her anger before the signing. At the book signing, Spider-Man and the newly-released Vulture are both seen planning to crash.
After Spider-Man defeats the Vulture, Debra reveals to Betty Brant the editors had forced her to exaggerate the mental damage that Peter had "done" to her in order to make for a better book. Debra's mother had been sick and the medical bills were far more than she could pay for, so when the Daily Bugle dug up all of Peter Parker's past relationships to get dirt on him, she jumped on the chance to write the book. Betty talked Debra into telling the truth to the Daily Globe, confidentially.
In order to save the life of May Parker (who was near death with no prospect of recovery), Peter and his wife Mary Jane Watson agree to allow the demon Mephisto to alter history. In the new timeline, Peter and Mary Jane were never married, and his identity as Spider-Man was never revealed to the world. As a consequence of these changes, Debra's knowledge of Peter's identity (beyond her suspicions while the two were dating) is erased from history as well.
In other media
- Debra Whitman has appeared in the 1990s Spider-Man: The Animated Series voiced by Liz Georges. She was a prominent supporting character and a love interest to Flash Thompson. She is portrayed as an extremely sharp intellectual. Unlike her comic appearance, she has no romantic relationship linking her to Peter, but rather a friendly rivalry. However, she does show interest to Michael Morbius prior to Flash. She has long blonde hair that she keeps tied back in a pony tail, and wears glasses. Although in the comics she is a secretary, in contrast to the largely post-graduate students of the Spectacular Spider-Man title, in the TV series she is Peter's equal, if not superior in intellect and academia. Peter once described her as "the little sister I never had... or wanted". She usually didn't have a direct effect on Spider-Man's adventures or become involved in the plots, but at one point, she was a victim of the Vulture's youth-sucking powers, which reduced her to a frail, fragile old woman; fortunately, the effect was not permanent, and Debra's youth eventually returned to her. In an archetypal opposites attract manner, Debra developed an unlikely attraction to the jockish Flash, another classmate. However, she also had an infatuation with Morbius who was her lab partner, but he gave her the brush off, though gently as he could, because he was with Felicia Hardy, who later became the Black Cat. Sometime after Morbius disappeared following his vampirism, Debra started dating Flash. She later began work on project to find Morbius in order to reverse engineer neogenics and cure him. When the project failed, she responded by letting her hair down, both physically and metaphorically, while trying to drown out her sorrows with lots of late night partying. In the end, even Flash had to put his foot down and tell Debra she had to ease up. Eventually Debra got her act together and resumed her more normal, studious life style though she and Flash are still apparently seeing each other.
- Debra Whitman appears on The Spectacular Spider-Man. In this show, Debra Whitman is an African-American girl who is the lab assistant of Miles Warren, and works in ESU with Drs. Curt and Martha Connors after Miles transfers with them. She is mentioned to be the replacement of Eddie Brock who went missing. This version of Debra does not have any romantic interest in Peter, though the show's version of Gwen Stacy bears a certain resemblance to Debra from the comics, such as wearing glasses.
- A profile of Debra Whitman, the 1970s supporting character
- Debra's Profile at Spiderfan.org
- The Return of Debra Whitman at Marvel.com
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.