Published May 3, 2023

Meet Liz Allan, Marvel's Latest Symbiote Host

Who is Liz Allan? Meet the Alchemax CEO, who built a megacorporation out of her late husband's business and recently bonded with a symbiote known as Misery.

From Aunt May to Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson, the women in Peter Parker’s life continually prove to be as amazing and spectacular as Spider-Man himself. While she might not have the same name recognition of the women mentioned above, Liz Allan is quietly one of the most powerful influences on not just the Wall-Crawler, but the very future of the Marvel Universe. 

After all, she is the wife of Spider-Man’s most tragic frenemy, the daughter-in-law of his most dangerous villain, the mother of a juvenile symbiote’s host, the creator of a terrible threat against a very important timeline, and most recently, the inheritor of an incredibly powerful symbiote suit.

Clearly, Liz Allan’s impact on Spidey’s story is deep, profound, and ever-evolving. But where did it all begin—and where is it going next?

Liz Allan’s Marvel Origins

Liz Allan was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as one of Peter Parker’s mean-spirited Midtown High School bullies during his first appearance in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15. While it was an uncredited role at the time, Allan finally got her name a year later by the same creative team in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #4, this time appearing as Peter’s jilted date.

Allan remained a supporting character in the series as a flighty high school chum with an unrequited crush on Peter, and an on-again, off-again girlfriend of Marvel’s future Anti-Venom, Flash Thompson. Then, years after graduating from Midtown High, Allan reappeared on the scene—and inadvertently changed Spider-Man’s life forever.

Liz Allan’s Tragic Love Life

Liz Allan met Harry Osborn—Peter’s best friend and the son of his worst enemy, Norman Osborn (AKA Green Goblin)—at the wedding of their mutual friends, Ned Leeds and Betty Brant, in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #156 by Len Wein and Ross Andru

Marvel weddings being the downright perilous affairs they are, Harry was forced to step up when a villain called the Mirage tried to steal Liz’s purse. His heroics impressed her so much, she asked him out for a cup of coffee the very next issue, not yet knowing about his brief past as the second Green Goblin—something even Harry himself had forgotten at the time.

Not even ten issues later, in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #166, the two announced their engagement. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after their wedding—and the subsequent birth of their son Normie—that Harry reemerged as the Green Goblin. 

As the stepsister of another former villain, the Molten Man (Mark Raxton), Allan had some practice dealing with supervillainy at home, but Harry’s psychosis proved to be too much. It ultimately led him to kidnap Normie: a lapse in judgment that tragically ended in a showdown with Spider-Man and his own death. But while that was the end of Harry (at least temporarily), it was just the beginning for Liz Allan.

In addition to starting a relationship with Daredevil’s legal partner Foggy Nelson—a romance that also ended in tragedy in DAREDEVIL (1999) #8 by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada—Allan took over Harry’s previous position as CEO of Oscorp, a company he inherited from his father after the original Green Goblin’s death. 

At Oscorp, Allan found her true calling. No longer the grief-stricken wife, mother, or partner, she became a powerful executive at the top of Marvel’s business world—and an accidental threat to at least one of its possible futures.

Liz Allan: A True Marvel Boss

After accumulating power and gathering fiscal strength behind the scenes at Oscorp, Liz Allan made her triumphant Marvel return in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (2013) #17 by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman. Bursting onto the scene with a high-powered executive team behind her, Allan announced she was the majority shareholder in Horizon Labs, the then-employer of Peter Parker, who at the time was secretly Doctor Octopus. (It’s a long story.) But that’s not all!

Along with her leadership of Oscorp, Allan also revealed she took over her family business, Allan Chemical, and that she planned to merge all three companies into the mega-corporation known as Alchemax, which became official in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (2013) #19 by Slott and Stegman. 

If that brand name sounds familiar, it’s because Alchemax would later become the evil institution at odds with the Spider-Man of 2099, Miguel O’Hara. As such, Allan inadvertently became the mother of one of Marvel’s most infamous business empires. In the present, she also began showing signs that she would abandon ethical scruples in aid of ill-advised bids for power, misguided notions of family loyalty, and just really bad life decisions. 

For instance, in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (2013) #31 by Slott and Stegman, Allan deliberately helped Norman Osborn escape Spider-Man’s custody after he tried to take over the New York City underworld as the Green Goblin, instantly making her complicit in his heinous actions.

Speaking of complicit, ALL-NEW WOLVERINE (2015) #2 by Tom Taylor, David Lopez, and David Navarrot revealed that the genetic research wing of Allan’s Alchemax was also responsible for the creation and torture of Wolverine clones, including Laura Kinney copy Gabby Kinney (AKA Scout). Similarly, in VENOM (2016) #151 by Mike Costa and Gerardo Sandoval, Allan admitted to taking “morally dubious” government contracts, which involved cloning and weaponizing the powers of Stegron the Dinosaur Man

While these were some of the first interactions that revealed Liz Allan’s questionable business morals, they just as importantly heralded another tragic chapter in her life—and one much more fraught with symbiotes.

Liz Allan, the Summer of Symbiotes, and the Rise of Misery

Liz Allan’s decision to help Norman Osborn escape proved to be something that would haunt her and her family for years to come. After revealing he acquired the Carnage symbiote in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2017) #794 by Dan SlottChristos GageLeinil Francis Yu, and Stuart Immonen, Norman showed his final form four issues later as the Red Goblin—a deadly hybrid of an alien symbiote, the Goblin serum, and Spider-Man’s most maniacal villain.

Norman aimed to infect his grandson Normie with the Carnage symbiote and leverage his freedom in exchange for control of Alchemax. Luckily, Allan’s legal protections of Alchemax (along with some help from Spidey and the Venom symbiote) foiled his plans. Normie, however, retained a piece of Carnage, which was later revealed to be its spawn, Rascal.

The culmination of this strange, terrible history—as well as the events of the KING IN BLACK event that pitted the Marvel Universe against the symbiote god Knull—led the remaining symbiotes to land in the custody of Alchemax. There, Liz began developing her own obsession with the alien beings, realizing she could monetize the creatures’ powerful restorative abilities to secure more lucrative government contracts.

Although she was still fiercely loyal and dedicated to her family, Allan’s morals had shifted drastically thanks to her high-power station at the top of New York’s fiscal food chain. In RED GOBLIN (2023) #3 by Alex Paknadel and Jan Bazaldua, she described Alchemax’s ethical boundaries as “just south of Genghis Khan’s” and even called what they do “crimes,” not without a sense of pride.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that in CULT OF CARNAGE: MISERY (2023) #1 by Sabir Pirzada and Francesco Mortarino, Allan attempted to combine the Carnage and Anti-Venom symbiotes. As one might expect from such a venture, things did not go according to plan. After she was mortally wounded in an attempt to stop the theft of her symbiotes, Allan was forced to bond with her new hybrid lifeform. Fittingly, the creature named itself after the feeling it caused its host: Misery.

The true extent of Misery’s powers remain to be seen. However, if its journey is anything like Liz Allan’s own, it will be rife with equal parts power and tragedy. After all, Misery loves company.

Meet Misery in CULT OF CARNAGE: MISERY #1, on sale now!

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