Investigative Reporter Betty Brant works for New York’s number one newspaper, the Daily Bugle, uncovering the truth behind the masks in a city full of masked heroes and villains.
Raised by a single mother and often disappointed by her weak-willed brother Bennett, young Betty Brant finds herself drawn to strong men. While still in high school, she dates university student Gordon Savinski, a fast-living friend of her older brother. Gordon and the Brant siblings were a chummy trio for some time, but Savinski’s wild and reckless ways gradually estranges Betty and endangers Bennett. When Gordon and Bennett incur a huge gambling debt to mobster Blackie Gaxton, Savinski callously abandons Bennett, leaving the Brants to face the consequences. Gaxton’s thugs invade the Brant home, and Eleonore Brant suffers permanent brain damage in the resultant scuffle.
Betty drops out of school so she could work to pay off her mother’s medical bills and her brother’s gambling debts. Betty’s mother had been the personal secretary to J. Jonah Jameson, the tyrannical publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper. Perhaps out of sympathy for Betty or out of loyalty to Mrs. Brant, Jameson offers Betty her mother’s job at the Bugle, and Betty accepts.
A Reporter’s Beat
Betty is a highly capable investigative reporter with a photographic memory. She’s proficient in martial arts and marksmanship, and is well versed in various firearms, ranging from conventional handguns to a shotgun loaded with silver bullets for use against supernatural targets.
Front-Page Super Villains
Betty is often in harm’s way, whether it’s her brother’s debts that bring the criminal Enforcers around or her own work as an investigative reporter, most of the time, villains orbit Betty since she’s affiliated with Daily Bugle photographer Peter Parker—who takes pictures of heroes and villains and is also secretly the wall-crawling Super Hero Spider-Man. Whatever the reason, she comes face to face with many criminal Super Villains, including Dr. Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus, and his Sinister Six. The costumed criminal Desmond Charne, AKA Mirage, even crashes her wedding.
But Betty suffers the worst at the hands of Roderick Kingsley, AKA Hobgoblin, who brainwashes her husband and turns him into a violent and abusive partner. He hires a hitman to take his life, leaving Betty a widower that elicits a mental breakdown.
City Desk Colleagues
After receiving her mother’s job from Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, the patient, hardworking and capable Betty proves to be one of the very few secretaries who manages to meet Jameson’s demanding standards while tolerating the publisher’s prickly personality. The Jamesons become like family to her.
Betty also often teams up with fearless Daily Bugle staff members Ben Urich and Joseph “Robbie” Robertson, AKA Robbie Robertson, to break stories and bust up the criminal underworld by putting pen to paper. Her notable friends and colleagues at the paper over the years have included photographer Peter Parker, editor-in-chief Joe “Robbie” Robertson, secretary Glory Grant (who took over Betty’s old job), former city editor Kathyrn “Kate” Cushing and fellow reporters such as Ben Urich, Joy Mercado, Jessica Jones, and young Kat Farrell, whom Betty mentored to some extent. Brant’s investigative reporting has helped crack several important criminal cases over the years. Her greatest and most personal triumph was exposing businessman Roderick Kingsley as the true Hobgoblin, finally clearing Ned’s name in the process.
Over time, a mutual attraction develops between Betty and Peter, secretly the costumed hero Spider-Man. Peter bears a striking resemblance to Gordon Savinski; but unlike Gordon, Parker is quiet, serious, moral, responsible—in short, he seems safe to Betty. Peter first notices Betty when she sticks up for Peter’s alter ego during one of Jameson’s anti-Spider-Man tirades. Later, Peter and Betty grow closer when they share an intimate chat in the wrecked Bugle offices after an attack by Adrian Toomes, AKA the Vulture. Before long, they become a couple, and Betty becomes Peter’s first real girlfriend.
Though she views Peter’s job as a photographer of Super Heroes and villains as dangerous, and grows jealous of his female friends. Thinking he was cheating on her, she starts a relationship with Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds, who offers her a marriage proposal. When seeing Peter injured after an encounter with Doctor Octopus, she resolves that his dangerous life isn’t for her and accepts Ned’s proposal. However, he becomes quite violent and abuses her. When Ned’s outed as the villain Hobgoblin, it breaks her. He seemingly dies, and returns from his supposed death, and with her investigative skills, she exonerates him and unmasks the real Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley. They reunite and have a child, Winston, but Kingsley comes back, brainwashes Ned into becoming the Hobgoblin again and Betty’s left alone to raise her son.
In between the tumultuous ups and downs with Ned, she dates other people, such as her good friend Flash Thompson, AKA Agent Anti-Venom, and shows a romantic interest in Ben Reilly, AKA Scarlet Spider.
All the News That’s Fit To Print
Intensely danger-shy after Gordon, Betty worried incessantly about the hazards of Peter’s job, which often required him to photograph criminals and Super Villains in action. When the criminal Enforcers came after Betty to collect on the Brant family’s remaining debts, Betty tried to protect Peter by leaving town, then tried to wipe out the last of her brother’s debts by recruiting Doctor Octopus to break Blackie Gaxton out of prison. When Spider-Man intervened, Gaxton was recaptured, but not before Bennett sacrificed himself to shield Betty from a stray bullet. A devastated Betty blamed Spider-Man for the tragedy at first, and Peter decided he could never share the secret of his double identity with her. Betty returned to her job at the Bugle but found little peace there; she was soon menaced in turn by Doctor Octopus, the Sinister Six, and her old boyfriend Gordon, who had become the superhuman mob enforcer Terrier. Spider-Man defeated all these foes, but his role in her brother’s death still made Betty wary of him.
Deeply insecure, Betty was often jealous of Peter’s female friends, and she sometimes assumed that the oft-absent Peter was two-timing her or had simply grown tired of her. Betty responded by dating Ned Leeds, a new reporter at the Bugle who only had eyes for her. For a time, Betty was romantically linked to both Peter and Ned while she tried to sort out her feelings. Eventually, a smitten Ned proposed marriage. Betty was still in love with Peter, but she craved the stability she thought Ned represented. While Betty stalled for time to make up her mind, Peter decided Betty would be better off without Spider-Man in her life and acted boorishly to drive her away altogether. Finally, seeing Peter injured after an encounter with Doctor Octopus, Betty realized she couldn’t bear to love another man who lived dangerously. She left town again to think things through, and by the time she returned, she and Peter came to the mutual realization that the romantic spark between them was gone. Happily reunited with Leeds, Betty accepted Ned’s proposal.
Engaged for years, Ned and Betty finally got married despite the interference of the criminal Mirage, who tried to rob the wedding guests until he was subdued by Spider-Man. Jameson sent the couple to Paris on a “working honeymoon” to establish Ned as a European foreign correspondent; however, with Ned constantly off on assignment, Betty grew lonely and bitter. Separating from Ned and returning to New York, she sought comfort with Peter, who was tempted to rekindle their old romance; but when an angry Ned arrived to fight for Betty, Peter pretended he wasn’t really interested in her and declared he never wanted to see either of them again, hoping this might bring the couple back together. Stung, Betty and Ned went away together to rebuild their marriage.
Ned continued to throw himself into his work as a Bugle reporter, a situation made much worse when the criminal Roderick Kingsley, AKA Hobgoblin, secretly brainwashed Ned into acting as his accomplice and occasional stand-in. Under Kingsley’s influence, Ned became increasingly angry, violent, and unstable. Betty began cheating on him with old friend Flash Thompson, prompting Ned to frame Flash for Hobgoblin’s crimes. When Flash broke out of jail and sought refuge with Betty, Ned-as-Hobgoblin attacked Flash, and Betty saw Ned unmasked during the struggle. By this time, Kingsley had come to regard Leeds as a liability, and leaked word of Ned’s double identity to the underworld. Hobgoblin’s criminal rival Jason Macendale, AKA Jack O’ Lantern (later Hobgoblin), hired the Foreigner to kill Ned, whom the Foreigner’s agents murdered. Macendale used Ned’s gear to become the new Hobgoblin, later slain by Kingsley. Betty, already reeling from the revelation of Ned’s double life, had a complete breakdown after Ned’s death. She became delusional and prone to hallucinations.
The broken Betty was easy prey for the Students of Love, a cult of brainwashed pawns led by the charismatic Teacher, a charlatan and supposed faith healer who stripped his followers of all their possessions. Spider-Man, Flash, and Reverend Tolliver joined forces to free Betty, and the cult was destroyed in a fire. Deprogrammed and restored to relative mental health by Tolliver, but having lost all her belongings to the cult, Betty moved in with Flash. She reached a turning point during the demonic invasion of New York known as Inferno, when demons posing as Spider-Man and the late Ned attacked Flash’s home; Betty found new inner strength and used it to save herself and Thompson from the demons, though Thompson’s home was destroyed in the process.
Later, when the emotion-controlling villain Mister Fear tried to manipulate Betty into killing Spider-Man, she resisted and helped defeat Fagan. In the process, she began to understand and overcome the fear of loneliness at the root of her desperate attachments to the men in her life. Betty and Flash drifted apart, and Betty began a long process of radically reinventing herself.
Easing out of secretarial work and into reporting, Brant became an investigative journalist for the Bugle, eventually tracking her husband’s killers. Studying martial arts and marksmanship, a heavily armed Betty even managed to hold her own against the Foreigner’s forces alongside Spider-Man, uncovering more details regarding the circumstances of Ned’s death in the process.
Less successful was her investigation of the FACADE affair, during which the high-tech FACADE battle armor was stolen and used to murder Betty’s colleague, Bugle photographer Lance Bannon. Working together, Spider-Man and Betty wrecked the FACADE armor, but its wearer escaped and was never identified; one of the suspects, industrialist Archer Bryce, aroused romantic as well as professional interest in Betty, though nothing ever came of it. Her similarly fleeting romantic interest in Scarlet Spider (secretly Peter Parker’s clone) was also doomed, as Reilly was murdered by Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin; however, Betty and Flash grew closer. When Peter Parker’s dual identity as Spider-Man was temporarily exposed to the world, Flash and Betty were both very supportive of Peter before a mystical spell restored his anonymity.
Betty continued to work at the paper after new publisher Dexter Bennet’s hostile takeover of the Bugle and gets promoted to the crime beat. Betty grows close with her colleagues, such as Robbie Robertson, Glory Grant, Kate Cushing, Joy Mercado, Jessica Jones, and Kat Farrell, whom Betty mentors.
With the Daily Bugle faced financial hardship, it was sold to Jameson’s rival, Dexter Bennett. Bennett renamed the paper “The DB!” turning it into a celebrity-packed tabloid and reviving sales. Betty was the only veteran staff member to remain, which upset her friends most of all made apparent at her birthday when the one and only guest showed up: Peter Parker. Though The DB! literally collapsed after an attack by Maxwell Dillon, AKA Electro. Betty started a blog, Buglegirl, and eventually joined her former colleagues at the Front Line, which rebranded itself as the new Daily Bugle.
When the new Jackal, really Ben Reilly, brought back a bunch of Spider-Man’s allies in the form of clones, one of the was Ned who before decaying left Betty a voicemail with the phrase, “Blood Creek.” Betty investigated Clone-Ned’s voicemail and came across a statue at City Hall that commemorated the Battle of Blood Creek which never happened. When she investigated the statue, Clone-Ned as a vagabond was fighting Renaldo of the Undermob who attempted to set off a bomb located inside the statue, planted there by the Maggia. Betty tackled Renaldo and saved the day while Clone-Ned snuck away. Betty penned a story about the ordeal and credited Ned in the byline, helping to clear his name. The statue was replaced with a plaque honoring her late husband.
Betty then started receiving information about a global conspiracy from an anonymous source. When her source made themselves known, it was Clone-Ned. Their joyous reunion led to Betty getting pregnant. After she returned from following a lead in Europe, Clone-Ned had perished but she remained unaware of that fact.
She then shared her pregnancy with Peter, and he hesitated to tell her that Clone-Ned had died. But in a turn of events, she revealed that the real Ned Leeds was alive all along. Ned explained that prior to being assassinated by Foreigner’s associates by order of Kingsley, Ned ingested a version of the Goblin formula, which revived him from his supposed death. He awoke to a mysterious benefactor who offered to help get him revenge and began working with Betty as her anonymous source prior to their reunion.
When Betty and Ned had their son, they named him Winston, and Peter, missing the birth, sent a gift. She thanked him over the phone but afterward discovered Winston in the arms of the Hobgoblin, who assured her that he wouldn’t let them hurt the boy. Though she screamed, the Hobgoblin gave her a sedative and placed Winston back in his crib.
When Peter visited looking for Ned, Betty informed him that he was out working the Kingsley story, specifically how Osborn was working with Kingsley, but it brought its slew of problems. Upset, Betty revealed to Peter that Norman had them surveilled, and how their baby formula was tainted. Ned became suspicious that Osborn wanted Winston because he had Goblin serum in his blood. She also revealed that sometimes when Ned would come home, he’d be wearing the Hobgoblin costume.
It soon came to light that Kingsley had used Ned again and brainwashed him with the Winkler device, making him the second Hobgoblin. Kingsley also planted the idea that Osborn was after Winston to throw him off and then let him take the fall in a battle against Spider-Man. When Betty heard from Peter next, she cried in his arms, defeated that they had suffered the same fate as before. Peter assured her that Osborn, who had helped save Spider-Man from both Ned and Kingsley, would get the best lawyer and it would all lead back to Kingsley and his brainwashing device. But Betty had heard differently that the police had searched Ned’s office for the device, where Spider-Man had seen it, and it was gone.