Ian Keldon wrote:
^I know she's been featured in some of the newer versions, but was she ever a love interest in the older classic comics?
Long before Gwen and MJ, Betty Brant was the original love interest in the early Lee/Ditko comics. Granted, this mostly consisted of Peter pining over her, and Spider-Man rescuing her from danger periodically, but I believe they dated briefly . . . before tragedy ensued. (Something about a dead brother put the kibosh on their relationship. My memory is fuzzy.)
Granted, one can argue that Gwen was Pete's first serious relationship, but Betty was the original female lead in the comic book. By which I mean she was the pretty girl the hero had a crush on--and who frequently needed rescuing.
(Of course, if you really want to get nitpicky, Betty was preceded by Liz Grant, Pete's high school crush, whom he is shown pining over in the very first Spider-Man comic in AMAZING FANTASY. But Liz never really caught on, and was quickly eclipsed by Betty, who was eclipsed by Gwen, who gave way to Mary Jane . . . .)