Membership: Betty Brant, Bruce, Tracy Cushing, Guy, Jane, Lenny, Teacher

Purpose: Attainment of inner peace and harmony for its members;
   Accumulation of wealth for its leaders

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Kate Cushing, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Flash Thompson, Reverend Tolliver

Base of Operations: A commune in New Jersey

First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man#40 (July 1988)

The origins of the Students of Love are not completely known, but it is known that their leader, known only as Teacher is a consummate con artist, who used faked miracles and the promise of inner peace to lure in a large cult following. Upon joining the cult, members surrender all material wealth to Teacher, and come to live a peaceful existence in the commune. There they are programmed/brainwashed into being obedient, and virtually lose their independent will.

(Web of Spider-Man#40) - Somewhat unhinged by the recent death of her husband, Betty Brant (Leeds) was sucked in by the promises of the Students of Love. Her friend--with whom she had had an affair, Flash Thompson had seen her talking to Guy, and when Betty vanished suddenly, he went after Guy. Spider-Man broke it up and sent Guy on his way, though he snagged one of his pamphlets for future reference. Peter Parker notified his editor, Kate Cushing, who but Ben Urich on the investigation. Flash, however, continued to follow Guy, who led him into a trap, where a group of cult members tried to kill him. Spidey saved Flash, and then hitched a ride on top of Guy's van until they reached the commune. He tried to rescue Betty, but she screamed, sending the rest of the cult running.

(Web of Spider-Man#41) - Betty fought against Spider-Man with all her might, even ripping his mask off. He was forced to leave her behind to escape without being identified, and then, as Peter, he infiltrated the commune, posing as a student, he was almost taken in by the "miracles" performed by the Teacher. Meanwhile, Urich located Reverend Tolliver, who explained the workings of the cult, and the false miracles to suck in the rubes.

(Web of Spider-Man#42) - The Teacher confronted Parker, told him that he knew he was Spider-Man, and preached his peaceful mission. Spidey went back to Manhattan and tried to tell everyone that Betty was alright, but Flash was outraged, located the commune, and kidnapped Betty, bringing her back to Rev. Tolliver for de-programming.

(Web of Spider-Man#43) - Rev. Tolliver helped restore Betty's persona and individuality. However, Guy and the Teacher suspected Thompson's involvement, and led an assault to recover her, and to punish the meddlers.  Catching the group by surprise, they managed to take Flash hostage, forcing Peter to surrender, as well. They brought Flash, Peter, and Betty back to the commune, little realizing that crazy, pyromaniac psycho Brother Bruce had built a new blow torch and set a fire in the basement. While the Teacher made plans to control the situation, Kate Cushing and Ben Urich headed out to the commune, and Brother Bruce grabbed a gun to take care of the problem his own way. When the fire became apparent, Peter used the chaos which ensued to break free, change into Spider-Man, and to take Flash and Betty outside with him. He had to fight his way past Bruce and the Teacher, which took minimal effort. He planned to go back in and rescue them, but they were both apparently killed when the burning ceiling collapsed on them.

The fire department arrived, but the commune was destroyed.

Comments: Created by Peter David and Alex Saviuk.

While this four part storyline is titled the "Cult of Love," the group is actually known as the Students of Love.

I think that Kate Cushing's older sister, Tracy, had been sucked into the Students of Love Cult many years before. Kate related the story of her sister's disappearance, and she saw a woman who looked like her sister on the commune. After the Teacher's death, Kate approached the woman, who had no idea who she was. Kate walked away with a tear in her eye, saying she must have been mistaken.

The child murders mentioned in Tolliver's sub-profile could've been the ones committed by Wayne Williams.
--John McDonagh

Visit the Crime Library to learn more about Wayne Williams. In 2005 a new investigation was ordered in Williams' case.
--Markus Raymond

Profile edited/updated by Kyle Sims

The Students of Love have no known connection to:

Guy, Student of Love member, should not be confused with:

Teacher has no known connection to:


The psychotic of the group, Bruce was always quick with a gun, knife, or blowtorch. Teacher tried to control him, but at the end he tried to leave Bruce in the burning building. Bruce desperately grabbed Teacher's leg, and they were both killed when the ceiling collapsed.

--Web of Spider-Man#40 (41-43


He served as the face man for the group, recruiting potential members from the street. He was not a mindless drone like most members, but was actually both smart and reasonable. When the commune began burning down, Teacher sent him to lead the other Students out, though he was not seen again.

--Web of Spider-Man#40 (41-43


The founder and leader of the Students of Love. He was an accomplished con-artist, able to perform seeming miracle surgeries, etc. He was trained in brainwashing techniques and could easily manipulate others. He didn't have any world-conquering plots, nor was he actually inclined towards violence, although he did try to use a gun to try to stop Spider-Man from escaping with his friends. He tried to leave the psychotic Bruce behind in the burning building, but Bruce grabbed his leg and prevented him from leaving, thus killing them both.

Height: 5' 5" Weight: 220 lbs.

--Web of Spider-Man#41 (42, 43

Reverend Tolliver

Reverend Jackson Tolliver was presumably a Catholic priest (See Comments listed below) who also served as a debunker of false magics and a de-programmer of the brainwashed.

("several years" prior to Spectacular Spider-Man [SSM]#107) - Rev. Jackson Tolliver was a prominent figure in the investigation of "the Atlanta slayings," murders of several black children. He was not impressed with the Atlanta police department's performance and would later imply that they initially gave the murders no attention and would never have solved the case if the solution hadn't been "dropped in their laps."

(not long before SSM#107) - Reverend Tolliver relocated from Atlanta to New York City to open a new ministry; Herb, an officer with the Atlanta Police Department, told his friend Stan Carter of the NYPD about Tolliver's pending arrival.

(SSM#107) - Reverend Tolliver visited the Daily Bugle in hope of getting publicity for his new ministry. When publisher J. Jonah Jameson recognized his name, Tolliver affected surprise "that a white man would care so about the slayings of young black children." Jameson rather coolly replied, "Why, Reverend Tolliver...are you a racist?" Tolliver apologized, noting that he has "lived through some rather rarified times" and had a tendency to keep a chip on his shoulder.

(SSM#108) - Attending the funeral of Captain Jean DeWolff, one of the murder victims of the Sin-Eater, Reverend Tolliver spoke to Bugle reporter Joy Mercado while several others (including a number of police officers, among them Detective Stan Carter, the Sin-Eater himself) looked on; Tolliver told Mercado "My time in Atlanta proves that police cannot handle the simplest of investigations.  Nothing is solved unless the answer is dropped into their laps.  Furthermore, when the victims are black, particularly lower income, you can forget any police attention at all." Carter, obviously unimpressed, sardonically wondered to fellow officer Arnie "if the Sin-Eater does requests."

(SSM#109) - Following the Sin-Eater's murder of Reverend Bernard Finn, Reverend Tolliver was interviewed by a television reporter; he used the opportunity to further criticize the police, implying that the investigation might "receive short shrift at the hands of the detectives" because Reverend Finn was black. When the interview was aired, Tolliver watched his performance in a self-congratulatory mood.

(Web of Spider-Man#41, 42, 43) - Tolliver had previously dealt with other members of the Students of Love, and detailed their true nature to Ben  Urich and Flash Thompson. He successfully deprogrammed Betty Brant after she was rescued from the Students, and he escaped the cultists when they came for her.  He notified the authorities, as well as the staff at the Daily Bugle.

--Spectacular Spider-Man#107 (108, 109); Web of Spider-Man #41 (42, 43)

Comments: Per Ronald Byrd, "[D]espite his attire, Tolliver is probably not Catholic, because Catholic priests are generally addressed as 'Father,' not 'Reverend.' Some clergymen of other denominations also dress in what is customarily regarded as the attire of Catholic priests; see Mel Gibson's role as a married minister in the movie 'Signs,' for instance."

images: (without ads)
Web of Spider-Man#42, p17, pan7 (Students of Love)
  #41, p7, pan2 (Bruce)
  #40, p7, pan 3 (Guy)
  #41, p12, pan2 (Teacher)
  #41, p19, pan3 (Reverend Tolliver)

Spectacular Spider-Man II#107-109 (October-December, 1985; Reverend Tolliver only) - Peter David (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), Brett Breeding, Joe Rubinstein (#108), Kyle Baker (#108), Pat Redding (#108) (inks), Jim Owsley (editor)
Web of Spider-Man#40-43 (September-November, 1988) - Peter David (writer), Alex Saviuk (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Tom DeFalco (editor)

Last updated: 11/13/13.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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