"How? How Can He Love Me?" from Our Love Story #22 (April 1973)* (script by Stan Lee, pencils by John Buscema and inks by Frank Giacoia) is the story of Jo, little sister to glamorous model Jennifer Blythe. Though Jo describes herself as not "exactly an ugly duckling," she still has a tough time keeping up with her elegant sister.
Not only beautiful, sister Jen is benevolent and encourages Jo to come out of her shell instead of living off of her success. Jen has faith in Jo, but Jo is unwilling to believe in herself wholeheartedly. Jo embraces the notion that, "...if I don't expect too much, I can't be hurt too much!"
After Jen leaves the house for her modeling gig, she calls Jo to tell her she has left behind her Pucci and she needs Jo to deliver it to the shoot. Upon her arrival, Jo gets a cold welcoming from handsome and famous photographer Martin Drake. As Jo stands before him, her brain turns to mush.
Later, back at home -- Jen apologizes for Martin Drake's boorish behavior. Jo hardly seems to mind, as Martin's attractiveness lingers in her mind. As a consolation (and knowing she could use the social exposure) Jen invites Jo to the "Model's Ball" being held that evening. Upon arrival, Jo immediately regrets accepting Jen's invitation.
Just a few moments pass -- suddenly, Martin Drake comes up to Jo. He tells her he is so happy she made it and apologizes for his earlier behavior. He asks if he could drop by the following day to see her. Jo agrees, but in the back of her mind thinks that Jen must have put him up to it.
Martin drops by and much to Jo's disappointment, he and sister Jen talk shop the whole time. Just before he leaves, Martin tells Jo that he paints and would like her to pose for him. Once again, Jo agrees to Martin's request but doesn't get her hopes up for anything to happen between them romantically.
But Jo is wrong! Martin has the hots for her and the goddess-like painting shows! As Martin unveils his masterpiece he declares, "No mere painting could ever capture your true, natural, innocent beauty!" The heat of the moment takes over and Martin removes Jo's glasses and ravenously kisses her. It is in that instant that Jo feels herself transform into a beautiful young woman.
one more "Ugly Duckling" tale!
*Cover art by John Romita. This story was originally published a few years earlier in Our Love Story #6 (August 1970).