Sep 22, 2014

The All-Time Best Superhero Relationships

The All-Time Best Superhero Relationships

I’ve always been far too interested and invested in which fictional characters are kissing or otherwise canoodling with each other. The inspiration for this exploration of my all-time favorite superhero romances came from my friend (indeed, everyone’s friend) Travis. Travis is the pinnacle of what we can hope to achieve as a human species. If you know anyone even named Travis, embrace him now. Kiss him upon the lips if you’re so inclined. Yes, embrace a Travis near you.

Anyway, he was talking about it on the interwebs, so here I am, all inspired.


Notice I wrote Superman and not Clark Kent, since Clark is purposefully boring. First of all, he’s a farmer. Next, he’s a straight-laced reporter that wants to maintain a high level of morals. He’s the human equivalent of a warm cup of milk before a regular 8PM bedtime. There’s really no way the high-octane Lois would ever give him a romantic thought without knowing that he’s Superman. That’s what makes this one of the great relationships, Lois ignoring Clark but always trying to trick Superman into marrying her. Superman, of course, always spots the deception early on, but plays along anyway, to teach that silly Lois a lesson. I don’t know what the lesson would be, other than don’t trick people into marriage, which is something most people learn after their first stint in the Army. Maybe the lesson is that Superman’s an asshole.


What isn’t great about a perpetual mysterious bachelor driven and determined to pursue a never-ending quest for vengeance adopting a rotating cast of nubile young boys, that he quickly casts out the moment they reach a certain age?


Surrounded by eligible bachelors like Captain America and Hawkeye, Wanda did what any daughter of a mass-murdering genetic terrorist raised by gypsys would do, she picked the toaster. Even though the Vision’s brain was based on the personality of Wonder Man (who would ever pick Wonder Man for the basis of a personality, only a robot) who was also clearly interested in her, she still picked the synthetic human with a heart of gold. (His actual heart is more likely a bunch of transistors, but he cried once, so that makes it not weird.) She followed that up by using her magic mutant powers to conjure them up some children, but it involved something with demons and Agatha Harkness, and a guy named Pandemonium, a dude with a pentagram-shaped hole in his chest and demons for limbs. I really genuinely love comics.


Pym met the teenage Janet and was immediately attracted to her because of her remarking resemblance to his dead ex-wife. I shouldn’t really have to explain any further why this is one of comic’s most twisted of romances. Despite his protestations that he wasn’t interested in her, Pym made Janet his superhero sidekick. After years of continuously trying to make him jealous enough to kiss her, Janet finally seizes her opportunity to marry Hank in the middle of one of his nervous breakdowns, accomplishing something that Lois Lane could only dream of. They had a few years of relative bliss before their dysfunctional dynamic led them both to bad places, like size-changing sexual hijinks. Nobody should ever have to see a tiny man emerging from between a woman’s legs covered head to toe in viscous fluids.


This is actually the Pym relationship I prefer more, as it’s traditionally been more stable for both of them. Except for the part where they originally hooked up because Tigra was giving in to her feline nature by trying to sleep with half of the West Coast Avengers, but hey, she’s wearing practically nothing but a bikini all day long (she’s pretty much everything I ever dreamed of seeing when I was fourteen years old). Tigra was just looking for some fun, but he completely fell in love on the rebound from his marriage to Janet. They eventually got to the point where she had his cute little furry babies, via a shape-shifting alien appropriating his DNA, but still.


I don’t have anything sarcastic to say about these two, I just really like them together. Okay fine, it’s a little weird that he would date the grand-niece of the love of his life from WWII, but it’s still better than Bernie.


I know almost everyone wants to put Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon together, because Robin and Batgirl, but for my money the real love of his life was the orange-skinned alien from Tamaran. I love that Koriand’r picked Dick to kiss (so that she could absorb the English language) because she thought he was cute. I love that they used to wake up naked in the same bed anytime that Trigon was causing trouble, because what boy hasn’t at one time wished they had a big orange supermodel girlfriend that slept naked? I also love the grade school awkwardness of their relationships in the animated Teen Titans series, both versions. This is the real couple destined to be, so of course DC erases all existence of it in service of the New 52.


I’ve covered this relationship extensively before, but suffice to say, masked sex is the apex of what we can hope to achieve as a human race.


I love that Hawkeye is in an unspoken contest with Tony Stark and Matt Murdock to see who can sleep with the most female characters in the Marvel universe. Because of his overactive libido, it’s really hard to choose one pairing that I like any more than another. I like them all. They’re all great precisely because you know Hawkeye is only going to screw it up. If forced to choose one at gunpoint (and who hasn’t been forced to do something at gunpoint at least once?) I guess you’d have to go with Mockingbird, if only because she’s the stand in for Black Canary in the Marvel universe, but that’s completely disregarding the allure of Black Widow. Speaking of . . .


As much as Hawkeye and Stark might think they’re working their way through the lovely ladies of the Marvel universe, they can’t hold a candle to the ravishing Natasha Romanoff. Hawkeye, Stark, Daredevil, and Bucky are some of her more famous conquests, not to mention that her and Captain America always seem to wind up together in any project outside the realm of comics. Of the available options, I do love the idea of her with Steve in any animated series or the movies, but in the comics her best relationship was with Bucky as the Winter Soldier. Comics tend to get a little simplistic with their romances sometimes (Storm and Black Panther both lived in Africa, so of course they should marry) but this is one case where ‘both abused by Russians’ works for them as a couple. It’s just too bad that Brubaker had to break my heart by breaking them up, before breaking it again by dropping the mic and leaving the Marvel universe forever to make excellent comics with his life partner Sean Phillips. I’ve always appreciated Black Widow as a character, after all, she wears a tight leather catsuit, but I never considered her to be a favorite until the Marvel movies, and especially after Avengers. She’s a favorite now, which I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with Scarlett Johansson.

Backtracking a bit . . .


I like Mockingbird well enough, but not as much as I love her DC counterpart Black Canary. In my favorite stories of Dinah Lance, she’s strong, tough, capable, and independent. So, of course, she’s unfortunately forever linked to one of the single most annoying superhero characters in comic book history, Oliver Queen. Arrow fans, I’m not talking about the cool character you watch every season on that sorta dumb but also very entertaining show. No, this is the comic book version, rocking the Robin Hood look and standing self-righteously on a soapbox of opinions and judgement. What an awful burden of a character. Black Canary deserves much, much better.


I’ve never been a big fan of replacement characters, but as part of the explosion of the Green Lantern franchise, I’ve come to appreciate Kyle Rayner (and Guy Gardner for that matter) a lot more than I do Hal Jordan. Similarly, the purple skinned alien Green Lantern role formerly occupied by (the now deceased) Katma Tui was taken over by Soranik Natu, a fun and fiery new character that quickly became a standout of the revitalized corps. Kyle and Soranik was a romance that unfortunately wouldn’t last, but was a highlight of the books for a time. Fortunately, now there’s . . .


Why do I wholeheartedly approve of this? Because Hal Jordan both sucks and blows, that’s why.


Within the very same issue that Stan and Jack decided they had told every story they could tell with Midgard’s Jane Foster, they introduced Sif, an Asgardian and a capable warrior in her own right. Now, instead of the damsel in distress Jane, and the standard stories of star-crossed lovers always kept apart by Donald Blake’s duties as Thor, you had two warriors fighting battles side-by-side (yet Sif did play the damsel in distress a few times herself, times being what they were). Sif is a love interest that works much better in the comics, where Thor spending months or even years in publication time off of Earth is no big deal. She’s also interesting enough to support her own adventures, as proven by the underrated Immonen and Schiti run. I remember Dan Slott once saying about the (at the time) potential Carol Danvers and Peter Parker coupling, that (paraphrasing) Peter dating a superhero would kind of eliminate any need to ever spend time not as Spider-Man, narratively. That’s not as big a problem for Thor, because I’ve always found any secret identity for Thor to be a bigger burden than it is a positive for good storytelling. However . . .


I do think Jane works much better as a love interest in the movies and cartoons. The lovers from two different worlds works much better when it doesn’t have the time to get overdone in media adaptations, and Thor needs that reason to spend more time on Earth than he does in Asgard. This worked to great effect in the movie friendly (and perpetually underrated) Thor the Mighty Avengers series as well. Or it could just be that I’m a fan of Natalie Portman. Sue me.


I enjoy a heterosexual bromance as much as the next person, and this is arguably the best one in superhero comics (Blue Beetle and Booster Gold might protest, but who would really be around to listen, nobody). The streetwise ex-con from the streets of Harlem, and the blond-haired kung-fu master from a magical city in the Himalayas, are not exactly an obvious formula for besties for life, but it works. Luke Cage is not my beloved Colleen Wing (who I really would be trying to spend all my time with if I were Danny) but he’s been a loyal partner and friend through many entertaining adventures. Luke even named his daughter Danielle, which makes you want to tilt your head and say “aw.”


That’s gross.


This one is still really new and unrealized, but I love the idea of these two together. Peter Quill is the loveable scoundrel with a heart of gold, and Kitty is the formely annoying kid sidekick that has grown into a strong woman and capable leader, especially under Bendis (say what you will about Bendis, but he generally writes interesting female characters). It’s time Kitty moved on from her creepy and weird history with Colossus, who is also one of the most boring X-Men characters in their history, and developed something new with a much more interesting match. Now that I’ve written all that, I just remembered the disturbing sexual fascination that the internet has with Kitty, and now feel worse about myself.

Creepy sexual fantasies is a good a place to end as any, just ask anyone I’ve ever taken out on a date. If you’re like me and are way to embroiled in the romantic shenanigans of fictional characters, hopefully you enjoyed the public embarrassment I provided to all of you today. If you have any favorite couples of your own that I missed, please keep that to yourself, I don’t want to read about your weird obsessions. Send them to Duy, he loves that stuff. (I’m only kidding, I love comments. At least I think I do, I rarely get any. Sob.)

That’s it, I’m off to cyber-stalk Travis in the hopes of more ideas and inspiration. Next time, something interesting Travis said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great list, but somewhere in there (on there?) I would add Sue and Ralph Dibny (I really miss them). Thanks, Leslie.

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