Monday, December 19, 2011

Nerd Rage #9a: Superhero Marriage (150th Blog)

I deeply apologize for the lack of updates in November.   I kind of let things get away from me there.  Long story short I was participating in (And failing at) National Novel Writing Month and whatever writing I did last month I did for that.  Then I was kind of burnt out from writing.  Also I got a writing job for Kzoo Music Scene and I have been a bit busy with that as well (But I’ll properly plug that later this week).  Then again I didn’t get any comments or e-mails asking about where I was so I’ll go ahead and assume you guys weren’t all that worried.

Anywho if you have in fact been eagerly anticipating the 150th blog of Beta is Dead your dreams have finally come true.  Today, as with pretty much all the major and minor milestones I celebrate here, we’ll be talking about comic books; especially the topic of Superhero Marriages.

How long before DC tries to have another "Wedding of the Century" stunt?
If you read my 100th (And 99th) blog you’ll recall that I was particularly bothered by Marvel Comics' decision to retcon the marriage of Spider-Man and his long, long time love interest Mary Jane Watson.   While I had several reasons for my distaste one of the bigger cons I had for it was the reasoning behind why it needed to be erased in the first place.  Now at the time I didn't think too much of it, aside for my overall disapproval towards Spider-Man comics that continues to this day, but recently I've started wondering if comic book creators have something against their characters being married.  Now superheroes have be through divorces in the past and certainly wives and husbands have died off before as well but in one of the more frustrating aspects of the DCnU reboot this past fall has been that DC Comics have removed several established marriages in the hero community.  This was no doubt an attempt, or maybe even simply a “side effect”, on their part to re-establish their characters as being younger (And probably “hipper” since as we learned from Spider-Man no superhero can be “cool” and “married”, yuck-yuck-yuck). So the current Flash The False, well established grandfather Barry Allen, is no longer married to Iris West (Whom he married decades ago), Superman and Lois Lane have reverted back to the Silver Age of Comics where she somehow had been too stupid to figure out that guy she knows in the glasses is also the Man in Steel, and Wally West (The One True Flash) and Linda Park…well I’m not even sure Wally still exists in this new continuity, let alone his two children who have surely been erased.

This has made me think: traditionally how have superhero comics (Particular Marvel and DC since they both seem to be tied to traditional much more than small imprints like, say, Image Comics) treated holy matrimony and do writers seem to actively prefer single heroes.  I don’t have the answer to that.   But I thought I would talk about superhero marriages in general.

The sanctity of marriage is challenged after the jump.


Let’s take a look at a few examples superhero marriages that have ended for some reason or another.

Superman/Lois Lane 
Lois & Clark & Clark's Mullet
Is there a more iconic relationship in superhero comics than that of Clark Kent and Lois Lane?  They've been doing this dance for over 70 years after all.  You also might be surprised to learn that despite decades upon decades of the infuriating Supes/Lois/Clark love triangle the two were only married 14 or so years in real time, not counting all the one off “Imaginary Stories” from the Silver Age of Comics.  Originally they were supposed to get married in 1993 but DC apparently thought it’d be weird for the two to be married in the comics but not on the awful TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman so they instead killed Clark in the “Doomsday” storyline.  Why did they think it’d be weird?  Presumably DC assumed comic book in the early 90s fans were morons.   But as we know the old farts once known as “Generation X” weren’t morons; they were just indifferent and cynical.  Anyway the wedding was pushed back to 1996. 

Their marriage is a pretty decent example of how you should write a superhero marrying civilian.  They had serious problems over the years and Lois never really stopped being interesting character while at the same time she never took over the book.  Ultimately she is a supporting character (Now giving Lois Lane her own title to star in isn’t necessarily a bad idea…).  Still like with Spider-Man and Mary Jane this marriage had its detractors though unlike like the Spider-Marriage the complaints always seemed pretty inane to me.  I mean how can you complain about a character like Superman being aged too much by being married?  When has anyone ever in history thought of Clark Kent as being young and hip?   In any event the marriage was finally dissolved after the “Flashpoint” crossover which led into the Great DC Reboot of 2011.  While I’m seriously bugged by this, mainly because there is absolutely no reason why the marriage needed to end except maybe to retell the same goddamn “Will They or Won’t They” bullshit stories they’d been telling from 1938 to 1995, it’s really more of an after effect of the reboot rather than seemingly malicious contempt for Lois Lane on the part of DC (Plus as Superman didn’t make a deal with the f**king devil it’s a lot easier to take than the crap Marvel did with Spider-Man).

Bottom line they had a good run and there was no good reason to end it.

 Barry Allen/Iris West
Actually it's should read "Two Barry Allens Too Many!"
 F**k Barry Allen.  There is no goddamn reason for this relic of a bygone age to be running around the DCU while Wally West remains MIA!

Okay, okay; that’s a blog for another day (#200?).  Like the above marriage Barry and Iris were a victim of the 2011 Reboot.  Unlike the above however they’d been married since 1966 meaning they’d been together longer than a huge percentage of the new readers DC has been trying to attract have been alive by a wide margin (But to be fair Barry was dead for twenty-three of those years.  F**k Barry Allen!).  I honestly have no idea what DC had to gain for ending the long marriage.  Perhaps as an attempt to make Barry more interesting? #1) If you think that superhero automatically becomes boring after s/he gets married I feel you might be confused as to what marriage actually is.  #2) Nothing will ever make Barry Allen an interesting character, so why bother trying?  Still I feel that this may be telling of what DC thinks about marriage for their top heroes.

Wally West/ Linda Park
The greatest Flash in history gets married
This one is cheating.  Sure Wally (The One True Flash) and Linda got their marriage erased in the reboot like the others I've mentioned but as an added kick to his fan’s junk Wally’s been MIA since the DCnU began and the chances of him existing at all seems low (So I’m guessing their kids Iris and Jai definitely don’t exist anymore).  The thing that bothers me the most, aside from Wally being demoted to nothingness, is the fact that the Wests were a rare example of a superhero successfully marrying and having kids, and incidentally I don’t know why Wally can achieve this but Peter Parker can’t.   Anyway the Flash’s family life is officially terminated, likely as way to make Barry Allen look younger (F**k Barry Allen). 

Marvel has its own Marital Problems as well.

The Hulk/Betty Ross
The number of pics Hulk and Betty Ross together on the web: Very small
Perhaps not as iconic as Spider-Man and MJ Bruce Banner and Betty Ross' relationship is still one of Marvel’s longest running romances.  Dealing with Bruce’s’ uncontrollable transformations into a rampaging monster as well as her father constantly trying to murder him would put off most women but Betty married Bruce in 1986 and they were together until 1998 when she was murdered.  Oh yeah, comic book companies LOVE killing off love interests in order to justify change in the comic.   Usually it’s to raise the stakes between the hero and an enemy.  In this case Betty was killed off because Peter David, the writer at the time, was going through a brutal divorce and he was in a dark place.  That is pretty bad reasoning for killing off a comic book character there is.   In his defense he realized this and was planning on bringing her back but was vetoed because Marvel wanted to use it as an excuse to bring back the Savage Hulk (At the time Banner had total control over Hulk). Today Betty has come back to life as the Red She-Hulk, which is a stupid ass storyline that I don’t feel like going into today, but she’s made it clear that because she was legally dead (And that Hulk had remrried sine then…and had his second wife was killed) she considers their marriage over.   I’m not sure if that’s still the case as I stopped following the nonsense in the Hulk books a while back.

Though this is yet another long standing relationship in the toilet, credit where credit is due, at least Marvel didn’t do any major retcon to separate the two.  The Hulk happens to have an ex-wife and I don’t see how that makes him any less relatable than he was beforehand.

 She-Hulk/John Jameson
Dude.  She's going to break him in half.
She-Hulk, one of my favorite female superheroes, was briefly married to John Jameson, none other than the son of Spider-Man’s newspaper publishing nemesis J. Jonah Jameson.  As far as I can tell this came about during a time where Marvel was desperately trying to downplay her promiscuity which had become a huge joke among Marvel fans (To the point that they freaking retconed a sexual encounter she once had with unstoppable super villain the Juggernaut ).  But the union came about due to the fact that She-Hulk was brain zapped by her former teammate Starfox, whose main superpower enables him to manipulate the emotions of other people…which he then uses to get laid (She-Hulk possibly among his victims).  Um.  Yeah.   So anyway once those feelings started to wear off Shulkie got the marriage annulled.  So when it comes down to it this marriage was a joke.  A bad joke.  About sexual assault.

 Cyclops/Jean Grey/Madelyn Pryor
One of the first comic books I ever bought
8-year old Beta tore it to shreds because he was dumb
Cyclops married Madelyn Pryor and had a child with her but then abandoned her to be with Jean in a bizarre out of character moment.  She then went crazy, became a super villain, then died.  Later he married Jean Grey but after years of marriage he cheats on her with Emma Frost in a bizarre out of character moment (Though to be fair this one made a bit more sense in context at the time as Cyclops was emotionally broken after a then-recent horrifying experience).  Soon afterward she fought “Xorn-Pretending to Magneto-Pretending to be Xorn” and was killed twice during the encounter (Once by Wolverine).  If Emma was thinking that she and Scott should be getting married any time soon she should reevaluate things based on the boy’s track record.

At this point this blog is running too long so I’m splitting it up into two parts.  Part II should be uploaded sooner than later.  It will deal with the other side of things, namely heroes who are still married.

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