Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love -Who Needs It?

Karen: This being Valentine's Day, it seems appropriate to discuss super-heroes and their romantic lives -or lack thereof. With some characters, it seems that their love lives are integral to who they are; for example, I can't imagine any version of Superman, pre-, post- or mid-life Crisis that wouldn't have Lois Lane as a love interest! On the other hand, I've never thought Batman needed a steady love interest, nor have I ever felt convinced that any woman was 'the great love of his life.' He's too devoted to his crusade.

Karen: But what about other characters? There are some that seem to be more interesting when they are actively in a relationship, but you could argue about who their greatest love was. For Peter Parker, was it Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson? Some might argue that Peter's marriage to Mary Jane sucked a lot of the excitement out of the Spider-Man titles, but was it really the marriage itself, or how it was handled?

Doug:  Which begs the question -- were you (read: any of us) more exciting as a single than as a spouse?  Does marriage not offer tribulations, or in this specific case plot points?  The answer should be that marriage just brings a different set of dynamics.  To me, the fault in the Parker situation was making MJ a supermodel.  Money had always been one of Pete's hang-ups -- it wasn't anymore and that took away a huge antagonistic force working against his personality.  Additionally, he'd always been monogamous anyway (from Betty Brant to Gwen to MJ), so I'm not sure what "making it official" really did that put such a creative wall up against the story makers.

Karen: Comic book marriages seem a lot like real-life ones: some work fine, while others...well, don't. Reed and Sue Richards have had rough patches but generally seem solid (why she puts up with him I have no idea). The Pyms started well, but didn't last. Once the Vision and the Scarlet Witch got married, the Vision in particular seemed to become a lot less interesting.

Doug:  I think in the Vision's case his latent humanistic qualities, struggling to free themselves from the inorganic aspects of his persona, must have evolutionally come to the fore... lest why would Wanda continue to be interested in him if she would no longer feel that his "humanity" could be redeemed?  I've always felt the Reed and Sue relationship was the most "real", and as was commented by a few of our readers last month was really tried during the Gerry Conway era.  While most of us would agree that we didn't care for the way the Pyms' marriage ended, creators along the way certainly could have played up the inter-generational aspect of their union -- but did not.  Recall that when Hank first set eyes on Janet, he remarked that she was just a child, yet looked so much like his lost Maria.  That could have been a great source for love triangle stories:  Hank-Janet-the age gap, Hank-Janet-a woman Hank's age or a man Janet's age as antagonist, etc.

Karen: I have to admit, I have only read a handful of the Pym stories in Tales to Astonish; most of my exposure to their relationship came through The Avengers.  I was aware though of the resemblance to his former wife, and the age difference. But you're right, it never seemed like anything was done with it. If anything, Stan Lee played up the Wasp's flirty side and had Hank get jealous a lot, but he usually kept it to a slow boil. When Roy Thomas took over, he seemed to de-emphasize that.

Karen: There are also those confirmed bachelors out there, guys like Tony Stark who I can't see ever really settling down. It's just not in their personalities.

Doug:  Thor by necessity must fall into this category, at least Earth-wise.  However, I'm not sure why he's been dragging his feet with fair Sif!  Johnny Storm on the other hand, should stay single because he's a doofus.  Although he can hook a Skrull...

Karen: The less said about that the better. The Ben Grimm -Alicia Masters relationship was one of the best, at least prior to all the unnecessary shenanigans with Skrulls. 

Doug:  I'm going to rely on our DC-loving friends to help us out with the machinations of the marriages of the Flash, the Atom, and the Elongated Man (and we can leave out the events of Identity Crisis and it will be OK by me).  In the case of the former two, I think they had pretty long courtships.  Why was it OK for Supergirl to fall for Brainiac-5, but Superboy never had a love interest among the Legion ladies?  Yeah, yeah -- I know Lana Lang was awaiting his return to Smallville, but were they ever serious?

Karen: I would presume they couldn't be, because it was preordained that he hook up with Lois! Just like the Adult Legion stories forced writers to pair up certain Legionnaires. Speaking of the younger set, there was Colossus and Kitty in the X-Men and their sort of on/off relationship. Although it seemed kind of dicey to me, as I was never sure exactly of the age difference. 

Karen: Let's hear it folks -there's a lot of ground to cover!

31 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, great topic.
Karen, I kind of disagree with you about Batman, but that's probably because I so like that story from Brave & Bold #197, in which the Earth 2 Batman falls in love with Catwoman. To me, it always seemed natural that at some point they end up together.
I also don't quite agree with the Tony Stark as perennial bachelor view. Again, it probably has to do with the fact that I pretty much exclusively see the Michelinie/Layton run as canon, and I thought Bethany Cabe was Tony's true one-and-only (one of the only things I don't like about the Iron Man movies is the romance with Pepper Potts).
I guess I'm also in a minority since I saw absolutely nothing wrong with Peter Parker marrying Mary Jane. I agree with Doug, though, about the decision to turn her into a supermodel (and also rather successful Broadway actress if I'm not mistaken). My impression of Mary Jane from the '70s and early '80s was that she was actually a sort of down-and-out model and actress who just put on a big show about being successful. If the creative honchos at Marvel had stuck to that idea, it would have jibed perfectly with the theme of Peter's constant financial woes.

One of my favorite comic-book couples is T'Challa and Monica Lynne, as conceived by Don McGregor, which (unfortunately) pretty much every other writer who handled Black Panther felt the need to not only ignore, but actively topedo...

On the DC side, one of my favorite pairs was always Scott Free and Barda - Kirby set down really great characterization for them as an oddball yet passionate couple, and I think later writers, at least into the late 1980s, did a good job of continuing that tradition.

david_b said...

I still scratch my head over the Hank/Janet wedding. Not conceived well, throw in the guise of Yellowjacket, and as much as I tried to follow some sense of reasoning, even in the 'wacky Marvel way', just didn't make sense.

Agreeing with Edo, the Pete/MJ wedding was fine in and of itself, but the entire 'successful model/actress' worked against everything we loved about Peter's hangups.

I thought the Cap/Sharon/Peggy conflict worked out well early in the Bronze.

As for DC, the Donna/Roy/Wally triangle (at times) was interesting, but not really explored/defined enough. So much potential for some real relational depth sort of fell by the wayside, the only fallout you ended up seeing was Roy resorting to drugs. The only Titans relationship you really followed was Dick/Kori, which Wolfman/Perez used for some good tension in the 2nd and 3rd year of NTT.

William said...

I really don't have a real problem with any married comic book characters except Peter Parker. The problem was that his being a loner was such a big part of his character as both Spider-Man and Peter. It was also a big reason that creators over the years kept him from permanently joining any super teams like the Avengers, or Defenders, or FF. Because it would have taken away a big part of his appeal. He has always been Marvel's outsider. The sacrificing everyman hero that struggles with juggling his normal life with that of his web-swinging alter ego. Giving him too much support (from either teammates or a wife) pretty much eliminates that aspect of his character dynamic. In the old days Stan Lee and other creators understood that.

That's a big reason that I don't even consider the current Spider-Man as the "real" Spider-Man. He's now in every big super team in the Marvel U all at once. (I'm surprised he's not a member of Power Pack). From the get-go Peter Parker was portrayed as kind of a loser who secretly was a the coolest super hero in town. It was big time young adolescent male wish fulfillment. Once he got married that part of his character was erased. And as Doug said, it didn't help that his wife was also a successful actress and super model. It just really killed the flavor of the book for me at the time.

The biggest argument that hear in favor of the Peter / MJ union is that Spider-Man should change and grow as a person, and his getting married was just a natural part of his evolution as a character and it was a necessary break from the status quo. But I would argue that after 4 or 5 years, Peter being married became the boring, same old same old status quo, and then what do you do with him? They tried killing MJ, then they tried divorce, and then they finally just used magic to erase the whole marriage. Which proved to be a very popular and well received idea. (He said with more than a hint of sarcasm). And now, all those 20 and 30 somethings that grew up reading about a married Spider-Man, howl and complain that Marvel ruined their favorite character. Much in the same way a lot of people howled and complained when they actually ruined the character by having him get married in the first place. (Except then we didn't have the power of the internet to let our displeasure be so widely known).

Nowadays, I could care less if Spider-Man is married or not. They've so completely ruined the character now that it really doesn't matter what they do to him. For all I care hey could make Peter an alien from the planet Spydor, who was found in a space-pod by Aunt May and Uncle Ben, who then raised him as a human. (They'll probably do that now).

Karen said...

One major relationship we forgot to mention was Scott and Jean - how about that one? At least back in the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne days, it felt real and exciting. I think Wolverine's unrequited love/lust has been overblown in retrospect. The fact that the movies seemed to turn it into an actual triangle was annoying, at least to me.

Bruce said...

Great call on Mr. Miracle & Big Barda. They feel like a "real" married couple to me (particularly since it's the wife who calls the shots in their relationship!) I'm not sure either character works nearly as well without the other - Scott and Barda are just meant to be together.

On the flip side, I thought the Wasp & Hank Pym never worked. In those early stories, it never felt like a relationship of equals. They both got more interesting after they broke up (although don't get me started on that awful domestic violence storyline....)

I prefer Peter Parker as single, although I agree that the real problem there was removing the financial stresses as a source of tension. The notion of Peter barely scraping by to pay the bills is central to the Spider-Man concept.

Bruce said...

Agreed on Scott & Jean being a fantastic comics relationship in the early year. Jean's death was a superbly written, heartbreaking way to bring that relationship to a conclusion.

But things got so convoluted with Madelyne Pryor, then Jean returning from the dead (big mistake), Madelyne becoming a villain, Jean dying and returning yet again, Scott cheating on Jean with Emma Frost (which was totally out of character for Scott), etc. If the Scott/Jean relationship had ended with X-Men #137, I'd have been much happier.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen (and Bruce), I was so totally into the whole Scott/Jean soap opera back when I was reading those issues the first time, but so many (crappy) layers of subsequent stuff really ruined it. Yes, I totally agree that way too much was made out of Wolverine's feelings for Jean - it should have been left at the level of his own internal moping. And yes, Jean should have stayed dead - I agree with Bruce that it was just a fitting, if tragic and sad, conclusion. As for Scott, I think it would have been best if he and that fishing boat skipper, Lee Forrester, ended up staying together (I recall reading somewhere that she apparently became involved with Magneto - ick!), instead of everything that was actually done, which made Cyclops do all of these wildly out-of-character things, like abandon his wife and child, then become something of serial cheater, etc.

Doug said...

Karen ran an Open Forum a long time ago on legacy heroes. I'd have liked to have seen the Whizzer and Miss America involved in the lives of Wanda and Pietro. Adding in the Vision would have been really interesting, mixing not only Pietro's bigotry but Bob and Madeline's WWII-era values. I'm not sure if the Franks would have been marriage mentors or if Wanda would have met additional roadblocks to her romance with the Vision.

Wouldn't a sort-of Earth-2 be cool for Marvel, where the history of the MU could be revised with a bent toward "untold tales" and such?

Doug

Doug said...

By the way, lest anyone suggest "What If?" as already filling that bill, I'm talking about an ongoing alternate continuity rather than done-in-ones.

Doug

Karen said...

Cyclops was pretty much ruined for me as a character after Jean died. The Madeline Pryor stuff was awful, but the White Queen crap that came later was an atrocity. Thankfully I was only somewhat aware of it.

I never understood what the Falcon saw in Leila. She just got on my nerves.

Cap is another character where I don't see romance as a high priority for him.

Would the DC readers out there consider Hal Jordan to be like Tony Stark, a playboy? Or was he ever serious about Carol Ferris?

mr. oyola said...

I think the solution to the whole Peter/MJ marriage, was to make her not so successful. Sure she is beautiful, but even among beautiful women how many succeed at being a model or actress? Not many.

It was possible to have Spider-Man grow up a little without essentially undermining the things that made the character popular.

Then again, I think all these kinds of problems could be solved by moving away from the straight jacket of singular continuities. I say, keep telling young Spider-Man stories and middle-aged Spider-man stories, etc. . . and don't worry about if they "match up."

Anyway, I am moving away from the topic.

Going back to licensed characters, I like Rom and Brandy Clark's relationship. As a kid, I found it heartbreaking that she was drawn to Rom's nobility and humanity (despite being a cyborg), but after she becomes Starshine she starts down the road of being a cold killing machine, turning off Rom. Classic irony in the ill-fated romance (but it worked out in the end for them).

J.A. Morris said...

I'm going to disagree with the idea that Peter Parker is a loner. He's been looking for love and companionship since day one (part of that comes from his lack of family). He wanted to marry Gwen in the early 70s stories, and of course proposed to MJ in ASM #182.
I'll add that one of my least favorite Spider-Man tropes was "the Parker luck". You know, Spider-Man is saving New York from Doc Ock while he has a date with Gwen,MJ, whoever. Then he shows up late and gets yelled at, and wonders what's the point of being Spider-Man,etc. I was happy to see that go away when they got married.
Yes, his financial instability made him more "relateable". But let's also remember that another contributing factor to that was Aunt May's endless health problems and that's another trope that got old fast.
Even the married Spider-Man & MJ got evicted once and was homeless on Christmas Eve, so it's possible to write a decent story with them as a married couple.
Also, prior to marrying MJ, his previous girlfriend was the Black Cat. Did a relationship with a very attractive world class acrobat/cat burglar make him more relateable?

WardHill Terry said...

J.A., I was already thinking Black Cat before I read your comment. I've always disliked the idea of the hero falling for the pretty villainess. Spidey and Black Cat; Batman and Nocturna; it doesn't seem right.
When I started reading Flash, Barry and Iris were a strong couple. She was often a confidant for him. I can clearly remember some great Irv Novick panels of Barry quickly rushing home for something, explaining and/or advancing the plot. and kising Iris good-bye. Now that I think of it, Iris West Allen was a pretty well-developed character, as opposed to Jean Loring who had no friends at her wedding!

Mike said...

I always liked the Spidey/Black Cat relationship. It was more interesting to me than MJ in a Batman/Catwoman sort of way.

As a Batman fan, I liked how Denny O'neil created the Batman/Talia al Ghul affair. They were perfect for each other, and yet because of the clash of ideals between Ras and Batman, they could never be together. I know, sounds like a $2.00 romance novel, but trust me its good.

As far as a perfect marriage, I'd have to say Black Bolt and Medusa. By always keeping his mouth shut, Black Bolt is a role-model for all us guys.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely in favour of Pete and MJ as a couple...they just fit each other perfectly. (There's a really good write-up here http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/WhyYouMaryJane/WhyYouMaryJanePart1.html which explains things in more depth than I ever could...it's in 3 parts but worth the read if you're a Spidey/MJ fan). But apparently lots of writers and editors hated the marriage, so they kept sabotaging it until they finally got rid of it altogether (and in a really stupid way). On the other hand, I always thought that certain Marvel relationships seemed to run their course (Hank and Jan, Scott and Jean, Kitty and Colossus), but the writers kept extending/rebooting the relationships out of some kind of nostalgia.

DC's romances always seemed a little weird to me...there was some strange twist to almost every relationship (Jean Palmer went nuts, Carol was Star Sapphire/Predator, Iris was from the future...and don't get me started on Ollie and Dinah). I also thought it was a little strange how the writers paired everyone off in the Legion...it just seemed artificial to me.

Mike W.

Inkstained Wretch said...

As a "DC-loving friend," let me offer some observations on the Distinguished Competition and how it portrayed matrimonial bliss:

The Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, had a very solid relationship with his girlfriend and later wife, Iris. She was killed by Professor Zoom -- a rather shocking thing for DC in the 70s -- after which Barry Allen soldiered on without her as a widower. It was handled quite well and soberly. It belies the notion that DC didn't do mature comics in the Bronze Age.

Then in #350, the final issue she was revived and the Flash retired to live with her in the future. Right after that though the Flash sacrificed himself to save the multiverse in the Crisis. Barry Allen had it rough, but he remained a stand-up guy. A hero in best sense.

The Atom had a seemingly solid relationship with his wife, Jean, that fell apart in Sword of the Atom when he discovered she was cheating on him. She was upfront: I don't love you anymore, Ray Palmer. The marriage ended. Again, this belies the idea that DC didn't do mature stuff.

The Atom then goes on the most epic midlife crisis ever, relocating to the South American jungle, forsaking the modern world to become a sword-swinging warrior amongst a group of tiny displaced aliens. In the process he gets a younger, hotter (and yellow-skinned) girlfriend. Some middle-aged guys buy sportscars. Ray Palmer wasn't one of them...

Aquaman and his wife, Mera, had the definition of a rocky relationship, more storm-tossed than any ship at sea (thank you, folks, I'll be here all week...). Losing a child will do that to you, I guess. Again, pretty mature stuff for a Bronze Age comic.

DC's other most notable marriage was between Katar and Shayera Holl, the Silver Hawkman and Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman). This one remained close and was notable for how it was a genuine equal partnership from the start. Hawkgirl/woman wasn't a derivative character who came along later one but was there fighting villains alongside her husband from the first story. And he always treated her as an equal. They remained that way until the post-Crisis revamp that completely messed things up.

So I think DC totally had it over Marvel in terms of portraying marriage in a serious, mature way in the Bronze Age.

Anonymous said...

In Gerber World, I enjoyed Jack Norris’s refusal to accept that Val was not Barbara (“What need have I for a cloth representation of a rabbit?”)

Hank & Jan – strangely the only – and I mean ONLY – part of Hank’s later breakdown that worked for me is that his constant changes of identity and multiple personality at the time of the wedding actually made more sense later when they ruined him.

Scott & Jean – was particularly poignant for those of us who lived through all those years when they secretly fancied each but said nothing. It evolved like a real relationship.

I liked that little frisson between Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man. Shame that never went anywhere.

No one has mentioned Kitty’s teenage pining for Peter. I thought that was quite sweet.

I think Cap is a wasted opportunity. His man-out-of-time thing is the perfect for a modern day relationship, after all, of all the things that changed during his time in the chiller cabinet, the boy-girl stuff really changed out of all recognition.

The Vision-Wanda-Hawkeye triangle was nicely done.

Are there more gay super hero couples these days? I think one of Alpha Flight was gay round about the time I stopped collecting, but that was a first (surprising considering the amount of men in tights running around New York).

Richard

mr. oyola said...

While Young Avengers is a contemporary comic, in terms of same-gender-loving couples, I really like how Wiccan and Hulkling are handled.

(since someone brought up gay couples)

I think Mystique and Destiny were later retconned to have been lovers, but that is after my time.

Garett said...

Sword of the Atom, yes the mature relationship issue is a key part of that.

I've been enjoyed Cap's early Tales of Suspense stories, and at one point he quits being Cap so he can enjoy a relationship with Agent 13. Duty vs love conflict.

I liked Starfire's pursuit of Robin in Teen Titans--fun to have a lusty female character after him.

I liked how Moon Knight had Marlene to come home to, as opposed to Batman having just Robin!

For me as a teen, the best was Jon Sable's slow romance with Myke Blackmon. She's the sketch artist for his alter ego's children's books--Sable is an author. Their relationship is on/off as Sable is getting over the death of his wife, and also having James Bond-type dalliances with various villainous women. It takes about 30 issues for their romance to come to fruition. It was a revelation that Grell could show nudity and sex when it makes sense for the story--it wasn't gratuitous like Heavy Metal, but also not restricted like Marvel and DC. He found the sweet spot somewhere between.

Love that Superman/Lois pic! Outside of the movies with Chris Reeve, this is my favorite Superman--leaping around with attitude! : )

WardHill Terry said...

I thought of two of my favorite stories that highlight relationships. First is a short Legion story "WHo Will Save the Princess?" Very nicely drawn by Mike Grell, and written, I think, by Jim Shooter, the stroy is a beautiful example of how much Karate Kid loves Princess Projectra. He is absolutely willing to give up his life to save her. The other one is one of my first Avengers story, and the last time Hank Pym was used in costume before Shooter came aboard. Jan was in the hospital, critically injured, while Hank fights the Whirlwind. He shrinks, zaps, grows, uses ants; he uses all of his abilities despite the danger to himself. After he defeats Whirlwind, he starts to enter the hospital and collapses. At the end the the story, (Beast and Vision have saved him), he gets up and starts charging into the hospital to see Jan. THAT was the real Hank Pym. Seeking revenge for the injuries and insults to his wife, and doing everything he could to get to her side. Subsequent Yellowjacket stories do not wholly reflect this, so I ignore them.

Doug said...

Wardhill Terry --

Karen and I have that very YJ/Whirlwind on our "to review" list. Hopefully we'll get to it before summertime.

Doug

Anonymous said...

I never had a problem with Peter Parker and Mary Jane being married, but when you have a character whose appeal stems largely from being an everyman loser, then you have to tread carefully when writing stories concerning his married life. I think most writers never knew how to develop fresh storylines with Peter and MJ, so they took the easy way out and had Mephisto magically make them single again. It's as if they never were married.

As for Jean and Scott, I think the whole Madelyn Pryor/Jean Grey resurrection storyline was an exercise in confusion. It's about that time that I really thought the X-men 'jumped the shark' in a manner of speaking. While it's true real life relationships are not so simple, that story arc led the X-men into cheesy soap opera territory in my opinion. Oh, Chris Claremont, why, why? I doubt we would have seen that if John Bryne was still collaborating with him, further evidence that Bryne was also co-plotter on that series instead of just being the penciller.

Yes, I agree with William when he says he doesn't consider the current Spider-Man the 'real' Spidey. I think Marvel is overexposing their two most popular characters (Spidey and Wolverine)by having them in every super-team that exists out there. I for one have never even imagined them in the Avengers, for example. They're just pandering to the need to sell more comics - 'gee, Wolverine and Spider-man are enormously popular according to our polls; I know, let's make them Avengers! The kids out there will go nuts seeing them together alongside Captain America!'. Now you know why I rarely buy modern comicbooks.



- Mike 'giving up comics entirely if they make Conan an Avenger' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Fred W. Hill said...

It didn't bother me a bit that Peter & MJ got married. What seemed out of character to me was in some of Claremont's MTU stories treating Peter as Tony Stark like playboy (at least that was my perception). Having read those Lee & Romita issues just after Peter & MJ's first face-to-face meeting, when he's essentially having to make a choice between Gwen & MJ, he opts for Gwen as more the type he really wants was intresting. Peter didn't want to play the field -- he wanted someone to be steady with, someone he could relate to. Of course, his being Spider-Man proved tragic to their relationship. I would think that would have made him rather nervous about getting involved with anyone again, but of course he & MJ were already friends, and she helped him overcome his grief over Gwen's death.
At any rate, I quit collecting Marvel comics before MJ became a super-model, successful actress. Maybe they should've had her have one big hit and then become a "has-been" (certainly that happens a lot in real life). It's all a question of how much fans want Peter, or any other comics character, who has already grown up quite a bit from his initial years, to continue to grow up, even if at a much slower rate. Would fans accept Peter gradually aging to about Reed Richard's age, or remain eternally in his mid to late 20s? Personally, I'd find it more intriguing to see him continue to mature, but of course that would run the risk of alienating potential new fans. Just can't please everyone, can they.

Edo Bosnar said...

Since Karen brought up Cap, I have to disagree with her again: I really liked his relationship with Bernie Rosenthal, and think they should have stayed together...

Garett said...

Haha Mike--Conan, Spidey, and Wolverine...the New Avengers! Let's throw in the Punisher. ; p

Matt Celis said...

You mean the loner who teams
up with every other superhero and superteam on a regular basis? I never
bought the "loner"
schtick/argument. More like socially awkward. Pete & MJ works
just fine if the writer is any good.

Matt Celis said...

northstar was gay as of Alpha Flight #1; it's subtle but clear. Check the flashback to when he meets james Hudson.

Matt Celis said...

Cap & Bernie Rosenthal was great stuff. Whatever happened to her?

Matt Celis said...

D.C. characters seemed more mature on the average than Marvel heroes, so it's only natural they would be able to have real relationships with strong women. Going way back to the Silver Age, Flash, Atom, Green lantern, Hawkman, Adam Strange, and Aquaman all had equal partners.

Matt Celis said...

My all-time favorite is the Silver Age Web and his nagging wife who kept trying to keep him from superheroing. That was fantastic!

Jeff Mclachlan said...

DC did have more married couples in the silver age, but that wasn't because they were into more mature characters or storytelling. If anything, it's because they were aiming for a younger audience, and knew that little boys didn't have much of an appetite for yucky romance stuff. So the superheroes would have wives that they could give a peck on the cheek on their way out the door, or a chaste relationship with a co-worker, but there was little of the romantic longing that was Marvel's stock in trade.

And it's the longing that's the thing in the silver age Marvel's. It's interesting to note that once Stan left most of the titles, the incoming fan-turned creators would almost immediately resolve the romantic relationships and write the female leads out of the books. As the series' continued, you'd see more partnerships of equals, but something was lost by getting rid of the romantic pining that was Stan's stock-in-trade, possibly because it was something the high school and college age readership could identify with more than actually having a real relationship.

It's like Mr. Spock said in Amok Time---"Sometimes having a thing is not nearly as pleasurable as wanting it". I think that often applies to drama even more than real life.

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