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!