Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Who's the Best... Significant Other?

Doug:  Of all of the superhero romances and/or marriages you can think of, who is the partner to whom you'd give a gold medal or blue ribbon -- that is, who is that significant other who has been the most supportive and soldiered through the most adversity to stand by his/her man/woman?  By the way, this can be considered as an extension of a post Karen and I ran back on Valentine's Day.  Check it out, as it was one of your high-comment days!


Anonymous said...

I suppose it's poor Mary-Jane, she's even had her entire married life wiped out in the " One More Day " controversy.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'll echo what I said in that Valentine's Day post: Bethany Cabe. She was with Tony Stark when he needed it the most, and she seemed unimpressed with his fame and money and genuinely liked him. I think the biggest mistake Michelinie and Layton made toward the end of their run was writing her out of Iron Man's life - I think she should have become Iron Man's equivalent to Lois Lane.

Anonymous said...

Sue Dibney.

Or Ralph Dibney, if you prefer. :-)

david_b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david_b said...

On a humorous note, I'd sure say Janet Pym would rank up there..:

1) Yet another Marvel bride besotted with evil mayhem in the proud tradition of Sue Richards, Crystal, you name it..


2) Be able to wear that purple number from Avengers ish 161 to interest her husband:


This was years before and much less trashy than Sue Richards later attempt:


3) Integral to Shooter's scheme of bringing down an original Avenger, which took decades to restore.

'Course, whatever pain Hank (and Shooter) put her through, gets made up for in Vegas. The less said, the better..


Matt Celis said...

Mera, of course.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about what went on post-Bronze Age but from my time of reading comics I will say the Scarlet Witch. She stood by the Vision while that conniving Mantis was around all while trying to get a grip on her powers with Agatha Harkness. Plus dealing with the fact that her man wasn't really a man at all. I was always rooting for her, going back to the kooky quartet days when Hawkeye was always hitting on her.

I know they did all kinds of crazy stuff with her and the Vision (Byrne) in later years that I just pretend those things didn't happen.


William said...

I was never a fan of the Peter Parker / Mary Jane marriage. However, I'm even less of a fan of their solution for "fixing" that mistake. What the hell has happened to comics these days anyway?? I can't even read Spider-Man anymore at all. But I digress.

I suppose my favorite marriage in all of comicdom is Reed and Sue Richards, because it seems the most 'real' and logical. They were a couple from the very beginning and their union seemed to be a natural progression of that relationship. Whereas Peter and MJ's marriage seemed like a forced publicity gimmick. It was a bad idea that somewhat (if not completely) ruined Spidey for me from then on. In fact, I can't name even one post-marriage Spider-Man story that I would place among my favorites. I still read the books for many many years, but I just didn't LOVE them like I had before that happened.

On the DC side of the world, I would say Barry and Iris Allen was always one of my favorite comic book marriages. Maybe because they were already married the first time I ever read a Flash comic, so it was very much the status quo for me. Ralph and Sue Dibney was another good married DC couple. I especially enjoyed them during the JLI years. Too bad DC completely destroyed their relationship, and tainted any good and happy memories of those old stories. Ahhh, modern comics-- ruining comic books one memory at a time. (Gotta love 'em!)

Much like Pietro, I was never completely comfortable with the Vision / Scarlet Witch union. That one always seemed just a little creepy to me. When you think about it, Wanda's husband was battery powered (if you know what I mean, lol). When your an Avenger and one of your most powerful members chooses to wed a soulless, emotionless machine, it really should send up some red flags that maybe this chick isn't all there.

Doug said...

William --

I'd offer "Kraven's Last Hunt" as a very good post-marriage story. I've come back to that one 3-4 times.

And I've always shared your misgivings about the Wanda/Vision relationship, despite numerous writers attempts to make it seem natural. Your feelings about his "artificiality" have given me pause as well. I'm not saying the whole thing is entirely implausible, and as a plot vehicle they've at times mined gold out of it. But looking at it in a real-world sense... uhhhhhhh...


Karen said...

As written by Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart, Vision wasn't a "soulless, emotionless machine." He was a thinking, feeling being in a synthetic body that mimicked the human form. If you go back and read those books, it's pretty obvious that he struggles with his emotions and how to to express them, or if he even should. It's not that he doesn't have any. Vision was part of an age-old science fiction question regarding sentience and what makes us human. At least, he was before Byrne got ahold of him.

Matt Celis said...

You are not alone...I dsavow any knowledge of Byrne's Avengers work. Took a major character and made him useless for decades just to satisfy whatever whim he was feeling while writing yet another Byrne good-girl-goes-bad story.

david_b said...

On the flip-side, besides Pietro and Crystal, another pointless matrimony seemed to be ol' Clint and Bobbi (Mockingbird).

I gave up my brief resurgence of comic reading (especially WCA) by the mid-80s, so I'm not up on details of how their relationship was expressed around and after the Phantom Rider bit, but it seemed to me I didn't really miss much.

Anonymous said...

And how about Mister Miracle and Big Barda? Now that was a super powerful couple!

Matt Celis said...

It was poorly handled, as was most of WCA...you didn't miss much, and if you happened to LIKE Mockingbird & Hawkeye, I recommend avoiding WCA past the first dozen or so issues as it gets pretty bad and unbelievable considering how Hawkeye is portrayed.

J.A. Morris said...

For the superpowered women, I'd say Sue & Wasp are the best. I like the direction Jan & Hank were headed in the Bronze Age, when the writers allowed her to grow up. I'm in the middle of reading a tpb that reprints their break-up, not impressing me so far. I thought Daredevil & Black Widow were a good match, even if those stories aren't exactly classics.

As for the non-heroes, I'd say Mary Jane was the best, followed by Bernie Rosenthal, Cap's longtime girlfriend. I liked the way Bernie was written during the Stern & De Matteis eras. Bethany and Sue Dibny were also good, they had strong personalities and didn't melt at the site of a criminal.

I wish Shooter had found a way to keep Kitty and Colossus together. I've always thought their mandated break-up was poorly written and I think it led to the eventual disappearance of Colossus from the X-titles. I thought they were a "cute couple".

As for Vision/Wanda, I was always a fan of this marriage. Sure, it's a odd to think about it happening in "the real world". But that's part of what makes Bronze Age comics great. I say "anything can happen in a comic book!". Their love was one of the strongest in the Marvel Universe.

Like Karen said, the android that wants to experience human feelings is an old trope. And we already knew Vision could cry, so falling in love doesn't seem so weird to me.

david_b said...

Matt.., as you'd probably agree, the first dozen of WCA weren't such a treat either. :(

Beyond the WCA Limited Series and the premiere issue of the regular series, I may still have some of the Byrne/Vision issues, which now I think about it will good for wrapping fish or getting the fireplace going this winter.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a Mary Jane Watson fan from way back. She and Pete were perfect for each other.

It's interesting how all the "significant others" seem to be women; there must be SOME well-written male characters who qualify, like...uh...um...Terry Long! Okay, never mind...

Mike W.

Matt Celis said...

Steve Trevor!

Anonymous said...

Abigail Arcane...she had good coping skills.

William said...

Doug: "Kraven's Last Hunt" has never been one of my favorites. Too dark and depressing for my taste. I have just never liked the dark, grim and gritty stories, especially when it comes to the usually light-hearted Spider-Man.

Karen: I was sort of exaggerating on purpose, just to be funny, when it came to describing the Vision. However, since he is a man-made machine, and not a true living organism, philosophically speaking he would be soulless. (Even if is artificial intelligence could mimic human emotions). So, it would still be weird for a 'real', living woman to fall in love with and marry him.

Teresa said...

Golden Age Hawkwoman.
Sue Dibney is a runner up.

Pepper Potts from the Iron Man films. I really like her relationship with Tony.

Humanbelly said...

Ooh-- really, really, REALLY have to disagree with your assesment of the Vision, there, William. Getting into a debate about what exactly defines a "soul" is, of course, very dicey territory in a social blogosphere-- but I would at least like to make the point that clearly Roy Thomas' original intent with this character was that he was, indeed, a fully sentient, self-aware, conflicted, emotional (albeit not demonstrative) man. . . presumably with a soul. . . in an artificial body. The machine-mimicking-emotions model doesn't work at all, because as Karen pointed out, he actually makes it a point to leave the room (ish #58) so as not to overtly reveal those emotions when he is sincerely overcome by them. And the fact that his "mind" was recreated via the "brain patterns" of Simon Williams (lordy, which I'll never begin to figure out) was clearly intended as a gateway for him to be thought of as a person, rather than as a robot. . . otherwise, why bother with that at all?

"What is a soul?" is, of course, the underlying question-- but that's a deeply personal and religious topic that might not fare so well on a friendly community board, y'know?

So, that big ol' tangent aside:

I was a HUGE believer in the Peter/MJ marriage, even though it was ultimately an impossible albatross for the writers to deal with. But like it or no-- the horrific ONE MORE DAY/BRAND NEW DAY solution was absolutely the worst choice that could have been made, and was an utter betrayal of both Pete & MJ's characters, and honestly, Aunt May's as well. Had she known that the very existence of their relationship would be sacrificed to save her life, the sorrow of that alone would have killed her. I could have dealt with MJ getting killed better than that, even.

I've always kinda liked married/coupled superheroes, although the attendant stress it would entail seems to get downplayed most of the time. For a "civilian", it would have all of the terrors and problems of being married to an active soldier or SWAT team member, or firefighter-- it would be awfully, awfully hard. Reed & Sue have been all over the place over the course of 50-some years. At one point, she was wearing an apron over her uniform while cooking dinner for everyone. Yikes! And Reed has so often been such a self-possessed nimrod that one would wonder how any woman could stay married to him.

Hmm-- here's a new vote: Wyatt Wingfoot when he & She-Hulk were a hot item! That really was a pretty awesome relationship-!


Karen said...

HB has already made some smart remarks about the Vision and the nature of the soul. Of course that's a question that no one's been able to answer. There are many definitions of "soul" and some would say it only applies to humans, while others would say it applies to all living beings, and still others would say only certain animals might have souls.The soul is still an enigma.

But the question of sentience and how do we treat sentient entities is one we're probably going to have to deal with in our lifetimes. Once an artificial intelligence begins to truly ask questions about itself, or express desires -"I want", "I need," -then we will be faced with the dilemma of status for such beings. Star Trek the Next Generation had an excellent episode that dealt with this, "The Measure of a Man." They didn't really resolve the issue either, but did look at all the angles.And it wasn't all pretty, morally speaking.

NASA is working on robots to perform tasks outside the international space station and on other dangerous missions.What would we do if, 25 years from now say, one of these robots refused to go out and do its job because it was afraid it might be destroyed?

Anonymous said...

Ditto on what William said .....

I think Sue storm is the best partner in the Marvel Universe. It couldn't have been easy being married to a genius who always seems to be more interested in spending time tinkering in his lab, trying to save the Earth from Galactus or going into the Negative Zone and battling Annihilus! You get the picture. Sue has to be one of the most faithful, long suffering spouses in the whole history of comicsdom.

As for Mary Jane, I've always enjoyed her character but I have to agree with the other commentators in that most stories with her and Petey post-marriage have not been so great. The Mephisto 'annulment' was a copout as far as I'm concerned. Heck, I don't even consider it canon!

The Vision in my opinion had a soul, maybe not in the strictest human sense but if he's sentient then he had an android soul for lack of a better term. Like Humanbelly said, this debate could go on indefinitely because it's part of a deeper philosophical question.

- Mike 'still looking for Mrs. Right' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Ray "!!" Tomczak said...

A big part of the appeal of Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man was Buddy Baker's family, especially his wife Ellen. She managed to keep her head when confronted with the metafictional madness that she and Buddy were put through by Grant.
It's interesting that we haven't heard from any fans of Lois Lane. I presume there are at least a few among BAB readers

Humanbelly said...

Holy Frijoles-- how did we skip Abby Arcane from Swamp Thing?? In fact. . . I think she gets my vote for BEST!


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