Marvel Top Ten: RomancesA column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Kevin Powers
There have been plenty of romances throughout the years in comic books. Without a damsel in distress, the appeal and the purpose of a superhero may not be as relevant or even exist. It doesn't matter what universe a superhero belongs to, a great deal of his success is based on the fact that they have a good woman in his life. And now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Kevin Powers and Comics Bulletin gives you a look at…
Ask anybody aged between 21 and 40 what their favorite cartoon of the 1990s was and 9 out of 10 of them will answer "X-Men." Aside from the obvious Scott/Jean/Wolverine love triangle, the romance between Rogue and Gambit was also played up pretty strongly throughout the series. The relationship between Rogue and Gambit is the longest running X-romance next to Scott and Jean, and it is also one that continues today. What always made the relationship between Rogue and Gambit unique was the fact that Rogue could never touch Gambit. I think one aspect of this relationship often overlooked was the fact that Rogue's power was to absorb energy while Gambit's was to charge energy, a small fact because Gambit could control his powers, but the irony is beautiful. Most recently in "Messiah Complex," the baby saves Rogue and upon awakening to her mother, Mystique, and Gambit, Rogue incapacitates Mystique and tells Gambit she needs to be alone. Once again, the Southern Belle and the Ragin' Cajun are kept apart by the lives they lead.
9. Jessica Jones/Luke Cage
It all started with a one night stand. I'm serious. Some people find their soul-mates in high school, college, sometimes even at work. Jessica Jones got drunk, let Luke Cage "do anything [he wants]" and one panel later she was biting her lip and the rest is history. Luke Cage was just looking to get a booty call, but Jessica started having feelings for the former Hero for Hire. The two actually started working together as bodyguards for Matt Murdock when his identity was revealed. However, during a period when Jessica was reliving and trying to move on from her past as an abused superhero at the hands of Purple Man, Cage became her rock. As he learned more about her, Cage fell for her and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. After their rendezvous, Jessica learned she was pregnant. The two moved in together, got married and now work underground as part of the New Avengers. However, there is a lot of speculation that one of them has pointy ears and multiple chins. SKRULLS!
8. The Pyms
Before the formation of the Avengers, Dr. Vernon Van Dyne asked the brilliant scientist Hank Pym to aide him in contacting aliens. Hank, being the [sarcasm] fantastic individual he is [/sarcasm], refuses, but finds himself drawn towards Van Dyne’s daughter, Janet. When Vernon is killed by an alien, Janet asks Hank to help her get revenge. Using his Pym particles, he transforms Janet into the Wasp. After defeating the alien, the two team-up and become romantically involved. While together, they were founding members of the Avengers and eventually got married. However, Hank has always been a bit of a nutcase and his personal and mental problems began to get into the way of his relationship. After an encounter with Ultron, Pym doubted his role as a hero and became mentally unstable. Janet sticks by him but after a while Hank begins to verbally degrade and abuse Janet. In a nearly super-villain moment, Hank decides he's going to build a robot and launch an attack that only he can stop, restoring his faith in himself and his status as hero. When Janet discovers this plan, she tries to get him to stop, but he hits her. While Hank ends up disgraced and divorced, he eventually pulls himself together and returns to hero status. Today, Hank and Janet remain divorced but romantically involved. The two have stood by each other through the best and worst and while she refuses to marry him again, they are still in love with one another.
Probably Marvel's most tragic love story is that of Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios. The daughter of a Greek diplomat, Elektra met Murdock while attending Columbia University and the two fell in love. They would basically do anything for each other, and when Elektra and her father are kidnapped, Murdock is inspired to put on a mask for the first time. Using a scarf to hide his identity, he attempts to rescue the Natchios. During the rescue, Elektra's father is accidentally shot and killed. Grieving over her loss, Elektra leaves Matt and the United States to return to her Global studies of Martial Arts. Years later, Elektra became the Kingpin's personal assassin, and she tried to kill Daredevil on a number of occasions. She was ordered to kill Foggy Nelson, but upon realizing who he was, she couldn't do it. Instead, Kingpin ordered her and Bullseye to fight to the death for the role of his main assassin. Bullseye proceeded to throw a playing card through her throat and stick one of her one sais through her heart. Bleeding through the streets of Hell's Kitchen, she crawled to Murdock’s doorstep and died in his arms.
Although Elektra has been resurrected, she and Murdock have never truly rekindled their romance. She has always been different after her resurrection. Regardless, she still helps Murdock whenever he needs it, but she doesn't make him realize that she is much hotter than his current wife. Recently, Elektra was stabbed by Maya Lopez and when she died, it was revealed that she was a Skrull. The questions have yet to be answered… was it really Elektra who was resurrected? Where is the real Elektra? SKRULLS!
6. Bruce Banner/Betty Ross
Betty Ross always had a way of attracting powerful and overbearing men. Her father is General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, who was the military commander on a top secret project to test an experimental gamma bomb. The head scientist on the project was a scrawny nerd named Bruce Banner, who Betty was immediately smitten with. However, during the test of the gamma bomb, Banner was exposed to the radiation and would become the Hulk whenever he got angry. Banner would keep his true identity a secret (his alter ego being a literally powerful and overbearing man) from Betty, but her father became obsessed with destroying the big green. The overbearing men in Betty's life continued when Major Glenn Talbot was put in charge of Ross' Hulkbuster unit. He courted Betty, and when Banner was publicly outed as the Hulk, Betty had nowhere to turn, and she married Talbot. Betty ended up divorcing him a short time later and Talbot died trying to bring down the Hulk.
The relationship between Betty and Bruce Banner continued to grow even through the angry rampages. At one point, M.O.D.O.K. transformed Betty into a gamma fueled monster known as the Harpy. However, Betty and Bruce endured, grew closer and couldn't deny their love for one another. Much to the objections of her father, Betty married Bruce. In a true testament of their love and due to Banner's greener side, the two were on the run as fugitives from the law. When Hulk's arch nemesis, Abomination, managed to kidnap Betty, he poisoned her, hoping to incriminate the Hulk. Eventually, she died. Editorially, this was supposed to transform the Hulk into a savage beast once again, but problems between Marvel and writer Peter David would lead to a rocky ten years for the Hulk's title. Eventually, Greg Pak used the Illuminati to launch the Hulk into space to a far distant planet where he took a wife and became conqueror. Upon the destruction of that planet and the death of his new queen, the Hulk falsely accused the Illuminati and returned to Earth for "World War Hulk."
5. Steve Rogers/Sharon Carter
Sharon Carter grew up learning about the World War II exploits of her aunt, Peggy Carter, and heard stories of a romance with Captain America. Sharon was inspired by her aunt and became a career agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. It all started when Batroc the Leaper kidnapped Sharon and the man whom her aunt shared many stories of, Steve Rogers, came to her rescue. Steve knew she had a strange resemblance to his former lover, but he didn’t put two and two together. Sharon and Steve became partners on numerous missions against HYDRA and A.I.M. and eventually fell in love with each other. Sure, it sounds like he was settling for someone who looked like his old lady, doesn’t it? Maybe that's really why she shot him… more on that soon. Sharon and Steve have had an on and off relationship over the years. At one point, Sharon faked her own death as part of a mission and left Steve heartbroken. However, following Cap's death due to the degradation of the super-serum and his subsequent resurrection at the hands of the Red Skull, she revealed that she was still alive and helped him take the Skull down. It took some time for the two to get back together and once they did, she became a mainstay of his life, even covering his back during Civil War. However, this romance has met a bittersweet roadblock as it was Sharon, under the control of Dr. Faustaus, who gunned down Steve Rogers on the steps of a U.S. Courthouse. It was also recently revealed that Sharon is pregnant, presumably with Steve Rogers' child. Time will tell what Ed Brubaker has in store for Sharon and of course, Steve Rogers.
4. Tony Stark/Himself
Who does Tony Stark love more than himself? No one, of course. I mean, who else would design an elaborate suit of armor for himself and parade around in it as his own bodyguard? Tony's always been a bit of a jerk. Even though he's become a superhero and a philanthropist in his day, he's still always looking out for #1. There is no more proof of his love for himself than Civil War. Tony wouldn't even try to compromise with Captain America, instead he had to prove he was right, prove to the world that he was their savior. In the end, Cap ended up dead and Tony took control of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think it's safe to say Tony had a few ulterior motives in mind. Keep in mind that S.H.I.E.L.D. led Tony into alcoholism when he discovered they were buying out controlling shares of his company. There's no better way to get back at S.H.I.E.L.D. than completely taking over now is there? I didn't think so. It's no wonder Tony's never had a steady woman; he's all about his own image. But then again, Tony's been acting very odd lately… SKRULLS! (And no, I don't think he’s a Skrull).
3. Reed Richards/Susan Storm
There's really not much to say about Reed and Sue that isn't well documented. The two met when Sue was 12 years old and living with her aunt. Reed was in the first of his many college tenures, and there was an immediate attraction between the two. However, it wasn't until Susan went to college in California that she ran into Reed again and they fell in love with each other. Of course, she was of legal age at this point and the two began dating. When Reed wanted to run an unsanctioned test flight of his interstellar spaceship, Susan convinced him to let her and her brother Johnny tag along. This of course was the very mission that created the Fantastic Four. After the Fantastic Four was very publicly established, Reed and Sue finally tied the knot and shortly thereafter gave birth to their first child, an extremely powerful mutant, Franklin Richards.
Reed and Sue have had their ups and downs over the years, most recently they found themselves on opposite sides during Civil War and eventually left the Fantastic Four for a while to focus on their marriage. Not to mention, they have had to fight off other men who sought out Sue's affection. Two of those other males would be Dr. Doom and more famously, Namor, who to this day is still quite taken with Susan. Reed and Sue, quite possibly the quintessential superhero couple, also have a daughter, Val.
2. Cyclops/Jean Grey
There is no family in all of mutant-kind that is more important than the Summers family. The most important element of that family is Scott Summers and Jean Grey. In just about every alternate X-universe and timeline, the two are married. They have three children that we know of, one (technically) from the future and two from different alternate dimensions. Since the inception of the X-Men, these two were always destined to be with one another. While she's currently dead (again), he's shacked up with Emma Frost but Jean is always on his mind. It's been a complicated history between the two, they've always been connected on another plane, but it took a long time for either of them to act. There have also been plenty of obstacles in their way over the years. There was the Jean Grey clone and Cable's birth mother, Madelyne Pryor, the death and return of Jean Grey during the "Phoenix Saga" and of course the secret love Wolverine has for Jean and the constant tension it brings to him and Scott. Oh, and the really creepy fact that Xavier has feelings for Jean as well. Either way, when the two finally got married in the 1990s, it felt like all was right with the world. Sure, he had a psychic affair with Emma Frost, but when Magneto/Xorn killed her, her "Phoenix Spirit" approved of Scott's relationship with Emma. That is, of course, until she comes back, I'm sure.
1. Peter Parker/Mary-Jane Watson
I don't care what kind of deal you make with "Satan-Light" Mephisto, the romance between Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson is as recognizable and as important as Superman and Lois Lane. I don't care which version you prefer, the movies, Ultimate universe or the main universe, Peter and Mary-Jane is the greatest and most important love story in all of Marvel Comics. It's difficult to go into great detail about the relationship because they are the Marvel equivalent of Superman and Lois; they just go hand in hand. Sure, MJ didn't appear until 42 issues into The Amazing Spider-Man, but she was always hinted at. It's almost as if Peter and MJ were meant to be together. They had a few apprehensions about getting married, namely MJ's safety and her "celebrity" lifestyle, but nonetheless the two were married and to any Spider-Man fan or comic reader, they are synonymous with each other. They made it through super-villains, Norman Osborn/Gwen Stacy love children, a stillborn child, a separation and the Civil War to name a few. Sure in one of Marvel's most controversial moves the marriage ended to save that old broad Aunt May. And whatever "Brand New Day" brings, the fact is that Peter and MJ belong together, they should be married because there is no one else out there for Spider-Man. It almost doesn't seem right to see them with anyone else. Face it, Tiger, Peter and MJ are destined for one another.
- Vision/Scarlet Witch
- Alicia Masters/ The Thing
- Marc Spector (Moon Knight) /Marlene Alraune
- Professor X/Lilandra