So it’s one week later and the dust has settled a bit, so what are we taking away from DC’s decision to pair up two of its biggest names, Superman and Wonder Woman, in a romantic fashion? Initial reaction from fans ranged from outrage to enthusiasm, with everything from cautious optimism to eye-rolling in between. What’s strange is I still don’t know how I feel as a reader! (To read Scott West’s review of JL #12 click here.)
There are pros and cons. On the pro side, this is something new. I thought Superman and Lois Lane had one of the best marriages in comics– if not the best. They were truly equals that supported and complimented one another. But that said, being in a stable, happy marriage doesn’t always make for intriguing storytelling. In books, movies and television, there’s a reason why most stories involving romance are about the process of meeting, dating and falling in love. There’s some strange poison that happens once characters stabilize as happy couples. It’s happened on numerous tv shows over the years. That’s why, when characters are presented as happily married, they’re usually surrounded by single characters bumbling their way through romantic escapades. It’s a shame! I love a good happy, married couple. I loved Lois and Clark, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Wash and Zoe… I love The Thin Man movies. I think married couples can be just as interesting as single people. In fact, most singles are a hot mess… but maybe that’s where the interest lies.
I think in the back of our heads, we all know Lois Lane and Superman will eventually end up together, but there’s no need to rush toward that. To be with Lois establishes a status quo. That could be a negative thing. This is a new continuity. Anything can happen. I don’t object to being kept on my toes.
DC’s has stated that part of the reasoning behind the New 52 was to make their characters younger and sexier. Once more, I can understand that. During the 70s and 80s, DC attested that Superman and most of the other heroes were an eternal 27 years old. But over the years, that has been pushed back, partially due to our culture’s ever increasing arrested development. (I mean… I get paid to read comic books.) Clark Kent and Lois Lane were clearly no longer twentysomethings, with their functional marriage and successful careers. Once again, audiences seem more interested in the beginnings and endings of relationships, not everything in between. And DC freely stated that they were hoping to attract a younger audience, as the age of comic book readers is steadily getting older and could, conceivably eventually die out.
Another possible plus, is that neither of these two are considered sexy. When I interviewed artist Nicola Scott, she expressed that she didn’t consider Superman sexy. “Superman… is 6’4″, has black hair, blue eyes, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and tells the truth. Perfection! But…… introduce him to your mother and marry him. The nature of Clark’s personality doesn’t really bring out the sexual fantasy. Or maybe it does. To each their own.” I must admit that even as a Wonder Woman superfan, that she is beautiful, graceful, majestic… but hot? Not so much. I think that’s because she’s regarded as basically the queen of super heroes and queens aren’t hot. Kate Middleton isn’t hot. She’s all those things I said about Wonder Woman, but not hot. Maybe DC wants to spark more prurient interest in these two wholesome characters.
Along those lines, Wonder Woman has been decidedly asexual for far too long. In the 80s, Steve Trevor was eliminated as a romantic interest by making him too old for her and by him eventually marrying Etta Candy. But honestly, even before that, Steve was kind of a boob. Like Lois, he’d get himself into crazy predicaments, but unlike resourceful Lois, he’d just chill and wait for Wonder Woman to save him. He was always something of a goof and there’s a reason he isn’t as widely known as Lois and really not even that beloved by Wonder Woman fans.
DC has ventured into this territory before. After ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths,’ there was a similar relaunching of the company’s brand and they toyed with the idea of Wonder Woman and Superman as a couple, but quickly established that they were better off as friends. But after that… nothing! Wonder Woman’s next significant boyfriend was Trevor Barnes in 2001! Well, there were a few “interests” but nothing really substantial and nothing that stuck. Trevor Barnes was created by writer/artist Phil Jiminez whose run on ‘Wonder Woman’ was slightly marred by a tendency to tell rather than show. Diana enthusiastically expressed what a great guy he was, but as readers, we never saw much of that in action. There’s a reason he was killed off immediately after Jiminez left the book!
Also, I’m a firm believer in waiting-and-seeing. They’ve kissed all of once. There’s no telling where this new relationship will lead or how it will play out. I’ll give the creators involved the benefit of the doubt.
All that said, there’s still a little devil on my left shoulder giving me an icy stare that roughly translates to “Bitch please.” The biggest gripe most Wonder Woman fans have is that this all seems to be an effort to strengthen Superman. Good Morning America displayed the graphic to the left where Wonder Woman isn’t even named, but refered to as Superman’s “New sexy sidekick.” Wonder fans are rightly outraged. Wonder Woman’s greatest strength is that she is Wonder Woman. Not Superwoman, not Batwoman, not She-Hulk, not Miss Thing (although, aside, I am delighted that a character by that name is coming), not the female derivative of a male character. She was created whole as her own stand-alone character, one of very, very few female heroes to be such. Even Black Canary debuted in Johnny Thunder’s strip and is widely known as Green Arrow’s longtime girlfriend, him being a headliner, her being a member of the Justice League/supporting character. Wonder Woman occupies a unique space in the world of super heroes… I’m desperately hoping she doesn’t become The Yoko of the Justice League.
Then DC released the image to the right, listing their Top Ten Super Power Couples and Superman and Wonder Woman are number one. Seriously? One kiss makes them THE Super Couple? Also, why is it “Super” Power Couples? Okay, so Larfleeze and his Battery is cute. And kudos for including Apollo and Midnighter, a same-sex couple. But seriously? Maybe if this was a New 52 list, but most of these couples don’t even exist in the New 52, so that scratches that defense. Lois and Clark and Ralph and Sue deserve mention over…well, certainly over one-kiss, no-date Superman and Wonder Woman! (I’d argue for Conner and Tim, but that’s a whole other article.)
My most negative reaction to this whole thing is that it all seems like it originated from the lowest common denominator. They both have black hair, they’re both white, they both have super strength and they both wear red, yellow and blue costumes. Because the secret to a successful relationship is color coordination. Beyond that? Superman was raised on a farm in Kansas and is basically your average American guy with good values. Wonder Woman is a princess from a foreign culture, raised like a Shao Lin monk, to promote peace but whup ass when the situation calls for it. Beyond the matching suits– and apparently a mutual feeling of isolation– what do they have in common? The only way I can see this working is in a reverse fairy tale way, with Princess Diana falling for common man Clark. But, we all know that’s not how it’s going to happen.
This is the NEW 52. Other than Green Lantern and Batman, almost everyone’s history is scrapped for something different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is a new twist, that may work or may not. At any rate, it’s got people talking, or in my case rambling.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!