Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Kiss That Sort of Shook the Comics World

Okay.  Back in earnest.  Here we go.

So by now you've probably at least heard the news that Superman and Wonder Woman share a passionate kiss at the end of Justice League #12.  It's certainly been making the rounds in comics circles, and major news outlets are at least taking note of the fact that Superman is kissing someone other than Lois Lane.  Images of Jim Lee's cover have flooded the Internet, and the hardcore fanboys and fangirls are lining up on both sides of the "Will it last?" question.

Regardless of how one may feel about this development--which, thus far, consists of a single kiss--I find it more than a little shocking that this is such a big deal.  It's not even like it's never happened before.  Since at least the 1980s, there have been stories and indications that show how Superman and Wonder Woman could be a good match.  In the alternate reality story Kingdom Come (which, by the way, is excellent, and I can't believe I haven't reviewed yet), Superman and Wonder Woman not only get together, but she is pregnant with Superman's child.

I suppose another factor in the shock and discomfiture of this pairing has a lot to do with the fact that this is NOT Lois Lane, who we are taught to think is "The One And Only True Love" Superman is supposed to be with.  This may be true in the movies--which, despite their popularity, are not real source material--but the comics tell a very different story.  Aside from Lois Lane, Superman has had other, admittedly more minor or less timely love interests--Lana Lang admittedly being the only one who jumps readily to my mind (my knowledge of Superman trivia is not as extensive as other areas).  Superman fans, feel free to help round out the list for me.

Our cultural obsession with the "one true love" thing is something I find off-putting, particularly in a necessarily timeless (and time-bending) medium such as comics.  I don't know how many articles I've already read where people are essentially saying, "Superman and Lois WILL get together eventually.  I know it will happen.  This is just a temporary thing."  It's like they can't stand the idea of ANY OTHER romance working, simply because the Lois Lane one worked so well, and nothing else will possibly compare.

Little question:  How do you know it won't compare as well if you don't explore the other possibilities?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: superheroes are one of our modern mythologies.  Mythologies are necessarily open to reinterpretation, revision, and re-telling.  Things should happen in a more or less organic way and be respectful of the audience, but aside from that, anything goes.

And a little thing about the New 52: it's a perfect point to reinterpret it characters' lives.  We've already seen quite a few controversial changes, such as Victor Fries's motivation for becoming Mr. Freeze, Bruce Wayne possibly having a sibling (!), and so forth.  If these things are fair game, then so are relationships and who loves who.

I've also personally felt superhero relationships with "civilians" were too contrived to work.  I've never been a huge fan of Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane, and have usually longed for him to have companionship who could survive on the same level as he could.  This is many times as true with Superman and Lois Lane.  I mean, Spider-Man's arch nemeses are supervillains, like the Green Goblin, Doc Ock and the Kingpin.  Superman's arch enemies include Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Darkseid, other pissed-off Kryptonians... basically cosmic-scale adversaries, for the most part.  How the hell is Lois supposed to be kept safe against them?  Wonder Woman is not only able to defend herself against these threats ably, but she has her own rogues gallery to contend with.  She'll be likely saving Superman's hide once in a while.

I've never been a huge fan of either of these heroes individually, but I find myself saluting Geoff Johns and Jim Lee for this development.  Only time will tell, of course, but I think there's the potential for a lot of awesome, creative, and fresh storytelling with these two as a potential couple.  They can play on each other's level, and they are both outsiders within the Justice League.  And in this new interpretation of the DC Universe, I think this is a promising glimpse of things to come.

1 comment:

  1. Lois Lane is also in Superman's level, that's why their love story is timeless, she's the proof women have their own superpowers, she's been an inspiring icon for women, and the idea that a god-like Alien like Superman falls for this independent and career driven woman was a HUGE part on why many fans loved Superman and Lois Lane.

    I find this wonder woman stunt really off putting and honestly I'm disappointed in the new 52. Like many fans I stopped buying their books.