Monday, May 08, 2006

Romance is Dead

Well I was going to write about comic book morality today, but I think I hit upon a better discussion. Before that I will say a few words about comics and morality though as I think it relates to the other topic here.

I have always said I have comic book morals. What I mean by this is I have learned morality from comic books. Comic books taught me several important things:

Romance (which will be adressed further in a bit) - Between Barry and Iris, Lois and Clark, and even Kory and Dick (an impermanent relationship) I learned to not only aspire to finding a life-long romance, but to look for someone who respected me for who I was, not just because of what I looked like or what they looked like. I came to expect friendship, meaning, and some sort of spiritual bond from a relationship - this is probably why I didn't have a relationship that lasted over 2 months until I was 20, but it also prevented me from engaging in a string of meaningless lust driven relationships. I wanted more, and even in the relationships that didn't work out I found friends that I still would do anything for. Comic books and John Carter taught me that true love is real. You just have to fight for it.

Friendship - Real friendship is knowing someone for all that they are and still standing by them. It's the idea that if your friend is in trouble you come running in to back them up and catch them if they fall. Friends are the family that you choose. Hal and Ollie, Dick and Roy, Bats and Superman, Oracle and Dinah, Kitty Nightcrawler and Wolverine (check out the stories when Wolverine talks to Nightcrawler about friendship and Colossus' debt to Kitty), Robin Cassie and Conner, Donna and Dick, I could go on forever. I may not have hundreds of people I call friend, but the people I do think of as my friends are people I would trust with my life.

Right from Wrong - There are so many comic book stories in which the heros are faced with a choice between what is right and what is easy. The heros of the comic book world inspire me to choose what is right every time. Period.

That's only a brief summary of the things comics taught me. But I think it gives a good overview. Now, onto the main topic!

Romance in Comics

I spoke earlier about women and comic books and my theories as to why women seem to prefer manga. I offered the lack of romance as an afterthought, but after asked to think about what romances are big in comics now days I felt it deserved some more thought. I realized that my personal love for manga stems almost completely from the romances. In Kenshin I wait eagerly for Ken-san and Kaoru-dono to realize their feelings for eachother. In Inu-Yasha I am almost brought to tears by Kagome's realization that she wants to be with Inu-Yasha even though he's still in love with Kikyo. Heck, I even got all happy when Naru and Keitaro finally got together in Love Hina. So why will I pick up a manga over and American comic? I'll do it when I want to read a story about love conquering all.

This is because in American comics romance is all but dead. Sure, there's Bigby and Snow in Fables, but what about the Superhero comics? Clark's adoration of Lois is still sweet, but lets face it, it doesn't leave us hanging on the edge of our seats. They've already had their epic love story. Same with Spiderman. While I was never overly fond of MJ, the two of them have passed that high - and I always though Gwen Stacey was the better love story anyway (of course now days Gwen S was sleeping with an old man, but whatever *rolls eyes*). Marvel had Logan and Mariko but they've since ruined Wolverine in general. Jean and Scott were ruined by the White Queen as well as the over abundance of Dark Phoenix stories. So who's around now?

Well, we've got Wally and Linda - however their great romance has fallen to the wayside since Waid left Flash. Dick and Babs... Dick started his one year later comic by waking up in bed next to a woman who's name he didn't know. Aquaman and Mera... still possibly going strong depending on what happens within the current story arch. However, their romance isn't filled with the tension that once marked Barry and Iris or Hal and Carol. Even the romance between Sephie and Jad in Meridian is a thing of the past as Crossgen is no more.

Beyond all that it's also as if comics have set out to destroy the epic love story once and for all. Since when did sleeping around become cannon? Dick, Hal, Huntress, most of the Outsiders, as a matter of fact more heros than I can name, have tossed long term relationships to the wind in favor of having sex with EVERYONE!

If not for Wonder Girl and Superboy I would lose all hope for love stories in today's superhero comics. But - oh wait! - that love story isn't going anywhere anymore either!!! ><

The other thing romance does is make the reader care more about the characters. It's much more traumatic when Barry Allen dies because we know he has true love waiting for him back home. In fact that's probably why they put out the Titan's annual focusing on Cassie and Conner's romance right before Superboy dies.

If we reintroduced the epic romance to comic books I believe we'd solve many of the problems in the industry today. Our heroes would be more inspiring, would have something worth fighting for and something worth dying for. I, for one, eagerly await the day love conquers all once again, and hope it begins with the wedding of Dick Grayson and Barbra Gordon.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

Until this thread was started I hadn't realized how many of the romances had been taken out of comics. Joe Q. - the Marvel EIC said that marrying off Spider-Man was a bad idea because it did end that story for that element. But married life doesn't have to end the romance if written properly. A marriage can drift and fighting to renew a love (if written well) can still be as good and passionate story. Johns kept a little of the romance going for Wally and Linda.

It does need to return in comics. Right now in the cape world I can not think of one single great realtionship in that side of comics. The "best" (or at least most interesting) romantic relationship maybe Scott and Emma and that is an indictment of the current writers.

We need to bring that element back to the books. Hell Silver st. Cloud in Dark Detective was the last great romance for Bruce Wayne.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Okay, here's my take on why romance was thrown out in favor of one night stands. See, one of the things that I think ruined comic books is the take over by the truly liberal, way out to the left writers. They can't stand heroes and do everything they can to drag them in the mud. Look what Meltzer did to the Silver Age heroes in ID Crisis, perhaps the worst comic story ever told. Anyway, one of the worst offenders is Mark Millar. He has gone on record saying that he sees superheroes as Hollywood celebrity types. That's why he drops so many names in his comic work. He believes that if you had superpowers, you wouldn't use those powers to help others. No, you would use your powers to do as many drugs, drink as much alcohol, and sleep with as many women as you could. He honestly believes that that is what everyone aspires to. Why does Superman do so many selfless acts only to refuse the rescued female's advances? Why not just sleep with as many starlettes as you can while getting drugs fed intraveinously? People way, WAY out to the left do not believe that there is such a thing as WRONG and RIGHT. They believe that everyone will do the wrong thing if they can get away with it. Anyway, that's why Millar and his ilk think superheroes would sleep around and never settle down.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

Wow Jeff...

Y'know, you're probably right though, although I wonder what inspires these people to write superhero comic books when they don't like superheroes. Personally I always felt superheroes were supposed to be so "good" because they were people that were looked up too. You know, the representatives of the good in humanity the way the villians represented the evil. I thought the whole reason you decided to become a hero over a villian is because you wanted to aspire to something better. The idea behind Superman has always been (to me) the idea that even an alien aspires towards being human - and not only that, but inspiring others to seek their humanity.

That's why Babs as Batgirl was always one of my favorite heroes - she admired Batman's cause SO much that she followed in his footsteps and sought the path of the hero.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

Jim...

you are very hung up on Silver St.Cloud. I still think the last great Batman romance was Talia in Son of the Demon

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I agree 100% Cshiana. Superman does the right thing cuz it's the right thing to do. It's the way he was raised. That's also why he would never cheat on Lois, never. But the idea that superheroes represent something to aspire to has been lost. These writers hate people who they feel are morally better than they are and have been dragging the heroes in the dirt, giving them feet of clay so that we can relate to them better. But do you want a Superman who sleeps around? Or a Batman who beats up, then sleeps with every female villain he faces? This is what Millar, Rucka, Ennis and the rest all want to see. They say it's more believable and interesting this way. Heck, look what Rucka did to Renee Montoya. He made her a lesbian, which is fine, but then he made her self-loathing, alcoholic with a violent temper and ruined her long time monogomous relationship by having her jump from bed to bed. He claims that it's more real and interesting that way. Don't really get why they hate stories of true love conquering all. Heck, look how hard Devin Grayson tried to make Dick Grayson homosexual. So much for fans who wanted him to get with Babs. Luckily she failed, but the intent was still there. So let's bring back romance, especially in the batcave. How horrible was it that Batman and Catwoman broke up after Hush? They make a great couple and I hope that Bruce is indeed the father of Selina's baby.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

I'm not hung up on Silver St. Cloud, but she was very cool and I love Talia too.

Jeff has a very good point and this is especially true of the far left writers from England. Deconstuction or looking at different motivations for heroes is one thing, but tearing them down is just an easy way to bring them down to your level. It's as though they are saying if I can't be that good, no one can be that good.

I think it might be epidemic to our culture and no longer a province of the left. I know in business that a company I worked for had many people who went around ripping other people apart, instead of trying to make themselves better. This was done to promote themselves and move forward.

The whole problem is that this is wrong. Being a hero means aspiring to something better and doing the right thing. Giving into temporary lust is not heroic. Some of our heroes need to be better then we are and not clueless hollywood types.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

No way they make Bruce the father - DC doesn't ahve the guts - BUT THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!

Need to do some work now.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

It is very sad that people feel the need to drag heroes through the mud because they think it makes them more realistic - because that means people that think that way believe that people cannot become like the heroes of old. I refuse to think that way - I would rather see a hero to aspire to than someone who fails to even believe in themselves.

That's why we won't sell many parents on superhero comics - who wants there kid to read about some degenerate in a cape. If I had kids I'd want them to read about real heroes - those who sacrifice themselves for the greater good and those that aspire to love over meaningless sex. There's a whole lot of darkness in this world, and I don't believe we should ignore it. But dammit, reading about Nightwing, Batman, Superman and every other hero I grew up with has always served to remind me of the good in life, and what we are obligated to strive towards if we truely believe in the better nature of man.

Maybe this is why I prefer the endless desolace of my D&D world. Where I really get to be Cshiana and fight against the forces of darkness. At least there the badguys are more obvious. Here in the real world we defeat ourselves in allowing our heroes to be dragged through the mud.

And I just want to see Batman's son from his time with Talia, although I know that Dick is more Batman's son than anyone.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

You may get your wish with Grant Morrison's first arc on Batman.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

Well then, something to look forward to.

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Arielle said...

Really good commentary you got going on this thread, Cshiana!

I really can't disagree with any of the points that were brought up. It's so terribly sad that these writers think that we want to 'relate better' to the heroes by having them sleep around and do very unheroic things.

We like - and love - people that we can admire and respect. Most of the people I know don't really respect or admire men or women that sleep around, cheat on their partners, or otherwise behave in extremely selfish ways. And the people I know range from right-wing to left-wing.

Ugh. The more I think about it, the more irritating it is to think of these writers proclaiming such bad behavior to be 'realistic'. As if there aren't any people out there that aspire to - and achieve - better and more noble behavior than crawling around in humanity's gutter.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

*applauds Arielle*

Thank you, that was beautifully said. It really is frusterating to think that cheating and sleeping around is supposed to be realistic. Obviously these things happen, but that's only some people. What about the good moms and dads, the kid who stands up for the "nerd" getting picked on, or all the volunteer workers out there. There are plenty of everyday heroes out there, and if anything our superheroes should excemplify these qualities, not wallow in the dirt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006  

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