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Off My Mind: Marriage in Comic Books

Lots of things are possible in superhero comics but maintaining a marriage is a difficult task.

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When it comes to superhero comic books, there's one aspect to them that most refuse to acknowledge. Comic books are like soap operas. Besides heroes getting new costumes and punching out supervillains, romance always pops up in the pages. Entire story arcs have revolved around who a character will choose to be their significant other or whether or not a character will ever get to hook up with anyone.

As time and stories progress, some characters manage to develop a strong relationship. The characters may date for a while, have the occasional fight or break up and then get back together, stronger and more in love than ever. With the evolving nature sometimes seen in comics, the inevitable next step is marriage.

A wedding in comic books, with major characters, can be a big deal. It's a way to celebrate a happy moment in the lives of the characters we've grown fond of. It's always a way to draw attention to a title and be mentioned in other forms of media. The problem is, the marriages never seem to last. Once the wedding happens, the honeymoon is often a relatively short time. Why is it most comic book characters can't maintain a marriage?

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Storm and Black Panther

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This is the most recent couple that has been facing problems. When Ororo and T'Challa married, it was a happy time. It may not have been plastered all over the news but it gave two longstanding characters a chance at happiness. Storm rarely has had the opportunity to experience love. When she first joined the X-Men, she was written as the naive newcomer that often walked around the mansion naked. Rarely was she given the chance to experience love. When she and Forge finally got together, it was his invention that caused her mutant powers to be removed. That put a bit of a kink in their relationship.

Allowing Storm and Black Panther gave the two a bit of an evolution. It let them mature in a way that doesn't often happen. With his position in Wakanda, it opened the door for new sorts of stories for Storm. Unfortunately those stories were few and never really went anywhere. Storm soon found herself back with the X-Men and Black Panther spent some alone time in Hell's Kitchen. Many questioned what was happening with their marriage and what was the point of it.

In last week's AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #9, we now know the answer to what will happen with the marriage. It's been annulled. At least they were allowed to dissolve the wedding properly and no retcons or reboots were necessary.

Storm and Black Panther's wedding isn't the only one to be dissolved.

DC Comics Marriages

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With DC's New 52, we also saw the end of some marriages. Superman and Lois Lane, Barry Allen and Iris West and Green Arrow and Black Canary all were married but that is no longer the case (although Ollie and Dinah's marriage ended just before the New 52 began).

Clark and Lois' marriage was a big deal when it happened. With the desire to make the comics fresh and exciting again, DC has made some strides forwards in some areas but also taken steps backwards in others. Sure we get to see the whole romance build up again and it shouldn't be a big deal but their marriage lasted over fifteen years for readers. Now it's as if it never happened.

Barry and Iris may end up back together eventually (if things don't work out between Barry and Patty or if Barry ever gets around to saving Iris, who is trapped in the Speed Force). With them not being married now, what does that mean for their children in the future. We still don't know if Bart Allen is actually related to Barry. Yes, we've had clues that he's from the same future he was pre-New 52, but who knows if that will be changed somehow as other minor details have in the New 52.

Marvel Marriages

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Spider-Man and Mary Jane's wedding was wiped away as a result of One More Day. It was felt that readers couldn't relate to a Spider-Man married to a supermodel. Peter Parker always had girl problems. Unfortunately, it did seem as if some writers weren't sure what to do with the marriage. Mary Jane was often left waiting around at home. There was also her kidnapping and supposed death along with their separation. It seemed that having Mephisto erase their marriage was more acceptable than the two actually getting a divorce.

There are other marriages that didn't work out in the Marvel Universe. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, Daredevil and Milla Donovan, Hulk and Betty Banner, Cyclops and Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch and Vision, Quicksilver and Crystal and Johnny Storm and Lyja (well, she was a Skrull impersonating Alicia Masters so you can't blame him for wanting to end the marriage).

There are plenty others as well.

What comic books are telling us is it's possible for individuals to gain or possess incredible superpowers. Heroes can come back from the dead after sacrificing their lives. Life exists on other planets and in other dimensions. What doesn't seem to exist is strong and long lasting marriages. It might be that it's believed readers can't relate to them. That's hard for me to understand as I've been married for a while and still am reading comics. I'm sure many of the older readers that have continued to follow the adventures of their favorite heroes are also married. Why is it so hard to accept the idea that two characters could be in love and want to become a couple? Does being married get in the way of fighting supervillains?

At least there are still some marriages lasting. Reed and Sue Richards have been married since 1973. Let's hope we can see some marriages actually happen and last in comics. It's hard enough for those younger readers whose actual parents go through rough patches. Comics are often seen as a way to escape and to become immersed in the adventures. There's no need to see comic book characters go through the same situation too many do in the real world.