<i>By George Marston, Newsarama Contributor</i> <p>This week's announcement that Superman and Wonder Woman are officially an item as of next week's <i>Justice League #12</i> has spurred thousands of fans, both encouraged and enraged by the decision, to contemplate the nature of romance between superheroes. <p>When does it work? When is it a gimmick? And when is it fan service made good? <p>Here are 10 of the best examples of superheroes who for better or worse got together and made an impact in both their own fictional worlds and in the hearts of their fans. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>
Well, this one's a bit of an open wound, isn't it? Although recent events stemming from <i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i> led to the dissolution of their marriage, for a little while, Black Panther and Storm were one of the most powerful couples in the Marvel Universe. <p>Bringing together two of the publisher's major franchises the Avengers and X-Men and adding in a third, by taking over leadership of the Fantastic Four while fellow power couple Reed and Sue Richards took some time off to patch up their rocky relationship after <i>Civil War</i>, this union between the ruler of one of the most wealthy and technologically advanced nations on Earth, and a mutant who was once worshiped as a tribal weather Goddess seemed destined for greatness, though some criticized it for feeling forced. <p>As you'll see throughout this list, nearly all good things must end, and the strain of battle between the Avengers and the X-Men not only proved too much for the couple to handle, but also left the Panther's country Wakanda devastated in its wake.
Here's another couple that looks to be facing <i>AvX</i>-related irreconcilable differences. Though they hadn't been together for a little while, since Piotr took on the role of the Juggernaut during <i>Fear Itself</i>, and were living on opposite ends of the country after the X-Men's <i>Schism</i>, it wasn't until a Phoenix-powered Colossus attempted to forcibly woo back Kitty Pryde that things appeared to be truly over. <P>While that may be an inauspicious end for a couple whose relationship was central to a certain era of X-Men comics, the love between Kitty and Piotr has always been defined by heartbreak and hesitation. <p>At first star-crossed because of Piotr's concern over Kitty's youth, even after the pair finally admitted their feelings for each other it seemed like one of them was always off-planet, or mind-wiped, or dead y'know, typical couple stuff leaving them always right on the verge of making it work, while only giving supporters of the fan-favorite couple rare glimpses of the pair actually happy and together. <p>Of course, they always found a way to come back from those seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and with the cyclical nature of comics, there's always a chance they'll get back together again someday.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl have almost always been a couple. Originally envisioned as the crime fighting alter egos of married archaeologists Carter and Shiera Hall, the most well-known version of their origin goes like this: Katar and Shayera Hol were alien warriors from the planet Thanagar, whose ship crash landed in ancient Egypt. The people of the ancient world took the aliens for Gods, and worshiped them as their rulers. After meeting a tragic end, the mysterious Nth metal that Thanagarians used to power their ships and weapons preserved their spirits, embarking them on an endless cycle of death, rebirth, and undying love, culminating in their incarnation as modern superheroes who have operated since the 1940s. <p>There have been some interesting twists and turns along the way for comics' first "power couple," like one of the most recent incarnation of Hawkgirl's total lack of romantic interest in Hawkman, despite his professions of undying love, but by and large, whenever there's a Hawkman, there's a Hawkgirl, and they're in love. To be fair, the most recent iteration of Hawkman, in DC's latest reboot, has eschewed almost all of the previous version's history, including Hawkgirl, but DC has confirmed that Hawkgirl will be appearing in <i>Earth 2</i>, so there's always hope.
Green Arrow and Black Canary have always had an interesting dynamic. Green Arrow is raw and ill-tempered, while Black Canary is determined and measured. As seen in so many famous couples, it's their opposites that attracted them to each other in the first place. <p>Like many of the long-term couples on this list, Ollie and Dinah have had their share of ups and downs, not the least of which are the various retcons that have undone, rewritten, and eliminated their relationship time and again, but the duo have had just as many starring opportunities both in their co-habitated stints on the Justice League, and even in a co-starring ongoing series. <p>Perhaps their most defining moment as a couple was also their last (to this point), as a high-profile event led to the wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary, only to see their marriage spur a series of events that eventually lead to their final goodbye, after Ollie murdered the supervillain Prometheus who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of citizens of GA's hometown, Star City.
Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, has had three major romances in his life, and they've all defined different eras of the X-Men. <p>First came Jean Grey, who started out dating fellow X-Man Angel, but was quickly wooed by Cyclops's brooding charm. Throughout the first 15 years of the X-Men, the relationship between Scott and Jean was central to the story. When Wolverine joined the team, and also fell in love with Jean, their love triangle became a major component of the ongoing soap opera of the X-Men. <p>After Jean's apparent death during the Dark Phoenix Saga, Cyclops left the X-Men, falling in love with a woman named Madelyne Pryor, who bore a striking resemblance to Jean Grey. Only after marrying her and fathering a child with her you know him as Cable did Cyclops discover that she was actually a clone of Jean, and a pawn of the villain Mr. Sinister. Jean returned to life after Pryor's villainous turn as the Goblin Queen (and apparent death), and reunited with Scott. Once again, their relationship defined the X-Men, culminating in their wedding in the mid-'90's. <p>Jean died once again, but not before Scott found himself engaged in a psychic affair with the reformed villain Emma Frost. After Jean's second "death" OK, she's been to shown to be trapped in this dimension called the "White Hot Room," where all former Phoenix hosts end up Scott fell into the arms of his new lover, and the pair have led the X-Men ever since, even becoming two of the five co-hosts of the Phoenix Force that twice claimed the life of Jean Grey. While the aftermath of <i>AvX</i> and their possession by the Phoenix Force has yet to show where Scott and Emma will end up, Cyclops's romantic entanglements will always define the X-Men.
And here we have one of the most beloved X-Men relationships ever, responsible for bringing an entire generation of readers, 'shippers, fanfic enthusiasts, and soap opera junkies into X-Men comics. While, much to many fans' dismay, Gambit and Rogue have been mostly on the outs since Gambit was revealed to be the long-rumored "X-Traitor," their continued appearances together constantly stoke rumors of reunion and reconciliation. <p>The most compelling aspect of the relationship between the Cajun ne'er-do-well, and the untouchable Southern bombshell, is that it has almost always existed at arm's length literally. It's that whole aforementioned untouchable thing, you see. Rogue's power has traditionally been uncontrollable, in the sense that there's a risk for anyone who makes skin-to-skin contact with her of losing not just their super-powers, but their memories, their identity, and possibly their life. <p>With that kind of obstacle in their way, the passion that undoubtedly exists between the two usually just smolders, unrequited, yet undeniable, so in the moments when Rogue and Gambit have been able to, for one reason or another, actually become intimate, the release of anticipation is palpable. With Gambit and Rogue it's never been as much a matter of "will they/won't they," as "can they/ can't they," and for many fans, the question will always be more important than the answer.
The relationship between a mutant occultist and a life-like android may seem unlikely, but for years, Vision and Scarlet Witch were central characters in the <i>Avengers</i>, even starring in their own mini-series in the '80's. Though it surprising strange that an artificial intelligence and a somewhat naive young mutant could fall in love, it was Wanda's ability to look past the Vision's cold exterior and see the emotional, caring man hidden in his robotic shell that lead to their coupling. <p>Eventually, the pair settled down away from the Avengers, even parenting a pair of twin boys who were manifested by Wanda's mystical powers. Sadly, their relationship ended in tragedy, as the Vision was mindwiped, and lost his personality, and it was revealed that their children were actually shards of the essence of the demon Mephisto. <p>An attempt to revive her children lead to Wanda's later mental breakdown, wherein she lost control of her powers, and inadvertently killed numerous Avengers including the Vision and saw the dissolution of the team. Most recently, with Wanda having returned from exile, and discovered that the souls of her children were alive in two of the Young Avengers, a reconstructed and restored Vision has spurned his former wife for her actions during her breakdown. Time will tell if either of them will ever warm to each other again, but it seems unlikely, at this point.
<b>***Warning! This entry contains a <i>Dark Knight Rises</i> spoiler.***</b> <p>Another fan favorite romantic entanglement, the mutual attraction between Batman and Catwoman has been brewing for decades, with the justice-obsessed Batman constantly attempting to reform Catwoman, and the devil-may-care cat burglar doing her best to get Batman to take a walk on the wild side. Though both have often found themselves in the arms of others, and have both parented children with others over the years, the passion that exists between them is the stuff of comic book legend. <p>Technically, they've never been "official," except in alternate realities like Earth-2, where their daughter grew up to become the Huntress, but they've consummated their feelings enough times that even Batman's enemies know that to strike at the heart of the Dark Knight, you strike at Catwoman, with Hush going so far as to literally remove Selina's heart, and place her on life-support to draw Bruce into his clutches. <p>Their most recent dalliance came in a somewhat graphic scene in the first issue of the latest volume of <i>Catwoman</i>, and even this year's film <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i> saw the pair ending up together. In the realm of comic book relationships, almost none are as clamored for as that of Batman and Catwoman.
Since the title first started, Marvel's Fantastic Four has always been about family, and at the heart of that family, are Reed & Sue Richards, better known as Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Right from the start, their relationship was rocky, mostly thanks to Sue's attraction to just about anybody that hates Reed Richards and Reed's attraction to science, but the Richardses have one thing going for them that nobody, not even the couple at number one, has they've made it work. They've stayed together through thick and thin, even when they've found themselves on opposite sides of the superhero <i>Civil War</i>, and have raised a family, and flourished as a couple. <p>It's easy to wonder how they've made their love last. Reed can be an emotionally absent jerk, and Sue is often depicted as flighty and given to infatuations with Reed's enemies, but the truth is as simple as love can often be in real life; they just do. They love each other, and just like real love, their relationship is built on an emotional trust that has survived the some of the worst crises any world can offer. They rely on each other to be what the other cannot. Sue is Reed's emotional core, and Reed is Sue's logical center. <p>Never as strong apart as they are together, Marvel's premiere "power couple" are one of the best examples of love gone right in comics.
Though you might already hear the contentious groans from readers who fall on the "hate it" side of the already heated reaction to this recent pairing, the truth is, if DC goes through with this and it lasts the romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman may be one of the most important developments of DC's year-old New 52. Almost since they started appearing together in comics, fans have speculated and argued over the possible pairing of the Man of Steel and the Amazonian princess. <p>And why not? When it comes to the modern mythology of superhero comic books, Superman and Wonder Woman are the premiere male and female characters. Doesn't it make sense for them to wind up together? <p>And of course, there have been countless teases over the years, not to mention the scores of alternate realities where the two have been a couple. Mark Waid and Alex Ross went so far as to have the pair raise a child in <i>Kingdom Come</i>, and the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman has long been central to Frank Miller's Batman universe in such works as <i>The Dark Knight Strikes Again</i>. <p>While the negative reactions to the development may be a case of some readers finally getting their cake and not liking the taste, there are plenty of unspoken "rules" being broken to facilitate Superman and Wonder Woman getting together in mainstream comics. However, there are likely also numerous readers for whom this is the culmination of decades of hinting, teasing, and speculation, and after nearly 80 years of co-existence, maybe it's time Superman and Wonder Woman finally had their shot at making it work, for real.