Valentine’s Day is almost here! For many of you, that will involve finding that special gift for your sweetheart; for others, vodka and depression. But if you’re a comic book fan, then romance has long been part of your life. Superman and Lois Lane! Spider-Man and Mary Jane! Daredevil and…okay, bad example!
Actually, let’s face it: Many comic book romances don’t end well. And some never should have started in the first place. And there are many that when you factor in various circumstances, come off as weird, unsettling or in some cases, very, very illegal.
Welcome to our new series, “Bad Romance” (topical!) that looks at some of these relationships. Over the next few days, we’ll look at some of the most-wrong relationships in the history of superhero comics. And just to make sure it’s not just our opinion, we’ve brought in some writers and super-fans to offer their commentary.
NOTE: Compiling these lists drove the author to the aforementioned vodka and depression. Reader discretion is advised.
Up first, we’re taking a look at romance in the future with some of the strangest love affairs in the Legion of Super-Heroes. All, love in the 30th Century! Sure, the history has rebooted at least three times, but in all those hundreds of stories, love and marriage has often blossomed among the Legionnaires. And in some cases, it’s been a very strange love indeed.
Offering expert commentary is Legion super-fan Barry Lyga, author of such novels as The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, Archvillian and a forthcoming graphic novel with Colleen Doran. Barry loves the Legion, and even wrote for the collection of Legion-themed essays, Teenagers from the Future. So let’s see what Barry makes of our picks for the Legion of Super-Heroes’ bad romances.
- Saturn Girl-Lightning Lad/Proty: Okay, bear with us. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad were one of the original couples in the Legion. Early on, Lightning Lad was put in a death-like coma, and was revived by the sacrifice of Chameleon Boy’s pet blob Proty. They later got married and had kids, though one kid was turned into the giant evil brain-thing Validus by Darkseid, but got better.
However, in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths-pre Zero Hour “Five Years Later” continuity (comics!), it was established that Lightning Lad had never come back to life, and the revival ceremony put Proty’s brain into his body. So for several decades, Saturn Girl was married to and had children with a pet ball of dough.
Lyga: “The best part of this was that she was a telepath. She was in some serious denial.”
- Colossal Boy - Shrinking Violet/Year: So he married Shrinking Violet, who was really a Durlan impersonator. Though she was duped, she went a mite far with that, don't you think?Lyga: “And on top of that, Vi was dating Duplicate Boy when she was replaced. When ‘Vi’ started dating Colossal Boy, Duplicate Boy got pissed, fought Colossal Boy, then looked at Vi and said, ‘You can have her. She's not the girl I was in love with.’ At the time, it seemed figurative, but he meant it literally.
“Yes, that's right: Shrinking Violet's boyfriend realized she'd been replaced by a Durlan and did nothing about it. He later claimed he thought she did it intentionally, and Violet quite rightly gave him a black eye.”
- Bouncing Boy - Duo Damsel: Thinking about this too much makes me feel sad.
Lyga: “Sad? That the hopes of chubby kids everywhere can come true?”
Laurel Kent: So I forget some of the details of this one, but while she’s Superboy’s descendant, didn’t he initially have a crush on her?
Lyga: “Yep! Only to find out (at story's end) that she looks like the woman he's destined to marry. Eww...”
Tyroc: No weird relationship, I'm just appalled by the character himself.
Lyga: ”Pixie boots and Afros were huge in the seventies!”
Some others worth mentioning:- Element Lad and Shvaughn Erin: Or should we say “Sean,” after her gender changed. This salted things between them a bit. You’d think the 30th century would be more open-minded. - Supergirl and Comet the Wonder Horse: Supergirl had no idea that her pet and member of the Legion of Super-Pets was actually a centaur turned into a full-on horse, or that he romanced her as a cowboy whenever a comet turned him fully-human for brief periods of time. The Freudian implications of this are mind-boggling. - Wildfire and Dawnstar: A longtime couple slightly undone by the fact that Wildfire was a mass of energy in a suit. True love never did come easy.
- Saturn Girl-Cosmic Boy: More recently, in the post-Infinite Crisis-re-re-booted look at the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity (again: comics!), Paul Levitz revealed that Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy hooked up early on, but she erased his memory for the good of the team. That's not creepy. At all.
So, any we left out?
Lyga: “Hmm... You've hit the big ones that I can think of off the top of my head.
“One thing to consider: Especially in the Legion's early (Adventure Comics) history, stories tended to revolve around relationship misunderstandings. There were a least two issues, for example, in which the "girls" of the team kicked out the boys. And there was one where Ultra Boy had to pretend to marry Phantom Girl in order to stop some criminal.
“My favorite f-d up Legion love story, though, is sort of subtle, but fun: The Reflecto saga. This is when Ultra Boy was believed dead, but he had actually been hurled back in time and turned into a wraith-like form, which then possessed Superboy and ended up with some form of amnesia and adopted the name and disguise of Reflecto upon returning to the 30th Century to get help from the Legion.
“Reflecto was attracted to Phantom Girl for reasons he didn't understand and everyone assumed he was Ultra Boy come back to life...and then they found out he was Superboy...and then he got his Ultra Boy memories back...and was in love with Phantom Girl even though he was in Superboy's body...
“This was one of the first Legion stories I read as a kid and yet somehow I still ended up a fan for life.
“And let us not forget the sad story of Duo Damsel, in love with Superboy as the Legion fled to 20th Century Smallville to hide from Mordru...thinking of her unrequited love while crawling through his secret tunnel from the Kent house.
“Oh and then there's the weird (yet touching) platonic romance between the White Witch...and Blok, whose name is not a metaphor.
If there’s any Legion relationships we left out, let us know!
Tomorrow: Bill Walko of TitansTower.com takes us through the strangest romances of the Teen Titans.
Have a drink handy.
And later: Kelly Sue DeConnick walks us through Spider-Man’s strange loves and Joe Casey looks at the weirdest X-Team hookups! Be there!Also on Newsarama: PAUL LEVITZ Continues the ADVENTURE with LEGION ACADEMY