Welcome back to Bad Romance, our Valentine’s Day look at why many relationships in superhero comics are just plain wrong. This time, we look at bad romances in the X-Men books…and given how many teams there’ve been over the years, there’s plenty of weird material out there. Teenagers and mutant genes will do that.
To help guide us through this twisted world, we got as our special guest commentator Joe Casey, co-creator of Ben 10 and Generator Rex, along with many comics including the upcoming Butcher Baker from Image Comics. And of course he did a tour of duty on Uncanny X-Men last decade.
Casey offered some hilarious (and profane) insights into the X-Romances…though be forewarned, this gets pretty twisted, even for comics. You might need therapy after reading this. We did.
Professor X and Jean Grey: In a panel writers have attempted to ignore or gloss off for decades, Professor X had a thought balloon thinking of Jean as “the one I love the most!”
Presumably, this not-so-young teacher was not the object of schoolgirl fantasy, and sensing he was thinking just like the old man in that book by Nabakov, Jean used her own psychic abilities to make Xavier not stand so close to her.
Joe Casey: “Yeah, never has one stray thought balloon caused so much fan angst, Very creepy indeed. And probably illegal, too.”
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch: There's always been something slightly incestuous about Pietro's protectiveness toward his sister...which Mark Millar and Jeph Loeb ran with in the Ultimate universe. Hooooo boy, did they run with it.
Casey: “Well, let's not dwell on anything Ultimate. The real Scarlet Witch has turned out to be crazy enough. Who knew that Quicksilver would turn out to be the respectable one...?”
Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor: You just don't marry a woman because she reminds you of your dead girlfriend, and you just don't run out on her and your kid because your dead girlfriend comes back. And then you just...don't...goblin...clone...alternate reality...I need a road map.
Casey: “Strangely, this was one of the more sexually sane things that Cyclops ever did. He was a fan of cosplay, clearly. Speaking of which...”
Cyclops and Emma: Even they admitted their psychic affair was a mite twisted, though it's weirdly proven an enduring relationship.
Casey: “Morrison sold this relationship so effectively, I'm convinced she's the best thing that ever happened to Cyclops. I hope it lasts...”
Emma and Namor: It's not so much wrong as when did they find the time?
Casey: “What is this, some kind of retcon bulls**t? Yeah, I'm not down with this at all.”
Namor and Marina: Sometimes marriage just doesn't work out. Sometimes she turns into a giant alien fish thing and you have to kill her. And then she comes back and you have to kill her again.
Casey: “Somewhere, as we speak, John Byrne is shaking his fists at the heavens... screaming of yet another injustice committed. “
Professor X and Lilandra: Charles' interstellar love affair with the bird-like alien princess wasn't that bad, but it gets a mite worse when you consider the period his sister Cassandra Nova had switched bodies with him.
Casey: “I think this one proves that Xavier had a kink of his own. Only an alien empress was going to dominate him in the way he'd always dreamed of...”
Colossus and Kitty Pryde: One of the more popular romances among fans, the fact that Kitty was about 13 and Peter visibly older made their talk of possible marriage and such all the squickier. Though perhaps the nastiest part was when Peter dumped her for some artificial being on the Secret Wars planet who didn't even speak the same language as him. Rightly, Wolverine then let the Juggernaut beat the crap out of Colossus over this.
Casey: “The age thing was a bit of a hurdle... especially considering it was Kitty who wanted to jump into the sack right away. Personally, I think everything Peter did was his own subconscious trying to push her away. I can only guess that Peter looked at her more as a little sister than anything else... and who wants to bed down their little sister?”
Colossus and Callisto: During a period where she was model-pretty and suffering from less of the self-esteem issues that led her to lead the Morlocks, Callisto hooked up with Colossus...while he had no memory of who he was. Ew.
Casey: “All I can say here is... go, Callisto.”
Angel (I) and Husk: Okay, he's a first-generation X-Man; she was in Generation X, the generation that's even younger than the New Mutants. What part of this was even legal?
Casey: “Ladies and gentlemen, our first example of completely misguided writing. Whoever came up with this one may need a public flogging...”
Angel (II) and Beak: Angel jumping Beak's hollow bones resulted in a rapid pregnancy that generated a litter of rapid-growth bird-butterfly babies. And this is why it's especially important for superheroes to use contraception.
Casey: “Young love. And they said it wouldn't last. Love these two characters, together and apart. Either way, they were nice additions to the mythos, courtesy of Grant Morrison.”
Mystique and Iceman/Azazel/Sabertooth/Gambit: So, to break this on down: Mystique impersonated one of Iceman's old girlfriends, had children with the demon Azazel and with Sabertooth, and impersonated another hero to flirt with adopted daughter Rogue's boyfriend Gambit to show Rogue he couldn't be loyal. Mystique, put bluntly, likes it kinky.
Casey: “My head hurts.”
Mastermind and Phoenix: So he brainwashed her into being the Black Queen and walking around in black lingerie; she put him into a coma and exploded a planet. Rape-y and genocidal, it's the most destructive affair on this list.
Casey: “This one, I like. But it's mainly because, as a writer, it's great to see a villain do really f****d up things. Mastermind was a true threat for awhile. The fact that he started out as such a pathetic bozo in the ‘60s made this turn even more impressive.”
Juggernaut and She-Hulk: Technically neither was a mutant, and technically Dan Slott later explained it wasn't She-Hulk. This made the image no less traumatic.
Casey: “Whatever. This one needs to be forgotten.”
Psylocke and Cypher: In her first US appearance, Captain Britain’s eyeless purple-haired psychic sister Betsy gets rescued by Kitty Pryde's contemporary Doug Ramsey from the extra-dimensional entertainment mogul Mojo, who gives her cybernetic eyes.
Toward the end of the story, Psylocke reflects that she senses Doug's feelings for her...and that she has feelings herself. This was promptly and mercifully swept aside so that Psylocke could die, be resurrected as a hot Asian, die again and then come back again, while Cypher could also die, be merged with an alien technorganic life form, and then be resurrected as a human again. Comics!
Casey: “My head hurts again. X-Men in the ‘90s. Go figure.”
Nightcrawler and Amanda Sefton: Nightcrawler was briefly engaged to the childhood love of his life...who was raised as his sister. The man feels constant Catholic guilt over his demonic appearance, and yet he has no problem with THIS?!
Casey: “A-ha! Now Nightcrawler's death makes perfect sense to me...!”
Captain Britain and Meggan: Naive, illiterate and barely exposed to the outside world, Meggan fell immediately for Cap while she still resembled a deformed creature...and he didn't quite reciprocate until she learned to shape-shift into a more comely form.
Continuing the age-inappropriate theme that shows up in an alarming number of these books, she appeared quite younger than him (to the point that a recent Paul Cornell story had people commenting “He's a bloody pedo”), but many separations later, those crazy kids seem to have finally worked it out.
Casey: “These two... wake me when it's over.”
Havok and Annie Ghazikhanian: In one of the more contrived romances in X-history, Havok fell madly in love with his nurse because it turned out her psychic son linked their dreams. The sheer sappiness of this didn't fly with readers, and Annie and son took a hike.
Casey: “Score one for the readers.”
Magneto and Rogue: In yet another age-inappropriate scenario, Magneto flirted with Rogue toward the end of the Claremont run; later, the characters were portrayed as married and with a kid in the Age of Apocalypse. A younger fake Magneto also had a flirtation with Rogue, but this is a dropped plot point best left dropped.
Casey: “This one was interesting. But I think what happens in the Savage Land stays in the Savage Land, doesn't it...?”
Douglok and Wolfsbane: There's nothing necessarily wrong with two old school friends getting together, but this requires a hell of a diagram to explain the details: Douglas Ramsey died, was merged with the techno-organic Warlock, and started dating Wolfsbane, his old girlfriend who was brainwashed and mutated from girl who shifted into wolf-mode into more of a wolf shifted into a super-killer.
Sometimes, there's just a little too much history in a relationship.
Casey: “Only in comics... actually, even in comics, this one makes no sense.”
Wolfsbane and Hrimhari: Wolfsbane had an on and off thing with the wolf-prince of Asgard; while she's a human who can shift into wolf-form, he's a wolf who can shift into human form. She later became pregnant with his cub, a scenario that left more than a few fans grimacing.
Casey: “‘Wolf-prince of Asgard?’ ‘nuff said.”
Jamie Madrox and Siryn: After they hooked up and she got pregnant, they made an honest effort to raise their baby together. Unfortunately, it turned out the baby was the product of one of Madrox's duplicates, and it was absorbed right back into his body, killing the relationship dead.
Casey: “Very odd. Why do I think Peter David had something to do with this one...?”
Deapool and Typhoid Mary: Deadpool long had a flirtation with Siryn, and was thrilled when she spontaneously decided to consummate it...only to find Typhoid Mary had used an image-inducer. The result left DP even more screwed-up than usual.
Casey: “Like they say, birds of a feather flock together.”
Fantomex and E.V.A. : Fantomex loves the living spaceship that's literally a part of him...really, really, really loves, it sometimes seems like.
Casey: “Well, y'know... the right tool for the right job, and all that. Fantomex has a rep to protect.”
Iceman and Cloud: So during his time in the Defenders, Iceman developed a flirtation with Cloud, who appeared to be a hot chick covered only by a few puffs of cumulonimbus. But then Cloud had feelings for Moondragon, and apparently because at the time being a lesbian was wrongwrongwrong, she shifted into a dude.
Then it turned out Cloud wasn't male or female, but a nebula that had come to life and gotten amnesia, and she/he went back to the sky and everybody needed a drink.
Casey: “Okay, I'll just say what everyone is thinking... how do you f**k a cloud?!”
Wolverine and Kitty Pryde/Jubilee/Armor/Pixie: So there's never been an actual flirtation, and it's mostly a big brother thing, but damn, Logan likes to hang out with teenage girls.
Casey: “If certain writers had their way, Wolverine would be sleeping with every young girl that came down the road. Which writer? U-Decide.”
Beast/Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D.: He's a giant kitty-ape thing. She's a green-haired half-alien. And you know what? They're actually the sweetest, coolest couple on this list.
Casey: “Who knew Brand was into furries?”There’s probably some romances here we left out, but this was almost more than we could take. Tune in next time when Kelly Sue DeConnick of Osborn takes us through the most twisted Spider-Romances of all! And check out our grand finale where two comic pros help us decide who’s had more bad romances – the Avengers or the JLA! Part 1: Bad Romance: Legion of Super-Heroes Part 1: Bad Romance: Teen Titans