Happy Valentines Day from the Odinson,
Romance is in the air. As in the real world, romance plays a huge part in the worlds of sci-fi/fantasy and fiction. From the moment Princess Leia called Han Solo a scruffy-looking nerf herder, the sparks were flying and the hottest couple in a galaxy far, far away was born. So what makes a good romance? Passion, excitement, caring, loyalty, understanding, love…
There has to be a fire, an unquenchable need between two people to be together. Take Bella and Edward for instance. In the Twilight Saga these two are drawn to each other like magnets. Obstacle after obstacle arises but nothing is going to keep them apart. Not revenge-seeking vampires, hunky werewolf boys, not even death can separate these two. Love can be tragic. Take Bruce Banner and Betty Ross for instance. These two were born to love each other but Banner must be careful, for every time his emotions bubble to the surface he transforms into the monster the world has come to know as the Hulk. The Hulk is a creature fueled by rage, thus making him a danger to those around him. So until Banner can find a cure for his “Hulk problem,” he cannot be with the woman he loves. Cue the sad piano music. Cupid also has a funny sense of humor. The Marvel Universe’s embodiment of Death is madly in love with the Merc with a Mouth, but due to his extreme healing powers, Deadpool cannot die, thus preventing these two lovebirds from ever being together. On the flip side of that morbid coin, Thanos the Mad Titan loves Death so much that he is willing to annihilate half the population in existence in order to win her favor (see Infinity Gauntlet).
Love and the promise of romance will make a man do almost anything. Do you think Link would face the dangers of the quest for the Triforce or Mario would take on the minions of Bowser if Princess Zelda and Princess Toadstool weren’t worth it? Love can overcome the power of the Matrix. Or it can topple the walls of Troy. Just ask the mighty King Kong how far one will go for love.
There are many, many great couples in the history of fiction. Tarzan and Jane, Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, Mickey and Minnie Mouse… Here are the Odinson’s favorite romances.
Superman and Lois Lane – He is the Last Son of Krypton and the world’s greatest super hero. She is a award-wining investigative star reporter for the Daily Planet, the most renowned newspaper in the city of Metropolis. Doing whatever it takes to get the scoop on a story, she has a knack for getting into trouble, and he has a knack for saving her life. He’s a farmboy from Smallville U.S.A. and she’s a big city girl with street smarts coming out of her ears. For years and years she was known as Superman’s Girlfriend. That was until the day they tied the knot (see The Wedding and Beyond). Now, in the wake of DC Comics: The New 52, the Man of Steel and Lois Lane are no longer married and the future is wide-open. Will these two find each other again, or is one of the biggest romances of the 20th Century truly over?
Spider-Man and Mary Jane – He was the nerdy introverted science genius that got picked on in high school and she was the outgoing party girl and most popular girl in school. They grew up as neighbors and became close friends. He is a masked super hero that saves the city on a regular basis and she knows his biggest secret. For years they seemed to never be on the same track as far as romance is concerned, then one day it all fell into place. It took the death of a friend and the harrowing events of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine to make Peter Park realize that he needed MJ in his life. So, in Amazing Spider-Man #290, he proposed to her. And in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 they were married. For years she was the rock in his life. Then, during Civil War, when in a moment of what can only be described as dumb, Peter Parker revealed to the world that he was in fact Spider-Man. It did not take long for those close to him to come under fire. Aunt May was gunned down and in order to save her life, Peter and MJ, in an ill-conceived deal with Mephisto, were forced to give up that which is most important to them…their love (see One More Day). Much like Superman and Lois Lane, now Spider-Man and Mary Jane are single and exploring other avenues. But there will come a day when they do find each once again for that’s the power of true love.
Buffy and Angel – This is a match that could only happen on the Hellmouth. She is the vampire slayer. He is a vampire. Angel is cursed with a soul. This makes him feel guilt for all the horrible acts he committed for over a century as a soulless monster. Even worse, if Angel were to feel a moment of true happiness he would lose his soul again and revert to the monstrous fiend he once was. This being a world created by Joss Whedon, Buffy and Angel fall in love and he obtains that moment of true happiness in her arms and reverts back into Angelus, becoming one of Buffy’s most dangerous villains. In order to save the world, Buffy must kill the man she loves and send him to hell. Shakespeare’s got nothing on a good Whedon tragedy. Angel has since returned from hell, soul intact, but he is forced to leave Sunnydale and the woman he loves behind for fear of him losing his soul again.
There are two moments in these star-crossed lovers’ history that really encapsulate their tragic romance for me. At the end of Episode 7: Angel of Season 1 of BtVS Angel and Buffy kiss and he has just the slightest look of pain on his face. She asks him if it hurts. He tells her a little. The camera pans back slightly to reveal that the cross she wears around her neck has burned an imprint into his chest. This is a beautiful, albeit sad, metaphor for why these two people should not be together. The second moment is in Season 1 of Angel Episode 8: I will Remember You. Angel becomes human and for the first time ever he and Buffy can be together as a man and woman without the fear of any curse. But her destiny as the slayer and his as a Champion of mankind is more important to the world than their love. So Angel makes a sacrifice to the Powers that Be and time is rewound 24 hours to before his change. The heart-breaking thing is that only Angel remembers that one perfect day they spent together. These poor kids can’t seem to catch a break.
Cyclops and Jean Grey – He started out as a skinny shy kid that grew to become the confident and capable leader of an entire race. She was a star student that one day became arguably the most powerful force in the universe. So powerful was their love for each other that they shared a psychic link. When Jean was possessed by the Phoenix Force she succumbed to its power and became the greatest threat the Marvel U has ever known. And she sacrificed her life in order to save the galaxy (see the classic Dark Phoenix Saga). Cyclops would fall in love with a woman that turned out to be a clone of Jean Grey and they had a son together. Their son would grow up to become the man called Cable. Later it was discovered that Jean was still alive (see Return of Jean Grey). Scott and Jean soon rekindled their romance and even got married in X-Men #30. But the good times were not meant to last as the maniac Xorn, disguised as Magneto, murdered Jean Grey, and Scott was forced to deal with the loss of the woman he loved a second time (see New X-Men by Grant Morrison Vol. 7). Cyclops has found solace in the arms of Emma Frost but with the approach of the Phoenix Force in the pages of AVX….
Wow, I just realized that these romances I’ve pointed out are all pretty tragic in one way or another. And none of them seem to have had that happy ending that we were all promised in Cinderella. When it comes to comics, why does romance and tragedy seem to walk hand-in-hand? But I submit this. Romance is also about perseverance. And won’t it be that much more triumphant when Superman and Lois Lane, Spider-Man and Mary Jane, Buffy and Angel, and Cyclops and Phoenix somehow, no matter what the odds, find their way back into each other’s arms. When is comes to love I believe Westley from The Princess Bride said it best when he said, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell