Recently, mainstream news outlets caught wind of the super-makeout session between Superman and Wonder Woman, and wondered what happened to his marriage to Teri Hatcher.  Sadly, the Clark/Lois nuptuals, as well as those of Spider-Man and The Flash, have been retconned away because the current editorial teams at Marvel and DC seem to feel that they “aged the characters too much.”  I have to say that I find this thought process suspect, given that the age of the comics audience has been steadily increasing since the 1980s, and both Superman and Spider-Man were married for twenty-odd years of stories.  More than that, it is becoming kind of repetitive that ALL of the super-heroes are now single tough guys in their mid-20s (except for Aquaman), and even the most upbeat super-types are being given at least part of Batman’s origin.  (Dead parents are all the rage, especially in the DCU.)

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) put on it’s own glasses, then didn’t recognize itself in the mirror, asking:  As a reader, do you feel there’s really a problem with marriage or similar story beats maturing a character, or is this “problem” all about the creators?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

REVIEW: The Phantom Stranger #0

Next post

REVIEW: Earth 2 #0

10 Comments

  1. September 9, 2012 at 11:44 am — Reply

    There are characters that are easier to write. These characters are young, romantically unattached, childless orphans. Anything other than this is too difficult and entirely unrelatable.

    • September 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm — Reply

      Are they really entirely unrelatable? What about to people that indeed have children, or maybe a little cousin they care about, and maybe a significant other. These things can act as stand ins for a child of their own or a spouse in the case of relating to the hero character.

    • September 10, 2012 at 8:48 am — Reply

      #Sarcasm

  2. September 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm — Reply

    I prefer it when characters aren’t the super buff, 20 something, singles. In fact my favorite characters in the current Nu52 are Animal Man, because of his family, and whoever the main character of Dial H is, mostly because he is a fat guy that really just wants to do good.

  3. September 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm — Reply

    I don’t see it as a “problem” because they have done these types of stories before. I think they are just anticipating the changes in writers that happen and giving them as blank of a slate to work with. I don’t like it though. I liked that Supes and Spidey had “won” in the relationship category so the change bothers me.

  4. September 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    As a26 year old with a wife and a newborn, I kind of resent the statement that marriage “ages” the characters. Matures, maybe. But ages? Why do they all need to have Batmans origin and Spider-mans lifestyle? Why can’t we have adult superheroes? What’s wrong with Superman, not Superguy?

  5. Oldcomicfan
    September 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm — Reply

    I think the arguments the publishers put forward for reconning away Superman’s and Spiderman’s marriages are about as valid as the three dollar bill in my wallet – the one with Nixon’s portrait on it. Back in the fifties and sixties, when the average comic reader was nine years old and still went “Ewwww” if they saw their parents kissing, the argument was valid. Today when the average comic reader is in their twenties or thirties, it doesn’t hold water.

    It all comes down to the kind of stories you want to tell. You wanna tell stories of nerdy Peter Parker whose still in high school and has to cover his lap with his notebook whenever Mary Jane Watson walks past then of course you wouldn’t want him married. If you want to tell stories about how being Spiderman is straining Pete and Mary’s relationship, and the consequences when little Mary Junior swipes pop’s web slingers and goes swinging from the neighborhood lamp posts in her nightie, then, of course, you’d want them to be married. After all, the Incredibles wouldn’t have worked if the heros were young and single.

    But, putting all that aside, I think the current prohibition on marriage of heroes is a result of pure laziness on the publisher’s part. It’s a lot easier to come up with stories on a deadline when the hero simply fights an Interchangeable Villain every month, and each issue ends with no permanent change to the hero or his friends. Personally, I had enough of such lazy story telling in the sixties and seventies, which is why I switched to reading manga in the eighties.

  6. Shush
    September 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm — Reply

    Spider-Man’s change in relationship status really bothered me.

    Out of all the superheros (I am familiar with) that either had a steady relation with or were married to a non-superhero, Peter Parker and Mary Jane was the most developed. Gwen Stacy gets a special mention, but Mary Jane has had more ‘screen time’ at this point.

    Clark Kent and Lois Lane are also super famous as a couple, sure, but unlike Spider-Man, I haven’t personally seen Superman really work for his marriage. (Maybe there are a lot of famous examples and I am simply unaware of them, but I can only work from my own knowledge without doing exhaustive time-consuming research for a simple post.) I have seen Spider-Man really have to work for it. As much as Peter bugles things, he really is something of a Time-Management Wizard. He splits his time between a job, his marriage, and super-heroing. Or rather, he used to.

    And that’s sorta the point. Maybe because it’s a major part of his character as Spider-Man, but he always has to struggle for what he wants. Superman, being all super and stuff, doesn’t seem to sweat when he’s juggling a newspaper deadline, stopping Luthor, getting cats out of trees, punching the bad guy of the week, helping to build and operate a secret orbital space station, -and- spending time with Lois.

    Leading a Superhero Lifestyle would put a strain on any marriage, but it’s not often shown unless it’s suddenly needed for that story. Ralph and Sue Dibny get a pass as from all that I’ve seen of them, they’ve always been charmingly developed. That being said, I don’t see how most of the Superheros can get married in the first place. Secret identities to keep, sudden unexplained disappearances, constantly falling down stairs to explain away the bruises obtained from being punched all the time (if you’re not invulnerable, of course), important dates and anniversaries that would have to inevitably be missed. It’s a hassle! So, yeah, I can see why all the relationships that are really only window dressing are getting the ax.

    That itself isn’t a problem with marriage, exactly, but rather the character’s marriage being underused. Some characters with spouses work out rather well. Spider-Man’s, Superman’s, Ralph and Sue Dibny. Arguably the Flashs’ marriage worked pretty well. That brings up the other drawback of a character’s marriage. If the comic focuses overly much on a character’s marriage and not punching bad guys in the face, it becomes more relationship soap-opera and less superhero adventure. Probably not the stories the Big Two are wanting to tell.

    TL;DR – No, I don’t think it matures the Hero, but I do think it changes the story.

  7. Michael
    September 10, 2012 at 9:19 am — Reply

    While I do agree that some characters are easier to write than others, especially when talking about a long open-ended run, it’s more about the writer(s) than the character(s).

    Look at some characters today who have some problems keeping a run going well versus when those same characters were doing well years ago. Wonder Woman and Moon Knight come to mind.

    And it’s not necessarily about the writer being a bad writer. Some writers just click really well with some characters (Bendis with Ultimate Peter Parker) while they don’t with others (Bendis with Moon Knight).

  8. dantemarx
    September 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    I am going to say a problem with the creators. But… I am fairly confidant that the problem with the creators, especially within the big 2, are not nearly so limited.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section