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The State of Comic Book Marriage Tags: Superman Lois Lane Flash Barry Allen Iris Allen James Bond 007 Tracy.

(A tip of Brian's Bowler to Kelly Guentner for inspiring this on the Super Friends Facebook page)

This week, DC Comics announced that in issue twelve of Justice League of America, Superman and Wonder Woman would become an item.

As usual, the more vocal members of fandom gave Chicken Little a run for his money, volume-wise.  The usual "threats" of boycotts, blasphemy, and Ragnarok-level global catastophe ensued.  Of course, the declarations from the people who've decided they may pronounce how much of a "true fan" you are (to find them, they will post that "everyone" agrees with them) insist that Superman, DC Comics, and the funnybook publishing field in general is even more ruined than ever.

As Tom DeFalco (former Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief and currently writing Superboy and Legion Lost for DC) used to say, "Give unto me the break."

Have you ever heard of "The Tracy Bond Syndrome?"  In On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming, uber-spy James Bond falls in love with Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo and marries her.  However, Fleming didn't want to deal with the idea of 007 being true to one woman and not getting to flirt with as many women as possible in future novels.  So at the end of the book, Ernest Stavro Blofeld gets his revenge on Bond by murdering Tracy en route to her honeymoon.  Problem solved.

For years, many staffers at DC Comics complained that having Superman married to Lois Lane limited the story possibilities for the Man of Steel.  Meanwhile, some of the Super-books' writers made some decent stories out of Clark having to reveal his dual identity to his fiancee, the problems with having to balance a home life with one's crime-fighting career, and actually being Superman and getting caught wearing a  wedding band.

A similar problem faced the creative teams behind Spider-Man across town.  Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada openly declared his abhorrence towards Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson being married.  He did cite, to be fair, that being married to a supermodel actress kinda took away from the "loser" vibe of the classic versions of the hero.  However, the two characters would periodically split up, get back together, dispute over Peter's life choices, and even face complications when trying to start a family together. 

To end the Parker's marriage, Quesada plotted and pencilled a serial called "One More Day."  In this, Peter's double ID has been revealed to the world.  As a result, his Aunt May was shot by a criminal and while Peter scrambled to get medical care for her, Mephisto appeared to Peter and Mary Jane.  In exchange for their marriage, their very love for each other, Mephisto promised to make the world forget about Peter's revelation and to heal Aunt May.  While Peter schemed to find a loophole in the bargain, Mary Jane sealed the deal, vowing that their love would simply rekindle later on.  With that, Mephisto rewrote history so they were never married, just living together, and didn't recall the deal they'd made.

This story was met with a critical (and sales) backlash.  In fact, I've only bought ONE issue of The Amazing Spider-Man since.  Despite the best efforts of some great creative people, I will not support a comic that portrays the institution of marriage is a creative dead end, that allows a hero an easy out by GIVING UP, and that portrays Mary Jane (one of the more progressive female characters in the Marvel Universe) as the weak one in the relationship (despite her rationalization),   I understand why it was done ... but I don't have to support it and I don't waste time and energy bitching about it.

Back to Superman.  As a result of the Flashback event, the entire DC Universe has been rebooted.  Many of the mainstays of the DC Universe are now in their mid-20s.  Among other obvious changes to the earlier DCU, Barry Allen is no longer married to Iris and Lois Lane is a colleague and supervisor to Clark Kent, nothing more.  And now, Kal-El and Diana will be more than friends, probably with "benefits."  This, of course, raises the hackles of some people.

Big bleepin' deal!

At various points in time, Clark Kent worked as an anchorman for a Metropolis TV station, dressed like someone gave him a key to a Men's Warehouse, rekindled a romance with Lana Lang, could only activate his powers when he imagined a lynx, lost his powers to a sand creature, wasn't Superboy, wasn't an orphan, was a member of the Justice Society of America, wasn't a founding member of the Justice League, wore his Underoos over his costume and needed a belt to keep them up.

Superman... heck, ALL comics ... they function under what Stan Lee used to call "The Illusion of Change."  So what if Peter Parker stops working for J. Jonah Jameson?  In two years, he'll be back (and has been).  In the '60s, Wonder Woman lost both her super powers and Steve Trevor.  By the Seventies, she got them both back.   Bucky Barnes has been dead longer than he's been alive ... BOTH times.

It always changes back.  Always!

When John Byrne announced the changes he planned to bring to the Superman legend in 1986, I wasn't very happy.  I didn't mind letting anyone within shouting distance know either.  But when I'd complain that his adoptive parents would be alive again and who knew HOW the Legion of Super-Heroes would be inspired, the usual reaction was, "That sounds interesting.  I'll have to pick it up."

So instead of warning people off, I became part of the advertising campaign ... and I was working for free!  But once I accepted that no one at DC was going to change just because I resisted it, I got to read some really, really good stories.

I suspect when someone preaches to the choir about Wonder Woman and Superman checking in at the local Days Inn, ten people are going to make a mental note to buy Justice League #12 when it hits the stands.  Way to control the damage, people.

It's great to care about the characters.  I know I do!  But STUDY the history of comics.  Become a more educated consumer and DON'T FALL FOR THE HYPE.  If you did, you'd know that DC actually announced this BEFORE the New 52 hit the stands.  To paraphrase Heath Ledger, why so SURPRISED???

If you are as vehement about the changes as you claim, send Dan DiDio and Jim Lee a note.  Don't just complain on Facebook in a forum where you KNOW they won't read it.  Show a minimal amount of guts and try to affect some change because really, isn't that what a real superhero (like Superman) would do?

And as history shows, everything changes back.  Clark went back to The Daily Planet in his basic blue jackets and white shirts.  Kandor returned and Pa Kent left us again.  The Hulk went back to speaking the third person again, as well as the more erudite manner he'd done for over a decade.  Batman went from Lone Avenger of the Night to having not just one Robin, but a couple extra.

Wait for the story to show up before complaining about it.  It might actually be a well-done tale, for all we know.  History shows it won't have any lasting impact, just like last year's Action Comics story where Superman supposedly renounced his global citizenship and nothing ever came of it.  If this is still going on 20 years from now, I promise to apologize.

This story will join other events like Daredevil being "Mike Murdock," Dick Grayson being Batman, Eddie March being Iron Man, and George Lazenby portraying James Bond.  It's all been done before and it all returns to normal sooner or later.  Just be patient.

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