Thursday, June 01, 2006


Marvel Post-Wedding Blues

Since the post on comic book weddings and divorce was long to begin with and continued to grow, this addition gets a separate entry. Appropriate too, as it comes from a comic book veteran who knows a little bit about these things, having written just about every major character at Marvel and DC at some point.

Speaking to the creative problems of married superheroes -- and particularly Black Panther and Storm:

Nice article. But you neglected to move on to the next level — which has also figured significantly into the time-line of Peter & MJ — namely kids. And in T’challa’s case there’s a governmental imperative. The country needs an heir, pronto. Which means, both in terms of the internal reality of the title and presumably the demands of the “audience” there would be an ongoing demand for this marriage to “bear fruit.” Is Marvel ready to shift Ororo off center-stage and re-cast her as a Mom? What effect would that have on her life and character? Would she be willing to hand the kid over to staff to handle the raising? Or would she give up the super-hero life and go Total-Mommy? And, of course, what happens if T’Challa’s decision(s) as King have any sort of direct impact on the status of the X-Men? If she was forced to choose between her friends and her husband’s country, what then?

And of course, the key question — where does the character go? Does Storm switch over to the Avengers? Does she stay with the X-Men? (Interesting wrinkle, taking a team of mutants who are for all intents and purposes in federal custody and hock them up with the wife of a foreign monarch? Suppose the Panther offers them asylum?)

Even better, suppose Black Panther gets cancelled? Does Ororo go back to the X-Men titles?
Now, of course, the main reason that such post-wedding possible lines couldn't be explored in any truly fulfilling "permanent" way is because of that bugaboo unique to comic books -- particularly the Marvel and DC variety -- a self-contained "continuity" upon which they are supposed to remain true.

That's why DC had "imaginary stories" in the '60s (updated in the '90s to being called "Elseworlds") and Marvel had the What If title. These allowed the companies to take a wacky idea -- "Imagine if Superman married Lois Lane/Lana Lang?" or "What if the Fantastic Four hadn't gotten on that rocket ship?" -- and explore it in a single story.

Everything that our comic veteran spells out above could, in the right hands, make for some interesting storylines. But because the characters don't belong to the writer --they belong to the company and, in a sense, to decades-long history -- this sort of change can't be made in the "mainstream contemporary" core Marvel Universe titles.

Thus, inevitably, either Storm, T'Challa or both will atrophy creatively after this big wedding splash. (Given that literal claustrophobia has always been part of Ororo's make-up, it always seemed to me that it would be difficult for her to find a suitable mate and be in a traditional "family." Even assuming she would get over that and eventually marry, entering into a royal structure inevitably gives her even less freedom than a normal marriage.)

As another e-mailer writes, "I guess that means that with the glaring exception of Sue and Reed Richards, marriage inevitability means death (or cancellation -- as it did for my ol' favorite, Rom: Spaceknight. :-) Storm had better watch out."

Indeed, Reed & Sue have married, stayed married (despite a couple of separations) and had children. But that's precisely the point. Fantastic Four was created as, essentially, a team-family unit from the start. So, the cycle could be observed without it appearing to be to be a deviation from the core concept.

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