Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wedded Bliss!

This is the kind of collection I sometimes enjoy from Marvel and other publishers, one that takes a theme and presents an array of stories addressing it. The virtue is that you get a wide range of stories by a wide range of creators from a wide range of different years. That's certainly the case with this one which I have to admit I wouldn't have purchased if it had not been discounted to the cost of a single modern comic. That's a real bargain given the talent included.

Weddings are a natural result of romance and romance is a staple of extended stories which follow the lives of the same characters over an extended stretch of time. The problem is that the wedding is often the climax and what follows is usually weak tea compared to what preceded it. That's not always true in comics, where we have a wide wide array of characters in which some might just be better married off.

Jack Kirby and Mike Esposito
Certainly the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm fits that bill. The natural progression of their relationship has fashioned literally the "First Family" of comics. Without that core bond, which has been obviously strained at times, the actual team of the Fantastic Four might not make as much sense as it seems to do sometimes.

John Buscema and George Klein
John Buscema and  George Klein
The marriage between Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne on the other hand has been the making of these two characters lost in the sea of the larger Marvel Universe. They are defined by their sometimes tempestuous relationship, for good or ill, and that has given them a distinctiveness they otherwise lacked. Whatever the origins of the slap Hank delivered to Jan, it is a slap that was heard around the comics world and forever redefined one of the original Marvel characters.

Gil Kane, John Romita and Mike Esposito
Gil Kane and  Frank Giacoia
The marriage between Pietro Maximoff and Crystal of the Inhumans was out of left field. Both were side characters who had lost their posts in auspicious books, but who stumbled across one another and before you knew it they were hitched. Quicksilver's role as husband was as odd as his role as brother and eventually the marriage failed, but oddly because of the infidelity of Crystal. They got married in a fever, and it showed. But that's life too.

John Byrne
The marriage between Betty Ross and Bruce Banner was one of those inevitable, we've run out of other things to do with the characters kind of things. I don't remember it amounting to much really, not unlike their long love relationship which hemmed and hawed for decades. The seemed to have gotten married because they couldn't think of what else to do.

John Romita
John Romita
The wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was a big deal indeed, and to be fair Marvel managed to get a lot of valuable mileage from this change of status before inevitably resorting the situation and making the marriage unhappen. I rather liked Peter married, but I can see why it undermines the broader intentions of the character. So often these changes reflect lives of the creators and not the audience, a flaw in creative intent which has killed off many a valuable property over the years. 

Andy Kubert
And to be fair, I cannot even say I know what happened in the marriage of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. By the time they got hitched I had drifted so far from the X-verse that I couldn't be bothered to keep up. The confusing tesserect of relationships which formed this storyline was so byzantine that I gave caring and gave up the books.

But that doesn't mean marriage is the end of a good character as is often put forth. As I said, the marriage as rocky as it was  was the making of Hank Pym. Reed and Sue are better together than apart. Likewise at DC, I think Barry Allen was always superior as a married man, he always acted like one anyway. Aquaman too for that matter. At Marvel some of my favorite married couples are not represented in this collection, specifically the Vision and Wanda Maximoff and Clint Barton and his bride Bobbi Morse.  Marriage is a step, useful for characterization sometimes, but sometimes a misstep too when writers cannot find a better notion.

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