Wednesday, September 16, 2015

31 Days of Scans - Favorite Canonical Romance

I think I knew the answer to this right from the start, but I had long enough for other possibilities to start elbowing in. I considered Ryoko and Tenchi, but I never saw them actually become a couple. Tommy Monaghan and Deborah Tiegel - that's "Tiegel" to you - gained a lot of traction. With those two I always think of the scene as they try to hold off the Mawzir's forces from inside the church. Tommy with a big shit-eating grin, asking, "C'mon, am I really such a bad guy?" and Tiegel responding "YES!" as some poor sap is getting launched through the background by an explosion. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent shot of it, so here's an extremely awkward moment instead.

Even so, the choice is Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker.

Jeez MJ, it's supposed to be a happy occasion.

When I first started reading comics, MJ and Peter weren't a couple. They were friends, probably the closest friends either had, but they weren't dating. MJ knew Peter was Spider-Man - had known for years - and now Peter knew that. MJ had understandable reservations, but she was still his friend. She helped him repaint his apartment after some punks torched it, and had even offered to let him stay with her. By the next time I got some comics, they were married, which seemed perfectly normal to me. They were friends, then they fell in love and got hitched. Made sense to me.

Of course, the first comics I had with them married were from Kraven's Last Hunt, which was a traumatic event for both of them. Peter for obvious reasons, being forcibly confronted with how he was likely to end up if he kept being Spider-Man. The next time he lost, he might not get off only being buried comatose for two weeks. As for MJ, she's left with uncertainty. Peter swung off into the night, and didn't return. She doesn't know what happened, and she doesn't have anyone she can talk to about it. She has to carry that fear and worry by herself. Peter returns, but almost immediately heads back out to find Kraven. This isn't smart, he knows, she knows it, but he still has to do it. Mary Jane doesn't want him to, she'd thought she lost him once, but she tries to support him. I always like those last few panels, Peter holding her hand to his face, it said a lot.

I suppose I like them because they seem to compliment each other. There's a certain similarity between the carefree, party girl attitude MJ often affected, and the wisecracking Peter does when he's Spider-Man. And in both cases, it had the effect of making others think they were shallow. When Gwen died, Peter outright accused MJ of caring about no one but herself, and a lot of the other heroes tended to look askance at Spider-Man. But just as Peter takes being Spider-Man very seriously, MJ is a thoughtful, empathetic person. She's known Peter was Spider-Man for years, and she guarded that secret carefully. While some of his enemies have learned his identity over the years, they didn't get it from her. Around Peter, MJ can drop the carefree attitude if she doesn't feel like, and express her fears openly. Mary Jane helps Peter from getting too hung up on his problems, or too full of himself.

I don't have a problem with Spider-Man being married. I don't buy that it makes life too good for him if he has someone waiting for him. Marriage presents its own challenges and problems from single life. Sometimes there are going to be problems waiting at home, on top of whatever went on at work. There's another person who has to be considered before making decisions. That other person will have their own problems, and their own decisions. There are going to be disagreements. Peter being a superhero meant some of the problems were kind of unusual, like his parents returning from the grave, or his old costume teaming up with a disgraced reporter to try and kill him. But money issues are still a possible problem, so were children.

I think they're a good couple. They argue, but they make up. They don't forget they love each other. They each will try to deal with things by themselves, to spare the other, but ultimately they share the load. And they were clearly attracted to each other. In the comics of my youth, those two were making out at the drop of a hat. This probably formed my impressions of marriage, but the couple finding each other attractive and acting on it, and this being presented as perfectly OK seemed fine to me.

Tiegel opts for an interesting opening move in some issue of Hitman. I'm going to guess Garth Ennis (writer), John McCrea (penciler), Garry Leach (inker), Carla Feeny and Heroic Age (colors), and Willie Schubert (letterer). Mary Jane can't believe how bad her favorite TV show's gotten, and Peter gets a pretty good welcome for being away for two weeks without a word in Web of Spider-Man #32, by J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), Bob McLeod (inker), Jason Tetrault (colorist), Rick Parker (letterer). Pete's reminded he can't slip bullshit past MJ in Spider-Girl #44, by Tom DeFalco (script and plot), Pat Olliffe (plot and pencils), Al Williamson (inker), Christie Scheele and Heroic Age (colorists), John E. Workman (letterer). Mary Jane has good news for Peter, which means they're doomed in Amazing Spider-Man #398 by DeMatteis (writer), Bagley (penciler), Larry Mahlstedt (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), and Bill Oakley (letterer). The likely moment when the bundle of joy in the previous page was conceived in Amazing Spider-Man #381 by David Micheline (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), Emberlin and Milgrom (finishes), Rick Parker (letterer), and Bob Sharen (colorist).


SallyP said...

Man, I haven't thought about Tommy and Tiegel in a heck of a long time, but I did love them together. Same thing with Jesse and Tulip.

I actually liked Peter and Mary Jane married, and I'm still a little peeved that Marvel saw fit to dump that part.

You know who I really can't stand as a couple? Susan and Reed. I never get the feeling that they even like each other all that much. Susan and Namor however!

CalvinPitt said...

I wonder about Reed/Sue when Reed gets written as a dick, but I believed it when Simonson wrote Fantastic Four. Namor strikes me as someone who might be good for a fling, but would be insufferable in a long-term relationship.

SallyP said...

Namor IS insufferable! It's part of his charm. I also find Reed to be annoying as all heck... but less charming.

CalvinPitt said...

Yeah, "charm" is not a word I typically connect with Reed. "Affable, but clueless professor" might fit.