When your life span covers decades of stories, a writer looking to do something new might try out a relationship from out of left field to try and shock readers. Or sometimes, the couplings just don’t mix well and it forces you to say “WTF?” when you read it.
(Fair Warning: This list will be DC Comics-heavy, as I am more familiar with that universe.)
Black Canary’s Immortal Love
When it comes to love interests, Dinah Lance is generally associated with Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Their relationship has spanned comic books, prime time TV shows and animated series. Despite being created separately, the two have been entwined for decades now. But there was a period of time when Oliver was dead, giving his life to save Metropolis from an eco-terrorist. With Oliver out of the picture, no one could expect Dinah to stay single forever, right?
But who would expect a relationship with the Head of the Demon himself, Batman nemesis Ra’s al Ghul?
In a story arc in Birds of Prey in 2000 – about a year before the Kevin Smith Green Arrow series that brought Oliver back from the dead – Dinah met an older man while on vacation. She became enamored of him. He wanted her to give him a male heir. Because the older man was Ra’s al Ghul. The relationship didn’t last long, but it did result in a dip in a Lazarus Pit for Black Canary after a battle, which restored her Canary Cry AND gave her back the ability to bare children. It also gave Ollie something to make fun of her about once he came back from the dead.
A Very Unhealthy Relationship
Harley Quinn may be one of the more popular and long-lasting characters created in the 1990s, and her defining quality is a relationship with her Puddin’, Mr. J – otherwise known as the Joker. But it’s such an unhealthy relationship that it’s surprising it lasted as long as it did, given how abusive it was.
The Joker’s main squeeze was created for Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 and then made her in-continuity comic book debut in 1999. She’s been a juggernaut of popularity ever since, with a good-selling comic and as a member of the Suicide Squad. But it was her on-again, off-again relationship with Mr. J that cemented her in the comics consciousness. And that relationship was nothing short of abusive. Even in the animated series, Joker smacked Harley, left her for dead and demeaned her every chance he got. It was never any better in the comics. Of course she turned into a sympathetic figure. Who wants to boo a battered wife?
Since the start of the New 52 in 2011, she’s been pretty much separated from the Joker, having her own adventures while he terrorized Batman. Now, with the announcement that there are THREE different Jokers in the main DC Universe – a fact that I can’t believe Batman didn’t delve right into – we have the opportunity for a lot of shenanigans between the various Jokers and Harley. But I’ve always been more of a fan of Harley’s relationship with Poison Ivy. That’s always been a much healthier relationship.
Hot Time For The Martian
If your main weakness is fire, maybe dating someone who is made completely of fire is a bad idea. But that didn’t stop J’onn J’onzz, the JLA’s stalwart Martian Manhunter, from entering into a relationship with Scorch back in the early years of the 21st Century.
Scorch debuted during the Superman: Emperor Joker storyline over the summer of 2000, when Joker stole the power of Mr. Mxyzptlk and created enforcers. Scorch was one of the bad guys created for the story, who managed to make her way into the main continuity when the story ended. She was mainly left to her own devices for a couple of years, until Joe Kelly took over as writer for JLA. When Scorch tried to figure out why her memories were all jumbled, she sought J’onzz out, and offered to help him with his weakness and aversion to flames.
It’s never easy, though, and Scorch accidentally helped to unless a monster within the Manhunter, a form that had been suppressed by the Guardians of the Universe to make sure Martians weren’t too dominant in the universe. And it took the JLA to take him down.
Obviously, you can’t choose who you love, but sometimes, maybe, you should make an effort NOT to love someone.
With the announcement of the upcoming DC Comics animated DVD of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, you have to wonder how faithful they’ll stay to the source material. This time around, I really do hope they stray a little bit.
The Judas Contract in the comics was a seminal story for the Titans, as the team was betrayed by teenage hero Terra, who was working with Deathstroke to infiltrate the team as a means to destroy them. Terra had a very physical relationship with the assassin, which makes reading the story a little uncomfortable. I don’t know what the intentions for the character were – maybe she was supposed to only LOOK like a teenager – but what comes across is international assassin Slade Wilson having an intimate affair with a teenage girl.
Even Batman sleeping with Batgirl in the recent adaptation of The Killing Joke doesn’t top that for creep factor.
The Cheetah And The Alien
During the New 52 era, Superman’s marriage to Lois Lane was famously eliminated from continuity, and the Man of Steel started dating his Justice League teammate, Wonder Woman. In the Rebirth era, Wonder Woman helps her friend turned arch-nemesis The Cheetah become her normal human self of Dr. Barbara Minerva again. But last year, we got to see a relationship between a young Clark Kent and Barbara Minerva on a yacht with Oliver Queen while Clark pretended to be Bruce Wayne.
The third issue of Max Landis’ Superman: American Alien puts Clark at Bruce Wayne’s 21st birthday party after his plane crashes in the middle of the ocean. A bunch of drunk hedonists assume Clark is Bruce making an entrance, because Bruce Wayne never shows up to his own parties. And Clark spends the night getting close to Minerva, the future Cheetah.
It’s a sweet issue, allowing two characters who’ve never felt comfortable in their own skin to get to know each other, but it’s also a very, very random pairing. Which probably makes the whole thing more enjoyable.