My Top 10 Comic Couples

Inspired by the fantastic relationship that is being portrayed by Big Barda and Scott Free in Tom King and Mitch Gerads amazing Miracle Man run is my favorite comic couples. Also, another plug, if you like comics, you should be reading it. There are several favorite couples in comic books books. Everyone has a different one. To be clear, these are couples that are either hinted at, have happened, or interest presented in comic book form. These aren’t ships as much as they are the couples I love to see most. One of them will venture into ship territory, but I feel justified in the choice (stay tuned for that). Additionally a few characters will show up in multiple different relationships. I hope this will make sense for you all once you actually see them.

COUPLE 10

10. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne

There is a lot to unpack with this relationship. Hank is famous for slapping his wife, and there were a ton more images of abuse on the web than their were of them being a happy couple. I am not here to defend abusers, or suggest that the couple was wrong in splitting up. Quite the contrary, I love this couple because they split up. Both are founding members of the Avengers and their relationship was a shining point in the initial Avengers run. You had this sweet super couple between two people with the technology to shrink. This later expanded as Pym graduated to Giant Man (he changes identities a lot). Yet overtime, Hank became more and more obsessed with his work. Eventually Pym inhales chemicals that give him schizophrenia. The pair marry in the 70’s. After being suspended of duty by Cap, Hank eventually strikes Jan in a fit of rage. This leads to the couple divorcing and Hank being expelled from the Avengers. And here lies Hank’s greatest failure. His marriage. It was not the creation of Ultron, it was the dissolution of his marriage. Janet represents Hank’s bearing. Without her, he quite frankly is nothing. She is his lightning rod, and only after she left, could Hank realize that. Janet made the right choice. Yet Hank isn’t a monster that many people generally consider him to be, he’s a brilliant man who doesn’t have anything. Reed as family and Stark has wealth. Pym, arguably a greater mind than both of them has nothing. He could save the world, but without Jan at his side he is nothing more than a broken man. In case 300 words didn’t make it apparent. I love Hank Pym. Top 3 favorite Marvel characters.

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9. Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon

There are two dominant loves in Dick Grayson’s life. Babs and Koriand’r (referred to as Starfire from here on out). While I like the Teen Titans, and I grew up and loved the animated show, The first couple is still my preferred relationship for Grayson. The orphaned ward of Bruce Wayne and the brilliant daughter of GCPD Chief Jim Gordon. Both donned a mask early on in their lives, and were forever thrust into Batman’s endless war on crime. Yet while Bruce sought solace in beating more criminals, the pair eventually found companionship with themselves. This only grew after the events of the Killing Joke. As Barbara embraced her new roll as Oracle, and kept constant vigil over the Knights of Gotham. This couple, as well as Bab’s paralysis have been undone since the beginning of the New 52. Replacing the love with melancholy and a bit of animosity. Fortunately Gail Simone gave us the wedding we all deserved in her Convergance book. So at least we have that.

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8. Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance

Why wouldn’t this show up on a top 10 couple list? This arguably should be further on the list, but it didn’t quite cut it with the competition. What else is there to say? Ollie and Dinah are perfect for each other, and despite barely interacting in the New 52. Ben Percy and Otto Schmidt rekindled their spark in Rebirth. One of the headlining plots in their run on Green Arrow is the deep love that the characters have for each other, and how that love was as intense on day one. They love each other, despite often not finding reasons to love themselves. They help each other get past their own issues and make them that much stronger together. They have had their fair shares of ups and downs. Yet through it all, they always come back together.

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7. Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown

One of the 90’s greatest power couples. Most kids growing up in the 90’s immediately found a connection with Tim Drake’s Robin. I was no exception. His budding romance with the Spoiler, captured my young heart. The couple stuck together through some of the worst moments in Gotham, like No Mans Land. Eventually Tim supported Steph through her pregnancy (Tim was not the father), and helped her come to the decision to put the baby up for adoption. The couple drifted apart, largely due to Steph faking her death in War Games. Yet the spark always remains. Steph was absent most of the New 52 (as was Tim’s personality). Yet recent events in James Tynion’s Detective Comics have revitalized that romantic spark. While the couple is currently on the rocks, they clearly care about each other.

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6. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince

This is a shout out to the threads plotted in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Both series’ showed off mutual attraction for one another. A smart move since Clark has Lois (I hate Clark and Diana, spoiler, that couple isn’t on the list). It not only helped serve as some character growth for the both of them, but also made for some humorous situations. Diana’s naivety paired well with Bruce’s surly attitude. The episode, ‘This Little Piggy’ should leave no one without at least a small support for this relationship, as Bruce turns Gotham upside down looking for Diana (she was transformed into a pig). Despite being utter filler, it is incredibly sweet and solidified this couple in my head from a young age.

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5. Bruce and Selina

Yes, the first duplicate character showing up. How do you not love this duo? Especially with Tom King’s run on the characters, and their impending marriage. They have shared a dangerous attraction with each other for several decades now. One of the best stories showcasing their relationship was Hush, which is a masterpiece in its own right. Selina has always tread the line between good and bad, but always trends towards good when paired with Bruce. Tom King plays their relationship as a mutual partnership. They need each other to keep going. They love each other, while recognizing that they are equally hard to love. The couple always drifts away from each other. Sometimes it is due to Selina and sometimes it is because Bruce. While I am sure the couple won’t stay married for long, I will love every single second that they are together.

Couple 4 best couple

4. Ted Kord and Barbara Gordon

This is a personal favorite of mine. Ted is my absolute favorite hero and my comic book idol. Barbara Gordon is the greatest Batgirl and one of my all time favorite heroes. They had an unlikely flirtation throughout the original Birds of Prey run. Both figuring out each others secret identities because they are smarty pants. When they became close, the couple naturally broke it off. Babs has always had Nightwing, listed above. They have a great deal in common, and would have made a very cute couple. For Ted, it remained unrequited. Barbara stuck around as his friend long after the rest of the hero community wrote him off as a joke. The last time we see this couple mentioned, is in the panel above. From Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1. If you haven’t read it, make sure you do. It’ll make you fall in love with Ted and break your heart.

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3. Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge

Yes, this is my preferred ship for Riverdale’s lovable goof ball. Sure Betty is generally considered to be the better pair, but I don’t like him with the girl next door type. Having him step out of his shell and explore the often hilarious life of the fabulously wealthy. This always puts him in the cross hairs of Hiram Lodge, which make the Archie experience all the more enjoyable. Mark Waid’s seminal run on the title has only fleshed out Veronica more. Changing her from haughty heiress to down to Earth girl. Sure she is still very rich. Yet she is a much more relate-able character. One that I fell for, when I never had thought of Veronica in that way before. In the arc that introduces Cheryl Blossom we see Veronica show off all the good she learned from Archie and the gang. Call it perfect writing and great characterization. This book is one of my all time favorite books, and this is one of the reasons why. I have seen the first season of Riverdale, and somehow I got through it. I don’t intend on watching it again. This opinion is 100% formed by the comic books.

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2. Jean Grey and Scott Summers

I am a 90’s kid. Thus X-Men is deeply ingrained in my being. From the abundance of comic books (and so many shoulder pads). To the animated series, and the excellent theme song that accompanied it. What struck with me most of all of them was Scott and Jean. I always loved Cyclops. Still do. He is hands down my favorite Marvel character. I also have always have, and always will hate Wolverine. So this works not only to make a point for my favorite couple, but helps me debunk Jean and Wolverine. I will not spend this article defending Scott. He is a bit of a scoundrel, and I agree with none of it. But when I picture Jean or Scott, I always picture them together. That is how I choose to see them, and if Scott doesn’t have Jean in his life, Scott is always lesser to me. Also the fact that Scott exists as a hollow shell without Jean in so many different mediums, just shows his dedication to her. Why does Scott have to suffer so much? Can’t we just let him have something?

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1. Lois and Clark

Duh? Do I really need to explain this? They are the poster child for greatest comic book couple. The addition of Jonathan has only changed their dynamic for the better. Long live the Super-Family!

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What’s Next for Marvel?

It was announced earlier this week that Marvel would be doing a line wide relaunch starting in May. While Legacy just launched late Fall, the poor reviews and even poorer sales have driven Marvel to freshen things up. While little is known about it currently, I will discuss what we do know and what I hope comes out of the event. So first off things will start with Avengers #1/691. Marvel has bounced around between legacy numbering and new numbering, so now we have the best of both worlds. I am a fan of the idea. It will clearly mark what issue it is in the current series, while still pointing out the overall legacy of the title itself.

All Star Writer Jason Aaron will team up with Ed Mcguinness to bring the flagship Avengers book. The book will split time between the current Avengers roster (Captain America (Steve), Iron Man (Tony), Odinson, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), Black Panther, Captain Marvel, She Hulk, and Doctor Strange (in what is called a rotating spot). There are things to like and dislike about this team. First off, getting Marvel’s big three back together ahead of Infinity War. The downside is that they feel the need to incorporate the newest Ghost Rider. I guess they want to draw as many parallels between the current roster and Avengers BC which they will be splitting time covering. For anyone who missed it, Avengers BC is the first team up. With the Phoenix Entity, Odin, a brute with the Starbrand (which is telling, as it looks like the current Hulk will be getting it), an early Black Panther, and an early Ghost Rider. While I am all for getting the original gang back together, I am concerned about the recent efforts to include newer characters. The likes of Ironheart, appear to be missing, which is unfortunate. Only time will tell who all the core characters are and where the others may be going.

One thing I do like about the new initiative is that this will be the only Avengers book. Gone are the days of Avengers, Mighty, New, Secret, All New, etc. I believe it will help stream line the audience into one book and drive excellent demand for it, rather than split it up among a half a dozen teams. This should also help with event fatigue. As there will, hopefully, be less of a desire to do multi series crossovers. Something that has become a nuisance for modern comic readers. I am curious to see if this will impact the current X-mean line. As they currently have Weapon X, Blue, Gold, and Red. I expect not, as multiple X titles have been a staple since the 90’s.

This now brings us to upcoming projects. It had previously been announced that Dan Slott would take over the Iron Man title, and it would be expected that Aaron may step back from his long Thor run. I am expecting that these will be apart of it. That was part of what made Marvel Now so exciting back in 2012. It featured long time creators going to different books. Bendis went from Avengers to X-Men, Aaron to Thor, etc. I am curious to see what all they have planned. Though contrary to this Ta-Neihisi Coates will continue his Black Panther run, just with a change of direction and a new number.

Marvel’s new status quo will be quite the different one, and they will have to restructure having lost some of their key creators. Brian Michael Bendis, Jeff Lemire, John Romita Jr, Tom King, and several others have all signed exclusives with other companies and they will no longer be able to use their immense talents. That said, they have recruited what I believe to be the next generation of lead writers. Matthew Rosenberg and Donny Cates have recently gone full time with Marvel. And they join Charles Soule, Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Mark Waid an many more. I am excited to see books in new creators hands and at the idea of having Marvel books on the shelf that people can enjoy (and that I can sell).

Now for my personal wish list. This is in no way me trying to predict what will happen, just my personal wants. I don’t read much Marvel, but the concepts listed below would definitely peak my interest. First thing first. Restore the X-Men. I want Cyclops back, I want Madrox back, I want them all back. I like the idea of keeping the color coded teams. I just want a few tweaks to them. Give Cyclops Blue, Wolverine Gold, and Jean can keep Red. While my personal ship will always be Scott and Jean together, but if it means a happy (and well represented Scott, I can accept him and Emma). Next on my bucket list would be a Doom title. He has made enemies of Marvels underworld as of late, and I would like a book where he tries to regain street cred as a villain, in light of his more recent super heroics. Seeing Hank Pym somewhere and not fused with Ultron or being represented like a maniac would also be a welcome sight for me. Finally, I’d love a new Defenders team. In the wake of Bendis’ departure, I would love to see a drastically different team. I would like to see Moon Knight, Daredevil, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and Cloak and Dagger.

Long winded rant, but that’s what I do. What would you like to see from the new Marvel? What do you think of the changes and what would you like to see?

Ravingnerd Reviews: Captain America the Winter Soldier

Naturally I wasn’t finding myself super exciting for the upcoming Captain America film. The first one was good, but in the scope of the Marvel cinematic universe I generally consider it to be on the weaker end of the spectrum. I find one of the biggest complaints that people who are unfamiliar with Captain America is that they claim he isn’t relevant outside of his Nazi fighting escapades. One of the biggest challenges this film had to face was to prove his relevance in our world. Additionally this film had to introduce the Falcon and promised to show case not only Cap but Black Widow as well.

While there was a lot going on in this film, I think the cast was the most compelling. All the long standing characters did an excellent job at further developing their characters. Both Fury and Widow especially got a lot of extra help thanks to strong performances by Sam and Scarlet. I think what drove this film thought was the great turns by both Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford. Both of their performances were stellar and not only drove much of the plot forward, but also in the case of Mackie helped to establish and update a long standing Marvel character. 

In addition to the stellar performances, the movie was home to some of the best action sequences I have ever seen in a film. Period. This movie was strikingly visual and the fights didn’t leave much to the imagination. They were fast paced and energetic. The movie was constantly exciting, and the extremely energetic action sequences made up for it’s predictable plot. Yes, much of the plot was predictable, but that is to be expected. Anyone who has some passive knowledge of comic books will be able to understand the big Winter Solider twist. That being said, the plot is involving and does keep you on the end of your seat. Lastly this film benefits from having loose subject material to base itself on. Many of my complaints with comic book films is that they play it loose with the subject material. This film however nails the parts it needs to while allowing everything else to fall into place organically.

All in all this is one of the best films in the Marvel universe. It’s catching, gripping, and entertaining. The films shortfalls are few and superfluous in comparison to the scope of the film. This movie did everything it needed to do and more. By a landslide.

My final ranking of the film is an 8/10. This film was solid and should easily fit within the top 5 Marvel films. I highly recommend this film to any one who enjoys comic books and anyone who finds themselves invested in the ongoing plot line of the Marvel movie universe.

My favorite moment of the film was probably Anthony Mackie’s performance. They did a stellar job at updating and introducing the character to the Marvel Universe and the friendship he developed with Cap was one of the nicer touches to the film.

My least favorite moment of the film was when everyone gasped when they revealed that Bucky was the Winter Solider. Read a book.

Until the next time,

Rn 

On The Stack

It’s Wednesday, and before I get my stack of new books, I’m here to detail the best books of the week before.

5. Ghost Rider #1 was a rather brilliant book, I have already sung the praises of this first issue, and will let you read it here. That being said, it was definitely one of the best things from last weeks stack.

4. Aquaman #29 continues what writer Jeff Parker has been doing with Aquaman. When Johns left it was easy to thing Aquaman could fall by the wayside, and become a forgettable title. Yet Jeff Parker has managed to spin an impressive yarn about a more human Aquaman ever since stepping in. It is a thrill to see, and this issue proves that Parker has a lot more going on.

3. The Wake #7 made me realize I missed the book since the last issue. Murphey’s art stole the show, as we see our characters caught by the villainous government. What’s fascinating about this book is once the plot shifted, it feels like the government and people are the bad guys. The Merfolk are no longer the primary villains, though they are there. I am excited and fascinated to see where this book goes as it heads towards its conclusion 3 issues from now.

2. Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6. Rogues Rebellion was the tie in that could. While much of Forever Evil has been stellar, the Rouges centered limited series was the best tie in of the bunch. It perfectly grasped the concept of the Rogues, and seeing them embark on their own small heroic journey of sorts was excellent. Seeing where they go without Captain Cold and Heatwave (who’s dead?) will be interesting. Seeing if Mirror Master can continue to lead the team will be fascinating as well.

1. Afterlife with Archie #4 was one of the most emotional books I have ever read. In just a few short pages, we are forced to feel immense sorrow as Archie not only loses his dog (who has heartbreaking internal dialogue) but also as he realizes that he can’t save everyone. This book continues to thrill at every turn, and this issue made the book feel all the more real.

In other news, I was extremely underwhelmed by Silver Surfer #1. The art was excellent, but the story was forgettable and slow. I hope it can pick up from a poor first issue, as I need to see Allred’s art on a monthly basis.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Ghost Rider #1

I have never had a love for Ghost Rider. The character has done nothing to excite me and has only ever appeared in awkward ways. I have never felt he has a bearing on anything else in the Marvel Universe. So when they were relaunching Ghost Rider with a new identity, and now with a car, it was one of the books I felt I could skip. Trad Moore’s art looked awkward in all the solicitation images, and I was worried the artist who brought us Luther Strode wouldn’t be able to stick the landing. This is what I found out instead.

1. Tradd Moore’s style is unconventional but provides an awesome background for what looks to be a solid story.
2. Even Felipe Smith’s story was fascinating. His settings were on point and the book moved at a quick pace.
3. This book feels like everything and nothing happened all at once. We learn about the characters, the setting, see Robbie get his powers, the end.

Rating before reading: 5
Rating after reading: 7

This book was solid, and well worth another look. After my initial read, I was taken aback. I was almost angry, believing the book could have been about have as long and told the story. I felt like the book had left empty space. Yet upon my second look through I realized we would have missed all the amazing art which really makes this book shine. So what I would describe as the books one major downfall, was also one of its biggest assets. Much of the book is silent panel work, but Moore really is allowed to shine in a way that I wasn’t expecting. What I anticipated as one of the weakest #1’s ended up being one of the strongest. I would recommend this book to any new reader, and truly hope that they can hit the ground running after this issues initial quality.

Until the next time,

Rn

The Last Arrow

It looks like Hawkeye could be coming to an end. At least the one we all know and love. According to Marvel’s June Solicitations, the new arc of Hawkeye is described as “The Finale Part 1”. If this is the case it would mean Fraction is leaving one of the single best comics on the shelf at the moment (or ending it all together). While not a surprise given how busy he is, his removal from Inhumanity, and his long Hiatus from Hawkeye, it still comes as a shock to many.

What will Marvel do in its absence? Given Marvel’s plan, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current run of Hawkeye were to end and then a new Hawkeye be launched in its place, under the Marvel NOW! banner. It seems only fitting they would try to milk what they could out of Fraction’s immense success on the title. I posted recently my thoughts on the title, so I won’t discuss them at length here. Instead I would like to discuss Hawkeye’s lasting legacy on the comic market, and specifically Marvel.

Majority of Hawkeye’s success has come from word of mouth and reputation. I know many people who have not read it yet, but are well aware of its quality. It’s quality has gotten such positive word of mouth that it is, at the moment, the Saga of Marvel. Saga is easily one of the 5 best books published every month, and because of its success Image #1’s have been selling more as a result of it. Everyone is willing to try a #1 if it will turn out to be the next Saga. Thus all of Image’s new series’ are beginning to see a bump in interest and sales because Saga’s fame keeps growing.

This effect has been demonstrated at Marvel as well. Hawkeye is so popular, that quirky solo series’ are beginning to take off. Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Moon Knight, and She- Hulk are just some of the series’ that have already seen positive initial sales and reception. Many of which have become a critical hit at my local comic book store (Ms. Marvel specifically). With more coming, Marvel clearly understands the effects of Hawkeye. This massive influx of non team books would not exist if it wasn’t for the sensation that Fraction and Aja’s book has become.

So while saddening that this book is ending, I am thrilled to see how one book can actively change a company and an industry for good. Marvel is now trying new concepts and ideas coming close to reclaiming their title as the “Great House of Ideas”. So while my praise for Marvel is generally limited, I have nothing but positive things to say. Hawkeye gave them an edge and because of it, they have turned its success into a brand wide mantra. That solo series’ can sell, and that giving a creator free-reign can make a tremendous impact.

Until the next time,

Rn

Right on Target

While Marvel has had no problem mastering movies in the past few years, their hold on the comic book industry has not been as fortunate. While they frequently find themselves on top of sales on a month to month basis and have arguably the best creative stable in the industry, their stories still suffer from editorial mandates and massive events. Just over a year ago, amid struggling sales Marvel launched their Marvel NOW campaign to stymie their competition and once again come back on top. While many of Marvel’s books have found success under the new label, 2013 was the year of unending events at Marvel. Age of Ultron led into Infinity, which led into Inhumanity. As that was happening, the X-Books were dealing with Battle of the Atom. I found myself getting more and more distanced from the Marvel Universe, due to event burn out and fatigue. Yet the one book that was unaffected by the relaunches, rebrandings, and events continued to prove why Marvel is praised as the great House of Ideas: Hawkeye.

Now more than a year into its run, Hawkeye is consistently the most entertaining and the most heartwarming book on the shelf. Matt Fraction is consistently on top of his game revolutionizing the characters of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop at the same time. The duality of the book, and the embracing of both characters’ connection to the Hawkeye name provides us with infinitely more enjoyment than any big event book. The heart of this book is Clint Barton. Being portrayed for the first time as the everyman of the Avengers. His overarching arrogance and his many frustrations he often develops with his teammates are gone, leaving room for the reader to experience the character one on one. The book is defined not by the bow or the mantle, but the man. Clint Barton is the hero of the story, not Hawkeye. This distinction and departure from typical super hero antics is an example of what Marvel has been missing, connection. As a reader, I feel more connected and impacted by the events that Clint Barton go through on a day to day basis than I do with any other character in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is praised as the home of “real” heroes, ones we can connect and identify with, yet Clint Barton seems to be the only character at the moment I can truly identify with.

Marvel is launching into the All New Marvel NOW, with a slew of new titles and at least one new event on its way. While I may not be excited by any of that, I am excited to see where Matt Fraction and David Aja take Barton and Bishop in the new year.

Until the next time,