LIFE IN FOUR COLORS #39:
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, PART ONE
by Bill Gladman
Although many male comic book fans may deny it, there is an aspect to our favorite comic book adventures that appeals to many of them, myself included. An element of four color story telling that if it wasn't there we may have a hard time putting our finger on it, but at the same time we would know something was missing. A piece of the puzzle not present that keeps the entire picture from being complete. And what I am referring to here is... romance.
That's right, even the most "manly" comic book fan out there likes a little romance in his books. And not only books but movies based on our favorite comics or television shows also based on the comics we once enjoyed reading or perhaps still enjoy reading.
Be it Lois and Clark, Bruce and Betty, Ben and Alicia or Diana and Steve romantic relationships in comics make up one of the most interesting facets of comic culture. It's not always about knuckle busting, knock down drag out fisticuffs. It's not always about nerve gas, ninjas, and time loops. Once in a while we enjoy seeing our favorite good guy spend time with his favorite girl.
But remember that old saying..."all's fair in love and war?" Apparently quite a few comic book writers do because over the years there have been many affairs of the heart where the good guy just can't keep away from the bad girls. And I'm here to tell you, when this happens, the tough guy comic book collecting male majority out there eats it up.
There's something about that good guy/bad girl relationship that strikes a nerve with us. Some kind of fantasy fulfillment that takes place while watching as our hero allows himself to get caught between doing what he knows is right, or doing the girl that he knows is wrong. And there are some heroes that seem to find themselves in this situation more so than others. This two part installment of Life in Four Colors looks at the top ten repeat offenders when it comes to Sleeping with the Enemy.
Yes, believe it or not even America's favorite Boy Scout has allowed his heart to be stolen by a known felon. That rather attractive villain that stole Cap's heart and made off like a thief in the night was a member of the Serpent Society known as Diamondback. Diamondback (also known as Rachel Leighton) was a reoccurring character who did become a love interest of Steve Rogers during the years that Mark Gruenwald was writing Cap's book. Of course Steve legitimatized the relationship by being very stern about "rehabilitating" Rachel. And his efforts did pay off. Although Diamondback did get her hands dirty a time or two she did try very hard to follow Cap's lead and leave her past life behind her. At one point the two of them were even sharing a room at Avengers Mansion.
But unfortunately for Cap, one of the longest relationships he ever had came to an end as both he and Rachel learned the hard way that snakes rarely forget that they are snakes for too long.
Yet another some what "squeaky clean" super-hero and former book worm hooked up with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Spider-Man (also known as Peter Parker) was involved in an on again/off again romance with The Black Cat (also known as Felicia Hardy) for a number of years before he decided to tie the knot with his other long time on again/off again lover...Mary Jane Watson.
Spidey's relationship with the Black Cat is full of twists, turns, and dangerous curves. The Black Cat was indeed a very skilled thief, who fell in love with Spider-Man. But it was later revealed she had emotional issues concerning her father and she loved ol' Web-Head much like a daughter loves her father. Later a true romance developed after Felicia worked through those emotional and mental problems...but with a twist. She had indeed fallen madly in love with Spider-Man, but could not tolerate Peter Parker. Which resulted with a lot of kissing and pillow talk while Peter kept the mask on. For the most part. Eventually the couple worked their way through this unusual problem.
And like Captain America before him Spider-Man often regarded his relationship with the Black Cat as part of an attempt to rehabilitate her. And he was just about as successful at Cap as well. After marrying M.J. Spider-Man kept the Black Cat at arm's reach, teaming with her as an unwilling partner... crime fighting type partner... only occasionally.
Since Mephisto granted Peter and Mary Jane one Hell of a divorce its unknown if there is a possible rekindling of this passionate Marvel Hook Up.
Scott Summers, mutant team leader of the outlaw super hero team known as the X-Men had the perfect woman. Jean Grey. Then she died. She died saving the lives of all the X-Men but especially the love of her life... Scott Summers.
But Jean didn't stay dead. She was reborn as the cosmic entity known as Phoenix. And as her powers increased so did her love for Scott, and Scott returned this love. And then Jean died.
Well not really... after Scott got over the death of his "soul mate" he married a girl that looked just like Jean...because she was really a clone of Jean...and then he learned Jean didn't really die so he left his wife and newly born son (like any good super hero would) and returned to Jean... there was nothing on Earth that could keep Scott and Jean apart. Not even the fact he was married to a woman who loved him (nobody including Scott and his wife... Madelyne... knew at the time she was only a clone of Jean) or the fact this woman had just given birth to their baby boy..
Maddie would turn evil... and later die.
Nothing was then in the way of the story book romance of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. The two got married in one of the biggest comic book weddings ever...rivaling the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, and of course Reed Richards and Susan Storm. They could finally live happily ever after.
Until Scott started to have an affair with a blonde tramp in a corset who had tried to kill the X-Men several times before in the past. Just like any good super hero would do.
And then Jean died.
I have NEVER been a fan of Cyclops' relationship with Emma Frost, the blonde tramp in the corset known as the White Queen. This relationship has just never made sense to me. Of course Emma claims to have become reformed. But unlike the Black Cat or Diamondback she didn't just still a jewel here or there... this woman almost killed the man Scott considered to be his father most of his life! She tortured one of Scott's team mates (Storm) with her telepathic powers the first time they met so severely to the point of almost doing permenant brain damage.
Even after Scott some how forgave her for those incidents Emma's past seems to indicate she's slept around with a great deal of men with questionable morals and she still has dealings with some of these men, including Norman Osborn and Namor.
One of these days I hope the truth about Emma comes to light, that she has been playing Scott for a chump. And that she is really a very old woman who looks like Aunt May but she disguises this fact with her mental powers.
Or better yet...she's really Mastermind.
Clint Barton has always had a very wild taste in women. He was head over heels in love with a Russian Spy, and later quite infatuated with a X-Evil Mutant, before falling in love and marrying another spy.
But Clint's wife would get killed by the same guy that divorced Spider-Man (no...not Joe Quesada...that Mephisto guy).
Well actually she didn't get killed at all...that was a Skrull...so Clint...like myself...has a soft spot for ...Skrulls. See I told you he's always had very wild taste in women.
And none was wilder than Karla Sofen...also known as Moonstone...also known as Meteorite. You see Karla was a bad girl...a super villain with a PhD in psychology no less. And as this super villain...she battled Captain America, The Hulk, heck most of the Avengers including Spider-Man who was tagging along with the team before he officially became a member. Later she would join forces with one of the most evil men on the planet...Baron Zemo (son of the original Baron Zemo) and the two of them came up with a plan to murder the Avengers. A plan where they would "act like " new heroes using new names and name costumes. They formed a team of other bad guys acting like good guys and the Thunderbolts were born.
Somewhere along the way several of the Thunderbolts, including Moonstone (now going by the name of Meteorite) decided they really wanted to try to be heroes. Later Hawkeye would have a falling out with the Avengers, quit the team and decide to become the new leader of the Thunderbolts.
He would later still try to help Moonstone "rehabilitate".
Hawkeye's relationship with Karla was very short lived...and so was Hawkeye. He would get killed by that hot little red head he had thing for...no...not the spy...the mutant. Only to get brought back to life...learn his wife was also still alive, and dump his current girlfriend (Maya Lopez...also known as Echo...I won't call her that other name but I will talk about her a bit more later on)...and go chasing after said dead but not really dead wife.
Just like any good super hero would do.
Karla would try to get over her feelings for Clint by dressing up like Ms. Marvel.
Roy Harper, one time side-kick to Green Arrow and better known to most of the world by the moniker of Speedy is yet another character, and another archer, whose name appears on this list. But Speedy would take it to a whole new level.
First he would have a relationship with a known villain, by the name of Cheshire. Speedy was aware of the fact she was a villain. And not just any old villain. As Cheshire Jade Nguyen was already a known murderer and international terrorist when Speedy and her met. She was also once a member of an elite assassin team hired by organized crime to kill the Teen Titans. The same team Roy helped to form and which several of his closest friends still were members of.
But this did nothing to stop the sharpshooter from notching it up with Jade a few times while he was "under cover". Jade would learn that her relationship with Roy came about due to a mission in which Roy was supposed to gain her trust and turn her over to the proper authorities. This did not go over very well, despite the fact Roy couldn't bring himself to turn Jade in.
And somewhere along the way during all that target practice in the dark...Speedy forgot to wear his raincoat. Jade became pregnant and secretly gave birth to a daughter. Roy would later learn of this and would end up raising that same child, Lian, as a single parent. Well he didn't really have much of a choice seeing how Lian's mother spent a lot of time behind bars....or stealing small nuclear weapons.
Later tragedy would strike as Lian would die in an explosion that leveled Star City. In the same story Speedy would lose an arm. The grief over the loss of their child would once again have Roy and Jade at each other's throats, and later back in Roy's bed. But Speedy now had problems hitting the mark which caused Jade to hate him all over again.
I'm not sure how much of this is still part of D.C continuity due to the recent "relaunch (cough)....maybe Cheshire and Speedy never really met. All I know is after this incident I quit reading D.C. Comics forever.
Well...that's it for part one of "Sleeping with the Enemy". Join me in just a few weeks as I reveal what characters make up the top five spots on this list...and yeah, Batman is on there somewhere. Kind of already gave that one away.
Until then... see you in the funny papers!
Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men), and co-creator of the hit webcomic New Comic Day. Bill also writes the column Life in Four Colors and contributes reviews and such from time to time.
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