The big shakin's this week are all about the Superman/Wonder Woman hook-up happening in Justice League #12. Superman, of course, has always been a one-woman guy with Lois Lane in the past, while Wonder Woman has been ridiculously chaste to the point of having folks wonder whether or not she was still a virgin. So it's kind of a big deal.
While it does seem very marketing-friendly, this is the kind of story people have made up alternate ways of telling for many years now. Those two are the king and queen of comic book superheroes, and they've inspired countless other characters to take form – some are straight parodies, others homages, and sometimes they're out to tear down the iconic pedestal and ground them in a dirty reality.
Therefore, in honor of this much-ballyhooed tonsil hockey, let's take a look at five memorable relationships involving either a Superman or Wonder Woman allegory – and sometimes both at the same time.
5. THE SENTRY and ROGUE (Marvel)
This one is only memorable because of how badly we want to forget it.
The Sentry started out as a messed-up take on what kind of Superman might exist in the Marvel Universe, with the nebulously-defined power of "a million exploding suns." The Marvel twist on him is that he was half insane and possessed by an evil entity called The Void. He began life as a retcon of sorts, as Paul Jenkins crafted an interesting story (complete with a marketing campaign hoax that implied that he was a long-lost Stan Lee creation predating the Fantastic Four) wherein the Sentry saved the world but would be forgotten about by everybody. That led to constant, frustrating canon changes wherein suddenly the Sentry was the most important guy in every Marvel character's life ever in a very Mary Sue sort of way.
The kicker was his funeral issue, Sentry: Fallen Sun, which was the postlude to his death at the merciful end of Siege. Suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, Ol' Bob Reynolds was the man who took Rogue's virginity – and that was a massive character change that made no sense and everybody hated. Since then, everyone has agreed to ignore it completely and forget about it. Right?
RIGHT? LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.
4. SOVEREIGN and HELLA HEART/BATU and JEREMY METZGER – SUPURBIA (Boom)
Supurbia is Desperate Housewives-styled satirical take on the private lives of superheroes in a suburban setting, mostly based on Justice League charcacters, but with a little Captain America and Bucky thrown in. Batu here is the obvious Wonder Woman allegory, complete with the female-centric dogma taken to the extreme of never acknowledging her son's existence as valid. She insists on training her daughter to be a warrior like herself, oblivious to the fact that her son actually has the power. Her bearded mate Jeremy fills in Batu's emotional blanks as best he can, making excuses for her distance, but it ain't hardly enough. One can scarcely imagine how the two of them got together in the first place – he seems very much like the 'understand someone else's culture to a fault' type of hippie.
However, Supurbia's take on Superman is even nastier. His name is Sovereign, he is all-powerful and not afraid to abuse that power, and he's taken up with an ex-supervillain.
This is very much not the noble Clark Kent type of Superman, but rather the possessive and ruthless kind of man that would likely be the real case should anyone ever possess that level of might. He threatens his fellow heroes, holds himself above them and constantly spies on everyone for blackmail material just by using his super-hearing. Even the Pope. Even "reformed" villainess Hella Heart, cynical vamp, is intimidated by him, although she's seeing how long she can use him as a get-out-of-jail-free card. That ain't healthy.
3. ULTRAMAN-SUPERWOMAN-OWLMAN – JLA EARTH 2 (DC)
DC has often teased the Superman/Wonder Woman potential long before the whole New 52 thing made it possible to try for realsies. One of the twists on it came from JLA: Earth 2, focusing on the world where everything good is evil and vice versa. Ultraman is a selfish bastard and the ultimate overlord version of Superman, while Superwoman is an Amazon who has taken the name of Lois Lane. Ultraman is constantly rebuffed by Superwoman, who tends to try to fool around with Owlman – the Earth 2 Batman (not to mention that she allows the sexually deviant Jimmy Olsen to watch her change clothes for some sort of superiority exercise). However, once again, Ultraman abuses his power to constantly spy on the two of them, and any time they try to make time, he flash fries a spot inches away from them with his super-heat-vision. DC has also done some teasing of the Wonder Woman/Batman possibilities, too – how long might it be before they start hyping that angle up as well?
By the by – one of the potential results of a Wonder/Bat relationship? This:
2. APOLLO and MIDNIGHTER – STORMWATCH (DC)
What follows naturally after all the talk of Superman/Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman/Batman is, of course, Superman/Batman. Warren Ellis and later Mark Millar went there with The Authority, creating a Superman riff named Apollo and a Batman take called Midnighter. Neither one of these held to the same moral code as their inspirations, of course, and that's part of why they work well together as a couple despite being as opposite as, well, day and night. Midnighter is sadistic and brutal in his punishment of criminals and, as we see here, Apollo has some very violent tendencies of his own. It's also a sign of how far comics has come, as while these two were married many years before Northstar got his big media splash, they did have some of their liplocks censored by DC a decade or so ago out of fears of small-minded backlash. Now, they can't get enough of that kind of publicity.
1. SAMARITAN/WINGED VICTORY – ASTRO CITY (Image)
Perhaps the sweetest and least cynical take on the potential of Superman and Wonder Woman together came from Kurt Busiek's Astro City, an Image book that usually called itself "Homage Comics." The main concept of the book was taking a look at the personal side of superheroes, often from citizens affected by the adventures, or obscure characters on the periphery. Astro City Volume 1 #6, however, focused on the big two of the Honor Guard – Samaritan and Winged Victory. They are both supremely powerful heroes who are also supremely busy, so much so that all their friends had to conspire together to A.) convince them to take a day off and B.) actually go out on a date together. That's how obvious it is to the rest of the world that these two should be together, and one has to imagine the everyday folks in the DC Universe tend to root for that as well.
Of course, as we see above, these are two people who are so much alike that neither of them can bring themselves to ignore their assumed duties for long enough to even enjoy a human connection, and considering how much work they have to do to live up to the great responsibilities of their great powers, neither of them really believe they'll ever have the time for an actual relationship. But as they say, there's always hope.
That means there's always hope that the romance between Wonder Woman and Superman, as penned by Geoff Johns and rendered by Jim Lee, will be so well-written and intriguing that it could result in a new status quo. Then, maybe Lois Lane and Steve Trevor can become relevant characters completely independent of the super-folk they are normally associated with. That's the hope. It's always there, even when we get lost in the fanboy stink-eye those of us longtime followers tend towards.
Let's give it a chance and see where it goes. After all, it's just a story.