BRANDY: Happy Valentine's Day, lovers and haters! And in the spirit of loving and hating, Steve and I have decided to have a little battle on the best and worst couples in comics, because life is all about balance, and it wouldn't be a Valentine's day without celebrating two people who are truly wrong for each other. I'll go first...
BEST: Harley and Ivy
BRANDY: Poor Poison Ivy. For a long time, she had to play the role of the long-suffering friend as she watched Harley go back to her shitbag "Mistah J" time and time again. Meanwhile, Ivy did everything for Harley—more than her partner in crime, she loves Miss Quinn unconditionally. When the two teamed up, Ivy injected Harley with a chemical that gave her the same resistance to toxins that Ivy had, as well as boosting her strength and agility. That chemical ended up saving her life when the Joker tried to blast her with his poisonous boutonniere after stealing all her loot one of the times she went back to the Crown Prince of Crime.
They're great together because they play off each other so well—Ivy is the solid, loving base that centers Harley, and Harley is the manic energy that Ivy needs to keep her from obsessing too much about her "cause" and disconnecting completely with humanity. Right now, the two are broken up in continuity right now, but who knows what will happen? I really hope they ditch the Joker altogether in the upcoming Gotham City Sirens movie and just focus on their love.
STEVE: I think the shrewdest move made in the DC Universe was pairing these two up, and I wholeheartedly agree that they are the gold standard for villainous relationships in the entire universe. And I make that villainous qualifier because my pick in the DCU goes to the best villains turned heroes pairing there is...
BEST: Big Barda and Mister Miracle
STEVE: Destined to follow in the footsteps of their respective masters Granny Goodness and Darkseid, Barda and Scott Free found one another as outcasts and traitors to their villainous destinies. Jack Kirby's idea of Romeo and Juliet doesn't end in tragedy, but rather in a triumphant love that serves as a romantic reminder to all of us dreamers out there that true love is possible even in extraordinary circumstances. I also love the little nod to the characters' still fruitful relationship in Kingdom Come. It's nice to know that even some of the most cynical writers in the DC Universe want to keep their relationship intact long into the future.
BRANDY: I LOVE Barda and Mr. Miracle! One of the most enduring loves in comics. Not even Sleez forcing her and Superman to make a porno broke those two lovebirds up.
WORST: Harley and The Joker
BRANDY: It honestly bothers me how many couples dress up as The Joker and Harley, or post their pics on Instagram with the hashtag #relationshipgoals. Unless your goal is to have a dude who abuses you in every way possible, who TRIES TO FUCKING KILL YOU, these are not #relationshipgoals, these are #runthefuckawayandgetarestrainingorder goals. The Joker gave Harley stockholm syndrome, made her crazy, and then repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her. Fuck the Joker and Harley. I'm sick of their story. It's tragic, and not in any compelling way.
STEVE: Not to bring everything back to Alex Ross, but the only time I was even remotely intrigued by these characters' relationship was in his famous "Mad Love" portrait above. But then you remember the Stockholm Syndroming and the abuse and the neglect and the downright destructive behavior comes flooding back and you remember how sinister their relationship is, no matter how you spin it. I have to go super obscure to get mine out there...
WORST: Donna Troy and (hack, spit) Terry Long
STEVE: What started as an experiment by Teen Titans' Wolfman and Perez to give the average joe a surrogate in the DC Universe, (hack, spit) Terry Long was created. This Timothy Busfield looking motherfucker just sweeps his way into Donna Troy's life, claiming to be a doctoral candidate while he languishes in a bookstore. Long story short, this douchebag ends up walking out on her eventually and taking their son with him. Mercifully he was eventually killed off, but had to take his second wife and his son with Donna, Robert, with him in a fiery car crash. I can't not get angry when I hear the name (hack, spit) Terry Long.
BRANDY: I never cared about Terry Long enough for this to affect me but holy shit is he ever a Mary Sue for every average white dude ever.
BEST: Cyclops and Emma Frost
BRANDY: Okay, so this one was hard to write because I think Scott Summers is a self-important douchenozzle. But even though this relationship started as a psychic affair behind Jean Grey's back, these two were good for each other—Emma managed to dislodge the giant pointy stick up his ass that neither of his two redheads could touch, and Scott managed to make Emma behave herself, for the most part (let's not count the Dark Reign event because I have done my best to strike that awful storyline from my memory, even though it seems like the US is currently living that timeline right now). Emma had the attitude and strength to stand up to Summers when he was being a pain in the ass or a douche, when Jean never did.
STEVE: I only ever liked Scott during this story arc, even though his behavior that becomes the catalyst for their relationship was deplorable even then. I think we all knew it wouldn't last, but we all enjoyed it while it did. My vote goes to...
BEST: Elektra and Daredevil
STEVE: Daredevil was my favorite growing up, particularly Frank Miller's seminal run from 1979-1983. His creation of Elektra and their tormented relationship made little Steve pine for a way that these two could work out their differences and get together. Of course, Bullseye had other ideas for them and that particular element of their love story aside, I do think the Daredevil TV series did nail the early Frank Miller tone in regard to Elektra and Daredevil. I know they're not the best best, but to me they're in a class all by themselves.
BRANDY: I love the comics version of their love. She was definitely much more suited to him than Karen Page. I'm too focused on my hatred of Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock to really pull for them in the Netflix series, however. He's kind of the worst in the show.
WORST: Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor
BRANDY: This is the storyline that made me conclusively decide that Scott Summers is, indeed, a douchenozzle. Scott loses Jean. Scott finds someone who looks EXACTLY like Jean, a cargo pilot named Madelyne. Scott insists that Maddie is the reincarnation of his dead girlfriend. Madelyne punches him in response, because holy fuck, who lays that shit on someone? So after saving her life when she's attacked by some villain who has it out for Jean and also thinks she's her, Scott accepts that she's not Jean and he loves her anyway, marries her, retires from the X-Men, and they have a son. I'll repeat that: SCOTT ACCEPTS THAT SHE'S NOT JEAN AND HE LOVES HER ANYWAY.
So after she does her best to make Scott happy and give him a family, he gets a call that Jean—you know, the Jean that he eventually cheats on with Emma—is alive and STRAIGHT UP ABANDONS HIS FUCKING FAMILY, because Scott Summers is the douchiest of douchenozzles. After he abandons his family, they're attacked by the Marauders and Maddie is put in a coma and their son is taken. Some more stuff happens, she ends up on a farm somewhere, and while monitoring news transmissions finds that Jean is still with Scott. She punches the monitor, the electrical charge knocks her out, the demon S'ym enters her mind and convinces her to become the Goblin Queen, and starts a demonic invasion of Earth, all because SCOTT FUCKING SUMMERS COULDN'T BE A DECENT FUCKING HUMAN.
STEVE: Man, I don't know how to even respond. I'm nowhere near as passionate about this as you are, and at the risk of letting Scott Summers dominate this list, I'll offer up...
WORST: Wasp and Havok
STEVE: Fuck this so hard. This was the move that made me stop reading Uncanny Avengers several years ago. This romance never made sense to me and seemed like something that either someone specifically was getting off on, or there was a shoulder shrugging sort of welp, we haven't done that before. It was stupid and ultimately short-lived and it makes me angry just thinking about it again.
BRANDY: It seems like since she was created, Wasp is just there to be paired with any hero who will take her. I'd love to have a Wasp series where she makes it on her own. I figure she'd be a much more interesting character if she wasn't just there to be boner fodder for all the dudes.
And speaking of making it on one's own and boner fodder, it's time for my annual Valentines tradition of "watching" True Blood (and by that, I mean skipping to the sexy parts because there's only so much of Bill Compton's cornball Southern rhetoric I can listen to. His "charm" has... drying... qualities.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, EVERYONE!!