Love is in the air for this week’s Top o’ the Lot. In honor of Valentine’s Day, this weeks list is looking at the romantic side of our favorite super heroes by counting down the best of the many relationships which have graced the world of comic books over the years. So without further ado, let’s count down the best comic book couples of all time!
Honorable Mention: Jay and Joan Garrick
We’re turning back the clock for this week’s honorable mention with some Golden Age goodness. Going all the way back to 1940, Jay and Joan Garrick have a history and continuity that few comic book couples can match. Indeed, it’s pretty flabbergasting that these two have been together for decades, evolving from a young couple to the proxi-grandparents for Bart Allen and the Justice Society. And any romance that’s strong enough to shrug off multiple continuity resets certainly deserves a shout out here.
5) Jean Grey and Cyclops
It is often the case that the best love stories are also the most tragic. Over the years, we’ve had the likes of Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and in comic books, Jean Grey and Scott Summers. Since their debut in the 60’s, we’ve watched Cyclops and Marvel Girl grow up together, transitioning from pair of flirtatious teens to a couple strong enough to survive her turning into Dark Phoenix and even the amorous advances of Wolverine. But what ultimately defines this pair is the heart-break that rears its head time and time again; from Jean’s tragic death, to Scott’s shameful affair, to Jean’s other tragic death, this couple’s relationship has long been tumultuous, which is only made sadder because of the core of love that has always been at its center.
4) Superman and Lois Lane
Of all the entries on this list, this one is far and away the most iconic; it’s not just one of the most well-known couples in comics, but one of the most well-known in pop culture. Another pairing that dates back to the Golden Age, these two actually went decades before they officially became romantically involved in the late 80’s. During that time, both characters grew and evolved, gaining depth and sophistication as the comic book medium did as well. Just as Superman and Lois have always stood as the archetypes for superheros and female leads respectively, their relationship has been the benchmark for the medium as well. As interesting as it has been to read about Superman and Wonder Woman in the New 52, there will never be a more definitive super-couple than Lois and Clark.
3) Spider-Man and MJ
Another entry well-known to the world at large, the #3 slot goes the friendly neighborhood webslinger and Mary Jane Watson. While these two will never be as iconic as Lois and Clark, I would argue that Peter and MJ are the better couple due to the depth of their relationship. It’s fairly common to see characters struggle with a mutual attraction before finally getting together, but the arc these two share is far messier and more realistic than we normally see. After all, MJ started off as the ¨other woman,¨ so to speak, while Peter was still dating Gwen Stacy, his first true love, making their attraction a source of conflict that we got to see transition to genuine friendship. When Gwen met her tragic end, we got to see MJ be there for Peter on one of the worst days of his life. When they did begin their romantic relationship, we got to see the highs and lows building up to their marriage. If Spider-Man has always been the most relatable of superheros, it’s appropriate that his romance is among the most organic and endearing that you will ever see in comics.
2) Scarlet Witch and the Vision
Whether we like to admit it or not, the Avengers have a long history of love-triangles, secret crushes, and all around romantic intrigue. But for my money, the Avengers have never had a romantic subplot that can match the tale of forbidden love between a mutant sorceress and her android teammate. The romance between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision is one that has become a cornerstone of the Avengers franchise, a tale of struggle through adversity as the world does all it can to thwart you. More than anything, though, this is a tale of two beings marginalized by society who find in each other a kindred spirit, and someone who was more than the labels people placed on them. There’s a beautiful story here about love conquering all barriers, so certainly it deserves acknowledgement here.
1) Wally West and Linda Park
At first it might seem unusual that our #1 pick actually comes with less history behind it than our other entries, having its origins in the post-Bronze Age landscape. By while there are comic book couples that date back longer, I’ve never come across one that was as complete as the story of Linda Park and Wally West. After following the typical super-couple dynamic for quite a while, Wally and Linda became married, which is usually as far as any pair goes in the world of comics. These two went a step further, though, when they actually started a family, putting them in a very small cohort of comic couples. Yet more than this, these two are set apart by the sincerity of they’re relationship; their journey to becoming a happy family, after all, wasn’t an easy one. Wally and Linda have gone through more than their fair share of highs and lows, their lowest point probably being Linda’s miscarriage brought on by one of Wally’s enemies. Yet through it all, they’ve endured, with their relationship becoming a thoroughly integrated part of Wally’s character, going so far as to have their love be the thing that anchors him to the earthly plane as he skirts the boundaries of the Speed Force.
Sure, there have been other characters with great relationships, characters that have had engaging romantic story arches, and characters that have gone on to start families. But never has there been one that incorporates all of things so well and with such engaging stories as Linda Park-West and the Fastest Man Alive.
So that’s my list! With close to 8 decades of superhero stories out there, there are certainly quite a few couples that I didn’t mention here. And with comics and their continuity being what they are, the nature of comic book couples is pretty transient…in fact, it occurs to me now that none of my top 5 are part of modern continuity….
Huh. Funny how that worked out.
But anyway, which ones would have made your list? Please let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!