Tuesday, February 12, 2008

14 Comic Book Couples I Love - Part 4

I've been feeling rather out of sorts today but I'm not about to let a day go by without another comic book couple getting posted. This particular couple's first appearance had a "meet cute" that wasn't exactly "cute" by traditional standards. Georgia presses actually refused to put ink to paper because they were so offended by the drunken hook-up and subsequent implied anal sex scene between the two characters (or perhaps it was just because the scene in question depicted implied interracial anal sex, because hey, way to live the stereotype Georgians). In any case, it tickles me greatly that these two were pissing off the narrow minded and stupid before their love affair even went to print. While their marriage might be in jeopardy at the moment, you never know what these two will do next and I love them for it. Of course, after an introduction like that, I can only be talking about one couple . . .

4. Jessica Jones & Luke Cage
(No, not Cloak & Dagger! God. What is the matter with you people?!)

Now there's a lot of older, more well-established superhero couples in the comic book world but none whom I feel have earned a happy ending as much as these two.

Jessica Jones was the star of the brilliant superhero film noir series Alias and subsequently, The Pulse. Bendis created Jessica Jones to exist as an outsider in the Marvel Universe - a moody, self-destructive alcoholic with erratic abilities whose dark view of the world around her turned the shiny colors of the Marvel Universe into muted grays. Her only valued friends and associates were characters who, like her, lived somewhat on the margins of the Marvel Universe . . . most notably the underappreciated street-level superhero Luke Cage. Like Jessica, he didn't choose a superhero name and fought crime on a very personal level. An ex-con with steel-hard skin who had seen both sides of the system, Luke Cage respected Jessica for what she did and how she did it and she extended him the same courtesy. Before they became "friends with benefits", which is where the Alias series begins, they were simply friends who felt a mutual attraction towards one another.

In the course of the series, Jessica slowly finds herself on a healthier path to recovery and Luke Cage comes to realize that he cares for Jessica as more than just a friend. When Jessica realizes that she's pregnant with Luke's baby from the Georgian-enraging scene mentioned above, the two sit down to reevaluate their relationship. This is the resulting conversation, which ends the entire Alias series:

Coincidentally, this is the exact point where I fell in love with this couple. The whole conversation is so charming, so real and so honest that it knocked my socks off. Each moment between them is hesitant, honest and refreshingly human. Jessica and Luke are the total opposite of "saccharine", so when they make each other happy, it's like both they and the reader have earned a smile more worthy of value because you know it's been fought for. The darkness and rage in their past, the depths to which they've been - it makes the happiness they find together all the sweeter. Honestly? I'd take one Jessica Jones and Luke Cage book over ten Reed & Sue Richards stories any day of the week.

Amazingly, Bendis and the upstairs folks at Marvel didn't pressure either of them to get married at first and they simply cohabitated in bliss - or as close to bliss as 'real life' concerns would allow. This was an unmarried couple with a baby on the way and, outside of financial concerns, they were okay with that. I was, and still am, in awe of this couple existing in the Marvel Universe.

Eventually, Luke Cage decided to propose to Jessica shortly before she gave birth to their daughter, Danielle Cage (who, according to some, made comic book history just by existing). While a part of me was a little sad that they were going the traditional route, the whole off-the-cuff proposal felt surprisingly organic and perfectly suited to the characters. Best of all, IMHO, was that Jessica Jones actually took her time deciding whether or not to say yes instead of answering right away. Luckily, she talked it over with a brilliant young lady who helped her to decide on the affirmative.

As adorable as I found the way Jess decided to say yes to Luke was, it didn't even compare to the cuteness of Luke's reaction to Jessica agreeing to marry him. Seriously, give in to the cuteness -

Their wedding had Stan Lee as the minister, which made me chuckle. Not just because it's Stan "The Man" Lee but because he's approving of this relationship by de facto. The man who created Spider-Man and Mary Jane is giving the nod to a couple whose first appearance was a graphically depicted drunken hook-up. It's almost as if Old Marvel is giving permission to New Marvel to depict relationships in all their messy, complicated and occasionally less-than-pretty glory. And whether or not you feel Marvel's gotten freer in their depictions of love since then, I still think it's pretty damn awesome. Here's to a fictional blessing on a love story that was earned through sweat, tears and inner strength.

Now, as time has gone by, Jessica and Luke have had their share of problems. Existing on the losing side of Civil War and living in Dr. Strange's house with Baby Danielle have made them both less than thrilled. I don't see or read nearly as much of Jessica and Luke as I'd like. Still, even under duress, I've found them adorable.

Unfortunately, there's a preview out there of a disturbing new direction for the couple in tomorrow's New Avengers #38. While I don't care for this series of events one whit, I'm sad to say that it does hold true to Jessica's character to react the way she has. I just hope that however this issue ends, that the marriage they've fought for stays intact. I love this relationship too much to have the two of them end things with a whimper.

Now, if this marriage ends because of a mutual discussion I can respect, I might be okay with it. It's doubtful, but it's possible. If there's a very intelligent reason behind all of this, like Jessica Jones playing double agent, I'd accept that as well. Of course, it goes without saying that if this has anything to do with that Skrull malarkey, I'll be wicked pissed off. Still, even if this wonderfully 'real', sometimes troubled and altogether terrific marriage ends tomorrow, I'll still have my Alias omnibus, copies of The Pulse and New Avengers. Besides which, if Wolverine thinks they're cute enough to buy baby toys for, it's totally meant to be.

So here's to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones - may their messy, gorgeous love stay intact and gleefully snarky until baby Danielle is grown up enough to be at least twice as awesome as either of her already kick-ass parents.

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