Friday, February 8, 2008

14 Comic Book Couples I Love - Part 8

The love lives of the two individuals in question are infamous and a tad complex. One of them is currently married to someone else while the other's dating the new Captain America (I think - anybody care to update me on her and Bucky's deal?). And while I know they're not at at all likely to get back together anytime soon, I'm still charmed by the modern version of. . .

9. Daredevil & The Black Widow

Yes, I know everybody says Elektra. Not me. Elektra's a dead Skrull now and (since Rucka hasn't been writing her for ages) I'm completely okay with that. What with Matt's myriad of exes, I know that this is a surprising choice. Believe me, I'm not referencing the past relationship between the two, even if it did last over 20 issues in his own title. Yes, it was important for them both and well-remembered by some but it was before my time. Way, WAY before my time from the look of it.

Jesus. It's like an alternate universe or something.

Speaking as somebody who grew up with the grim n' gritty triefecta of Ann Nocenti, Frank Miller, and Bendis' Matt Murdock and Greg Rucka and other writers' interpretations of Natasha Romanov . . . looking at these scans is about as bizarre as the first time I saw Silver Age Superman being a total dick to Lois Lane. I mean, Widow's just taking that behavior and Daredevil is SMILING. o_O

(although that sequence of panels above is kinda kick-ass - I mean, they're not even bothering to stand up. I picture Widow and DD using their Widow's Bite and Stick to hit him in the face then going right back to snuggling in less than ten seconds)

So, as my relative youth and amazement makes clear, I was completely unaware these two had ever dated until I read the all-too-brief appearances by her in more modern Daredevil titles done by Kevin Smith and Bendis. In these later appearances, she comes off as a fun, self-assured and totally deadly woman - a stark contrast to everybody else DD's ever dated, with the exception of the charming Echo (and no matter what you say, Elektra was never exactly "fun").

I was impressed and pleased by her flippant attitude in response to Matt "Mr. Masochist" Murdock's usual levels of emo angst. Amazingly, here was a coolly professional woman who wanted Matt who wasn't A)refrigerator fodder, B)insane or C)a psychopathic ninja (sociopathic spy, maybe, but not psycho ninja). Somebody who not only took care of herself but was possibly even beyond Daredevil's level of bad-assery (I mean, hell, she's on The Mighty Avengers fighting Ultron while Matt keeps getting his ass kicked by guys with names like Fancy Dan).

(Hey, Elektra? Did you just feel a savage burn?)

All the reasons she's "wrong" for him - she's an atheist to his hardcore Catholic, a killer to his uptight moralist, someone who enjoys her work as opposed to Matt's humorless devotion to a calling - make me wish she'd hang around more often to help him smile. Unlike Elektra, she doesn't appear in Matt's life to throw him into chaos or make him wonder if she's there to kill people - she's there because she cares for him and doesn't want to see him hurt. Sure, it's mostly on the level of "Friends With Benefits" on the surface but Modern-Day Natasha's no fool. For as cute as the "couch or rooftop?" type-lines are, she'll show how deep her feelings go when she says things like "if you and this ninja are back together, I'm killing you both."

Matt Murdock, of course, is an idiot in affairs of the heart. I love his character but he's like the guy who keeps dating alcoholics and saying "This one is different!". She broke up with him, back in their Bizarro days, and they haven't seen fit to get back together since. As bad as I think this is for Matt, it might be just as well for the Widow, considering her approach to angst is so practical that it must seem alien to Daredevil, king of self-flagellation. Also, much as I love Daredevil, she might just be too flat-out awesome for him. Again I say - Avengers.

I like this relationship so much, I think, because it's in such stark contrast to the other dead or dysfunctional loves of Matt's life. Now, while I don't necessarily dislike his wife Milla as a character, it seems to me that an emotionally fragile civilian lover is maybe not the best choice for a life partner in the life he's chosen. Unlike when any other superhero takes a member of their rogue gallery to justice, every DD villain reacts like Daredevil not only stopped their crimes but also took the time to rape their dog while laughing maniacally. Seriously, whenever Daredevil kicks somebody's ass, they not only swear vengeance on him but his whole family ON REFLEX. Spidey has Goblin, Supes has Ruin - Daredevil has, at last count, 1, 2, 3, 4- oh, I give up - eleventy hundred people who know his ID and want to kill/multilate/spindle everyone in his whole world. Maybe it's the whole Devil uniform thing.

In any case, I think it's nice for poor, miserable, persecuted Matt that he has at least one ex who's A)genuinely nice to him, B)not evil or insane, and C)able to cheer his emo ass up with quickies on the rooftop (or couch). God, it's a sad state of affairs when the ex-KGB spy is your happy, fun ex-girlfriend.

(Way to show you can still be a dick in Modern Continuity Matt. The whole "enhanced sense of smell" thing is no excuse for being a deadbeat Dad, y'know.)

The whole thing has a bit of the Catwoman and Batman dynamic, which I love, even if Matt is way more isolated than Batman and Natasha's way less defined by Matt (and before I get reamed by Catwoman fans - and she's a character I LOVE btw - I'm just saying that Widow was never inspired to wear a costume by DD or regularly defined as just one of his Rogue's Gallery).

Let's hope that whenever poor Milla's done being tortured into insanity and murder that she comes to her senses and leaves Matt (and New York for that matter - seriously, if I lived in the Marvel U, I'd have to be offered my own building and seven free cars to take up residence in that city), leaving the ever-pragmatic Black Widow to help pick up the pieces. Or maybe Echo. I'd accept Echo. She's a lovely match . . . just nowhere near as funny or awesome as Natasha.


*puts bubble pipe inbetween teeth, slides on smoking jacket*

Really, there is no other poet alive today who sums up the poignancy of Matthew Murdock's search for love better than Mr. Stephen Tyler.

To wit, he says:

"They tell me that love is blind,
I really need a girl like an open book,
To read between the lines."

I hope that this delicate love song moves you.

For the crass amongst you who do not appreciate poetry, you may enjoy a "drinking game" as you watch this video. Take a drink every time someone or something inexplicable/insane appears, such as the Dorothy & The Tin Man or a man with an uncooked turkey leg dancing. Take a shot every time Mr. Tyler makes copulating motions with his nether regions, lies down or does both at the same time.*

*The LookOut holds no responsibility for any subsequent alcohol poisoning.


SallyP said...

Ahhhh...Daredevil and the Black Widow. That takes me back. Did you read it when Gene Colan was doing the art? Awesome.

K. D. Bryan said...

Alas, Colan was before my time but I do love what I've seen of his work in trade form and elsewhere. Totally classic stuff.