Truth, Justice, and The Pre-Nuptial Way

We’re five months into a new era, and the world is a brave and bold place: V-neck collars, re-vamped origins, and a few relationship changes. What on earth am I on about? Why, comics of course!

(Duh. What other fashion and relationship matters would get my attention?!)

Five months ago, DC Comics re-launched their entire range of comics. This included changes in the actual titles – some retired, some re-born, and it heralded a streamlined history that makes the entire history of this superheroic world a measly five years in the making. In this new continuity, it’s a mere five years ago that Superman first threw on a cape and decided to bench-press cars, and it’s only since this point that anyone else has taken up the justice trade. So apart from this compressing of potentially 70 years continuity into a half-decade, what else changed?

Well, costumes. And as mentioned before, relationships. I’m not going to dwell on the customes as they are really not that much of an excitement to me, but in one of the most striking examples of change, the power couple of the spandex pantheon have seperated, and their history together respun so it had never happened. That’s right – in this fast-paced, high-definition DC universe, Lois and Clark are just office chums.

Initially, this change bothered me. It was a shift in the characters that I really couldn’t define a good reason for. It was suspicious storytelling, not quite as absurd as the manner in how Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage was dissolved (demonic intervention), but odd. And then, whilst discussing comics with local experts @thatjarrodwelsh, @piratelooch and @JustMark21, we hit upon a problem that may necessitate such radical moves as the only recourse available.

A superhero cannot break up with their partner.

Think about it: you break up with a significant other, and a whole wealth of your personal information is now potentially in the public domain. Most ex’s honour your history together, and it never sees the light of day, but think about all those messy break ups, when one person slighted the other, and things just devolve into nastiness. Sharing someone’s vices is bad – sharing their alter ego is worse. So if we forget the reboot and focus on the Then for a moment, just how could Clark Kent divorce Lois Lane with any certainty?

Does he fly around the world backwards to rewind her memory? (this may take a while, and I think even Richard Donner would admit it’s ludicrous)

Does he focus real-hard on the brain’s memory centres, and give her a quick heat vision lobotomy?

Does he throw her into the sun?

All of these are within the realms of his power set (well, maybe not the first), but his ethics would get in the way. In a similar vein, Bruce Wayne couldn’t off anyone who decided that the media might want to know about his proclivities for picking fights and wearing capes. How does such a drama get dealt with?

Does Batman have a special blackmail program to keep such women in check? Possibly via computer expert Oracle, performing some off-the-books official record manipulating should the need arise?

Does the Martian Manhunter simply adopt a new human face and leave his old life behind?

Does Wonder Woman rely on the casual statement of possessing diplomatic immunity to remind her ex’s that she can dispose of them in imaginative, and incarceration-free methods?

Super-villains don’t have this problem – most of them are not morally against final solutions, and even fewer actually possess secret identities.

One school of thought is that, drawing on a previous story that dealt with memories, there are options amongst the hero community that would allow for removal of the pertinent facts. Another option would be that you only date other heroes – sure, they’ve got dirt on you but they’d be held in check by the fact that you hold the same details on them. A code of honour would hopefully hold sway here.

Another option, the sad and depressing one, is that heroes may never date their way into a serious relationship. This is very much a status quo that would serve to kill the alter ego off quietly, as they slowly transform into the crazy cat lady, or the childless professional who yearns for family life.

Or DC Comics just reboots your universe so that you never said “I do” in the first place. Ouch.

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~ by nick on January 12, 2012.

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