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Brian Hague
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Joined: 14 November 2006
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 2:16pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Let's face it, fictional characters were made to suffer. Cinderella. The Little Match Girl. Spider-Man. One of the most assured methods of heaping misery upon these beloved characters is the romantic break-up or the otherwise tragic end of a love that promised so much more. Gwen Stacy. Silver St. Cloud. Sally Sellwyn; the possibilities of what might have been for our heroes and heroines but sadly will never be.

What moments of thwarted or doomed comic book romance hit close to home for you? What love interests of days gone by would were your favorites? What couples maybe haven't gotten together, but should, if only to experience a terrible, crashing end to their hopes and dreams together against the jagged rocks of fate?


Edited by Brian Hague on 10 February 2018 at 2:26pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 2:42pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Since we're on the JBF, I'll be topical and mention Lori Lemaris and Superman in SUPERMAN VOL. 2 #12 (1987). Definitely touched me, that one did. 
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Phillip L Lightfoot
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 3:04pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Scott Summers and Jean Grey.  Done in by editorial interference (Shooter) and years of writing Scott as an asshole and relentlessly pushing the Wolverine-must-bang-Jean idiocy. (Claremont and others.)   
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Jim Petersman
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 6:19pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Wonder Man's unrequited love of Wanda.

Gar's heartbreak over Terra's true self being revealed.

Johnny's pain and physical anguish when Frankie left earth.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 6:26pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I seem to recall a female in a Hulk tale - RAMPAGING HULK, perhaps? - that was very close to Hulk. Anyone?

I think the tale ended with Hulk shedding a tear. Unless I imagined it.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 8:19pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Rayek losing Leetah to Cutter…

The Hulk losing Jarella… Twice!

Jack and Jasmine drifting apart…

Clearbrook mourning the death (then "half life") of One-Eye...

The Sub-Mariner's bad luck with every woman who's ever caught his eye...

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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 9:47pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Peter & Mary Jane. I know there is a faction of fans that feel that Peter should never actually find any happiness, but I always liked them as a couple and wasn't happy when they pulled that One More Day crap.  
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 10:18pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Robbie, was this the tear-shedding scene you remember? If so, it took place in Hulk #207... 



The only female I recall from his black & white days in the Rampaging Hulk was Bereet and she was not romantically linked to the Hulk. I do not have a full collection of those stories, though, so there may be a love affair in there that I don't know about. 

Bereet herself showed up again in Mantlo's "Amnesty" storyline, wherein it was revealed that all of those B&W adventures were merely artistic "holo-visions" she filmed with her "Star-Eye" for broadcast as popular entertainment on her homeworld.

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 10:30pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Wallace, I hadn't really thought about it, but you're right about Jarella being a double punch in the gut! 

And yeah, Namor never has an easy go of it, either, does he? Policewoman Betty Dean was his longest lasting relationship and even then, they never seemed especially romantic. His long-term involvement with Sue is one of Marvel's most interesting, you should forgive the term, "sub"-plots, varying at times between romantic and platonic (planktonic?)

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 10:48pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Peter & Mary Jane. I know there is a faction of fans that feel that Peter should never actually find any happiness, but I always liked them as a couple and wasn't happy when they pulled that One More Day crap.  
+++++++++

Y’know, I like Peter and Mary Jane as a couple, but I also understand why the marriage caused enough problems that it would lead to the horrors of the Clone Saga, One More Day, and beyond. 

The best way to go would probably have been Roger Stern’s idea, which was to have Peter and Mary Jane forever be on again/off again, and bringing her in as a wild card when Peter was dating other women.

I do tend to see Mary Jane as The One for Peter, though. I like what DeFalco and later Conway did, by showing that Mary Jane is basically a mirror-image of Peter who uses her party-girl facade to hide the pain of her bad childhood. 

On paper, Gwen Stacy was surely The One for Peter, since she was smart, kind, and innocent, but the idea of Peter and Mary Jane finally lowering their respective masks and finding each other really appeals to me. Even if it was mostly retconned in so as to justify the marriage. DeFalco’s initial deepening of Mary Jane’s character was not done with the intent of making her and Peter a couple again, after all. Conway took that groundwork after the marriage was forced onto the Spider-Man books and used it to justify things in a way which worked pretty well.

Although, the idea that Mary Jane knew Spider-Man’s true identity literally from the beginning is iffy, at best. I like the idea that she knew, but pinning down when she found out without throwing a wrench into a bunch of stories is problematic. I believe DeFalco was going more for the idea that she gradually put the pieces together and figured it out on her own, over the years.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:01pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Oh, and some of my other choices would include Scott Summers/Jean Grey, Matt Murdock/Elektra, and the Hulk/Jarella.


I’m gonna throw Gwen Stacy in there, too. Despite the reprecussions and endless rehashes of that story, her murder is easily one of the most heartbreaking endings to a romance in all of comics. It’s literally Peter Parker’s worst nightmare come true: one of his deadliest foes learns his secret identity, and strikes at his loved ones. So many layers of horror to unpack in that story, from Spider-Man accidentally (and unknowingly, as originally intended by Conway) snapping Gwen’s neck to Gwen never even knowing the truth about anything— why the Green Goblin kidnapped her, the fact that her boyfriend was Spider-Man all along (and that he didn’t cause her father’s death), etc.

As much damage as that story ended up causing in the long run, it’s still incredibly powerful, decades later, and cuts to what I consider to be the core themes of Spider-Man. There are two defining deaths and two defining moments in the character’s history. The first is Ben Parker’s murder, and Peter’s life-changing realization that he could have prevented it. The second is Gwen Stacy’s murder, and Peter’s last-second refusal to kill the Green Goblin out of grief and revenge. When I think of Spider-Man, his morality, and his heroism, those are the two Big Moments, for me.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 12:14am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Some excellent observations, Greg, and I tend to agree with you concerning Gwen Stacy's death and the ways in which it reflects the themes in Spider-Man's life. Conway's "Parallel Lives" was a turning point in my moving away from comics in general as it basically erased every thought balloon MJ's character had ever had, replacing it "something else, we know not what," and turned her into Pete Ross. It really cemented the idea that casual retcons were going to be an ongoing thing in the writer's utility belt going forward.

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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 1:04am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Gwen's death, as powerful as it was, was cheapened by both Norman Osborn turning up alive AND the "Sins Past" storyline. The latter should either be permanently ignored, or eventually revealed as a complex ruse by Norman. ("Sins Past" required retconning to even be possible, as originally Gwen was only in Europe for a few weeks.)
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 1:11am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Some excellent observations, Greg, and I tend to agree with you concerning Gwen Stacy's death and the ways in which it reflects the themes in Spider-Man's life. Conway's "Parallel Lives" was a turning point in my moving away from comics in general as it basically erased every thought balloon MJ's character had ever had, replacing it "something else, we know not what," and turned her into Pete Ross. It really cemented the idea that casual retcons were going to be an ongoing thing in the writer's utility belt going forward.
++++++++++

I like PARALLEL LIVES as a story, but it clearly existed as damage control to smooth things out after the marriage was forced into the mainstream monthly books (and not just the non-canonical newspaper strip). Considering those difficult circumstances, I think Conway did a good job in making use of the groundwork DeFalco had laid, a few years earlier.

Of course, Conway always saw MJ as The One for Peter (which was a factor in the decision to kill Gwen off), and was the first writer to put them together as a couple, so it only seems appropriate that he’d be the one to try to tie it all together, post-marriage.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 1:17am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Gwen's death, as powerful as it was, was cheapened by both Norman Osborn turning up alive AND the "Sins Past" storyline. The latter should either be permanently ignored, or eventually revealed as a complex ruse by Norman. ("Sins Past" required retconning to even be possible, as originally Gwen was only in Europe for a few weeks.).

+++++++++

This is the story which made me quit modern comics. I found it so distasteful and so wrongheaded that I realized that any semblance of respect for what had come before was draining out of the industry at an alarming rate. Of course, Spider-Man had been broken long before “Sins Past”, but this was my point of no return, as a reader. I haven’t looked back, and I’m happier for it.

I love Conway’s original Clone Saga from 1975, and that absolutely should have been the final word on Gwen Stacy, aside from the occasional flashback or passing reference. And, bringing Osborn back completely undercuts the themes of the story in which he and Gwen both died. Again, Roger Stern absolutely had the right idea by bringing back and modernizing the whole Green Goblin schtick in the form of the Hobgoblin, but leaving Norman dead, and Harry married and happy.


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 1:46am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

*exasperated sigh*

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Matthew Wilkie
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 3:43am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Dan and Marrina Smallwood springs to mind. That panel where Dan is told that Marrina is not returning home is heart breaking.  
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Philippe Negrin
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 4:55am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The death of Gwen Stacy. It really hit preteen me. The fake save was particularly cruel and effective. 
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 10:16am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Supergirl and Brainiac 5. If she had at some point decided to live in the 30th century, it might have worked... but Supergirl was too popular to have one boyfriend.

Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud. I didn't like how every time she reappeared in his life, and seemed to be a great match, she would suddenly lose her nerve about being able to live with Batman as her husband. This was a tough broad, no question... and yet, that was what gave her cold feet?

I kinda liked Bat-Girl. I wish that someone would have thought of rekindling her and Robin's relationship. In the 70s, or even early 80s, it would have been interesting for him to have a costumed girlfriend.

Superman and Lyla Ler-Rol... even if she was an "older woman" :), and even if that story was doomed before it began, I thought it was great. I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had she survived and made it to Earth (e.g., via Survival Zone.)

I would have liked to have seen more of the Vision/Warbird relationship. I thought that would have been both interesting and laden with story possibilities.

There are a couple of relationships that, while I don't entirely miss, had endings that were cop-outs. Geo-Force and Halo had a romance, and so did Henry Pym and Firebird. They were obviously more than platonic relationships, but in the end, they were more, "We're just friends / brother-sister type friends." Do romances REALLY end up that way, that fast?
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 10:46am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Bernie Rosenthal and Steve Rogers- Would've liked to seen Stern and Byrne grow that relationship.

Douglas Thompson and Anne McKenzie- Awesome final panel of their relationship.

And yeah ,Wanda and Simon heart wrenching!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

The Wanda/Vision/Simon love “triangle” is especially fascinating, given the fact that the Simon’s engrams were used as the basis for the Vision’s personality. What would be worse than having unrequited feelings for a woman who’s in love with what is essentially a photocopy of you?
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 12:18pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

 Brian Hague wrote:
Robbie, was this the tear-shedding scene you remember? If so, it took place in Hulk #207...

Thanks for sharing, but not that one.

I remember some words. Hulk said something like, "Hulk knows he is a freak, knows he is not beauty..."
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 12:36pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Aurora and Walter Langowski. He already
has to deal with her split personalities,
but then he's trapped in armor. Is she
still in love with him? Is her love
conditional upon him getting a body again?
Probably the most adult, complex
relationship I have ever read in comics.
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Brian Hague
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Joined: 14 November 2006
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 3:58pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Robbie, I am not familiar with that scene. I'd be interested in reading that story though.

I'm really enjoying reading everyone's responses here. So many memories flooding back. Brainy and Kara; Bat-Girl: Lyra Lerrol... "Superman's Return to Krypton" is a story that has long held a special place in my heart. Lyra herself appears in Super Friends #17, rescuing a time-travelling Jayna who is pinned down by Krypton's heavier gravity moments before Krypton's explosion.

Greg, I feel your pain regarding "Sins Past." That was a gnarled and twisted, ugly little story. It made Gwen complicit in never revealing what had supposedly taken place and it made her death an even more misogynistic exercise in cruelty. I'm not certain Marvel considers the story canon at this point. I have a vague sense that it was wished away into a cornfield pretty quickly after it was written.


Edited by Brian Hague on 11 February 2018 at 3:58pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 4:33pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Greg, I feel your pain regarding "Sins Past." That was a gnarled and twisted, ugly little story. It made Gwen complicit in never revealing what had supposedly taken place and it made her death an even more misogynistic exercise in cruelty. I'm not certain Marvel considers the story canon at this point. I have a vague sense that it was wished away into a cornfield pretty quickly after it was written.
+++++++++

It’s my personal Worst Spider-Man Story Ever. The story which made me quit modern comics. And that’s saying something. Not only did it again trot out a classic story and characters which had already been endlessly strip-mined, but it warped all of the characters to fit the story it was telling, and added multiple layers of ick and creepiness to the lore. There’s Mary Jane not bothering to ever mention anything about the tryst to Peter (to say nothing of two innocent kids languishing in Europe and being fed lies to turn them against Spider-Man) to Gwen Stacy being a liar and cheater who expected and assumed that Peter would help her raise the twins she’d secretly conceived with the father of Peter’s best friend.

Not to mention that it gutted the core theme of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”. The whole point was that she was an innocent caught in the crossfire of the Spider-Man/Goblin war, and died without even knowing the how or why of it. JMS retconned it into a Gwen/Goblin war, with Osborn killing her because she was keeping him from their secret kids, with Spider-Man retconned into a clueless cuckold.

And then there was a weird and pedophilic flirtation between Peter and Gwen’s age-accelerated daughter, who looked exactly like her. 

UGH. So ****ing bad.
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