Well, it’s Valentine’s Day… or Valentine’s month, one supposes, as it’s all we hear about until it’s over. Valentine’s Half-Month?
Anyhoo, this relates to comic books how? Well, when you get right down to it, romance is an indelible part of the medium. Heck, there was a whole series of soap-opera books dedicated to it, as evidenced by DC trotting out the name Young Romance once again to tell some relationship stories for the New 52. However, the key to serialized fiction is that nobody can ever be happy, and thus any relationship established for long enough to allow ‘shippers’ to develop (and that’s not very long at all, really, considering shippers can ‘ship’ relationships that have never really been established beyond a witty exchange or two) is doomed to failure.
Case in point, this list of recently-ruined relationships. This last year or so has been brutal for love in the Marvel Universe, as longstanding bonds have deteriorated to the point of possibly never being recovered – and Jason Aaron had his hands in a lot of them, oddly enough. Why just the Marvel U? Well, we’d be here forever if we listed every interpersonal connection the whole New 52 wiped away – Ralph and Sue Dibny, Wally West and Linda Park, Donna Troy and Roy Harper, Starfire and everybody she’s ever met, Katar Hol and Shayera Thal, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, etc. – and the New 52 itself is still new enough that none of its drama counts just yet.
So here are some enduring Marvel relationships that have recently given up the ghost.
COLOSSUS & SHADOWCAT
Long ago, in a Silver Age far, far away, a very naive farm boy from Russia and an excitable prodigy girl with horrible fashion sense formed a connection that couldn’t comfortably be followed up on back in the day due to their respective ages. Many years later, after much of Piotr Nikolievitch Rasputin’s naivete had been demolished through dark, harrowing experiences and relentless family tragedy, and Katherine Anne Pryde’s youthful vigor had been channeled into ninja studies, technological genius and seeking out alternatives to being an X-Man, Joss Whedon brought them together for real in his much-ballyhooed Astonishing X-Men run. If there’s anybody out there who encourages shippers, it’s Joss Whedon.
Yeah. Adorable. Well done, Joss, Master of Cute.
Colossus was thought dead for a year after he sacrificed his life to stop a deadly mutant disease in its tracks before it killed anyone else’s little sister like it did to his, but he was secretly being held prisoner by aliens and being tortured constantly. Shadowcat is the one who found him, and it seemed to both of them like some kind of destiny. He did her so right that she phased through the floor of her bedroom naked. Then she had to sacrifice her life to phase a city-sized bullet through the planet Earth, and when SHE came back, she was stuck being phased and had to walk around in a space suit – a condition she didn’t recover from until those same aliens came to Utopia and started messing with them again, trying to kill Colossus.
Cue shippers speculating on exact sexual act that caused this. I’m laying odds on cunnilingus.
From there, they had only a short time together until Jason Aaron’s X-Men: Schism. A philosophical divide between Cyclops and Wolverine that forced the X-Men to choose sides, and Aaron’s then-upcoming Wolverine & The X-Men title called for Kitty Pryde to go with Wolverine and start teaching at the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. That forced Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen to hastily break up Piotr and Kitty, which was done during the height of Fear Itself. Kitty, Peter and his returned-from-the-dead-but-not-right-in-the-head baby sister Illyana went to Cyttorak to steal some Juggernaut power away from the Serpent-possessed Cain Marko, and true to form, when Illyana went to take up the burden of becoming Cyttorak’s new avatar, Piotr took the bullet for her instead, which pissed off Kitty to the point of dumping him. It was rushed and made little sense – for the entire time we’ve known Peter Rasputin, since his first damn appearance, he’s made a habit of sacrificing himself for Illyana if need be. He took a thresher to the back for her, he gave his life to stop the Legacy Virus that killed her, and here he was doing it again. Somehow, that was the dealbreaker for Kitty.
The logic train falls off the rails here. You know you’re superheroes, right? Sacrifice is in the job description.
Fine. Editorial mandate, whatever. They can be on a break, even though Colossus with the burden of a mystic lust for destruction thanks to Cyttorak was probably in the absolute most need of Kitty’s steadying influence. It seems she ditched him at the absolute worst point, claiming that she needed somebody who didn’t have such a self-sacrifice complex. Yeah, right. Stop dating superheroes then, lady.
Soon afterwards, Avengers vs. X-Men rolls around, and Colossus gets a SECOND all-powerful entity in his brain – that of the Phoenix Force – right alongside Cyttorak (and, if you recall his own miniseries, the self-destructive voice of Grigori Rasputin, the Mystic Mad Monk, makes three), and Aaron starts to really show his apparent intense disdain for the character. Not only does he show Colossus as a complete idiot who uses the power of reality-shaping to put LEGS on WHALES, but he also has him try to win Kitty back, only to become a bitchy, possessed destructor in the process – a blunt instrument by which to hammer home Aaron’s preferred pairing, Kitty with Bobby Drake. Is that X-Men: The Last Stand’s fault? Is that Ultimate X-Men’s fault? Maybe, but it’s also Jason Aaron’s fault.
So, as it stands, Kitty kind of hates Peter now, while Peter is an outlaw on the run and throwing in with Cable’s band of renegades who may or may not also be terrorists. Oh, and Illyana turned out to be a complete jerk who was manipulating her brother into taking on that Cyttorak burden in the first place, ruining his life to prove a point that he should stop trying to protect her. So Peter’s entire family is dead, save for a sister he now wants to kill, and he also hates himself and believes he deserves to die. Meanwhile, Kitty gets to make out with Iceman.
Oh, Crazylossus. Cyttorak, the Phoenix and Rasputin, all voices in your head. You never had a chance.