Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life confirmed the veracity of a very long-standing rumor first reported on by Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston over a year ago, that DC Comics’ household-name superheroes Superman and Wonder Woman will find themselves moving “from super-powered colleagues to power couple.” That’s right, Superman and Wonder Woman are going to hook up. Again.
The relationship is set to start off in next week’s Justice League #12 (released August 29th), written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and illustrated by Co-Publisher Jim Lee, a “power couple” in their own right. Johns tells Entertainment Weekly that rather than presenting a one-issue super-smooch, he intends to play out the metapowered relationship: “This is the new status quo.” Spinning out of their romantic pairing, Johns promises to explore the, “seismic impact on all the heroes and villains in the DC Universe,” along with the pair’s “unique challenges in their own right.”
If this relationship is, indeed, fully explored by Johns and DC, then it will be the first time that Superman and Wonder Woman have had anything more than a one-issue, relatively chaste in-continuity dalliance. However, in out-of-continuity stories such as the iconic Kingdom Come and the controversial Dark Knight Returns, the pair has shared everything from an idyllic marriage to (literally) earth-shaking super-coitus. In mid-air. The important common trend linking these latter stories, though, is that they feature a world in which one important individual has passed away – Ms. Lois Joanne Lane, the longtime love interest of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman.
The Superman/Wonder Woman match-up, sure to cause debate amongst fans both old and new, is facilitated by DC’s “New 52” universal reboot last September, which cosmically annulled Superman’s fifteen-year marriage to Lois Lane. This reboot was quite controversial, eliciting reactions that ran the gamut from lapsed readers interested in trying DC for the first time in years, to long-time readers swearing to never pick up another DC book again. In the year since, the New 52 has proved to be a sales bolster to DC, settling into a steady-if-not-outstanding revenue output after an initial sales explosion that saw DC toppling competitor Marvel from the top of the comics sales chart for the first time in years (the proof of how successful the gambit ultimately was can be seen in Marvel’s own half-hearted response, it’s “Marvel NOW!” initiative).
For certain fans, and I count myself amongst this number, the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing seems like such a . . . step down for the Man of Steel. Don’t get me wrong – Wonder Woman is, without a doubt, the most powerful and iconic woman in the DC Universe, and perhaps the only fully compatible sexual partner for Kryptonian hormones (amongst other secretions), unless we talk about Supergirl, but she’s his cousin, so ew. It’s always amused me, though, that readers who believe a man can fly have had any kind of problem with believing that such a man could make love to, and more importantly fall in love with, an ordinary, mortal woman (a “problem” most fully and famously fleshed out – pun intended – in science fiction author Larry Niven’s short story “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”).
In my opinion, the most beautiful part of the Superman mythos is the fact that a man with god-like abilities is kept grounded by the very human heart of a Midwestern farmboy. Shy, clumsy, and mild-mannered, Clark Kent is the Jewish soul hidden within the uber-goyim/golem from outer space who rights wrongs via outrageous acts of derring-do. Lois Lane, on the other hand, is a brash, brassy, and bravura military brat who is the quickest-witted person in any room. Always ready with a snarky comment, an incisive question, or a bold bluff, Lois is the epitome of the modern cosmopolitan woman. She is, in short, out of Clark Kent’s league.
Which is why Clark won’t just instantly win the heart of the woman of his dreams, as he easily could, by revealing his secret identity to her. Superman is the persona he evinces out in the public world; Clark is who he is when he’s sitting at home, drinking tea and playing with his dog (though I’ve always thought that Clark seems more of a cat guy, but perhaps I’m just projecting there). He wants Lois to love Clark, and in multiple variations of their story – in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth 2 universe, in the post-Crisis universe, in Superman 2, in Lois and Clark, in Smallville, etc. – he has slowly earned that love through showing her that, beneath his shyness, there is a smart, considerate, kind, and thoroughly gentle soul who is every bit as amazing as the man-god from Krypton.
In my ideal version of the Superman/Lois relationship, we don’t see a superhero “slumming” with a normal woman, but rather we find a man who has to use all of the super-powers at his disposal in order to keep up with this one amazing woman. Lois is so quick, so brilliant, so . . . so awesome that super-powers just about make him her equal. But only just about.
Time will tell what kind of a relationship, be it short or long-term, that Superman has with Wonder Woman, and if it has even the tiniest shot of comparing to the classic (in every sense of the word) Clark/Lois romance. I’m open-minded, but doubtful. After all, Wonder Woman may be an Amazonian princess who can shatter mountains and humble gods, but she’s no Lois Lane.