Monday, February 13, 2012

Archie Marries Valerie from the Pussycats // My Favorite Five Interracial Comic Book Romances

I have been getting back into Archie Comics over the past several months. At first, I found myself enjoying the Life With Archie comic book. Each story tells parallel stories about what life might look like in five years if Archie marries either Veronica or Betty. I was into this book long before they ever announced that Kevin Keller was marrying his new husband. Frankly, the book was different and offered a different version of Archie and the gang from what I'd read during my youth. It's an odd mix of familiar characters and settings mixed with marital drama and miscommunication. The LWA series sucked me in and now I'm picking up all of Archie Comics' digest comic books every week while shopping at the grocery store.

Ultimately, Life With Archie has opened me up to the idea that Archie Comics is trying and doing new things. One of those new things was an interracial romance between Archie Andrews and Valerie Smith from "Josie and the Pussycats" back in 2010. Last week, I learned that Archie and Valerie are going to reconnect in Archie #633 was visit a possible future where they end up marrying and having a cute little daughter! According to Comics Alliance, their romantic relationship is a natural development for these two characters:
Archie and Valerie... build their relationship on a mutual love of music and, in Archie's case, the fact that he falls in love with beautiful girls regardless of race. As an isolated idea, it meant a lot, but in elevating it to this level, their relationship is being treated as something just as valid as Archie's relationships with Betty and Veronica. The addition of a daughter, something that hasn't been explored in the Betty or Veronica marriages and something that has traditionally been even more controversial in American history, goes even further -- in a good way.
The "controversy" over Archie's and Valerie's marriage and family got me thinking about some of my favorite interracial comic book romances. I'm not talking about purple alien brides seducing human champions of goodness. I'm talking about comic book romances between people of different races. At first I thought it wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a bunch of interracial couplings, but I really struggled to identify enough favorite. So maybe this topic is more controversial than I'd originally imagined!

Without further ado, I'd like to present my Favorite Five Interracial Comic Book Romances!:

5. Basilisk and Frenzy: Last year, a villain named Legion trapped Marvel's X-Men in a warped alternate version of their lives. This reality was a horrific world where Earth's mutants found themselves under siege against a human menace that have chased them to the brink of extinction. Marvel's mutants were not the same mutants the we typically see every month. These mutants had seen their families killed and their lives destroyed. Many had been tortured. All of them were experiencing an extreme form of PTSD. Due to their altered histories, the X-Men found themselves with different code-names and different romances. One of the more interesting pairings was Basilisk (i.e., Cyclops) and Frenzy. In our reality, Cyclops leads the X-Men and Frenzy is an angry super-villain. In the "Age of X" world, Basilisk was a hardened executioner and Frenzy is a soldier with unbreakable skin. He found that he could look at her without killing her and, as a result, they enjoyed a fairly carnal relationship with an oddly touching emotional bond.

As things usually happen, the "Age of X" storyline resolved itself and the X-Men were returned back to their old lives -- except that they now found themselves with conjoined memories of their real lives and their "Age of X" lives. Different characters coped as best they could. Unfortunately, Cyclops and Frenzy struggled to cope with their "Age of X" romance. Cyclops wanted nothing more than to forget about his romance with the villain. Frenzy couldn't forget their love for each other. Eventually, she left the X-Men's Utopia base in order to put some space between her and the X-Men's commander-in-chief. Their relationship will likely never resurface. On the other hand, it created great motivation for Marvel to create a wonderfully unique villain-to-hero transformation storyline that continues to unfold in X-Men Legacy every month.

4. Storm and Forge: This relationship goes back to my early years of comic book collecting. Back in the 80s, a mutant inventor created a weapon that could cancel out other mutants' powers. His first and only victim was the X-Men's weather witch, Storm. Gradually, their relationship blossomed into an interesting romance. The mutant storm-maker who sometimes found herself worshipped as a goddess who loved the mutant shaman who straddled the line between machines and magic. Eventually, Storm got her powers back and Forge joined the X-Men. Unfortunately, subsequent writers really didn't seem to like Forge. He gradually went mad and eventually got killed off. Long before his death, their relationship drifted aimlessly in the wind, lost amidst editorial switches and comic book crossovers, and eventually ended with a simple break-up. Most modern readers probably don't even remember Storm's first great romance, but it will always claim a warm place in my own heart.

3. Zero and No-Girl: My third favorite interracial comic book romance is also one of Marvel's oddest comic book romances. Years ago, a telepathic girl named Martha (AKA No-Girl) was kidnapped by a villain named Johnny Sublime. He removed her brain from her body, placed it in a globe, and used her powers to subdue those who threatened him. She was eventually liberated by the X-Men and brought to live at their school. Several years later, Japanese nihilist Kenji (AKA Zero) developed his own powers and came to live at Utopia with the X-Men. In recent months, he came across Martha and was instantly smitten by her unique charms. He even used his techno-organic shape-shifting powers to create a body shell for Martha's brain. Zero and No-Girl have been together for only a few months and I'm sure that their relationship can only end in tragedy, but I am really digging this odd romance. I can't wait to see how this storyline resolves itself.

2. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones: My one non-Mutant pairing is also one of Marvel's strongest interracial pairings around. Several years ago, readers met a jaded hero-turned-private-detective named Jessica Jones. Between mysteries and cases, she discovered that she was pregnant with the child of another hero for hire, Luke Cage. The two started out as an extended booty call and eventually became one of the most real relationships currently portrayed by Marvel today. The two eventually had a baby girl and got married. Now they lead the New Avengers and struggle to balance parenthood with married life with superheroics.

1. Psylocke and Archangel: Archangel is one of the founding X-Men and Psylocke is one of their later recruits who possesses one of the more convoluted racial histories. (It's better not to ask.) They fought alongside each other for many years before a relationship sparked in the mid-90s. Their relationship came out of nowhere, but it immediately made total sense given each character's family background, social connections, and riches. Additionally, both characters harbor demons in the dark recesses of their minds (literally). Their relationship ebbed and flowed before reviving itself in the pages of Uncanny X-Force in recent years. Unfortunately, Warren's inner-demon proved too strong for him to resist any longer and Betsy eventually found herself forced into killing the man she loves. Angel was quickly resurrected as a new blank slate with no memory of his former life or of his love for Betsy. I have no doubt that Angel and Psylocke will eventually reconnect in future story lines. For now, their relationship is no more.

Who is your favorite Interracial Comic Book Romance? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!

3 comments:

Ahavah22@gmail.com said...

Hey, I just discovered your blog after doing a Google search for Archie reviews, and I found this compilation of multi-racial comic book ships (as in relationships) quite charming. You didn't mention the Marvel series Runaways, though, so I figured I'd fix that!

Runaways was originally created in 2003 by Brian K. Vaughn & Adrian Alphona. It is about a group of teens who discover their parents are a supervillian group called "The Pride." The kids run away from home together and try to be heroes...

Nico Minoru is one of the most interesting characters in Runaways. She is a Japanese-American teenager who inherits a magical staff from her parents which allows her to practice sorcery. During the course of the series (which is unfortunately on hiatus now) she has romantic relationships with various characters, none of whom are Asian-American. Her first boyfriend is Alex Wilder, an African-American teen and fellow Runaway. They share a mostly sweet but very brief relationship.

She later hooks up with Victor Mancha, a kid who has a Hispanic mother...and the evil robot Ultron as a "father". Hey, comic superhero kids are complicated. :P

Throughout the series she has a very close friendship (which may turn into something "more") with Karolina Dean, the Caucasian-looking extraterrestrial Majesdanian. Karolina is a lesbian who has expressed romantic feelings toward Nico, before meeting Xavin, her Skrull, dual-gendered fiance.

I'm not sure what Nico's relationship status was right before the series went on hiatus, but I always found the way she and her relationships are written to be interesting.

Jon said...

Thanks Ahavah22! You're right. I totally forgot about the Runaways. I haven't read their stuff in recent years, though am looking forward to their upcoming appearance in Avengers Academy.

Ahavah22 said...

There have been rumors about a Runaways movie for years, and supposedly it's still "in the works." I just hope they manage to make a film before Hollywood gets bored with the Superhero genre. A Runaways movie would be much more interesting to me~and hopefully other superhero fans who may not have heard of them~than another Spider-Man re-boot or the much-hyped Avengers film.

The Runaways are refreshing. The first arc could make a spectacular film with actual teens and kids in the lead roles (when was the last time a major superhero move had a teenaged protagonist?). It also has multi-racial cast in which neither the female nor the male roles are hampered by sexist stereotypes.

Brian K. Vaughn is one of my favorite American comic book writers, and I don't think any of his major works have been adapted yet.