So Calling Me Her Boyfriend is Probably Super Premature

Posted by Anika

The first thing you need to know is I have never read a Spider-Man comic that did not include the words and Mary Jane in the title. I know who Spider-Man is (who doesn’t know who Spider-Man is?) but my knowledge of his character comes from Spider-Man and Friends, the movie franchise with Tobey Maguire, and his appearances is various comics I DO read, most notably New Avengers.

The second thing you need to know is of any comic currently available, the one I follow the most faithfully and scrutinize the most obsessively, is Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel. Followed by Brian Michael Bendis’ aforementioned New Avengers starring Ms. Marvel. And, okay, a bunch of other Avengers (including Spider-Man!). After that my Marvel tastes run to “comics in which Ms. Marvel makes an appearance”, like the Spider-Woman motion comic and the first issue of Realm of Kings (I still don’t really understand what Realm of Kings IS …but Ms. Marvel is in it! And she swears by a made-up god and wears a Batman-esque mask. It’s really all I need to be happy). If Ms. Marvel made an appearance in a DC comic or an independent comic (if, you know, that was legal), I’d buy that, too. If Ms. Marvel shows up in a Spider-Man title (which would not be so weird even without the Spider-Date; both her Jessicas — Jones and Drew — and her former sidekick Arana, have ties to Spider-Man), well, I’ll be there. Which is a bit funny, since I assume the reason Spider-Man is in my Ms. Marvel is so Spider-Fans buy it.

Now. When the idea of the Spider-Date (Carol Danvers and Peter Parker going on a, yes, date-date) first came up, way back in Ms. Marvel 34, I had a few thoughts. They went like this:

(1) What?! But he’s half her age. Oh, comics.
(2) This is the kind of thing that makes me think they have a board set up with characters’ names they throw darts at to make up relationships.
(3) Well. It’s better than Wonder Man.

That was a full year ago. The day before this Thanksgiving, I made a special run to get the Amazing Spider-Date the very day it came out (if you follow my Twitter or this blog, you know how hard that is for me). That’s right, as much as I found it utterly incomprehensible, I was nonetheless excited for the Spider-Date.

Partly because it promised to be fun. Ms. Marvel, and, oh, the WHOLE OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE has been rather Dark lately, yes? And while I rather like it, I also like a little breathing room. In a sense, that’s Peter’s job on the team. He’s the comic relief, sure, but it’s less comic and more relief. So, knowing that Carol was leaving one angst-fest (the War of Marvels) and heading for another (the return of Mystique), I was hoping for something that was simply fun. And in that, I was rewarded. Ms. Marvel 47 is entirely fun and cute.

So, let’s see how it does addressing my initial reactions:

(1) What?! But he’s half her age. Oh, comics.

Well, this one we can mostly throw out the window because in comic book fandom, age is relative. In my head Carol and Tony Stark are peers and Peter and Tony Stark are — not. But, first, it really is just in my head. And second, the way the issue is written, drawn, and presented, she does come off older. Not by a lot, but by enough that my head is placated.

(2) This is the kind of thing that makes me think they have a board set up with characters’ names they throw darts at to make up relationships.

I seriously think this sometimes. When Lois Lane moved to Gotham to be closer to Bruce Wayne in Superman the Animated Series, for example. Or when Polaris and Colossus have a kid in X-Men: The End.

Or when Carol Danvers agreed to a date with Peter Parker.

But, Reed, and even Peter, acknowledge this. First in the recap page, presented rather adorably in Peter’s POV, and then in the text. This relationship is an oddball idea. And as the action progresses it becomes clear they have no organic chemistry whatsoever. They are not capable of carrying on a conversation. Now, this is in part because Peter is nervous and Carol is socially inept. It’s in part because they decide to avoid “shop talk” and when you are a superhero on the run — what else is there to talk about? Do the Avengers spend their Wednesday nights chilling at Bucky’s Captain America’s pad watching Top Chef? No, not so much. Are they going to talk sports? Peter’s from New York and Carol’s from Boston. Bad idea. The reality is Carol’s married to her job (that’s why the Dark Reign is so hard on her and why she was split into two separate people when she was first brought back) and Peter always has at least three jobs just to make ends meet and he still never makes ends meet (something Carol points out). They don’t have a chance to do much else so they don’t have much else to talk about.

Luckily, they are interrupted by a wholly misguided arrest attempt. I love so very much that Carol Danvers is a huge threat and Peter Parker is nobody — her hapless, powerless boyfriend. I love even more that he doesn’t even bother to stop eating when the bad guys show up. Carol can handle it and Peter knows.

So, with the way it’s handled, the oddity of the pair up actually helps the story.

(3) Well. It’s better than Wonder Man.

I admit I am not a huge fan of poor Simon Williams. I think I maybe despise him. Except when I pity him. Really, there’s not many who would be worse than Wonder Man (for the record, yes, Modok is worse). But when you think about it, Carol’s options are few, particularly now that she’s semi-underground and random HAMMER operatives break through windows when she’s on a date. Who can she safely go out with outside of the team? And inside of the team, James, Clint, Bobbi and Luke are taken. The two people she has the most chemistry with, her two BFFs Jessica Jones and Tony Stark, are also off limits. Jessica Drew … well, I have no real argument against Jessica Drew other than wow, would that be a train wreck. Left with two Spiders, she has more in common with Jessica, but that might actually be why Peter ends up being a better choice.

Now, Carol has a long history of bad relationships. Her confirmed ex-boyfriends are mostly dead — Michael Rossi, Mar-Vell, poor William Wagner. There’s Marcus, which I prefer to pretend didn’t happen. She has a long list of “close friends” — Logan, Nick Fury, Stephen Strange to name a few — none of which leap out at you as particularly good at romance. In short, Carol Danvers has no luck in love. And Peter has his own list of mostly dead exes and “close friends”. Having no luck in love is one of his defining characteristics, or so they tell me to explain what happened with MJ; their marriage was too happy, it had to be dissolved. So we’ve got two theoretically lonely people, with theoretically few to no options, who are both theoretically attractive, and theoretically could be attracted to each other.

Given all that, well. It is absolutely better than Wonder Man. Theoretically.

And actually. Because it’s cute. It is cute and fun and most importantly, did justice to both characters. I continue to love Brian Reed’s writing. And I have to mention the art. I don’t know why there are three artists who worked on this issue but Mike McKone (pages 1-12 and 14-16) is the superior. In her civilian clothes, both her jeans and a tee, and her “dressy date clothes”, Carol looks like a normal, if busty, beautiful woman. I really appreciate it. And that she has a more obviously super heroine figure when she’s dressed like a super heroine actually makes some sense, especially given her particular abilities.

So, there you go. Not only do I approve of this Spider-Date, I’m not even opposed to another one.

Posted by Anika
email: anika@fantasticfangirls.org
twitter: magnetgirl

  • sigrid

    I, too, was a little trepidatious (is that a word?) about this date — because I couldn’t think of it working. But Brian Reed tackled that head-on, and it works great. Also, yes, I wouldn’t mind seeing Carol go on a date with either Jessica Drew or Jessica Jones. But I think that’s probably clear to most of our readership. :P

  • http://throughthebrush.wordpress.com/ Jennifer

    Great article! I didn’t read this issue, but it sounds adorable, and I like the reasons you set out. And that panel of Peter realizing he’s the “girl” cracked me up. (Personally, I like Carol and Logan as friends-with-benefits, but I can’t ever see them in a relationship. You’re right that her options are few.)

    Also, poor Simon. At least Beast loves him!

    [E.T.A. I would read a comic about the New Avengers sitting around watching Top Chef. Just saying.]

  • sigrid

    @Brian Michal Bendis @Brian Reed I, too, would absolutely buy, read, and recommend a series devoted to the domestic life of the Avengers. Yes please.

  • Caroline

    I did enjoy this issue, though I think “complete lack of chemistry” keeps me from wanting them to date again. Though I’m a reader who’s almost always more interseted in friendship than romance anyway — especially between men and women in comics, because it’s so rare — so that’s not really a problem for me.

    I had a different perspective on this issue, as an on and off reader of post-Brand New Day ‘Spider-Man.’ That was, “What a blessed relief to see Peter interacting with a woman on a personal level as though they’re both adults.” That’s apparently something that post-BND Spidey is against.

  • http://retconningmybrain.blogspot.com/ Sam

    As someone with an irrational hatred of All Things Spider-Man, I have to say that the cuteness of this issue – and its willingness to address the absurdity – won me over.

    Would I want another Spider-Date? Only if it’s with Jess Drew. (Thanks for the idea, Anika.) But I wasn’t as turned off by this one as I thought I would be.

    Also, I can see Bucky being a fan of Top Chef. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me.

  • sigrid

    I don’t watch Top Chef. But the idea of the New Avengers arguing over the Tivo has provided me with entertainment for the last few months.

  • Caroline

    Don’t forget the New Avengers’ Netflix Queue.

    “Oh, please, do you know how many J. Joneses there are in Manhattan?”

    Everybody has to be nice to Jessica so their movies can get priority. (I guess there are a lot of P. Parkers, J. Barnes, C. Danvers, etc but after a while you start to see a pattern. And Jessica had hers first.)

  • sigrid

    Clint forgets he has bathroom-cleaning this week, and all his movies are mysteriously moved down ten slots in the queue. Peter babysits Dani for a couple hours, and his requested “27 Dresses” shows up first.

  • individualfrog

    It may not have made any sense from a character point of view, but having Lois be in love with Superman and Bruce Wayne, but not Clark Kent or Batman, was a great idea!

  • http://www.twitter.com/euthanatos euthanatos

    I am constantly bewildered as to how Spider-Man is much more interesting in other comics than on his own title. I particularly like him in the mentioned New Avengers. He’s hilarious on that one.

  • Anika

    @ALL OF YOU I love these comments. I want a write-up of their Netflix Queue, I really do.

    @individualfrog Yes, and I actually almost prefer those types of “think outside the box” stories/pairings (to say, Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson, possibly my all time anti-OTP mostly because it was shoved down our throats for being so “perfect and poetic”). But on the surface it makes me go O.o

  • http://hour42.com Aboynamedart

    Wednesday nights at Chez Bucky-Cap? I’d be surprised if Luke, Clint and Bobbi weren’t watching some basketball, though poor Buck would have to have the game explained to him all over again.

    As far as Peter/Carol, this is a great perspective on the idea of them dating, but I can’t help but feel it’s sort of a faint consolation; one of the defining characteristics of BND is the re-characterization of Peter as a total idiot, for the sake of making him “relatable.” I’m not saying he wouldn’t necessarily have deferred to Carol if the pre-OND Peter had just divorced MJ rather than … well, you know, but the Spidey-books’ problems just kind of hover over the character for me.

  • Wired

    Luke secretly loves dance movies. He had a cache of them, but it’s not like he can go out and buy them and replace them, or put them on the netflix queue, because god, Peter would NEVER GIVE IT UP.

    So he orders them from Amazon prime when he has any money, which he doesn’t because hello, baby, no job.

    This is all going to come to a head when Bucky comes home early and finds Luke dancing around with the baby singing, “Baby, ohohohoh babyyyyyy my sweet babyyyy, you’re the one” while Jennifer Grey ties her shirttails on her midriff.

    Bucky starts sharing his secret stash of musicals, which is close enough for Luke.

    Peter, of course, notices all the time they’re spending together, gets jealous, and teases them about their relationship. But they’ll never tell.

  • http://fantasticfangirls.org/ Caroline

    @aboynamedart You’re not wrong, but from what I’ve seen, the Peter characterization hasn’t really carried over from his solo book into other places he appears. I quite like what Bendis is doing with him in New Avengers, and his character in Ms Marvel seems much closer to be that. I think there’s something to be said for ignoring solo book hijinks if they’re not up your alley. Then, I’m a Wolverine fan, so I’ve had a lot of practice.

  • http://hour42.com Aboynamedart

    Caroline, I agree with that rationally – New Avengers Spidey has been consistently good – but as someone who became a born-again Amazing devotee thanks to JMS, that’s just a bit harder to do these days.

  • http://www.twitter.com/genaverse genaverse

    I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue, and I love Brian Reed. I just get a little tired of Spider-Man. What most people feel about Wolverine? That’s how I feel about Spider-Man. Blasphemy, I know, but he’s everywhere. If all his appearances were this nice and this honest, though, I might not mind so much.

  • sigrid

    @Wired HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    :snerk:

    Um, yes.

  • http://www.twitter.com/twyst Twyst

    You know, for no reason, i always thought that Agent Brand and Jessica Drew would date. I hadnt been up on the Brand-Beast situation, and reading her wiki, her tattoos made me think… perhaps.

    Additionally, from what i know, Jessica Drew hasnt been romantically linked with anyone.

    I very much approved of the Spider-Date. More reason why Brian Reed is awesome.

  • Monica

    Thanks for an overview of the date! I’m wary of any romance that seems to be built on the ‘I’m a guy, you’re a girl’ theory of compatibility, but it looks like this issue did a lot of things right.

    Have you read the Spider-Man issue where he first meets Ms. M? I feel like their relationship has stayed pretty consistent, which is nice.

    Anyway, as cute as it was, I can’t get behind it for the long run. I root for the long-doomed Carol/Wanda pairing.

  • Caroline

    @Monica So where does the Carol/Wanda idea come from? I’ve seen it a lot of places, lately, but I’ve never read anything where they really interacted. All I remember is that they traded off boyfriends at some point, with Carol dating Vision and Wanda dating Simon.

  • Anika

    @Monica I don’t believe I have read it, esp. if it was in Spider-Man, but then I do sort of remember something so I might have seen some panels somewhere.

    I admit I’ve imagined a Carol and Wanda “I hate that I am so attracted to you because I want to just hate you!” run in…but I’m a die hard Carol/Tony shipper and no matter who else she dates, in my persnickety head her heart will always belong to Tony Stark.

  • Monica

    @Caroline – I can’t speak for other fans, but for me it’s a lot of little moments. Early in Vol 3 they connect a few times, and Wanda cries when Carol leaves the Avengers after her court martial. Carol cradles Wanda after her possession in World’s Trust, and worries about her in Red Zone. After Disassembled, when Carol claims she hates Wanda, Pietro counters, “She loved you.” Then there’s the esteemed position Carol holds in the House of M Universe, which could be a sign of Wanda’s feelings towards her. I might be reaching on that last one. ;-)

    @Anika – would you like a scan of the page where they meet? As to Carol and Tony – I can see it happening, but they’re too similar in personality for my tastes. It would be hot like burning, though.

  • Anika

    @Monica I would love a scan of when they first meet!

    Avengers Finale is one of my favorite little issues, btw. And I kinda want a “Carol and Tony: Hot like burning” T-shirt now.

  • Monica
  • Anika

    @Monica THANK YOU!!

    The term is “Woman,” friend. <3

  • http://fantasticfangirls.org/ Caroline

    OMG that page is great. Also, Peter must have gotten his girl-detecting powers from Scott Summers. (Who, on meeting eventual girlfriend Lee Forrester, exclaims, “You’re a girl!”, and doesn’t even have combat conditions clouding his judgment as an excuse.

  • http://fantasticfangirls.org/ Caroline

    Also, I’m not sure I can ever really ship Carol with anyone besides Jessica Jones. . .Bendis’s fault!

  • Anika

    @Caroline I keep wanting to quote Hermione in Goblet of Fire: Oh, well-spotted!

    And Carol and Jessica Jones is just a given. That relationship goes far beyond shipping or love. I’ll assume I must have babbled at you about it at some point (I know I have done to Sigrid).

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  • Lee(f)

    Wow, great article! I’m, glad I found it, even if I am a bit late.

    I pretty much agree with every note you made on the comic. I thought it was sweet at the end how Peter is surprised that Carol cared about what he thought of her. I don’t know her character much but I’ve always thought of her as a cool lady with a good sense of humor, mad skills and patience… she’d have to to put up with him. ;p And I like how they pointed out that she considers him a bit of a friend and teammate. Most the rest of the Marvel universe does as well even if they won’t admit it out loud.

    I would totally love to pick up another comic like this!

  • Dan Legue

    Besides the on-going chemistry between Spider-Man x Ms. Marvel, it would be nice to see that same relationship get applied towards:

    Spider-Man x Black Widow
    Spider-Man x Spider-Woman
    Spider-Man x She-Hulk
    Spider-Man x Psylocke

    Don’t you agree?

  • Spider Fan

    Ever since Marvel comics ‘broke up’ Peter Parker and Mary Jane, I’ve felt a little empty. They were the most well known ‘longest lasting’ superhero comic couple I grew up with.

    That feeling changed with the Spider-date.

    I sat back, took a long good look at Carol’s and Spider-man’s histories and personality and imagined the by-the-book, sky-loving military super heroine in a relationship with our favourite wall-crawling, wise-cracking and average-Joe (besides the spider powers) super hero. A lot of possibilities to go for here.

    The two personalities of contrast can lead to all sorts of funny situations, which is partially what Spider-man is about. And Carol can be a tsundere (Look the word up if you don’t know) towards our friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler, which I imagine to be very cute. Not to mention the string of bad luck with previous relationships for BOTH of these fantastic superheroes, as brought up by Anika on Carol’s part. I would like to see Peter be in a relationship with someone who understands or even knows the responsibilities and negatives of being a superhero, would freshen things up a bit.

    The Amazing Spider-date is a good introduction into the possibility (And I hope future scenario) of Spider-man being romantically involved with Ms. Marvel (or Captain Marvel now). Two thumbs up and a desire to see another is apparent.

  • Dan Legue

    @Spider-Fan:During the post-OMD, Marvel said that things would have a positive change in Peter’s relationship after his break-up with Mary Jane. I would have thought that after a year or so had passed, Peter and Betty would start going out together more often until they realize that their romantic love for one another was still there. Enough to rebuild their relationship once again. I always felt that Betty should have been Peter’s next stable relationship following Mary Jane. But, the writers never took advantage of that at all because all we got were the types of forgettable relationships that mirrored Peter’s own in the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s after he broke up with Mary Jane the first time around. It would have been cool to see Betty Brant resume her relationship with Peter Parker once again as that relationship was certainly better than she had with Flash Thomson. The one aspect that Marvel could have used was the tug of war between Betty x Mary Jane over Peter Parker like it is with Betty and Veronica towards Archie.

    As for the Black Cat, I think that Spider-Man love interest with a potential super heroine must be expanded beyond the Felicia Hardy to include a diverse mix of six alternates for a writer to work on in case he’s not interested with using Felicia. There are six heroines would might make things interesting for Peter on the Spider-Man side like:

    Ms. Marvel
    Spider-Woman
    Silver Sable
    Psylocke
    She-Hulk
    Black Widow

    Stories with any one of these heroines as Spidey’s partners in a story arc would make some of the stories interesting to read. I feel that each of the heroines mentioned have strong feelings towards Peter Parker. Don’t you agree?

  • Anika

    Hi Spider-fan and Dan! I’m so happy you commented. Since I wrote this article Peter x Carol has become my MOST favorite pairing. This forever: “I would like to see Peter be in a relationship with someone who understands or even knows the responsibilities and negatives of being a superhero.” As for Dan’s list:

    Spider-Woman – Peter and Jess had a cute moment in Avengers and I’d like to see her with basically anyone other than Clint Barton. I actually think she’s a better couple with Carol than Peter so I’d swing it that way, but I could see and support it.

    Black Widow – I would cry if she was split from Bucky. However, I would LOVE any and all Spidey-Widow interaction. They’d be so good for each other’s psyche, I really really think so.

    Silver Sable, Psylocke, She-Hulk – I have no firm opinions on these three. But I wouldn’t be opposed.

  • dan legue

    @Anika: You are right about Spider-Woman x Ms. Marvel being made for one another. Somehow, there might be some lesbian attraction between those two. Although they do have one thing in common: An interest in Spider-Man/Peter Parker. I have yet to see Jessica Drew x Peter Parker interact together in their civilian persona(out of costume) outside of crime fighting as he sometimes does with Carol.