With the news of Superman and Wonder Woman sharing the kiss heard ’round the comic book world in this week’s “Justice League” #12 as the pair redefine the term “power couple,” CBR felt this was the perfect time to examine the history of Superman and Wonder Woman’s romantic entanglements and kisses.
Due to DC Comics compartmentalized nature, with the editor of each group of titles closely guarding their characters as though they were individual editorial fiefdoms, Wonder Woman and Superman rarely spent time together for their first twenty years of existence. In fact, most of their interactions were as occasional teammates in the Justice Society of America during the 1940s. It was not until the Justice League of America was formed in the early 1960s that the two shared the spotlight regularly, and even then, “Justice League of America” was not a place where anything notable would happen, characterization-wise, for any of the star characters, with any developments of weight being reserved for their own titles.
By the end of the 1960s, however, DC was going through a change in how it handled its marquee players. The success of Marvel Comics and its heavily inter-related continuity led to DC adapting a similar approach with its own storytelling. As Marvel fed into fan debates like “Who is stronger, Hulk or Thing? How about Hulk or Thor?” by addressing them in the actual comics, similar ideas DC readers likely had, like, say, “Why doesn’t Superman date Wonder Woman?” were starting to be addressed as well.
Interestingly enough, the first comic to tackle the idea of a Superman/Wonder Woman relationship took place after writer/artist Mike Sekowsky rebooted Wonder Woman as a mod action hero without a costume or super powers. The new Wonder Woman guest-starred in 1969’s “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane” #93, written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Irv Novick and Mike Esposito. In the issue, Lois Lane proves she is just like a typical comic book reader, always fearing Superman might one day realize, “Hey, Wonder Woman is my physical equal! Villains could never use her against me! Why don’t I just date her?” Now that Wonder Woman has lost her powers, Lois thinks she is in the clear — until Wonder Woman asks Lois’ help in finding a magical stone that will give her superpowers again. Lois complies and the end result drives Lois nuts, as Superman and Wonder Woman begin to date! Her mind goes wild at night while dreaming about what could happen next.
Lois even decides to learn martial arts in order to beat up Wonder Woman and prove to Superman she’s better than her Amazonian rival. In the end, though, it turns out that Wonder Woman is actually a bad guy in disguise who was planning on marrying Superman and ruling the world with him as Wonder Woman. After she is defeated, Superman reveals that he was planning on breaking up with Wonder Woman anyway, so the plan would not have worked no matter what.
It was another Lois Lane comic book that gave us Superman and Wonder Woman’s next hook-up, as 1974’s “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane” #136 (the second-to-last issue of the series) saw the two declare their love for each other and plan to get married! In this story, written by Cary Bates and drawn by John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta, Lois is suspicious of the pairing, presuming that it is an elaborate hoax (by this point in time, DC characters were self-aware enough that Lois was prepared for Superman’s continual obsession with overly complicated trickery). However, when she spies on the two having a private moment, Lois is distraught to learn that their love is for real.
There’s a really great “love montage” of Superman and Wonder Woman continuing their relationship in public, including, of course, playing tennis.
In the end, Lois’ instincts proved to be correct. A lunatic who was obsessed with Superman became a villain known as the Revenger and was intent on murdering Superman’s girl friend. Superman discovered her plans and figured that if he was dating Lois, she would be in great danger, so Wonder Woman pretended to date the Man of Steel as she could protect herself a lot better. Wonder Woman wondered why the ruse had to involve them spending the night together, but Superman said you could never be too careful (Okay, that didn’t actually happen, but it sounds like something the Silver Age Superman would try). In the end, the Revenger actually found a way to kill Wonder Woman, but Lois and her friend Melba saved Diana’s life.
Gerry Conway was the next writer to address a Superman/Wonder Woman pairing in “DC Comics Presents” #32 in 1981, as the Greek god of love, Eros, shows up at the Justice League satellite to woo Wonder Woman. When she rebuffs his advances, the spurned god is inspired by the sudden appearance on the satellite of Wonder Woman’s Justice League teammate, Superman, to make the two heroes fall in love with each other. In an act of petulance, he shoots them each with his arrow. The two heroes fight their urges as best they can, but it proves difficult.
The two heroes each head to their respective significant others to try to fool themselves into believing they can fight their new love for each other, but when Wonder Woman sees Superman making out with Lois Lane on television, she travels to Metropolis to attack Lois in an jealous rage. She even throws Lois Lane into oncoming traffic! Superman saves Lois, but the saved reporter can’t believe what she sees next, as Superman and Wonder Woman can’t keep themselves from each other.
You have to love the innuendo-laced “go some place where we can take care of some business.” Wonder Woman, of course, is actually talking about Mount Olympus, where she and Superman travel to force Eros to take away his love curse. Eventually, the two manage to find a magical flower that ends their infatuation with each other.
A couple of years later, in 1983’s “Wonder Woman” #300, Roy and Dann Thomas have Wonder Woman decide to marry her longtime love, Steve Trevor. Along the way, with assistance of the 1970s version of the Sandman, Wonder Woman dreams about the different ways her life could have gone (with each segment of the dream drawn by a different artist). In one of these dreams (illustrated by Rich Buckler), she wonders what it would have been like if she and Superman had gotten married.
Nude wingwalking should be an Olympic sport, I think.
In the end, Wonder Woman and Superman’s imagined marriage falls apart for the most noble of reasons; they are each spending too much time being superheroes and have no time for each other.
In 1985, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons poke a little fun at the idea of a Superman/Wonder Woman pairing with their classic tale, “For the Man Who Has Everything” in “Superman Annual” #11, as Wonder Woman gives Superman a replica of the bottled city of Kandor and the two then share a kiss, joking that they don’t do it more often because it would be “too predictable.”
After the end of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” in 1986, Wonder Woman received a from the ground up reboot. Now, instead of being a peer of her fellow heroes and active for years, Wonder Woman was making her debut in the then-present. Superman, an already-established hero, is deeply interested in this brand-new, beautiful superhero when he meets her in the pages of “Legends,” and he thinks about her a lot before they actually share some quality time alone together in “Action Comics” #600, in a story by John Byrne with art by Byrne and “Wonder Woman” architect George Perez (Perez finishing Byrne’s layouts).
The two begin to discuss their mutual attraction to each other before being interrupted by an emergency call to Wonder Woman from Olympus, which has been attacked by Darkseid and his minions. Wonder Woman answers the call for help and Superman goes with her. When their battle is over, Superman comes to the realization that he and Wonder Woman are not as compatible as he first thought. In his heart, he’s just a boy from Kansas, which is worlds away from Wonder Woman’s life experiences. The two part as friends.
The second story in “Action Comics” #600 is a good Lois Lane story by John Byrne and Roger Stern with art by Kurt Schaffenberger and Jerry Ordway, where the post-Crisis version of Lois Lane also deals with self-doubt about whether Superman really is interested in Wonder Woman and whether she could compete with her.
The next major story to involve a Superman and Wonder Woman romance was the alternate future tale: Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s “Kingdom Come.” In the story, Wonder Woman coaxes Superman out of a self-imposed retirement, as the new era of super “heroes” (led by the anti-hero Magog) has deteriorated so badly — highlighted by a superhero battle that ended up with much of the American Midwest destroyed — that the world needs a Superman again. Clark returns, but things don’t get much better as he finds himself and his re-formed Justice League forced to imprison many heroes and villains rather than being able to rehabilitate them. Things hit a fever pitch when the prisoners escape and Superman and his forces must restore order. Superman and Wonder Woman find themselves at odds when she declares they have to use lethal force despite Superman’s insistence he isn’t prepared to take things to that level yet. Meanwhile, the nations of the world decide to simply nuke the whole lot of them while they’re all in one spot. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman try to stop the bombs, but one goes off. The hostilities have ended but at a great loss of life. As Superman buries the dead and begins to re-farm the American Midwest, Wonder Woman comes to him and essentially asks him to reclaim his life.
In the epilogue of the series, they are a couple and are expecting a child.
The only kiss in 1999’s “Action Comics” #761 is a simple peck on the forehead, but that peck had more pent-up passion behind it than any other prior in-continuity interaction between Superman and Wonder Woman. In the story, the two are called upon to save the Norse god. They travel to a magical word where they battle the Norse gods in a war that goes on for hundreds of years while only a short amount of time passed on Earth. The magic keeps Superman and Wonder Woman from aging much, as well. During their time together, Kelly shows the two heroes growing closer and closer as the years go by. Where once they slept far from each other in their camp, eventually they are sleeping in each others arms. On the eve of their final battle, Wonder Woman effectively propositions Superman.
While he rebuffs her in the honor of his barely remembered wife, Superman’s anguish over turning her down is palpable.
In the dystopian future of the “Dark Knight Strikes Again,” Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s 2002 sequel to their 1986 classic (with Klaus Janson) “The Dark Knight Returns,” Superman has become a shell of his former shell. Wonder Woman comes to him to inspire some vestige of his former vitality, even if she has to beat it out of him. She gets what she is coming for — and then some.
Most recently, in “All Star Batman and Robin,” the prequel series to the “Dark Knight Returns”/”Strikes Again” stories, Miller and artists Jim Lee and Scott Williams show the beginning of Superman and Wonder Woman’s powerful relationship in the pages of 2005’s issue #5.
These comics in particular give us a glimpse as to how Jim Lee and Scott Williams would handle such a pairing, which we see from these artists once again in “Justice League” #12. As for the future of the highest profile couple in comics, only time will tell if this latest in-continuity pairing will stand the test of time.