It is no secret that comics are not afraid to push boundaries when it comes to pairing off characters. Love connections keep things interesting, but that doesn't mean every super-coupling has gone over well with fans. Occasionally, romantic choices made by the writers are strange, if not downright disturbing.
Even among the most iconic relationships, death, rebirth, infidelity, and non-linear storytelling can leave readers’ heads spinning. This list compiles 8 of the most confusing relationships ever woven into comics and will shed light on a few ridiculous ghosts of superhero-love past.
This couple has more conflicting backstories than solo titles. From their planet of origin to the spelling of their names, transformation is standard in their nearly 80-year history. In the 1940s title, Hawkman is Carter Hall, a wealthy collector who realizes he is the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince. After experiencing overwhelming visions of his past life, Hall comes face to face with his true love- Shiera.
Eternal love aside, many fans first met the Hawk-Couple in the animated Justice League series of the early 2000s. The show's Shiera Hall/ Shayera Hol is a trusted teammate of the JLA and love interest to Green Lantern, John Stewart. Sadly, Shiera is not who the JLA thought she was. She is revealed to be a military police operative from the planet Thanagar, stationed on Earth as a spy. John is heartbroken to find out that Shayera is engaged to her commanding officer, Hro Talak. Don’t let Talak’s costume confuse you, though. He wears a winged get-up similar to that of the traditional Hawkman but is not the show's version of Carter Hall. It's hard to say where this leaves Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but it’s safe to assume that they will find an overly-complicated way to be together again.
Barbara Gordon is one of the shining stars of the Bat-Family. Deeply intelligent, driven, and spirited, there’s a lot to make her father, commissioner Jim Gordon, proud. That makes it worse to see some of the choices writers have made for Batgirl’s love life. Batman the Animated Series established Barbara with Dick Grayson, the original Robin. Their connection as eager young sidekicks feels natural. Watching their crush develop into something more offers a level of sweetness fans don’t always get to see in superhero love. Dick and Barbara’s relationship is a speck of hope on what quickly becomes a dismal spiral into uncomfortable flings.
Sometimes, Barbara is romantically linked to the Batman himself, Bruce Wayne. The most clumsily handled version of this relationship appears in The Killing Joke animated movie. Barbara is stalked and attacked by a wealthy Gotham criminal, leading to a confrontation about her safety with Batman. Batman offers fatherly advice, which gives way to… sex? In full Bat-gear, Batgirl and Batman consummate their disturbing relationship on a rooftop while Gotham looks on awkwardly. Batman Beyond 2.0 takes it a step further. As if the age difference and friendship with her father are not enough, Bruce impregnates Barbara while she is still linked to Dick Grayson/ Nightwing. This leads to exploding tensions between Batman and Dick, and one uncomfortable chapter of Batman mythology for readers.
Confusion about this couple stems from one critical fact: Marvel's cinematic Ant-Man and The Wasp are not the original Ant-Man and Wasp. The movie follows Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne as they work with her father, Hank Pym- the original Ant-man. Without this fact, Marvel’s choice to add the couple to their movie roster feels risky. Why? Hank Pym and original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, do not have the inspirational romance expected of a big-name super couple. In fact, they are infamous among comic readers for a domestic abuse incident that took place in 1981.
Hope’s parents were once members of the Avengers. When Hank makes a bad call, his position on the team is called into question, leaving Hank to dissolve into a dark place while his teammates deliberate. When Janet approaches her husband and attempts to get through to him, Hank responds in the least heroic way possible. He hits Janet, hard, across the face. It’s a pathetic display on the part of Hank Pym and has haunted the names Ant-Man and Wasp ever since. Luckily, Hope and Scott have the attention and admiration to redefine these mantles.
Diana, Princess of Themyscira, was sculpted from clay by her mother’s hands and brought to life with the loving help of the gods. Which god? It varies, but the “sculpted from clay” line is a blatant lie that blindsides Diana in every retelling of her origin. In reality, Hippolyta, Queen of Themyscira, conceives her baby the old fashioned way (if you catch my drift). Who she does the deed with often changes from one incarnation to the next.
Through the years, Diana’s rumored father has been Zeus, Ares, and even Hades in the animated Justice League series. Since the New 52 in 2011, Zeus appears to be Diana's current father. The critical thing to remember is that Wonder Woman most certainly has the blood of the gods, making her a formidable legend in her own right.
Appearing in The Avengers #200, this couple is exactly as gross as it sounds. In a convoluted time-travel-centric plot, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) discovers that she’s been impregnated by a man from an in-between dimension. The man, Marcus, turns out to be her son.
Marcus impregnated Ms. Marvel without her consent to ensure his own birth. He uses advanced medication and mind control to carry out the horrific act, in hopes of escaping the “Limbo” reality. Marcus does try to actually “court” his mother for a second before resorting to mind manipulation, but that does little to quell the disgusting truth of his actions.
Everyone loves Jean Grey. It’s a fact of the X-Men universe that seems inevitable. At one time or another, many of the X-Men have felt a level of romantic attraction to Jean. Sadly, the man she loves has a severe lapse in judgment that leads to confusion and heartbreak for the mutant powerhouse. Scott Summers (a.k.a Cyclops) cheats on Jean in a psychic affair with Emma Frost.
Their relationship develops in their heads rather than physically. Though they technically have not acted on the attraction, their ability to share unfaithful thoughts with one another, under Jean’s nose, crosses a line. Jean catches Scott and Emma in bed together, albeit in their minds, but the pain is just as potent as seeing it in person. Jean does not take the betrayal well, and the remnants have left a stain on Scott’s reputation as a core X-Men character.
Technically, Hal Jordan did not date a teenager, but by modern standards, there are more than a few reasons to raise an eyebrow at the ill-fated relationship of Green Lantern and Arisia Rrab. Arisia is a member of the Green Lantern Corps whose admiration of Hal develops into a crush. Though she may be older on her home planet, in Earth years, Arisia is well under the age of consent.
Though Hal initially sees her as more of a little sister, Arisia’s persistence (and time traveling to age herself up a few years) eventually succeeds in swaying Hal to give their love a chance. The relationship is another weird case of time travel and interplanetary differences justifying a creepy relationship. Luckily, Arisia and Hal do not remain an item for long. There are just too many hoops for writers to jump through to make their relationship passable.
This is one of those baffling relationships eventually explained away by the “alternate reality” excuse. Juggernaut, Professor X’s step-brother and a regular villain of the Marvel universe, meets Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) during a self-discovery period. Juggernaut seeks a lawyer, bringing him to Jennifer’s office, where they quickly move from legal discussion to a hotel room destroying romp. They may both be massive in size, but little else about the couple makes sense.
With different personalities, morals, goals, and story-lines, the whole situation reads as lousy matchmaking. Marvel covered their tracks by revealing that Juggernaut’s She-Hulk is actually from Earth 721, making her a different version of the character than that of the normal continuity. Unfortunately for readers, the image of that hotel room may remain in their minds forever.