Weddings and funerals are events that usually draw massive crowds. Folks who have not seen the dearly beloved (or the dearly departed) in years come out of the woodwork, dress in fine attire, and pay their respects. Oddly enough they are both moments in life that carry the weight of some sense of finality (one of them more so, of course) and bring people together.
These events are no different in comic books. If an issue has a prefix atop its cover proclaiming “the wedding of…” or “the death of…,” they often garner a bit more attention than they usually would. And while marketing a character’s death might get the edge in baiting readers (“The Death of Superman” during the comic boom of the ‘90s and the more recent “Death of Wolverine” events come to mind), wedding issues have recently been burring the lead or simply just not paying off on their promises. But why?
Comic books, for better or worse, are designed like soap operas (just with more punching and aliens and magical entities). Romance, love triangles, and marital strife fill their pages just as they fill daytime television. When characters aren’t punching the aforementioned aliens and/or magical entities, they’re living their day-to-day lives, and readers often find what makes the characters compelling in more quiet moments of comics. When we see Superman with a cup of coffee as he slinks around the offices at the Daily Planet we stop and say, “Hey, I drink coffee in my office, too.” When a young mutant class member gets detention at Xavier’s School for the Gifted for setting his desk of fire or what have you, we understand that heroes aren’t born heroic; they were once young and made mistakes, just like us.
The Great Divide
Maybe this sounds a bit reductive, but for a huge swathes of readers, it’s true. It’s not that we don’t love it when heroes punch things that need to get punched, but in the mundane is where we find common ground. We can’t relate to going to a different dimension or fighting magical demons or traveling to a distant planet filled with murderous lifeforms (but wouldn’t it be cool if we could). But we relate to social anxiety and the all the emotional tension that surround a huge life event like a wedding.
For the average person, a marriage is the real-life equivalent to facing off against Galactus. There is a sense of finality to the event even if you are to come out on the other side better off. Perhaps it's the natural dichotomy between home and work life of superheroes that once made their wedding issues so special at one time. And maybe that dichotomy is what is currently causing publishers to move away from them.