One of the books I’m most looking forward to in the coming months – and this will come as no surprise to anybody – is Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks’ Superman: Lois and Clark. At the end of Convergence (and consider this your spoiler warning) the pre-Flashpoint Superman went back in time to help stabilize the multiverse, taking with him his wife, Lois Lane, and their newborn son, Jonathan. When a comic about their continuing adventures was announced, I assumed it would be set on one of the other worlds of the multiverse. Last week week, though, Jurgens did an interview with Newsarama that showed me I was wrong. Lois, Clark and Jon have been in the Prime DC Universe, the one that we called the “New 52” until a few months ago, all this time. Hiding. Watching the exploits of this new Superman, trying to live their lives… but now they’re going to be forced out of complacency.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Oh, I was happy about the book before, even when I thought it would take place “elsewhere,” but this brings me to a whole new level of excitement. You see, the problem with any comic set on an “alternate” world is that it can be easily dismissed by readers as insignificant. True, DC managed to avoid that stigma with their Earth 2 series, but they did so by linking it to the New 52 Earth almost immediately.
Setting Lois and Clark in the Prime DCU gives it more weight. This Clark is a part of things, or can be. He can guest star in other titles. He can cross over during the next worldwide crisis. Hell, he could join the Justice League again, if the winds blew in that direction. And what’s more, this is my Superman. The one I grew up reading. The one who fought Doomsday and died, the one who turned electric blue for a while, the one who married Lois Lane and stayed with her. He’s back. They’re back.
The dissolution of the Lois/Clark relationship four years ago always stung. Ever since then I — and a lot of fans – have been waiting for the old status quo to resurface, but it hasn’t. Lois and Clark aren’t an item, and their story has taken such a turn that such a thing seems impossible. But that’s still what a lot of us wanted. So in a way, this new title even helps the current Superman. Those of us who never quite saw his romance with Wonder Woman as “real” may feel more charitable now that “our “Lois and Clark are back. For Superman fans, DC has found a way to have their cake and eat it too.
Which brings me to the point of all this. Although they would be loathe to admit it, Marvel Comics would be well-advised to take a page from DC when it comes to their own cosmic marriage annulment: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. With their own universe-restructuring story, Secret Wars, Marvel has shown us a lot of different worlds lately. One of the most commercially successful (and in my opinion, most entertaining) of the assorted spin-offs has been Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, which shows us a world where Pete and MJ are still married and have an elementary school-aged daughter, Annie. This isn’t the only difference in that world, mind you, but it’s certainly the crux against which that whole story turns. We’ve seen them as parents before, of course, in the former Spider-Girl series, but that was Mayday’s story. Pete and MJ were supporting characters. This is something totally different, something that we once thought we may even have a chance to taste.
As much as Lois and Clark’s separation hurt fans, at least it didn’t feel like a personal attack. Not so, Peter and MJ. Whereas Lois and Clark were victims of a line-wide restructuring, one where many characters underwent similar changes, Peter and MJ were targeted. They were placed in a ridiculously convoluted situation and behaved out-of-character to get them to a point where eradicating the marriage was possible. It always felt — to me and to a hell of a lot of others — that MJ and her marriage to Peter were being picked on by a certain vocal former Marvel Editor-In-Chief, one who made no bones about the fact that he wanted to gleefully wipe it out. (The same story that wiped out their marriage also cruelly teased the notion of their daughter that Dan Slott is playing with in Renew Your Vows.)
The official line, though, was that the marriage made Peter seem too old, and Marvel wanted a young Spider-Man. The problem with that argument, of course, was that they already had a younger Spider-Man over in the Ultimate Universe. That Peter Parker was having his own teen adventures, so the notion that fans had nowhere to turn for such a thing seemed pretty disingenuous. Of course, that could be chalked up to the whole “alternate universe” thing again. No matter how good the Ultimate comics were, they still weren’t the “real” Marvel Universe, the one that had existed since 1961, were they?
Well, here comes Secret Wars, changing all that. And here’s a chance for Marvel to give fans the best of both worlds.
We already know Ultimate Peter’s successor, Miles Morales, will be part of the new Marvel Universe, whatever shape it eventually takes. And we know that both Peter and Miles will go by the name “Spider-Man.” So Marvel has their young Spider-Man in the mainstream Marvel Universe in Miles’s book. How awesome would it be, then, if we opened Dan Slott’s new(est) Amazing Spider-Man #1 this fall and discovered that the marriage and Annie Parker had survived the transition into the New Marvel Universe? Miles would still fill the role of classic teen Spider-Man, and there are dozens of single male superheroes out there. But with the Fantastic Four still AWOL, does Marvel have any title left that features parents and their children? (Well, okay, Spider-Woman, but that’s a whole different dynamic of its own.)
This is a chance to give everyone what they want. Marvel has Teen Spider-Man with Miles. They even have Teen Peter Parker in the recently-announced all-ages Spidey series. Elsewhere we have Spider-Girls and Spider-Women and Spider-Gwens and Spider-Pigs, all represented in one way or another. The only people who are still left out are fans of the Spider-Couple and Spider-Kid.
This is your Mulligan, Marvel. Your Get Out of Jail Free Card. Your chance to make it right. Secret Wars is already delaying pretty much the entire line, so take advantage of the time to make this happen. For all the talk of “diversity” in the new Marvel Universe, here’s your chance to give us the one thing that seems to be missing from every other title: family.