As today is Valentine’s Day, and I’m a sucker for such things, I’ve decided to dive into the romantic side of comics. This is not going to be an academic look into love, rather, an examinations of some of the comic book relationships that really stick out to me. No, not every couple will be on this list, I’m sorry to say. And sadly, I’m no expert when it comes to romance, so you’ll have to forgive me any omissions or mistakes I make. Now, cupid, let your arrow fly!
Popeye and Olive Oyl from Thimble Theater/Popeye
Let’s start with one of my favorite comics. Popeye and Olive Oyl have been together a long time (starting around 1929!) They are not always a perfect couple, but what sort of long lasting love is without adversity? They are an odd looking couple, sure, but their adventures under their creator, E.C. Segar, are hard to beat, and hold up to this day.
Tony Chu and Amelia Mintz from Chew
Odds are, if you’ve been to this site, you know that Chew is one of my favorite comics of ALL TIME. So of course I have to put these two into the countdown. I’ll avoid any spoilers, accept to mention that I will always remember when Tony Fell in love with Amelia, because he was being puked on. It’s a great panel. These two are perfect together, one being a detective who can tell anything about whatever he eats, and the other a writer with the ability to make people taste food through her writing. They are a pair that, for me, will be hard to surpass. And if you haven’t read Chew, get on it!
Agent 355 and Yorick Brown from Y the Last Man
OK, talk about the slow burn. These are two people you want to get together throughout most of the series. One is the last man on earth, the other is a super skilled government agent sent to protect him. But the whole time you’re like “COME ON ALREADY.” It’s a great build. I won’t spoil anything here, because maybe you like romance, and this makes you decide to read Y the Last Man. These two literally go through the end of the world together, so I’d be amiss not to add them to this list.
Apollo and Midnighter from the Authority/Storm Watch/Midnighter and Apollo
Though there aren’t too many super hero couples on this list (I think that’s been done quite a bit already), I did have to put this on here. These two stand out to me for several reasons. First of all, in the beginning, they were just off brand Batman and Superman. But then, they really came into their own in the Wildstorm universe, and eventually became probably the most famous couple of that imprint. They even got married, which isn’t always common in comics. They are important because they are a long lasting gay couple in a major comic book company (DC). And while there are more of these couples now, Midnighter and Apollo have and always will stand out to me.
Jesse Custer and Tulip O’Hare from Preacher
So, this one starts off a bit rocky, because Jesse did leave Tulip without explanation (though we get answers as the story goes on). But this is one very serious relationship. This is what today they would call a “ride or die” couple, because they are literally willing to die for each other multiple times throughout the comic. At one point, manly man Jesse Custer even says, with tears in his eyes, “take my hand an’ I swear I’ll love you till the goddamn stars go out.” Which is a panel that gives me the chills looking at it. This is a couple that definitely goes through some pretty severe ups and downs, but they belong side by side forever.
Alana and Marko from Saga
I won’t lie, I’m not fully caught up on Saga, but I think it would be foolish not to include these two on the list. Here’s another one from Brian K. Vaughan (Y the Last Man) and another ride or die couple. The appeal here is that they are from opposite sides of a conflict, so they should be enemies. Yet, they fall in love and run away from the war, and bring a whole galaxy of trouble down on themselves. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, only a way better relationship, and if Romeo and Juliet actually kicked everyone’s ass. So I guess it’s not really that similar. Anyway, pretty much everyone who reads comics loves Alana and Marko.
Mal and Molly from Lumberjanes
Yes, this is young love we’re talking about here. The innocent, adorable kind. Lumberjanes is a great series for a number of reasons. It’s funny, smart, full of great advice about friendship, and it’s a diverse yet subtle book. It doesn’t hit you over the head with the difference in characters, thus making it more natural than many comics. Sometimes, comics can be a bit hamfisted in their attempt to display difference. This is also good because this book can be read by all ages, giving younger readers a positive LGBT exposure. Also, these two are great because they remind us all of when we were young teenagers, stomachs all aflutter with butterflies. Lovely.
Veronica, Archie, and Betty from Archie Comics
Maybe this one is a little bit cheating. But you have to admit that this is the most famous love triangle in all of comics. And they’ve been doing this little dance for decades and decades now. It really is an iconic part of American story telling. Everyone likes a good love triangle, and them’s the facts. The constant back and forth keeps the drama high and the stories coming. Look at the phenomenal new series by Mark Waid. It keeps reinventing itself. But I do admit Archie is kind of an idiot.
M. Mallah and the Brain from Doom Patrol
I’m going to tell you right now, I’m putting this on the list, even though most of you probably have no idea what it is, because I LOVE IT. First of all, it’s from Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol which is the best run (so far) on one of my favorite, and weirdest, super hero teams out there. Stop me if you’ve heard this story: a militant francophone gorilla serves a giant brain in a jar; the gorilla falls in love. the Brain gets a body, admits he loves the gorilla, just in time for them both to be blown up. A tale as old as time, right? It’s, pardon the phrase, bananas. But it’s also touching. And that’s why I love it.
Lois and Clark from Superman/Action Comics
That’s right, I’ll end this list as cliche as possible, and you can’t stop me. I may be a jaded 25 year old cartoonist, but I will never stop thinking of Lois and Clark as THE love story in comics. Yeah, DC, try and kill it all you want, you know you did wrong. I know it’s been said to death, but come on, it’s Lois and Clark. They’re part of the American consciousness. It’s beautiful because Superman, the most powerful super hero of all time, the man who can do anything, is anchored by a human reporter, (who can also do anything) Lois Lane. And that is what helps to make Superman not some god, but in fact a human. More human than most of us! And this relationship guides us like the north star in terms of comic book love, it’s always there, always shining. These two are truly iconic, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t fight this instinct and dig up someone more obscure for this final spot. It’s just unavoidable.
There are a lot of other couples out there, tons! Sorry that I left you off the list, Marvel, it just happened that way. I didn’t have space for them all, and anyway, I’ll have to do this again next year anyway, so don’t complain too hard that your number one ship didn’t show up! Just kidding, happy Valentines’ Day!