Lovefool 09.12.11 | Romance Re-Don’t

Lovefool digs up Marvel Romance Redux, a jokey 2007 rewrite of classic pre-Silver Age romance comics that’s sorely lacking in both jokes and romance.






Once again, I find myself in a Marvel state of mind this week. Fortunately, I’ve got a little something that seems like it should be more up our alley but, really, isn’t quite what I had in mind when I picked it up: Marvel Romance Redux: Another Kind of Love. A little known gem from approximately 2007, Another Kind of Love is collection of classic romance comics with, I assume, the original dialogue erased and rewritten by some of the hungry young things in the Marvel bullpen, biding their time until they can get to something juicy like a Mary Jane spin-off. I picked it up at a con a few years ago, read it once and then shelved it, only to come across it when I was packing for my recent move. “Hrm,” I said to myself, “this has ‘romance’ in the title. Perhaps I should keep this out.” And then I gently chided myself for talking to no one and put it in a box and forgot about it, only to remember it just the other day after I saw the fabulous Peggy in Captain America.
In case you were wondering, there are no Peggys here. But she had all the glamour of an old-school romance comic heroine, all glossy curls and pissed off usage of firearms and it made me feel like I needed to dig this out and give it another shot. So I did and I read it and then I read it again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I wonder what the concept meetings for this project looked like. The comics are rewritten in a snarky fashion designed to appeal to…whom, exactly? Most women probably don’t really think the jokes about Satan and the wimmins needing to shop are really that funny and most guys wouldn’t give this book a second glance, despite the, umm, assets of the girl on the cover. Speaking of, nice boob joke, you guys. That’s real clever. Anyway, we here at Lovefool, Inc. like to try to keep an open mind and understand that gender lines aren’t static, but this book talks about Satan a lot. And aliens. And anal probes come up more than once.
The comics, due to their original artwork, usually end up being painted into romantic corners with semi-happy endings. The drug addictions, lame jobs, sexist jokes and everything before the happy endings can be funny, occasionally, but I can’t help but wonder if, really, Romance Redux is just confirming all the stereotypes of gender understanding that exist in the world of comics. From the first story, Jeff Parker’s (Hulk, Captain America) “President Stripper,” to the last, John Lustig’s “The Girl With Bogart’s Brain,” it’s one bad joke about female jealousy and greed after another. Sure, there’s a few stories where ladies are capable creatures but mostly it’s jokes about those silly gals and their bad habits!
Perhaps, again, the dialogue writes itself since the old stories are practically feeding the writers the lines. There’s lots of girls giving each other the evil eye and plenty of shopping in gorgeous dresses but this isn’t that day, Marvel, and I see what you’re doing here but it’s not really that funny. And, really, you could only find one woman to work on this book? Not to jump on a bandwagon but, seriously, one? Kirsten Sinclair (Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four) was a nice nod to inclusiveness, but didn’t it occur to anyone that maybe this book driven by a female cast of characters in a traditionally feminine genre might need more of a woman’s touch?
So I guess, ultimately, I kind of see what Marvel was trying to do here. The humor can be a bit arch at times and there is a Patsy Walker story where she’s ends up in a threesome with God and Satan but…well, no, you know what? That about sums it up: Hellcat in a threesome with God and Satan, driving off into the sunset in a red convertible. Because Marvel couldn’t help but cannibalize their own history and paint over the work of pioneers like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee with actual jokes about cannibalism and double-entendres about how smart girls can’t get laid.
Thanks for that, Marvel. No happy endings and insulting ones when you do hand ’em out. And I wonder why I have such a hard time writing about stuff that isn’t indie or from Japan… I feel like, at the very least, instead of stripping down these works of art and remaking them for whomever Marvel felt the need to remake them for, they should release a collection of the books as they originally were. Sure, they might still be about swooning ladies and shopping but at least they’d have some sincerity about it. Presumably, someone at Marvel remembers what that looks like.
In other news! After the round of Lovefool vs. Yaoi that we had ’round here a few weeks ago, I have received a sampler, of sorts, of “starter” books that might not scare the pants onto me. So tune in next week for Round Two of Lovefool vs. Yaoi for some pretty boy-on-boy action. | Erin Jameson
Click here for a preview of Marvel Romance Redux: Another Kind of Love, courtesy of Sequential Crush.

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