Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who is the perfect paramour?

There has been much opinion and discussion of late in regards to the developing relationship between Diana of Themyscira and Tom Tresser (AKA Nemesis). Amy Reads (she of the exceptionally written blog Arrogant Self-Reliance) has expressed her own, perhaps undefinable, dislike of Tresser. I also have not found the romance to be particularly agreeable. While I've been reading comics for nigh on three decades (let's not think on that now, shall we?), I don’t have quite the same DC ‘credentials’ as many others may. I cut my comic teeth on Spider-Man and Marvel, but I wasn't all that far behind on DC titles. It wasn't long after my exposure to the X-Men (the next real comic book I knew outside of Spider-Man) that I became a reader of DC's Vigilante (the Adrian Chase version), which grew out of a cross-over between the Teen Titans and the X-Men. From there I became a reader of the Teen Titans, then the Justice League (the Giffen/DeMatteis version), the Flash, Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes, L.E.G.I.O.N., Hawkman, and a few others. Vigilante was mid-80s, the others followed in the late 80s and early 90s. So you might say I have a decent foundation in DC titles (though not quite as strong as what I have in Marvel titles, much to my disappointment these days --- but that is a topic all its own). Even so, I wasn't reading Wonder Woman or Suicide Squad at the time, so I had no knowledge of Tom Tressor. In fact, my first exposure to the character (to the best of my knowledge) has been in recent issues of Wonder Woman (a title I started reading during Greg Rucka's excellent run). If you're familiar with the issues in question (written by Allan Heinberg and Jodi Picoult --- with very definite input from editorial), then you're quite familiar with the portayal of the character. I don't know what he may have been like before those issues, but I do know what he was like in them. He was rather dismissive of Diana (in her guise as Diana Prince) and possibly even a little chauvinistic. In fact, the only woman he seemed to give any respect (and I use that term somewhat loosely) is Wonder Woman.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily have to make him an ass. It could simply be a case of, what with his years of experience in covert operations and the like, Tresser finding Diana Prince to be sorely lacking as a suitable partner and thereby being somewhat annoyed that he has been ‘stuck’ with her. He also claimed he works alone and if that is indeed the case, one could certainly understand his not wanting to break in someone as inexperienced as she in their line of work (according to her resumé) -- though Diana did point out he worked with the Suicide Squad and other individuals in the past, so it seems a rather ineffectual argument on his part.
Then there was the time (in a Jodi Picoult scripted issue) when a somewhat groggy Tresser was disappointed that he had missed seeing Wonder Woman and commented that he ‘bet she looked hawt’. Now, should we put that down to the head injury causing him to think and say something out of usual character or is it a case of said injury temporarily removing the filter that would otherwise keep him from speaking what is actually on his mind. Personally, I’m going to have to go with the latter on that one.
So I’m not sure what to make of it entirely.
I have a hard time putting my finger on what exactly it is that I think I don’t like about him. Maybe it is simply a case of my believing he isn’t good enough for Diana, and that is that. But if that is really all it is, then it seems a rather anemic argument. Because when you get right down to it, who really is ‘good enough’ for Diana? If you want to try and measure someone up against everything that Diana is … well, you’re going to find the line of those who can even be considered to be in the same ‘sentence’ a rather short one --- as in, maybe zero individuals. Outside of possibly Superman (and frankly, he bores me as a character), I’m finding it difficult to come up with anyone who possesses even to some minor degree the number of intangibles that make Wonder Woman such a unique and wonderful character. Sure there are characters who have this part, and that piece, as well as their own distinguishing attributes, but none that really come close to encompassing the collection of traits that define Diana.
It seems an impossible task. Or perhaps improbable would be more appropriate a term. So if it is indeed improbable to find someone very clearly ‘deserving’ of Diana’s favor, then why not just anyone? Why not Tom Tresser?
I must admit, having the luxury of going back to re-examine those story arcs written by Allan Heinberg and Jodi Picoult after having read Gail Simone’s four issues has changed my opinion somewhat. I’m finding myself a little less dubious of Tresser as a potential love interest for Diana. Seeing those issues again now, he doesn’t seem as much the stereotypical male jerk I thought at first encounter. But hey, end of the day, he is still a guy. And much like the rest of us guys, he’ll still end up being a jerk on occasion. Diana has been around long enough that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to her. She’s had enough dealings with Wally (more so in his early days), Bruce, Hal, Oliver (he teaches a university-level class on the subject), and Carter, among numerous others, that she really should have a decent handle on the male creature. So you know, if she is ok with Tom - warts and all as they say - after all that, then I guess there really isn’t much more for the rest of us to say.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say more though. Actually I’m shifting the topic a bit however. Amy Reads mentions in the same blog post that she finds the idea of a Batman-Wonder Woman pairing appealing to some degree. I also find the idea intriguing. It is not a combination that I had given any real thought to previous to reading a JLA arc several years ago that I believe was written by Joe Kelly. In that particular arc, there was sexual tension that seemed to be developing between Batman and Wonder Woman. I don’t know the timing of this particular arc in relation to the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, where I understand something similar was in place (sorry --- I wasn’t watching it regularly at the time --- yes, yes, shame on me). Perhaps Joe Kelly was inspired by the cartoon, perhaps the cartoon took something from Kelly’s work, or perhaps they all independently came up with their own angles on it. I don’t know and frankly it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that it put the characters in a new light for me. I saw possibilities that previously were not a consideration. And I wanted to see those possibilities played out. Even though I’m not so sure it is really a good pairing. There are aspects of it that make sense. Batman is the true persona. Bruce Wayne is a beneficial identity that allows him the resources to continue his mission. By the same token, Wonder Woman doesn’t really have much in the way of a civilian life herself. So in effect, his ‘lifestyle’ wouldn’t necessarily be an inconvenience for Wonder Woman (though if she were again to become an emissary for Themyscira, there could be some potential conflict in their ability to effectively match schedules). I’m just not so certain Batman would be willing to make enough room in his life for Diana. I don’t know that he would give her the necessary time and attention to make a relationship work. I’d like to think that maybe Diana could loosen him up a bit and pull him back from the edge of that chasm of compulsion he likes to hover over, but I don’t believe he would allow himself that comfort. I think his obsessive nature when he is working on a case would eventually wear on her. I’m not saying Diana would be needy (I’m saying the opposite really – she would allow him much more leeway than just about anyone else), but there is give and take in a relationship and I think Batman would be lacking in the give aspect.
I like the idea of the relationship in theory, but I’m not so certain such a relationship would actually work in practice. But who knows, maybe Clark (and Dick and Tim and Carter and hell, maybe even Oliver) could knock some sense in him at some point.

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