I’m a sucker for love. From the classic Young Romance comics to in-game trysts, I believe romantic relationships can be a part of any good story.
But it’s not just any romance that makes a story better. It’s the kind that enhances the characters, puts them in a new light, and puts them out of their comfort zones. And that’s why I think the romance between Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) and Kitty Pryde (formerly Shadowcat) is a really stellar addition to the current continuity of the Marvel Universe.
Their romance is unique to comics right now: it’s light-hearted, fun, and inventive, and obviously not taken too seriously. Introduced at the tail end of the Brian Michael Bendis written All New X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover, the Trial of Jean Grey, Kitty falls for another Peter (in a long line of Peters). But this time is different from the others; the relationship is a long-distance one, and is moving very slowly, and I think that’s an asset. The low-key pace allows for some pretty drastic character growth: Quill is (slowly) quitting his playboy ways in favor of what is honestly a very chaste, capital-R Relationship. Kitty is coming out of her shell and opening up to someone who doesn’t know every detail of her life (unlike Iceman, Colossus, or even Pete Wisdom). It also opens Kitty up to the chance of moving out of the X-world and into the rest of the Marvel Universe; while I doubt she’ll be joining the Guardians of the Galaxy anytime soon, it bodes well for team-ups (and maybe, one day, she’ll follow in the footsteps of Beast and become an Avenger).
While Bendis started the relationship (and continues it throughout the pages of All New X-Men, primarily), it really shines in the hands of Legendary Star-Lord writer Sam Humphries. Humphries has great comedic timing, and a very good grasp of the voices of both characters. Only three issues in, he’s establishing them as hesitant and smitten, but also goofy–they clearly connect. Paco Medina’s strongly-lined art adds to the humor and fun of the book. And while the relationship distances the comics from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they make small nods to the little details that fans of the film Guardians of the Galaxy will love–Peter’s Awesome Mix, Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, Rocket’s sassy nicknames for his friends…
This romance may not be one that lasts—although I wouldn’t mind it sticking around—but I think it’s a superb example of how romance should be handled and written in comics. It isn’t about lust, or fast-paced hook-ups (although that can be interesting); it’s about characters finding common ground and bonding on a deeper level. It’s light and fun and feels realistically flirtatious for a pair of people who spend most of their day in spandex.
Star-Lord editor Xander Jarowey definitely sums it up best: “You know, if a girl braved space to save my butt despite some serious traumatic history with space-bullets I’d probably fall for her too. Especially if she had some good mixtapes. I can feel the love tonight, can you?”