It’s not a real celebration. It’s a commercial fad. It’s an excuse for cheesy Valentine’s specials and sappy ‘Top 10 couples’ themed articles.
Well, thank Mephisto we don’t have to do that this year!
Since I am a cheesy sap for dorky tie-ins, I present you:
a day-long descent into utter fanboyness as I lazily post panels from The Greatest Comic Ever Created.
(yeah, I mean X-Force/X-Statix by Pete Milligan and Mike Allred, get caught up, will you?)
It’s arguable the entire run of Milligan and Allred on X-Force (#116 to 129) was a great (or the greatest) love story, set on a backdrop of mutants, fame and death.
I remember their constant antagonism and sexual tension running through their first issues together, and their first kiss —
— their (many) brushes with death and the aptly titled story ‘Edie and Guy Finally Do it’, with Darwyn Cooke’s teaseful cover of Edie in bed wearing nothing but Guy’s costume top
A lot of the power of the romance didn’t come from the script at all, as they never exchanged cliched vows and empty promises. Instead, Milligan put his complete trust in Mike Allred to convey their passion in their body language and the way they would steal glances at each other
Edie and Guy’s story ended abruptly when Edie died in issue 128, at her personal prime. Edie’s death shook the team apart into a new direction and name, while her presence was felt throughout the 2 year run of the re-launched title X-Statix.
In the tragic aftermath of her death, Guy begins his descent into paranoia, as he imagines talking to Edie through her action figure. Cameron Stewart captured the moment in a powerful pinup he did for Mike Allred
Fate would have it so their story didn’t end at death. Years after the ending of the following series, Milligan and Allred would return to their characters for the Dead Girl mini-series. Therein, Guy (himself dead now) travels to an afterlife dimension where he is reunited with Edie. Mike Allred’s cover for issue 4 once more captured Guy’s enduring love for his lost love
when Guy and Edie meet up in the offices of death, Milligan stays true to his characters and denies them their fairytale Happily Ever HereAfter. All is as it should be. Here is the final sequence of events from the issue
The suicidal dreamer who has clustered his heart away from the cruel world falls in love with the sarcastic super-diva who laughs at the face of death masking her insecurities over what she is becoming. He loves her like tomorrow making her his anchor to sanity. She tried for both their sake to keep them grounded, in a losing battle against her feelnigs for the strange man who sees through her facade to the flawed person within and loves her secret shame.
I’ll stop before I get too mushy, as words can’t do justice to what Milligan and Allred gave us in this series, an uncontrollable and deep attraction between two flawed people which made our hearts crack.
Venus De Milo. Two panels from the masterful Mike Allred
TIKE ALICAR + DEAD GIRL
The sardonic Dead Girl who couldn’t know her true nature, and the black boy raised white who couldn’t come to terms with his. Originally drawn together by their fear of being alone, magnified by the apparent pairing up of everyone else on the team (Edie with Guy and at that point Myles with Phat), and nudged along by their thirst to outshine the prime couple of the book.
Ironically, this couple always stayed in the background and broke through only via little throw-away comments and small scenes. Tike used Dead Girl for sex and self-projection, something Dead girl knew and understood, while she saw deeper into his self-destructive nature and stayed with him to give a purpose to her life by protecting him from himself and use him in return to quell her fear of loneliness.
STRANGE LITTLE DEAD GIRL
Stephen Strange and Dead Girl. X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #5
MYLES + BILLY BOB
The bookworm with a savage subconscious Myles Alfred and the rich boy pretending to be trailer trash Billy Bob or Phat. Two immiscible characters who slowly moved closer in the pages of the original X-Force run from Milligan and Allred.
Originally seen as pure hints, Phat’s awkward response to Bloke, the original openly gay member of the team, a stray look here and there, some suspicious references, readers welcomed the big ‘outing’ scene in the final X-Force storyline with little surprise.
Milligan quickly turned the the tables on that by revealing the boys’ ‘sinister plot’, a smokescreen to protect their manlihood from the gnawing thoughts inside:
Billy Bob’s secret thoughts when he’s (temporarily) fatally wounded mirror the reader’s questions, and hit reply with lots of nerve
Only after Edie’s passing does the built-up sexual tension and confusion escalate (probably mixed with the fear of mortality) and the two boys reveal their true feelings. This page from Duncan Fegredo (X-Force #129) features the first homosexual relation (or at least post-coitus) in a Marvel comic. I’ve of course bought the original art and it adorns my wall.
Myles and Billy Bob’s relationship didn’t go any further, as they realised they were both gay, but not in love with each other. Their relationship was merely their way of helpnig each other come to terms with their true sexuality.
A SOCIAL MESSAGE
Let’s close this special day feature with parting words from Myles: