Aside from “Who would win in a fight?” no debate gets comic fans more heated than the question of whether or not superheroes should marry. In this mini-feature, former Bride Rebecca Henely-Weiss and Bride-to-Be Kayleigh Hearn take a trip down memory lane to the most significant times comic companies took the plunge and got their characters hitched! Did we like the couple? Did we like the dress? And more importantly: why did (or didn’t) the marriage last? Today we look at the wedding of Starfire and Nightwing.
The Couple: Dick Grayson and Koriand’r
The Issue: New Titans #100
Published: August 1993
Today: The couple had their moments after their interrupted wedding, but eventually Dick moved on. (Although the pre-Crisis Koriand’r and Dick apparently did marry while the New Earth Dick proposed to Barbara Gordon. Multiverses are weird.) Post New-52 they’ve both been seeing other people.
Rebecca: Between the warmly received animated film Teen Titans GO! To the Movies and the not-so-warmly received trailer for the Titans TV show, DC’s popular super-team has been on comic fans’ minds lately. However, it was Marvel and DC both putting out wedding issues this summer where the central couple fails to get married that made us want to take a look back at the deferred nuptials of Starfire and Nightwing. There are plenty of superhero marriages that were written to be unconsummated (just check out our April Fool’s Day special), but what fascinated me about this comic was the marriage was set to actually happen until behind-the-scenes issues killed it. Although this comic is such a headache that I can’t say fans missed out on much.
Kayleigh: Hey Cornholio, better feed your Tamagotchi and buy a ticket to Titanic, because it’s the ’90s! Lenticular covers! Mullets! Demon babes in bikinis! Jean-Claude Van Damme! SURRRRRRRGE!
Rebecca: I know Dick Grayson in the Bat-Family better than I know him as a Titans member. I think my one major exposure to this pairing was a flashback about Dick and Barbara Gordon’s romantic history that posited Koriand’r as the gorgeous sexpot against whom the nerdy Babs felt she could never compete. But I have found a lot to like about Kory. At her worst, she’s basically a riff off the “sexy alien from a culture of free love” trope that was a staple of 1970s science fiction, but writers and animators have also emphasized that she’s primarily motivated by compassion for others. She seems nice, I guess.
Kayleigh: I’ve missed huge chunks of their relationship, but Kory and Dick were cute together in the early days of the beloved Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans run, especially compared to Gar’s ill-fated crush on Terra and the “why isn’t this a Lifetime movie?” nightmare that was Donna and Terry. Their relationship was very believable as that kind of passionate first love that’s so genuine that you’re still a bit heartbroken when they grow apart and remain friends.
Rebecca: This was rough. I try not to be too hard on comics that aren’t new-reader friendly, but even if I didn’t have to look up who 75% of the cast was in this issue (“So Wildebeest is actually a half-toddler/half-wildebeest known as ‘Baby Wildebeest’ who turns into an adult version of himself? And he treats Pantha as his mother? And who is Pantha, again?”), the comic’s plots tend to conflict with rather than complement each other. Dick and Kory try to tell the other Titans about their engagement, but are stymied when Aqualad brings in Changeling, who says he saw visions of his dead mother while nearly drowning during a mission. Kory suggests that this may not be a good time to tell the team the news, but—in what will be a theme for the book—Dick forges ahead, hoping it will cheer everyone up. As wedding plans progress, nothing seems to go right. The clerk initially won’t give them a license because Kory’s an alien, the couple is besieged by anti-alien protesters, Bruce Wayne can’t come because of his Bane-induced back injury, and the flowers are wrong. Donna Troy tries to suggest to Dick that this may not be the right time to get married, and in a private conversation Kory agrees, but Dick won’t listen. The wedding begins, but at the moment when the priest is about to pronounce them man and wife, a recently-turned-evil Raven appears and incinerates the priest. A fight between the Titans and Raven (along with several other villains, including an evil version of Dick called “Deathwing”) ensues, which includes some victories for the Titans but ends when Raven, um … injects one of her father’s children’s dead souls into Kory through … a kiss? I don’t know, maybe it makes sense if you’ve read the past 99 issues. The day ends with Kory being sent to the hospital, there’s another epilogue with Checkmate that has nothing to do with anything else that happened in the comic, and then it’s over.
Kayleigh: New Titans #100 is part four of a storyline called “The Darkening,” which is funnier than any joke I could make. It’s not a good sign when I’m reading a superhero action comic, and I’m more interested in the minutiae of DCU bureaucracy. What would be the legal hurdles to marrying an alien from another planet? And how did those protesters get there so fast, did Baby Wildebeast tip off TMZ? I remember Pantha as one of the most infamous and inglorious deaths in Infinite Crisis, and she’s so unpleasant here I almost wish she’d been accidentally decapitated sooner.
Rebecca: This comic is a lot. And what’s really surprising is that the original plans were to have Dick and Kory actually get married in New Titans #100 as the epilogue to a concurrently-running Nightwing mini-series where Dick would save Kory following an alien invasion. Unfortunately, the planned artist/co-writer for the mini-series, Art Thibert, decided instead to leave DC for Image before the series could be written. Given such a big change, I’m a bit surprised DC went with the wedding idea at all, especially since the results are so haphazard. If they were going to spend so much page time dedicated to everyone (including his fiancee!) wondering aloud if Dick’s singular drive to get married no matter what is healthy, it would have been more satisfying if the story had made him confront that in some way, rather than just having Raven trash the whole thing, particularly since the couple’s vows aren’t written as if either of them have any doubts.
Then again, I may just be shocked that the comic had Raven—a character who is now on a goofy cartoon for children—actually incinerate an innocent man. That’s like Thunderbolt Ross shooting Rick Jones and later becoming an Avenger levels of weirdness. That act really colored the rest of the issue for me—Pantha’s unfunny quips in the final fight seem really heartless, for example. I don’t even feel like I can comment on the interesting f/f overtones of the Raven/Koriand’r possession scene because OH MY GOD SHE BURNT THE PRIEST TO A CRISP WHAT THE HELL?
Kayleigh: Teen Titans Go! turned Dr. Light into a Happy Meal toy, so I don’t think anyone in the Warner Bros. animation department is too concerned about Raven’s hot take on organized religion. I really, really hated the fetishistic overtones in the attack on Starfire. Raven looks like she escaped the cover of one of those old sexploitation paperbacks. You know, the ones with titles like Satan was a Lesbian that maybe look fun but are actually trash. It was predatory and gross. This actually harshed my “Hey, Marceline and Bubblegum kissed on the last episode of Adventure Time!” buzz. Now I’m mad.
Rebecca: A lot of times when we read a particularly bad or disappointing wedding issue, we usually have nice things to say about the dress, but Kory’s is pretty boring. Spare me the in-universe whining about how Koriand’r’s is too tall/skinny to design a dress for (are you kidding?). The pale pink gown looks like artist Tom Grummett just picked some random cliche “fancy dress” indicators randomly thrown together without any thought to uniqueness (pointed sleeves! tight bodice! … that’s about it!). The men, though … woof. It’s not even the suits that are the problem—they’re boring, but at least they have some diversity. I get that it was the ’90s, but … wow, Dick’s hair is just awful.
Kayleigh: I’m surprised you could see Dick’s hair past Changeling’s green Captain Planet mullet! Starfire’s dress was disappointingly blah. I could say that ties into the rushed, halfhearted nature of the wedding, but then I think about what Kevin Wada or Jamie McKelvie could do with the “Tamaran Wedding Couture” concept in 2018. Starfire’s hair is bigger than Mt. Vesuvius, and you’re just going to give her one measly flower garland? Titans, please.
Rebecca: As for wedding cameos, I didn’t know most of the guests. However, I did like the symmetry of having Donna be the one who cared about Dick’s mental well-being given that he was her big supporter during her wedding. Terry Long didn’t say anything repulsive for once, so that was nice.
Kayleigh: When we see all the assembled families, including little Robert Long, Lian Harper, and Baby Wildebeast, the thought “all of these children are dead now” kicked me in the face, so thanks for that, DC Comics. Also, Red Star and Arsenal conversing mid-battle about what a great actor and all-around human being Jean-Claude Van Damme is was one of the strangest (and for me, most likable) moments in an already very strange comic.
Rebecca: Even though Starfire and Nightwing were seriously considered as husband and wife material before this issue was published, I find it hard to believe this couple would make a second attempt at matrimony. I’m sure the Teen Titans cartoons have created some shippers, but given that the New 52 debuted with a cold and haughty Kory who was interested in sex but not love, I doubt DC is using the cartoons for future plot inspirations. Still, if the behind-the-scenes mess proves anything, it’s that making comics can be an unpredictable business.
Kayleigh: Starfire and Nightwing are the kind of couple that will probably always exist either in an alternate universe (like Kingdom Come) or in another piece of media (the original Teen Titans animated series) though the main DC continuity seems to see them as a thing of the past. (The fact that other comics and cartoons have pushed Dick/Babs for years probably hasn’t helped a reconciliation.) New Titans #100 wasn’t precisely the end of their romance, though it’s so messy and ugly and devoid of emotional resolution that I wish they had a better send-off. But hey, they say you never forget your first.