Ohh… crazy, but it feels alright…

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HARLEY QUINN


Real Name:
Harleen Quinzel
Titles:
The Joker’s Doll
Featured In: DC Animated Universe
Eisner and Harvey Award Winning Story: Mad Love
Created By:
Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
Voiced By:
Arleen Sorkin

Oh Harley… Of all the villains I know of, Harley Quinn is easily amongst the top to have most, if not all, of my sympathy. But before I truly begin this review, allow me to briefly go over Harley’s origin story. Not her in story one but rather what led to her creation firstly in the animated series that would make her the first animated character to be incorporated into a mainstream comic book series. Not wanting to delve into the degraded cesspool that is the Joker’s soul, writers Paul Dini and Bruce Timm wanted to try and humanize the least human of Batman’s villains and thus created a character that inexplicably adores him and has something of a relationship with him.

Harley’s design and character were entirely based on her voice actress, Arleen Sorkin, a friend of Paul Dini who was inspired by a dream sequence in her soap opera series Days of Our Lives wherein she was dressed up in a jester’s outfit. He even admits that she, surprisingly, still speaks to him despite this. As to Harley’s signature pop gun, it was actually inspired by a long forgotten toy from Japan, one that was brought back to the studio and played with by some of the crew.

As to her actual in story origin, Harley, then Doctor Harleen Quinzel M.D., had started out as a… questionably high graded psychiatrist, and began her career in an internship at Arkham Asylum. The same asylum that I’m more than sure is cursed several times over and should have been condemned and torn down the first time there was a mass breakout. But I digress.

For her first true psychiatric patient, Harleen made the poor choice of the Joker not for fame or for glory as Arkham’s head psychiatrist Doctor Leland presumed but because Harleen has “an attraction to extreme personalities.” Ironically enough, she stated this whilst glancing over not at the Joker’s cell but at Poison Ivy’s but more on that later.

The Joker, knowing almost instantly that she was a novice psychologist was able to read her like a book and played her like a fiddle. In his sessions with her, he told lies of an abusive childhood by a cruel and uncaring father and his attempts at comedy that only earned him a punch in the face for it. He made her cry as often as he made her laugh and it was largely her own sympathy for him.

Scarily enough, it was the Joker himself who properly diagnosed Harleen’s attraction towards him stating that with her being a career orientated woman, she had abstained from any truly fun things. That it was only “natural” that she would become attracted to someone who could make her laugh again. It wasn’t until after the Joker had escaped for a weeklong crime/killing spree that Harleen’s sanity broke upon witnessing a severely beaten and bloodied Joker was dragged back to Arkham Asylum by Batman. Raiding a local costumes and gimmicks shop, she went and “rescued” the Joker with announcement that she was now, well and truly, Harley Quinn.

Harley’s insanity is… questionable at best… There a moments, plenty of them in fact, where she seems to be and well truly sane, particularly when the Joker is not involved, and was even once paroled by Arkham. In point of fact, in that same episode she only ended up back in Arkham because of a long series of unfortunate events that led to her being chased by Batman, the police, local gangsters, and the freaking army general via a tank.

Yet, in that same episode, Harley couldn’t quite grasp why, during her earlier romp through the city, people were freaking out at the sight of her. She actually thought it was because of her outdated clothing and didn’t even think to consider it was the fact that she was literally being pull on her rollerblades by Bud and Lou, a pair of hyenas.

When the Joker is involved however… Now, I am no psychologist and most of what I know I learned from my one psychology class in college, various crime drama shows, and errant treks through Wikipedia but… for all intents and purposes, Harley is a sufferer of domestic violence, specifically under the category of “intimate terrorism.” To quote Wikipedia, intimate terrorism occurs when one partner in a relationship uses coercive control and power over the other partner, using threats, intimidation, and isolation.

The Joker has done all this and more, particularly closer towards his “end” wherein he became so physically abusive towards Harley that she would have well and truly died if it weren’t for her one and only friend, Pamela Isley otherwise known as Poison Ivy.

Harley and Ivy’s relationship is… it’s… I have no idea actually. Many artwork that portrays these two, like the one above, strongly hint towards something more than mere friendship between these two but it has never been delved in too deeply in the show as certain lines weren’t ready to be crossed. In a cartoon series that featured actual guns, death, and extreme violence, that’s… really ironic and sad at the same time but I digress.

Harley freely admits that Ivy is her best friend and that Ivy surely must consider her the same way. Ivy though… Yeah, she considers Harley her best friend too despite how annoying Harley’s bubbly personality can be for her. It has been shown numerous times that Ivy will go out of her way to aid and even protect Harley, even going so far as to inject her with a special concoction that made Harley immune to poisons and boosted her stamina enough to withstand the Joker’s… affections.

The kind of affections that lead the Joker to punching her, beating her, and outright shoving Harley out of a window and straight down to her death.

Yet, despite this… Harley still goes back to him at the slightest signs of affection from him even the aforementioned attempt at murder being plum forgotten with a flower and card. A flower and a card. Heck, even as she lay on the ground broken and bleeding she claimed that it was her fault, that she didn’t get the joke.

I just… God, Harley, why?

Thankfully there was a bit of retribution to be had in Harley during the whole “Joker Junior” incident that led to the Joker’s poetic, and well deserved, demise. Without the Joker around, Harley actually made a life for herself and actually ended up with a family and even twin granddaughters. Twin granddaughters whom she was actually ticked off at for having not only joined the Jokerz, a gang of wannabe punks who actually emulate the nutcase, but were arrested for affiliating with a supposedly resurrected Joker. She even goes on to say that she hoped that they throw the book at ‘em following a painful smack to the behind with her cane.

I have never laughed to the point of tears until I saw that scene, no joke.

Let’s put a smile on that face…!

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THE JOKER


Real Name:
Unknown
Titles:
The Clown Prince of Crime
Featured In: DC Animated Universe
Voiced By: Mark Hamill

Where do I even begin with the Joker? He is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery buried beneath a conundrum of half-truths and whole lies. No one, not even the Joker himself, is entirely sure as to who he was prior to the accident that led to his insidious rise in the criminal underbelly of Gotham. However, one constant truth is that it is because of Batman that there even is a Joker at all. In point of fact, it has been proven throughout the kaleidoscopic reflections of the multiverse that wherever there is a Batman, there is almost always a Joker.

As far as the Joker’s actual origins are concerned, there is one common story that frequents his incarnations, particularly in the animated series. In the pursuit of some two-bit crooks, Batman inadvertently caused one such crook to take a trip in a tank of chemicals that warped him mind, body, and soul. Prior to his chemical bath, the Joker was already a madman who felt no remorse for the deaths he dealt out under the command of the crime families. It is even a popular theory amongst fans that the Joker is in fact the one to have killed Batman’s parents but this is due mostly to the first Batman film than what occurred in the comics or cartoon series.

Despite his immeasurable insanity that is quite excessive in its depravity and inhumanity, the Joker is a certifiable genius with skills that range from engineering death machines to horrific chemical cocktails. During his reign as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker has created a vast array of death traps and gadgets that are as comedic as they are dangerous. These devices include such things as marbles that explode on impact with one another, chattering teeth capable of tearing through steel, electrified hand buzzers, razor sharp playing cards, and acid spewing flowers.

However, the one creation of the Joker that has proven the most dangerous is his aptly named “joker venom.” It is a concoction that contorts the victim’s face into a terrifyingly massive grin as they quite literally laugh themselves to death. Depending on the strength of the joker venom, the victim would either die almost instantly or suffer through several long, agonizing minutes as they slowly choke themselves with their own laughter. The worst part of the joker venom though is how it can be administered in a variety of ways from breathable gas, to chemical injection, to even be mixed into regular products such as lotions or perfume.

As to the Joker’s minions, going from simple goons to hired help, we have his two pet hyenas Bud and Lou, both of whom are named after the famous comedians Bud Abbot and Lou Costello. To those of you who have never heard of these two gentlemen of comedy you have my sympathies. What’s rather hilarious about these two hyenas is the fact that as much as they might listen to the Joker, the one who truly holds their leashes is his chief crony whom I’ll speak about in a moment. I say this is funny because hyenas as a species are led by an alpha female and not a male, hence their obedience to the crony in question.

Following his pets are a trio that are commonly referred to as Mo, Lar, and Cur, hired goons that possess more muscles than actual brain and were likely hired due to their distinctive haircuts and names. Like the hyenas, the trio were named and designed based on the Three Stooges Moe, Larry, and Curly. To those who don’t know who these three are, there’s no excuse for you to hide under that rock any longer so go watch some classical comedy why don’t you?

Of course, the Joker does not limit himself to these particular group of thugs and has been known to attract many other individuals whose insanity, while questionable, is nowhere near his own level and whose pay cut is not worth the risk of the Joker’s ire. Heck, the one and only person known to take the Joker’s rage and live to tell the tale is one Harley Quinn, the Joker’s… girlfriend… and I use that term lightly. I would spend a moment speaking of the former psychiatrist turned villain but she deserves far more than a meager paragraph so I shall speak of her in greater detail in the next review.

Of the Joker’s crimes… Jeez, where do I even start or better yet, where do I draw the line? Though I chose the Joker of the DCAU as my personal favorite incarnation of the villain, the one in the comics has done so much more. In the comics prior to the events that led to the massive retconning in the DC Universes and the Joker going from insane to… Well, full-blown gut-wrenching psychotic (and trust me when I say you should NOT look up and see how he looks now), the Joker had done a LOT of seriously major crimes that personally affected Batman and would haunt him and others for years to come.

On such crime that the Joker had done was his beating Jason Todd, more commonly recognized as the second Robin after Dick Grayson, to death. What makes this particularly chilling as far as the Joker’s crimes are concerned is that the fate of Jason Todd was actually in the hands of the fans and the vote was a landslide in favor of his demise because his character was… well, to put it mildly, not well liked. The Joker is also the one responsible for shooting and paralyzing one Barbara Gordon, more commonly recognized as the first Batgirl, in an attempt to drive her father, Commissioner Gordon, insane.

One particular event though was when a doctor at the prison/asylum that the Joker was held in lied to the Clown Prince of Crime by telling him that he was dying from an inoperable brain tumor. The Joker, to put it mildly, went on a massive spree of chaos and destruction by way of “jokerizing” each and every super-powered criminal he could find. By “jokerizing” I mean turning any and all villains he could get his hands on into Joker-styled versions of themselves, which in itself is an incredibly terrifying thought considering how dangerous even the most tame villains are, super-powered or not.

Yet… much as it pains me to admit… it was the one in the cartoon series that probably dealt the worse blow to Batman than all others. For though the Joker was responsible for the death of Jason Todd and the paralyzing of Barbara Gordon, both were dealt with… swiftly… Yes, Jason was beaten to death but considering other methods that the Joker could have, and has indeed, employed that was something of a mercy… As for Barbara, she would overcome her paralysis and become one of the biggest supporting characters for the entirety of the superhero community in the form of Oracle, a super-hacker whose information network was unrivaled.

In the cartoon series however, the Joker was brutally reminded of his mortality in the form of Ace, a meta-human whose psychic powers drove him to an even deeper level of insane depravity than what he already had. Deciding that he wanted a “family” with Harley, he kidnapped the young Tim Drake, AKA Robin II (in the DCAU), and spent three solid weeks torturing and experimenting on the boy to turn him into a little Joker Junior.

He even had the gall to show a film reel, an actual bleeding film reel, to Batman as he delighted in revealing that he knew all of Batman’s secrets, including his real identity. This was more than enough to drive Batman to nearly break his no-killing policy but the Joker managed to get a surprisingly sneaky attack in and had the hero down on the ropes long enough that he granted the killing blow to his new “son.”

A killing blow that landed straight in the madman’s heart…

This event all but killed the humanity that Batman had inadvertently regained in his association with the likes of Superman and the Justice League. The wall he had put around his heart became as unbreakable steel and would be nigh impenetrable for over forty years until the tangled skeins of fate brought an unknown legacy back to his roots…

But that’s an entirely different story fourteen years and nine cartoon series in the making.

The Joker is one of my favorite villains because he, above all others in Batman’s rogue gallery, is the only one that can in no possible way be redeemed for any of his crimes. Most of Batman’s foes are human, super-powered or not, and many of their motives have to do with a tragedy that could have been rectified easily if people, Batman included, simply cared enough to offer them the help they so desperately needed. The Joker is no such villain. He is… Well, I believe it was said best in The Dark Knight Trilogy

Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money.

They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.

Some men… just want to watch the world burn.

Joker-Animation-Picture-pop-culture-695301_640_480

Shadows on the wall…

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At long last, we come to my personal top ten favorite villains. This list wasn’t an easy one to make whence compared to the likes of those previous, especially those of my favorite heroes. I had a heck of a time trying to refrain from putting in villains that I hate versus those that I love to hate. That is to say, villains that are far too good at their job and dang if it doesn’t take the good guys forever to deal with them.

As before with my top ten heroes, I will focus on the villain’s origin, their strengths/weaknesses, their chief enemy/rival, and their greatest crime(s) above all others in whatever media they feature in. Should such a circumstance also arrive, I will also go over their minions and/or chief cronies, but only those whom are evil themselves and not doing evil out of fear of what the villain might do to them if they don’t.

Now, unfortunately, some of the villains, like the heroes, exist in multiple aspects in the sense that depending on the series, be it comic books, video games, or televised series, the villain’s evil is rather… fluid to put it mildly. The name may sometimes be the same but the personalities and histories are vastly different. For those characters, I will explicitly state which media I’m drawing my personal opinions on them from but other than that, it’s an unfair game.

Fair game. Fair game. Dang, just getting started and I’m already thinking like a bad guy…

This is the way we love…

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LINK & ZELDA

3611bdc54101f91de457104eab5709184f7c01d8
Main Media:
The Legend of Zelda (Games & Manga)
Shipping Type:
Canon (Fanon)
Ship Name:
Zelink
Primary Moments:
Skyward Sword (Game & Manga Prequel)
Secondary Moments: Scattered Throughout Games

I’ll admit, I never truly got into the game series The Legend of Zelda as a kid mostly due to the fact that no one could tell me if any of the games were connected in some way aside from those rather obvious ones like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Heck, it wasn’t until the release of the Hyrule Historia that the truth of the convolution that is the timeline of events was made clear and it all, rather ironically, encircles the end result of the game Ocarina of Time.

In the actual games themselves, it is never outright confirmed that Link and Zelda end up in a relationship though they do tease this to the extremes throughout the games. In point of fact, it’s in the not-quite-canon-but-not-quite-fanon manga based on the games, which drives the romance home via… Well, Link being able to freaking talk. Seriously, how is it that he never speaks in any of his games but can’t seem to shut up in the awful animated series?

Never mind, I think I just answered my own question…

If I had to pick a specific incarnation of the two to favor above the rest, I’d have to say it is the pair from Skyward Sword not strictly for the numerous hints of attraction between them but rather… Yes, rather because of a popular romantic trope known simply as the “childhood friend.” This trope is not altogether that uncommon, particularly in Eastern media such as manga or anime, particularly those that fall under the “harem” genre wherein one boy has the possibility of ending up with any one of a horde of girls.

The problem is that nearly all of those instances have the boy falling for a girl he’s only known for a short time, oftentimes because of the age-old “sees childhood friend as sister rather not” trope that got unbelievably old in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the game Skyward Sword however, though it does play, however briefly, the trope of two guys one girl, Link and Zelda are childhood friends whose bounds could not be broken even by the likes of a Demon King. Heck, if anything, they were made even stronger because of that though, to be fair, their connection was a whole other lifetime previous.

It is specifically in the game Skyward Sword and its prequel manga where the origin of Link and Zelda’s reincarnation/romance is at long last revealed. It is a confirmed fact that Zelda is the goddess Hylia reborn throughout the ages and that Ganon(dorf) is her cruel and malicious counterpart: the Demon King Demise. Yet it is Link that comes as quite the surprise. From his first incarnation to his last, including those diverting timelines, Link is a mortal man, and one that catches the eyes of two powerful immortal forces for, ironically enough, the same reason though both feel quite differently over it.

The Hero, as I’ll refer to him for convenience’s sake, was a warrior that had previously been imprisoned under false pretenses for several years but upon his release took no revenge upon the people who slandered him and let him go because they had a need for him. Because they had a need for him, the people and the land they called home, The Hero took up sword and arms against the Demon King Demise with the blessings and gifts of the goddess Hylia to aid him. It was his prowess on the battlefield and his near godly resolve that made him the last fighter standing against Demise while Hylia sealed the Demon King away and brought The Hero’s people to the sky above as the land below had been scarred beyond sustainability by the war.

Taking the dying The Hero in her arms, Hylia vowed that his unerring spirit would live on through the ages and that when next he was reborn she would be there to greet him not as an immortal goddess but a mortal woman.

In the actual game of Skyward Sword however, Demise took this blessing and made it into a curse by guaranteeing that his own evil would be resurrected through the ages in search of dominion over the world. That his evil would hunt down she who had the blood of the goddess and he who held the spirit of the ancient hero in a never-ending cycle.

Yet… save for one dark instance, Link and Zelda come through and defeat Ganon(dorf) time and time again, and though their individual stories may not end happily, most of them seem to at least hint that their stories end at each other’s side.

That, more than any other reason, is why I like this pairing so much. Sure, it’s an endless tease of not quite confirmations and not really denials but they are all done right. Relationships between two people do not start as something so foolish as being instantaneously in love with one another, particularly those whose affections arise from a series of unbelievably stressful events. Though such is the case for most of Link and Zelda’s beginnings in their relationships, that they don’t end with anything more than a hint of romance is positively refreshing.

Besides that… I’ve always been a sucker for those tales of romance where the couple has to… not really struggle to be together but to sincerely work towards it, to put some actual effort into it rather than following the stereotypical tropes seen in most media nowadays.

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So close yet so far apart…

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KORRA & ASAMI SATO

vlcsnap-00002
Main Media:
The Legend of Korra
Shipping Type:
Canon
Ship Name: KorrAsami
Primary Moment:
“The Last Stand” (Series Finale)
Secondary Moments: Scattered Throughout Seasons 3 & 4

Before I begin this review proper allow me a moment to soapbox. Much as most would try to deny otherwise, in the entirety of the world as far as animation is concerned, be it aimed strictly for children or adults, it is Japan that has been the most progressive as far as portraying romantic relationships. Admittedly, it is not so much less restrained as a severe lack of restraint particularly in those of the… ahem… fanservice variety. Sad as it is to admit, even those few anime that made it here to the West where they were able to be viewed readily, and easily, by people were dumbed down to a point that was both insulting and nonsensical.

Cousins…” Really, guys? That… that just… ugh… Sometimes, rare though those instances are, I’m almost ashamed to be a writer…

Anyway, onto the relationship of Korra and Asami Sato. I’m sure many fans are already long aware of the facts I’m about to through out here but to those who haven’t watched the show or read the blog entries of series creators Michael DiMartino or Bryan Konietzko, allow me to shed some light on things. First and foremost, Korra and Asami were never intended to end up together though the idea had been tossed around as far back as the first season. It never truly went anywhere then because, at the time, they hadn’t expected for The Legend of Korra to be given anymore additional seasons as the network had a few, rather surprising, concerns towards it.

Would you actually believe that Nickelodeon thought guys wouldn’t care for Korra as a lead character because of her being a girl because “conventional tv wisdom” says that while girls will watch a show featuring boys, the opposite cannot be said for boys? I’m not certain, but I think the entirety of the male gender was just insulted… Methinks some people were unawares of the aptly named “brony phenomenon” that had begun two years prior to the premiere of The Legend of Korra.

Once the greenlight had been given, the series took several surprisingly mature turns not only with the breakup of Mako and Korra, the stapled romance made at the end of Book One, but had something of a love triangle occurring with him and Asami, his prior girlfriend.

Asami and Korra’s relationship has always been friendly with the only true strained instances being those that involved Asami’s father and his work for the Equalists. Even with the whole Mako thing and him being about as wishy-washy as a wet noodle towards them both, to a point where one has to serious ask what the heck is his deal, the two of them stayed on friendly terms and even became besties by Book Three where the true hints of romance began.

In the aftermath of the Red Lotus poisoning her, Korra was all but crippled by the end of it and out of everyone that she knew, family and friends alike, it was Asami who was there to lend her an open ear and was there to help take care of her prior to Korra’s departure to the receive care in the South Pole. Heck, even during her tenure over the following three years it was Asami and Asami alone that she wrote back to though she received letters from her other friends.

Korra and Asami are from two entirely different walks of life and I like that. Both of them are equally feminine as they are tomboyish in their own distinct ways without either one of them being the one to, as a few of my friends say, “wear the pants” in the relationship. When the show first began, I initially thought that a new character would have to be introduced in later seasons as the ones available to Korra to season one… Well…

Mako, as I’ve said, is a decent guy but can’t make up his dang mind at all. Bolin… I like him, really I do, but if an episode goes by where I’m not face-palming myself due to his antics I consider it an exceptionally spectacular episode. I entertained the thought of Korra and Asami ending up together but I thought to myself, “No way would they be that daring. They can’t even kill off the major bad guy in this series.”

This statement was made before the demise of not one but three major bad guys so you can imagine my sudden turn towards the possibility.

Really, the thing that I like most about this pairing is that it naturally progressed from beginning to end and wasn’t shoved in our faces that it was coming squeezed in for convenience sake like it was for Makko and Korra in Book One. The hints towards this pairing were subtle enough that even veteran writers questioned whether or not the series was heading where it was.

Before the finale, my friends and I, all avid fans of both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra discussed where we thought the series was heading, specifically with Korra and Asami. While we all agreed that they were hints littered about all over the freaking place towards a possible pairing, it was only myself and a few others that thought that the series would take the plunge and confirm a pairing that, until then, had been virtually nonexistent in Western animated media.

The ending of the series… Geez, how can I even begin to describe it? … You know what? I can’t. Not in a way that would do it and the show itself justice so, in all honesty, if you want to see what it is I’m talking about here, I wholeheartedly recommend watching The Legend of Korra from beginning to end. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

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It was a morning, long before dawn…

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BRUCE WAYNE & DIANA OF THEMYSCIRA


Main Media:
Cartoon Series, Fan Works
Shipping Type:
Fanon
Dimension: DCAU (DC Animated Universe)
Primary Moments:
Episodes “Kids Stuff” & “This Little Piggy”
Secondary Moments: Scattered Throughout Seasons 2, 3, & 4

Much like with Peter Park and Katherine Pryde, this pairing of Bruce Wayne and Diana of Themyscira, or rather Batman and Wonder Woman, resides in an entirely different dimension that is no way connected to the events of the Mainstream DC Comics. Mostly because DC Comics has a sick fascination in retconning their Mainstream universe within every freaking decade that totally ruins any chances of minor characters getting the—!

… My apologies. If ever there is a sore point with me in comic books, it’s the uncanny knack of them deciding to off minor characters that I like either by killing them outright (Marvel) or wiping them out of existence (DC). Honestly, if they don’t want to write anything more on certain characters then simply don’t write about them rather than offing them! Give them something resembling a happy ending and not one that serves as a severe kick to the heart for their fans, blast it all!

But I digress. I am here to speak of a pairing that occurs in a universe that is, refreshingly, darkly dramatic and brightly innocent at the same time and that universe is known simply as the DC Animated Universe. For those who are unawares, or haven’t read my Batman review, the DCAU is a universe that traverses through nine different cartoon series that altogether ran for fourteen years beginning, and ironically ending, with Batman himself.

Batman and Wonder Woman’s relationship is… distinct… even in this animated equivalent to the comics. In the beginning, the two of them were nothing more than heroes who happened to work together in a team and neither of them would go out of the way for the other in a way that hinted towards romantic interest except for one particular instance. In the episode “Brave and the Bold,” it appeared as though Wonder Woman had been severely injured stopping a missile Batman leapt to her aid trying to unbury her from the rubble before being stopped by the Martian Manhunter. Wonder Woman was of course perfectly fine and, upon seeing the dirtied gloves on Batman’s uniform, did something that no one, not even Batman would have expected.

She kissed him on the cheek.

In that moment, that’s when the shipping truly begin with several more moments scattered throughout the seasons that hinted towards their mutual attraction to each other with the greatest of them being in the aforementioned episodes “Kids Stuff” and “This Little Piggy.” In the episode “Kids Stuff,” Batman and Wonder Woman, alongside Superman and Green Lantern, are turned into eight year old kids by Morgaine Le Fey in order to stop her son Mordred whose recent ploy involves, and I kid you not, ridding the entire world of adults and taking total dominion over a children’s amusement park as his kingdom.

I just… Why would he even think that would…? Ugh, anyway, though Batman is trying his hardest to act like the adult that he really is, he and his fellow Leaguers still cannot help but act as the children that they currently are with Wonder Woman, or Wonder Girl as the case was, being the most obvious with her attempts at flirtation. Of course, by flirtation I mean her attempting to get Batboy to admit that he has feelings for her by way of attempting to make him jealous and/or glad of her company.

Personally, the moment where she saved him from an ice golem created by Mordred, one that he was actually trying to save her from actually, cinched the pairing for me both for the look on Batboy’s face and what she actually said to him after catching him.

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As to the episode “This Little Piggy” it was one of the few entirely comedic episodes from beginning to end rather than one that had spots of comedy. While not overly serious and not entirely humorous, the main plot of the episode revolved around Batman trying to break a curse placed upon Wonder Woman by Circe, a curse that had turned her into a literal pig. A little pig that could still use her bracelets to surprising effect but a little pig nonetheless…

It was in this episode that Batman not only admitted that there was something between him and Diana, to a former girlfriend of his no less, but that he showed just how much he was willing to go for her. For Circe demanded something of him that, once given, could never be returned and would likely shatter his very soul should it ever be made knowledgeable to the public…

She had him sing.

There was also another interesting moment in the beginning of the episode that really painted Batman’s opinion of a relationship with Wonder Woman that was, in a way, similar to Peter’s opinion on dating with Kitty. Batman said, in order, that dating within the team would likely lead to disaster, that Diana was of an entirely different class than he, her being from an immortal race of warriors and he a rich boy with a LOT of issues, and that if his enemies knew of someone close to him, they wouldn’t stop until they got to him through her.

Wonder Woman thankfully dissuaded him of the last opinion by way of crushing a stone gargoyle’s head with minimal effort but the first two points that he made a good ones. The first one, regarding in the team dynamics, refers to the fact that Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s relationship took something of a… bumpy turn shall we say during and after the events of “Starcrossed.” Batman has seen for himself what resulted in their breakup and does not want the same to happen to him and Wonder Woman, which in itself is a point in his favor if not for one tiny little fact.

In the future, the one that is canonically set in stone, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl not only end up together again, but have a son who is an active member of the Justice League himself.

As to the second point of their respected origins and personalities… Honestly, that is where the crux of all Batman’s relationships, past, present, and future. He is… damaged… Not in a way that makes him incapable of being Batman but in a way that prevents him from being truly human. He can be kind, he can care, he can smile, and he can love but not in a way that lets others see it once the cowl is on and, unfortunately, even as Bruce Wayne the mask still stays on.

In the official DCAU canon, the epilogue of Batman and Wonder Woman’s relationship is left entirely blank. While it is certain that he and her never married, as certain events led to the creation of a “Batman Beyond” Project by one Amanda Walker, there is no hint as to what actually became of Wonder Woman in the future. It is definite that she is alive and likely still the same age as she is in the present but what became of her and Batman is left up to the imagination. Personally, I, and quite a few others, believe that the “Beyond” portion of the Amanda Walker’s project included a little something more than just the DNA of Bruce Wayne because, after all, a new era means a whole new level of threats that even a mortal man cannot overcome without some godly blood running in their veins…

It is the love of a hero…

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PETER PARKER & KATHERINE PRYDE


Main Media:
Marvel Comics, Fan Works
Shipping Type:
Canon (Fanon)
Dimension: Earth-1610 (Ultimate)
Ship Name:
SpiderKitty
Primary Moments:
Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 01, Issue 91

Oh boy… Where do I even begin with this…? Well, first off, let me start by saying that I will forever and always ship Peter with Mary Jane strictly because theirs was the relationship that no other superhero had yet to truly have bar Lois and Clark. However, at the time of this entry, the events of that travesty known simply as “One More Day” remain and though there is a strong hope for a possible fix to this, it is still too early for anything beyond speculation and hope beyond hope. However… even with Mary Jane as the best mundane partner, insomuch that she has no superpowers or abilities to call her own, there are many candidates that Spider-Man has had, in canon or otherwise, that could almost be her better for the added benefit of being able to save and protect Peter in and out of the costume.

Of those candidates, I admit that, for a time, I was torn as to who I could choose because, as of now, there was really only one girl that not only kept a strong relationship with Peter to the end but had him openly being selfish about it. As in, she presented him the chance to walk away, to forget about her and the troubles she inadvertently lay upon his lap, but he said no and even had a good line about how his spider-sense was warning him of how utterly bad it was to simply let her walk away.

Unfortunately, one Sophia Sanduval, otherwise known as “Chat” to her friends and enemies alike, is a mutant whose run in the mainstream comics is currently set in the role of being a bit player to the bit players if even that much. While easily one of my favorite relationships that Spider-Man “officially” had (as again this takes place outside of the mainstream Marvel universe and in one of the “child friendly” worlds known as Marvel Adventures), there are other, surprisingly popular choices.

Like Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Nope. I kid you not, thanks to the solitary fanfiction of a auspicious writer, this pairing is not only amongst the top on most peoples’ Cracked Pairings List but has actually garnered something of a cult following with all manner of fan art to be found. Don’t believe me? Look up a character named “Spider-Mane” and tell me otherwise.

This left me with one possible candidate and one that, unfortunately, did not come to true fruition and one that has the misfortune of residing within Earth-1610, otherwise known as the “Marvel Ultimate” universe. Don’t get me wrong, in its beginning run, I actually liked Marvel Ultimate comics but… well… if anyone ever harbored the thought that Mainstream Marvel (AKA Earth-616) was grim or dark, then they’ve never read anything from Earth-1610. For every good thing that occurred, over a dozen bad things would follow, but I’m not here to gripe about that, let’s get on to the main point of this entry today shall we?

Peter, having enough of putting Mary Jane at risk by remaining close to her, and her constantly being at odds with him over her safety and well-being, breaks up with her and begins an unlikely relationship with one, Katherine “Kitty” Pryde of the X-Men whom has had a long-term crush on the hero. While I shan’t talk about how their relationship ended beyond stating that Peter and Mary Jane are a darn near constant in any universe bar the few without her existence, I shall talk about why I think the two of them could have been something great.

To borrow a term from another popular franchise, Spider-Man… Peter’s one true “heroic fault” is his guilt. His guilt at his uncle’s death spurred him to become a hero and that’s just the tip of the mountain that he has placed upon his shoulders. It’s not that he accepts the blame for anything and everything that has gone wrong, in his life or in others’, but if he should ever discover, with absolutely one hundred percent certainty, that he is at fault for something… Peter will come close to killing himself trying to rectify that mistake (i.e. becoming Spider-Man), no matter how much it hurts him and those close to him.

When Mary Jane got hurt, he took the blame for it and countless other injuries past, present, and possible future. It wasn’t until Kitty provided a valid argument against his thoughts of never dating anyone, never allowing himself to get close to someone, and put them at risk with a simple question.

“But what if… they had, I don’t know, mutant powers and could take care of themselves?”

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Obvious hint is obvious but it is a valid point nonetheless. It’s what made Chat a good partner for Peter, in and out of costume, in Marvel Adventures and it made an even greater one in Ultimate. Chat’s powers was the ability to communicate with animals save for insects and mutated creatures and she had a small background in fighting, street fighting that is, but Kitty?

Aside from training with the X-Men in the freaking Danger Room, which we have seen in countless iterations as being a literal death trap even at its safest of settings, her powers make her untouchable. She can even phase through the freaking wind if she’s feeling a might bit chilly for pity’s sake! Sure, there are plenty of heroines who are stronger and/or more powerful than Kitty in an actual fight but really, what does power mean when she has the absolute defense? Goodness knows Peter’s mind would be at ease knowing that little on his Earth could actually harm his girlfriend and the fact that she can kick some serious butt is a major plus in anyone’s book.

No, seriously, during a stint that involved Deadpool and a bunch of cyborg freaks of nature, Spider-Man got a serious blow that any closer could have killed him. Kitty went full on Shadowcat on all of the bad guy’s collective butts and was literally blowing them to smithereens with her phasing abiltiy’s side effect against machinery. Think about that for a moment. Kitty Pryde beat Deadpool. A cyborg evil-as-all-get-out version of him but a version of Deadpool all the same…

Aside from the superheroism aspect of their relationship… The two of them just seem to click a lot more in the sense that the both of them are natural geeks in every pure sense of the word. They joke and banter with one another easily even in the heat of battle and even quip popular lines from films that most kids their age hadn’t even heard of let alone had the time of day to watch.

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Honestly, I sincerely wish for this pairing to come to be in another alternate setting, a “What-If?” would be more than enough in all honesty because… Well really, aside from the two of them being so freaking adorkable together, Kitty’s costume for her brief stint as Shroud was awesome but the one she wore as Spider-Man’s partner was the real deal breaker for me.

It’s for the best you didn’t listen…

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HICCUP & MERIDA

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Main Media:
Fan Works (Art, Fanfiction, AMVs)
Shipping Type:
Cracked (Fanon)
Ship Name: Mericcup
Commonly Found In:
Youtube, DeviantArt, & Fanfiction.net
Major Fanon Written By:
LJ9 (Fanfiction.net Author)

While this is not my all-time favorite shipping, I will admit that it is the first true cracked pairing I had discovered and actually liked wherein the couple resides in two entirely separate worlds but could, feasibly, be brought together in the works of fans across the world.

Though it can be argued as to which of them came first as far as founding members are concerned, Merida and Hiccup are easily the most commonly paired members of the “Big Four.” At the time of this post, there are a little over 450 crossover stories written between Brave and How To Train Your Dragon on Fanfiction.net alone. As I’m sure a great many people are already aware of both Merida of the Clan DunBroch and Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III of the Hooligan Tribe of Vikings, I shan’t speak too much on either of their respected histories but I shall speak as to how these two have likely ended up as a pairing.

In truth, I firmly believe that most of the fault lies almost entirely upon Merida’s film, or rather, the things that are casually mentioned throughout that most don’t immediately pick up on. Those being the mentioning of the Vikings having helped unite the four clans together as a whole kingdom once more and that her father, King Fergus, has been known for telling a few tall tales of dragons and the like. While these were the logs that laid down the foundation of the fires that it is this shipping, what I think really cinches the deal for most is just how many different tropes that Merida and Hiccup both break in their respected films.

In Hiccup’s case, he is a kindhearted genius surrounded by people renown for their physical strength and viciousness. He is also one of, if not the first, major film character aimed towards younger audiences that becomes crippled rather than starting out as one from the start. Even in the film’s sequel, he still remains the same as he had been in the first film insomuch that he lets his heart guide him rather than his brain, especially at times when he really ought to listen to the often ignored voice of common sense.

For Merida, she broke almost every single trope commonly associated with the Disney Princesses. She doesn’t have a “I Want” song and actually doesn’t really sing at all save for a brief flashback wherein her mother sings her a soothing song and she joins in for a lyric or two. She doesn’t have an animal sidekick beyond her horse Angus whose role is that of being her noble, and frankly rather awesome looking, steed.

True, it can be argued that her mother and brothers, all afflicted by the curse to become bears, could fall under this category but seeing as they still acted human but could not be understood, as Merida delightfully reminded her mother every now and again, that’s a moot point. Last, and certainly not least, Merida ends her film without any prince to sweep her off her feet. Yes, she has potential suitors from the other three clans but even that is an incredible rarity in and of itself.

Most works that I’ve found that pair these two together, whether they be animated music videos, fanficiton, or even snippets of art, the two of them have something of a Romeo and Juliet type of relation without the tragedy. I say this insomuch that while they may occasional (or frequently) butt heads every now and again, both being equally headstrong in their own manner, it is often their parents that are the major sources of conflict in their romance. Of course, that’s just one common theme amongst several too numerous to count.

Still, if I had to narrow down my choice, I’d say it is the works of LJ9 of Fanfiction.net that has one of the best tales of this shipping. In point of fact, I heavily recommend not one but two of her stories; A Distant Star, A Burning Sun and Stórmerki, Undur. These two stories are companion pieces to one another and, essentially, tell the same story through the eyes of Hiccup and Merida respectively. I especially like these stories because they take into account the fact that neither Hiccup or Merida speak the same language, a fact that generally escapes most, and yet they still somehow manage to create a bond that stands against all odds.

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Whatever you make it to be…

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GARRUS & SHEPARD

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Main Media:
Mass Effect 2 & 3 (Video Games)
Ship Name:
Shakarian
Shipping Type:
Fanon-Canon
Primary Moment: Citadel DLC (Mass Effect 3)
Secondary Moments: Scattered Throughout Mass Effect 2 & 3

This is one of the more complicated pairings that I enjoy simply for the fact that it is a pairing that is neither canon or fanon but both at the same time and yet neither depending on how one plays the aforementioned games of Mass Effect. As such this review will be slightly different than those previous.

When it comes to the Mass Effect trilogy of games, choices and their consequences were one of the shining aspects of it excluding of course the horrendously underwhelming ending that many a fan are still raging over to this day. One of the first choices to be made in the game is the choice of whether Commander Shepard is male or female. While eighty percent of players have chosen male, I happen to like the idea of Shepard being a lady. Not because of appearances, because again that’s just one of many other choices to make, or even her wonderful voice actress but because… Well, honestly, I like the idea of someone like Shepard, a human woman, uniting an entire galaxy against impossible odds and a near unstoppable threat of godlike proportions.

Frankly, it’s been done to death by male characters in countless media before.

One of the other many choices available to the player, and by extension Shepard, is what is known as the “Paramour” option insomuch that if the player so chooses, they can have Shepard pursue a romantic relationship with certain viable candidates in the game. Unfortunately, Garrus Vakarian doesn’t truly get this chance until Mass Effect 2 and spends most of the first game in a form of mentor and protégé relationship with Shepard.

Another reason that I like the idea of a female Shepard more than a male one as how often do we really see a female character, particularly one in a setting as epically science fiction as Mass Effect, that takes on such a role with a character who quickly, if not instantly, becomes one of the most favorite characters in the game? More than once I’ve seen and read various people confirm that Garrus Vakarian is the “Ultimate Bro” for the male Shepard, but for the female equivalent…

Well, that’s where things turn interesting.

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Garrus Vakarian is a turian, an alien whose race is both highly disciplined and militaristic in their culture and Garrus both emphasizes this while at the same time, being something of a black sheep amongst his people. Garrus’ conviction has always been for justice to prevail and… honestly, there’s no better way for me to describe him than as the alien equivalent of Batman with an actual sense of humor and a willingness to follow rather than to lead when it comes to Shepard and their relationship. That’s not to say that he won’t take the lead when appropriate but considering that the both of them are from two entirely different species, one that even has the risk of suffering a severe allergic reaction to the other in certain conditions, he’s… skittish.

It’s actually kind of refreshing to see this from a guy who cracks jokes about going into a quarantine zone wherein his people specifically are falling ill and dying to a plague but will do so regardless because, quote “If you need me, I’m not going to let a cough keep me back.” In the start of the romance pursuit, Garrus admits that sexual relations between turians often start out as a form of stress relief and that if Shepard is game then so is he seeing as there’s no one else in the galaxy he respects more than her.

The next conversation that followed by him confessing that while he’s never considered the idea of a cross-species relationship, and that even calling it that doesn’t help as it makes him feel dirty and clinical neither of which he likes. He even goes so far as to say that he knows that Shepard can find someone closer to home. If pursued further, Shepard will reveal that she doesn’t care about having someone closer to home but that she wants someone that she can trust. Garrus admits that he can do that and that he’ll do some research promising that it will either be a night to treasure or one of a horrible interspecies awkwardness thing.

If the player chooses the option of allowing Garrus to back out, Shepard will say that she doesn’t want to pressure him into anything. Garrus will then admit that while he may not have a fetish for humans, it isn’t about that but about them. Shepard, he feels, is the only true friend he has left in the galaxy and he doesn’t want her to worry about making him feel uncomfortable. Nervous yes, particularly when she’s driving, but never uncomfortable.

At the end of Mass Effect 2 during the night before the attack on the Collectors’ Base, Garrus confesses to her that he’s seen so many things go wrong, his work at C-Sec and what happened with his people on Omega being the forefront of his mind, and that he just wants something to go right for once.

That line, amongst several others, was what really sold this pairing for me more than any other in the franchise. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a pairing wherein the guy is the one confessing his own nervousness towards the relationship as a whole but still be a strong, supportive character both for the main storyline and the pairing itself.

Of course, most of this comes in the form of Mass Effect 3 wherein there are plenty of moments that display the affections of Shepard and Garrus, the most prominent being the DLC content of the Citadel. The crew of the Normandy is given a brief bit of shore leave at the Citadel and Shepard herself is given an apartment the likes of which could best be described as beyond her usual payroll. After a series of events that led to a… side-quest I guess you could call it, Shepard and her crew, both old and new, have a party at her place.

This whole segment in the game is mostly a series of fun conversations to be had with crewmembers throughout the apartment but dang if Garrus isn’t one of the funniest of the bunch. Most of them are of him and Zaeed, a former mercenary, discussing ways of upgrading the apartment’s security for his honey’s protection. A direct quote might I add. Shepard tries to stress that everything will be fine and Garrus argues that fine is good for anyone else but not the love of his life, and Shepard, thinking he’s not truly being serious, tells him and Zaeed to have fun.

Methinks she forgot of the time wherein Garrus confessed that the places he considers fun to fight through are gardens, electronic shops, and antique stores but only if they’re classy.

It’s only later that she finds out that he and Zaeed took it seriously and started to arm the apartment in a variety of ways that frankly were both alarming and amusing. This including but was certainly not limited to weaponized wall fixtures, a hot tub timed to go to thermonuclear temperatures, and a coffee maker turned bomb.

The most amusing thing about most of these is that the a few of them, particularly the ones that Garrus worked on, can be disarmed via the code “I HEART GARRUS.”

They may not be the most conventional couple by any means but dang if they’re not the most amusing one of the entire series.

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Just do right by me…

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GODZILLA & MOTHRA


Main Media:
Fan Art
Ship Name:
MosuGoji
Shipping Type:
Cracked (Fanon)
Commonly Found In: DeviantArt, & Tumblr
Major Fanon Found In:
Awoken From Murky Waters (Tumblr)

This is by far the strangest of crack pairings that I am not only aware of but actually enjoy strictly, and almost entirely because, of artworks produced by brilliant artists such as Matt Frank, or KaijuSamurai as he is called on DeviantArt, and Danielle (QuixoticOperator). In point of fact, while it was the former who first introduced me to the concept with the artwork posted above, it was the latter that cultivated it into a strong source of fanon amongst Godzilla fans.

Like most crack pairings, this one has little hope of ever being achieved in any of the main media that is the Godzilla franchise whether it is the actual films, books, or comics. In point of fact, it has been a long since established trope amongst the Godzilla films that Godzilla and Mothra would come to blows rather than cooperating with each other. It also doesn’t help that the franchise itself is fluid as water with the only constant being Godzilla’s fathomless rage and Mothra’s boundless love be it to their fellow kaiju or mankind as a whole.

In point of fact, that’s often the “starting point” of this pairing for most fans in the regard that it is Mothra whom tries to quell Godzilla’s fury not by fighting him and laying some serious smack down upon him, but by accepting him for who he is and trying to steer him into letting his rage go or even repurposing it to something beneficial to him and the world. It is this strange form of companionship that is displayed heavily in the one major source of fanon, Awoken From Murky Waters.

A tumblr created by QuixoticOperator that originally began, and continues still, to be a form of Q&A between people and “Godzilla” by means of translation via the Shobijin, Mothra’s fairy helpers, and Doctor Serizawa who has managed to… not really corral Godzilla but locate and study him on an island chain that the King of Monsters has come to call home alongside other kaiju. Most of the answers are given in either wonderful illustrations or epic comic strips that truly show off QuixoticOperator’s artistic talents especially considering the fact that she is basing this Godzilla on the one from Legendary Pictures and has also gone so far as to design “Legendary” versions of Godzilla’s allies and enemies, Mothra included.

In AFMW, Godzilla and Mothra initially had a sort of… love-hate relationship insomuch that, at first, whenever Godzilla woke up she’d be there to try and compel him back into the ocean whether or not he intended harm to anyone, human or kaiju. That quickly changed when Mothra saw that for all the hatred and fury that radiated from Godzilla’s heart, the source of it was an overwhelming sadness that stemmed mostly from loneliness. She took him under her wing to try and persuade him to see the world in a different light. To try and alter his purpose of his being and he, quite quickly, grew attached to her kind and forgiving nature and so did she in turn.

Unfortunately it is as I said, a cracked pairing and one that would never come to pass even in the remotest sense in canon. For while Godzilla and Mothra may ally themselves together against a common threat or foe there are, frankly speaking, too many discrepancies in their respected characters. It is arguable as to the exact intelligence of Godzilla and Mothra in any particular film, both displaying a cognitive reasoning that borders on actual sentience but are just as often shown to be nothing more than enormously powerful animals as well.

There is also the account that Godzilla and Mothra are not only a separate species but are likely of two entirely different lifespans. Whereas Godzilla is nigh immortal in the sense that little on this Earth can in fact kill him never mind seriously injuring him, he can still die of old age, something that actually does occur in canon. Of course, by “old age” I mean Godzilla’s nuclear heart going into a radioactive meltdown but that’s neither here nor there.

Mothra on the other hand is immortal in the sense that while she has a death count that is unmatched amongst kaiju, she is always survived by her offspring whom take on her name and purpose in the world. It is a common speculation that this is a strange form of reincarnation rather like that of the phoenix. This is made especially obvious in Mothra’s trilogy of films during the Heisei Era wherein we see her producing an egg from the energies of her own soul.

Still, despite all the odds that are stacked against them, I ship the two of them together simply for the fact that Godzilla and Mothra just seem to… I don’t know click maybe? It well and truly is a pairing that I can’t truly find the appropriate words. I suppose one has to be a Godzilla fan to even get an inkling of where I’m coming from with this but I suppose… Yes, I suppose it’s because the two of them could conceivably get along with one another that I enjoy this ship so much. It is not a pairing born from love or admiration but of mutual respect towards their respected strengths and differences, physical or otherwise.

That and blast it, QuxoticOperator just keeps getting me with these wonderful pictures!

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