Somebody brought up a peculiar issue in superhero comics, especially when it relates to dating. You sometimes have younger characters who end up ageing faster than their ‘older’ counterparts do or tend to undergo the most drastic changes. In some cases, especially in some prominent Marvel comics a number of female characters are aged up to an extent before they get sexed up.
There are cases where female characters do date characters their age. And you have female characters who date older ones but aren’t forceably aged to become desirable in any case. Susan Storm was intitally called Invisible Girl but even she’s Johnny’s older sister and is undoubtedly mature for her age at the time.
Despite the namesake, she wasn’t introduced as a minor so that’s a good thing. In some DC stories, characters like Supergirl and Wonder Girl almost always date men their age group. It’s a good thing that Supergirl has dated Brainiac 5 since adolescence despite her dating other men as well. So did Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad.
Women crushing on older men isn’t anything new though the real problem lies with female characters who are forceably aged before getting sexed up and that the idea of a much younger female character dating an older person is creepy.
Kitty Pryde is often made out to be a relatable female character although my own impression of her is contrary especially over the years. When you add a narrow readership around the time of her conception and her dating a much older person, it feels like as what Dorian of Postmodern Barney has put it this way ‘she’s a little sister that I’d like to date’.
It’s unsurprisingly that he found those fans to be creepy. I could be guilty of doing something similar myself but upon reading that article I changed my mind. The idea of making characters date people their age is a good thing though stories featuring older women who date younger men aren’t that common.
They’re somewhat more common in real life, especially if you bring up the likes of Madonna Ciccone and Demi Moore and their boytoys but in superhero media where the audience is narrower and almost always male, it wouldn’t be surprising that the reverse is rare.
I’m sure there are stories where men date immortal, fully grown women as well as older women who look and act their age. Superboy has dated the older or more mature Tana Moon back in the day. There could be several more but that’s all I know.
It’s also indicative of the audience and authors in question wanting a less challenging relationship but the same is true of everybody, just not to a depressing extent. I have yet to date but even it feels strange why a character like Kitty Pryde would be considered ‘relatable’ and ‘modest’ but has instances where she actually wore less and doesn’t seem to be believable outside of male readers.
Which again says a lot about what she ended up appealing to and why it’s rare for her to date somebody her age, which tends to show up outside of comics thankfully. It’s also a good thing why a number of the teenaged superheroes that I know of tend to date people their age group. It feels less creepy this way but it also feels less jailbaity if they’re much older to be honest.