It may break your heart to hear it, but the answer, for the most part, is 'no'. Kenneth Rocafort's decidedly unromantic cover - Superman grinding his Phantom Zone projector into Wonder Woman - pretty much says it all. Let's take a look at the six strips on offer:
- Catwoman thinks back to the day she met Batman, a February 14, as luck would have it. She's robbing from her neighbours with the help of some guy named Billy (is he brother, is he boyfriend? Writer Ann Nocenti doesn't deign to tell us). Batman stops the robbery and gives Selina the chance to become a better person. We're not told why, presumably he sees something there worth encouraging - skintight leather and massive boobs? In the present, Selina is rather pathetic, having not taken on board Batman's hint that she might be more than a thief in fetish gear - she could be a heroine in fetish fear. Nocenti's script is serviceable, but nothing to cross the street for, and would fit into Catwoman's own series just fine. The art by Emanuela Lupaccino, though, is gorgeous, with real animation and character alongside the surface gloss.
- In Gotham City, Batgirl is smoked out by petty crook Ricky, who lost his foot during a run-in with a supervillain in the regular series. He's lovesick after she kissed him in a feint to save his life. He wants another snog, Batgirl explains why that would be a terrible idea. And kisses him anyway. Which I kinda liked, as it's a crap, very human decision. And I love that a guy so apparently out of Batgirl's league is taking her advice and dreaming big. We're promised a continuation of this storyline in writer Ray Fawkes' first of two Batgirl fill-ins, #17. There's a nice urban feel to the illustrations of Julian Gopez, but his Batgirl lacks the allure needed in a story turning on sexual chemistry. I blame the ugly current costume - Gopez draws it so realistically that Batgirl may as well be a man. And even more than with the Catwoman story, this isn't special enough to merit a place in a St Valentine's title - it stars a character with her own book, spins out of a story that took place there, and feeds back into it: Batgirl is where these pages should appear. (Incidentally, I know there's a talented artist named Julian Lopez - we're not dealing with a typo in Mr Gopez, are we?)
- Peter Milligan and Simon Bisley serve up a character study of Midnighter and Apollo, showing their nascent romance has turned distinctly rocky. And surprise surprise, we're advised to find out more by reading their home book, Stormwatch. Veterans Milligan and Bisley demonstrate the craft you might expect, but this just isn't very interesting.
- Nightwing stars in ... oh, doesn't he have a book of his own too? Anyway, his love life is all to pot because he's out fighting crime, you know how it is. He meets a bodyguard named Ursa Major and they get on rather well, but the path of true love, etc. Ignore the awful Ursa Major design - she looks like a tween at a pyjama party - and Kyle Higgins and Sanford Greene deserve credit for a bittersweet offering.
- Wonder Woman and Superman are on a date in their civvies, when Diana's cousin Eros and a couple of sirens throw a spanner in the works. There's a clever ending, if you can stomach a lot of saccharine, but I'd rather be re-reading this encounter between Superman, Wonder Woman and Eros. This short is notable mainly as upcoming Action Comics writer Andy Diggle's first story featuring Superman. It's fine, as is the art by Robson Rocha and Julio Ferreira, but eminently missable.
- You know what? There is one great story in this issue, and while it features a character with a book of his own, there's no way Cecil Castellucci's sweet, clever Aquaman tale would fit into the regular series - for one thing, there's not a single impalement. Aquaman's wife Mera discovers centuries-old letters telling a tragic love story centred on a woman who once lived in the lighthouse shared by the heroes, and the sailor she adored. The action shifts between the Regency-era romance and the attempts of Aquaman and Mera to save lives during a storm, and the juxtapositions work wonderfully well. Doing his share of the heavy lifting is Inaki Miranda, obviously having a whale of a time with the Jane Austen-era stylings of the flashbacks - and of course, the young lovers are drawn to resemble Aquaman and Mera. Enchanting.
You can likely think of better ideas but the point remains, why not make a special special? Something different, rather than more of the DC New 52 same? Especially when we're being charged a whopping $7.99 for 48 pages of story. That's just four more pages than you'd get with a couple of $2.99 books; even the 'free collectible' of cute mini-St Valentine's cards doesn't make this comic worth the money. The production design is excellent, from the classic-style logo to the heart-enclosed folios via the contents page, but overall this is a missed opportunity.
And I wanted to love it.