We read comics for the action- the fistfights and the big explosions. We read comics for the superheroes- the bright costumes and the capes. But we also read comics for the relationships- the romances, the mentors and students, the close-knit team. Over the years, comics have given us some great friendships. Here are ten of the best of them.
10. Gambit and Bishop: In real life, friendships are usually based on common interests. But in fiction, the most interesting friendships are often the ones that bring disparate personalities together. Bishop was initially suspicious of Gambit, thinking he was a traitor to the team. However, even before Gambit was exonerated, Bishop overcame his aloofness. Gambit’s charm was the perfect counterpoint to Bishop’s sullenness, eliciting a cheerful side and even a sense of humor that we hadn’t seen before.
9. Wonder Man and Beast: This is another wonderfully whimsical combination. They made a great pair while they were on the Avengers. However, they weren’t on the same team for that long a time. Instead, their friendship truly blossomed after they were separated. Their reunions and guest appearances were always a delight, and something to definitely look forward to.
8. Captain America and Iron Man: This may be a controversial choice as their relationship has been rocky since Civil War. But that’s what made Civil War so poignant. Before that, Steve and Tony had been staunch allies and great friends. Their friendship was defined for me by a series of stories in 1994 and ’95 when Captain America’s super soldier serum was wearing off and Stark Industries was beset by scandal. The two heroes sat down for a chat in Iron Man #303 and I’ve rarely seen a better depiction of “old friends.”
7. Dick and Donna: Whether they’re Robin and Wonder Girl or Nightwing and Troia, Dick and Donna have always been great friends. This is a particularly unique combination in that it’s one of the few male-female friendships. When all of the other Teen Titans were flirting with Wonder Girl, Robin treated her as a true peer. They relied on each other. They helped each other. And they were there to support each other when other relationships went sour.
6. Archie and Jughead: When I was a little kid, I wanted friends like Archie and Jughead. And, to some extent, my friendships in high school and college were a lot like that. We just wanted to hang out and have fun, eat hamburgers and flirt with girls. I can see now that their competing interests kept drawing them away from each other. But I also know that the deep friendships of youth never truly leave you.
5. Green Lantern and Flash: This is a friendship that spans generations. It started in World War II when Alan Scott and Jay Garrick would team up in Comic Cavalcade. It blossomed during the Silver Age when Hal Jordan and Barry Allen became best pals. And it continued into the modern age when Kyle Rayner and Wally West related to each other as the young kids of the JLA.
4. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold: They’re arguably the most famous friendship in comics. At one point, they were practically inseparable. They came to the Justice League separately, but they gelled as soon as they were on a team together. They were the perfect comedy team, cracking jokes and creating hi-jinx. However, the friendship wasn’t always good for their reputations as heroes.
3. Wolverine and Nightcrawler: This is one of my favorite friendships and it’s summed up for me in a single line on the cover to Uncanny X-Men #172: “Hey elf, don’t forget the beer- W.” They had a casual camaraderie that was a perfect for hanging out, playing games, drinking beer, joking around and making silly wagers. But that casualness belied a deep connection. That line was written on Wolverine’s wedding announcement, singling Nightcrawler out for affection and essentially asking him to be his best man.
2. Cyborg and Changeling: You never forget your first and Cyborg and Changeling comprised the first friendship that I truly experienced through comics. Like several of the other combinations, they were a bit of an odd couple. Cyborg was quiet and stoic. Changeling was outgoing and comedic. Yet they complemented each other perfectly.
1. Black Canary and Oracle: There have been a lot of pairs of teammates over the years and I considered some of them for this list but no one has ever worked together quite like Black Canary and Oracle. Their relationship surpassed teamwork. They acted in concert, almost as if they were one person. That close connection carried over into their personal relationship as well. They were the best of friends even as new teammates, students and adopted daughters entered the picture.