Movies & TV / Columns

Top 10 Comic Book Friendships

July 28, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed our Thoughts on Comic Book Deaths. Here’s what some of you had to say:

the Mad Redneck: “Uncle Ben, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Everybody else comes back. Hell not only has Wolverine died, how MANY times has Wolverine died? That’s why it’s perfectly believable that Deadpool would bring him back for another movie, if they write Hugh Jackman a big enough check.”

Erick Rowan’s Beard: “The “death” of comic book characters has become too cliche to mean much of anything. As stated in the article, it’s ultimately a ploy to draw attention to a character in order to generate buzz.

To be fair, however, you have to look at it in this light. If you kill off a comic book character that’s not one of the mega cash cows, nobody gives a s***. If you kill off a comic book character that is one of the mega cash cows, they’ll eventually be brought back because, as I alluded to, these are the characters that people pay gobs of money for. When Superman was killed by Doomsday, it was never the intention for him to stay dead; that’d be damn near sacrilege like changing Babe Ruth’s number.

Off the top of my head, one of the major characters who’s stayed dead is Marvel’s original Captain Marvel, the Kree hero who’s name is actually Mar-Vell. There have been a few storylines in which he’s been briefly resurrected, such as being part of the Grandmaster’s Legion of the Unliving or part of the Chaos War storyline back in 2010. However, he’s remained technically dead and his spirit, or what have you, always returns to the land of the dead after a few issues. They killed the character in 1982 and for about 99% of that time, he’s stayed dead.”

Cruel Angel: “More deaths and still cranking out variant covers.

It’s like they have regressed back to the 90s speculation era.”

Benjamin Kellog: “We might amend that statement to remove Uncle Ben as well. At least one alternate Spidey in the initial “Spider-Verse” crossover was explicitly identified as a Ben Parker variant, and with all the flashbacks I’ve seen to random pearls of wisdom Ben or his spirit gave Peter over the years, not to mention any number of “What If” worlds in which Ben stayed alive and/or killed the burglar and/or mourned the death of May/Peter/whoever, it hardly feels like he’s ever been truly gone within my lifetime.
To me, in this most meta of media environments, “comic book death” is merely an artificial absence with little to no connection to how most of humanity commonly experiences death. It might cause the reader to realize what the missing character’s role and moral code were all along or just how vital to the ongoing universe they remain even when they’re gone. At minimum, it’ll lead to some interesting variants on the character’s design or moral sensibilities among their supporting cast and generate a spin-off identity or three. The cycle could even repeat with those ersatz identities once their fanbases grow large enough (Connor Kent fans could probably set their watches to such things). And even if those characters never did return, there would always be back issues, “retro” adventures meant to take place in earlier periods, alternate worlds, clones, allusions, etc. The only true “death” I could possibly accept for such characters would be if their sum and total concept were to completely and definitely disappear, never to be mentioned or referenced in any form ever again. Which could never happen because that’s just not good business practice.”

OldManBrown: “Supergirl and Flash in Crisis on Infinite earths got me. It was really the first shockers I had ever experienced and brought tears to this young lad’s eyes. Everything after that really felt like a marketing scam.

Agree with redneck that back in the day the truly dead ones were Uncle Ben & Bruce Wayne’s parents.”

The Man With The Plan: “All very good points, but all entertainment media is geared to hook in the new fan with disposable income (or the illusion of disposable income), not for the fans who are a bit long in the tooth and wide in the ass (such as myself)”

Ken Wood: “Superman has to be the biggest one, for me. I remember the build up to it, the event, and the eventual return. It was all great, and everyone was talking about it.

I actually love the way they’re dealing with death in X-Men now. My only complaint is that it is happening too often and kind of a crutch for story telling purposes. Other than that, it’s cool. We all know death in meaningless in comics, now they have a great reason for it. Plus the way it works is interesting. Domino’s resurrection was really interesting. Kate (who hasn’t been resurrected yet – I’m behind) and her whole story with the Krokoa gates is interesting.

But yeah, most of the time I read about someone dying in comic headlines, it leads to me groaning.”

Some awesome comments last week! Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we discuss…

Top 10 Friendships in Comics

The purple dinosaur Barney once sang, “Friends are special, so important,they make the world go ’round.
We like helping one another
in school or on the playground…”

He’s right. They are special and they are important. When it comes to friends in comic books, it takes a special pairing to stand out. What I want to do is explain my criteria and list my Top 10 and go from there. 

Let’s talk about the biggest omission from my list that is sure to cause debate and that being Batman and Superman. Yes, they don’t make my list. Why? While I feel they are friends and have a huge level of respect for one another, I don’t see their friendship as deep or as relaxed as the others on the list. And that’s OK. Batman and Superman don’t have to be best friends for the world to go around. I think if you boiled it down, they know the other needs to exist for a purpose but if they were two normal guys, no powers or secret identities, they wouldn’t like each other. That’s just what I’ve seen over the years. World’s Finest? Yes. World’s Best Friends? No.
The other duo who some might try to throw on here but I’m not is Deadpool and Cable. While the “odd/opposites” pairing is a familiar trope used by numerous mediums, I always thought the Deadpool and Cable team was a little too forced and their quasi-friendship never felt organic. 

Like Batman and Superman, Professor X and Magneto are friends but not ones I’d put as the best of. They work better as adversaries, each pushing the other to better themselves and their environment. 

Let me name a few Honorable Mentions before I jump into the list. Each checks the boxes on my list but just miss out on making the cut either due to lack of memorable stories, longevity, or missing a little spark. 

They are:
Colleen Wing and Misty Knight
Black Widow and Hawkeye
Captain America and Bucky

And now the Top 10

10. Mr. Fantastic And The Thing
9. Spider-Man and Daredevil
8. Quantum and Woody
7. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy
6. Spider-Man and Human Torch
5. Archer and Armstrong
4. Beast and Wonder Man
3. Green Lantern and Green Arrow
2. Luke Cage and Iron Fist
1. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle

So let’s discuss. I look at how each character is written in either their own title or in a team book. Then I look at how they act and react with each other. Some are handled better than others. 

When it comes to Booster Gold and Blue Beetle we just have to look at their run in the late 1980s/early 1990s Justice League revamp by writers Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis. I’m hard pressed to think about a more meaningful and entertaining friendship that happened on the page than between Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. From their membership in the League, their stint as superhero repo men, and as the minds behind the construction of a gaming resort, Club JLI, on the living island Kooey Kooey Kooey, they are the first duo I think of when someone brings up friends in comic books.

Luke Cage and Iron First were a close second. They have shared some fun and weighty stories with one another since the 70s. Seek out some of those original stories and enjoy the ride. 

Mr. Fantastic and Thing? I get it. The whole family aspect of the team leads into their bond but at the end of the day, Reed Richards risked his friends lives and changed them forever, especially Mr. Grimm. That’s been the point of a number of stories over the years.

Quantum and Woody along with Archer and Armstrong? Sadly issues in the real world have robbed us of more stories about these pairings. I’ve read a number of old issues and both books hold up incredibly well today. 

Spider-Man and Daredevil/Human Torch. This is based on old issues as I’m not remembering recent stories involving them to remind us of the magic of buddies in New York. Huge potential there. 

What makes a good friendship in comic books?  Who’s in your Top 10?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!

article topics :

Comics 411, Steve Gustafson