One of the cornerstones of comic books is a good bromance. Pretty much every hero, and even the odd villain, has someone to turn to when life as a costumed adventurer gets tough. Whether it’s over beers, burgers, or video games, these guys need to chill together sometimes and just share the love.
It’s these personal connections that give comic books their emotional depth and often connect the reader to the characters. It’s also why comic books that pit hero against hero carry such weight. Two guys punching each other that really just want to bro it out? That kind of drama never gets old. Quite often, these friendships start with the heroes duking it out before teaming up, but that’s just how comic books tend to work.
Let’s pay homage to those special relationships by counting down the 15 Greatest Comic Book Bromances.
15. Batman and Superman
Despite one of 2016’s biggest movies showcasing these guys knocking each other around, in the comic books they’ve been pals for years. Not only are they both prominent members of the Justice League and fight side by side, they actively spend their downtime together hanging out on the rooftops of Gotham or Metropolis, or even enjoying a family dinner with Clark’s family in Kansas.
In the Batman/Superman team up comics the reader often sees each character’s inner monologue as each sees the same situation completely differently. Where Superman sees the good in almost anyone, Batman’s inner pessimism means he’s cautious of anyone until they’ve earned his trust. But these stories often show the two men as they really are, not the heroes, not their secret identities, just two guys that bond over being orphans and help to balance the other’s world view. They might not be on hugging terms, but they’re practically brothers.
14. Beast and Wonder Man
For many years, there were very few crossovers between the world of the X-Men and that of The Avengers. One notable exception was the former X-Man, Beast (Hank McCoy), who joined The Avengers back in 1975’s Avengers #137. Besides Beast’s desire to be on just about every team there is (Champions, X-Factor etc.) one thing that brings him back to the Avengers is his epic bromance with Wonder Man (Simon Williams).
As a mutant, Beast had always been feared and hated. While dedicated to doing good, despite looking like a monster, Beast had often been the subject of discrimination. When he met Wonder Man in Avengers #151, Simon showed Beast the other side of heroism. Unlike the X-Men, the Avengers were beloved celebrities and Wonder Man showed Beast how to truly let his fur down and enjoy himself.
13. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle
Booster Gold and Blue Beetle have one of the funniest friendships in comic book history. Ted Kord, the Second Blue Beetle, was never able to unlock the secrets of the scarab that gave Dan Garrett his powers so used martial arts skills and his self-designed gadgets to become a crimefighter. Booster Gold, Michael Jon Carter, was a disgraced athlete from the 25th century who came back to the present day to use future technology and create a new legacy for himself.
The two became fast friends when Booster joined the Justice League in Justice League #3 back in 1987. The series, which became known as Justice League International, became known for its light tone which stood in stark contrast to the grim-and-gritty books of the ‘80s. No two characters came to embody this fun era more than Booster and Blue. Their wise-cracking, often bickering, friendship was the cornerstone of the team and they’ve been best buds ever since.
Given that they’re still seen as largely comedic characters neither will ever be A-list heroes, although Booster still hopes to become one someday. Despite this, they remain fan-favourites for their comedic, often slapstick stories.
12. Spiderman and Deadpool
If Spider-Man and Deadpool were to put their bromance on Facebook, it’d probably be under the category of “It’s Complicated.” While Spider-Man has teamed up, and become pals with, just about everyone in the Marvel universe (even the usually miserable Wolverine tolerates his constant talking) Deadpool annoys the hell out of just about everyone. Due to Deadpool’s insanity, and his questionable morals, he’s usually a solo agent. And while everyone respects his skills, even his fellow mercenaries prefer to keep their distance.
But Spider-Man and Deadpool are becoming full-on buddies these days. A cynic might say that Marvel are trying to use Deadpool’s current wave of popularity to boost their former flagship character, and they’d probably be right. However, in the comic books, the friendship is becoming real. If a little odd.
While far apart in terms of morals, these two are both full of pop-culture banter and can’t shut up, even when fighting. The two also bring out the best in each other, as any bromance should. Wade is learning patience, Peter is learning to have fun again. The love/hate relationship is still in its infancy, but Wade is becoming a better person for it as he certainly looks up to Peter. Given time, and decent sales, these two could become the best friends in comic books.
11. Cable and Deadpool
Compared to the previous entry, this one makes even less sense. Wade (Deadpool) and Nate (Cable) have even less in common. Nate literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders as the saviour of mutant kind, Wade mainly does what he does for the lolz.
But, as they often share the same social circles they’ve come into conflict many times. Initially, Wade worked for the mysterious criminal known as Tolliver who had previously employed Cable. Later, Wade and Nate found themselves spliced together by a teleportation accident which meant that where one went, the other followed. During that time, they developed a friendship that changed Deadpool significantly. Wade began to watch as Nate tried to create a better world, one that even had a place for him. Wade even fought to protect the world Nate was trying to build, showing a heroic side for the first time. He even saved Nate’s life for free.
While they’ve gone in different directions of late, fate has drawn them back together many times. Nate’s stoic nature is often softened by Deadpool’s humor. And while Nate might never admit it out loud, he’s got a lot of love for Deadpool.
10. Wolverine and Nightcrawler
Wolverine (Logan) and Nightcrawler (Kurt) have one of the best friendships in the X-books. Joining the X-Men at the same time, both were outsiders and opposites. Logan was a beast who looked like a man, and Kurt was a gentle soul in the form of a monster. Initially, Logan wasn’t keen to make friends but he took a shine to Kurt as Kurt was the first person he could ever remember who made him laugh. He even dropped the unfriendly nickname “Misfit” and started to simply call Kurt “Elf”. The pair even took to pranking the other X-Men, with Kurt often hiding Storm’s possessions. After a leave of absence which saw Kurt become the leader of the team Excalibur, the two became close again when Nightcrawler re-joined the X-Men. Often spending their downtime together, the two old friends fell back into their old habits of poker, beer, and joking around.
While Logan has had a few romances over the years, from his childhood love Rose, to Jean Grey and Mariko, Kurt has been his emotional anchor as much as any of them. Kurt, despite his demonic appearance, brings out Logan’s humanity. And bringing out the best in someone is what true friendship is all about.
9. Nova and Star-Lord
When the universe was in peril during 2006’s Annihilation, Richard Rider, the hero known as Nova, pulled together a team to save it. What he assembled was to become the foundation for the modern incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Among these heroes was Star-Lord a.k.a Peter Quill.
After the war was over, Richard and Peter became close friends. Both humans from Earth, the two had much in common. They fought beside each other against Ultron and the Phalanx and Nova supported Star-Lord as he assembled the Guardians of the Galaxy on the space station, Knowhere.
After some time apart, Peter and Richard reunited to face Thanos when the cancerverse began to destroy reality. They used a Cosmic Cube to save reality, seemingly at the cost of their lives until it was revealed that Nova had been able to send Peter to safety. Peter’s conscience suffered as a result, and he formed a new version of the Guardians to preserve Richard’s legacy. Nova has recently been shown to be alive and well, so their galaxy-spanning adventures and friendship isn’t over yet.
8. Cyborg and Shazam
Imagine you’re ten years old but have the ability to become one of the most powerful beings on earth. That’s the reality of life if you’re Billy Batson a.k.a Shazam! As Shazam, Billy is as powerful as Superman but as Billy, he’s just a regular kid who watches football games and cheers on his favourite player Victor “Victory” Stone.
When Darkseid attacked, Victor was one of the first to be injured. His body broken, he survived thanks to his father’s skills at using alien technology and became a Cyborg. Meeting Shazam for the first time, they got caught up in the battle against Darkseid’s Parademons. Shazam recognised his idol, and encouraged Victor to become the hero he could be and vouched for him when they met the other members of the Justice League.
Victor was one of the first to learn that Billy was just a kid, but decided to keep his secret. Since then, they have become close friends which is a literal dream come true for Billy who still idolises Victor and looks up to him as a true Bro.
7. Sinestro and Black Adam
Proving that Bromances aren’t just limited to heroes, the villains Sinestro and Black Adam are as tight as it gets. One Reddit user even coined the phrase “Dictator Bros” to describe their friendship. The two men joke together s they plan their various evil schemes, which they support each other with, other adding extra muscle to the other’s endeavours.
They became buds during the Forever Evil storyline, in which a team of villains came together to face off against the Justice League. Black Adam and Sinestro forged this unlikely friendship as they fought against the Crime Syndicate, Sinestro sensing the ring of a Green Lantern doppelganger and Black Adam fighting anyone who would attempt to conquer him. After several battles, Black Adam had his jaw crushed and was unable to speak. Sinestro helped to heal him, and Black Adam became indebted to him. Sinestro took a liking to Black Adam’s methods, as they reflected his world-view and the two became friends. When Sinestro visited Kahndaq, Black Adam threw a feast to honour his friend.
6. Rocket and Groot
Rocket looks cute and cuddly, truthfully he’s anything but. Genetically engineered and given enhanced intelligence, Rocket has an itchy trigger finger and a surly temperament. Groot, on the other hand, resembles a walking tree and his wooden vocal chords can only produce the sounds “I am Groot”, despite this he is highly intelligent, with telepaths such as Jean Grey noting that Groot often thinks of the most beautiful things to say but can only communicate by putting a subtle inflection into his vocalisations to express his true meaning. Either Rocket is gifted in understanding Groot, or he’s great at making stuff up. The Jury is still out on that one.
Coming together during 2008’s Annihilation: Conquest, the two went on to become key members of the modern incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy. When the first version of the team disbanded, Rocket and Groot stayed together having become close friends when Rocket saved Groot’s life. While it sometimes looks like Rocket is indifferent to Groot, if anyone harms his wooden friend, Rocket exacts lethal payback.
5. Luke Cage and Iron Fist
Luke Cage was created to cash in on the ‘70s Blaxploitation era and Iron Fist came about to cash in on Kung Fu movies. Both ended up being so much more than stereotypes however. Luke Cage, the ex-con, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and Danny Rand the living weapon trained in the mystical city of K’un L’un have little in common but have become as close as brothers over the years.
As the respective fads that created them began to wane, Power Man and Iron Fist were merged into a single title by Marvel after sales dropped. In the comics, Danny helped Luke to clear his name and the two became “Heroes for Hire”. When Luke eventually joined The Avengers, it wasn’t long before he encouraged Danny to join him. Fighting side by side wasn’t enough, and when Luke became a father he named his daughter Danielle, in honour of his best friend Danny.
4. Spider-Man and The Human Torch
While teen superheroes may be everywhere these days when Spider-Man was first starting out he was out there alone. Too young to hang with Captain America and Iron Man, Peter Parker became friends with Johnny Storm a.k.a The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four. It wasn’t an instant friendship as Johnny was influenced by the negative news stories The Daily Bugle posted about Spider-Man. But Johnny got to know peter and bonded as they were a similar age and they became part of each other’s social circles.
Their friendship endured over many years and they often met on top of the Statue of Liberty to discuss cases and issues with their personal lives. While Johnny maintained his hot-head persona in public, he often let his guard down around Peter and told him how he really felt.
Peter often accompanied the Fantastic Four on their adventures, with the foursome being some of the only people to know his secret identity. When Johnny seemingly died, his will requested Peter take his place on the team feeling that Peter had more than earned it and that Peter was the one person he trusted above all others.
3. Flash and Kid Flash
There have been several different incarnations of the Flash and Kid Flash partnership, but the most endearing bromance is between Barry Allen and Wally West. Wally was the nephew of Iris West, Barry Allen’s girlfriend and a huge fan of the Flash. In a coincidence that could only happen in comic books, Wally gained super speed in near identical circumstances to the accident that gave Barry his powers. Donning a costume of his own, Wally became Kid Flash and trained as Barry’s sidekick.
This status quo lasted between 1960-1985 when the Crisis on Infinite Earths claimed Barry’s life. Wally took the name Flash, and wore Barry’s uniform, continuing the legacy of his friend and mentor. When Barry returned from the dead (because, comics) he took back the title.
When the new 52 reboot occurred, Wally disappeared from the universe. Forgotten by all but the very vocal fans, Wally was revealed to be stuck outside of space-time in the so-called Speed force. In DC Rebirth, Barry pulled Wally out of the Speed force and to safety reuniting these best friends at long last.
2. Captain America and Bucky
Nothing creates a bond between men quite like war. While many battles in the realm of comic books resemble warfare, there’s nothing like fighting for the life of the man beside you and knowing that he’s there fighting for you. As much as blood, it makes you brothers for life.
When young Bucky Barnes first met Captain America, he was an orphan living on the same army base where Captain America was being trained. He discovered Steve Rogers was Cap, and tagged along with him, becoming his sidekick. It was revealed, via comic book retcon, that Bucky trained as a counter-espionage agent. Where Steve was the symbol, Bucky was the assassin.
Bucky seemingly died during the same mission that saw Steve frozen in ice for decades. Years after Steve was reanimated, he discovered Bucky had survived too. Bucky had been found by Russian soldiers and taken back to Russia and brainwashed to be the soviet master assassin known as the Winter Soldier. Periodically unfrozen, Bucky only aged a matter of a few years while decades passed. Steve eventually freed Bucky and when Steve appeared to die, Bucky took the title of Captain America. The two are once again close friends, and between them, an unbeatable fighting force.
1. Green Lantern and Green Arrow
Another comic book bromance that was brought about by poor sales is the legendary one between Green Lantern and Green Arrow. In 1970, Green Lantern sales were slipping fast and DC added in Green Arrow to help boost interest. Seemingly because they both had “Green” in their name.
Strangely, it worked. Hal was, at the time, a firm believer in following the rules. Ollie, on the other hand, rejected authority and was far more radical in his approach to crimefighting. These opposing views served to not just show different approaches to crimefighting, but also to examine the social issues facing America in the day. One of the most important stories of the era came when Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy (Roy Harper) became addicted to heroin. It was a risky story to tell, but one that paid off.
Bonus Entry: Asterix and Obelix
The stars of the French comic book series The Adventures of Asterix, Asterix and Obelix travelled the world seeking adventures often at the behest of their chieftain Vitalstatistix. Where Asterix is a diminutive and intelligent Gaulish warrior, Obelix is a gigantic, obese, and often simple-minded buffoon.
While their primary foes were the hordes of Romans who sought to conquer their village, Asterix and Obelix also fought pirates and assorted bullies and bad guys from across Europe and beyond. While Asterix relies on cunning, and occasional use of his magic potion which grants his temporary super strength, Obelix has permanent super strength due to a childhood accident and tends to let his fists do the talking. Often Asterix’s plans are scuppered by Obelix’s permanent state of hunger.
While the two often bicker due to their differences, and sometimes over their infatuation with the same women, they always make up, especially if there’s Romans to fight or wild boar to eat.
Do you have a favourite comic book bromance we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!