Comic book writers have been drawing on the well of sibling rivalry for years. Ocean Master’s feud with Aquaman. Thor’s with Loki. Barbara Gordon has a criminal for a brother. Heck, Cain and Abel are in the DCU, re-enacting the old murder in-between hosting horror anthology comics.
Of course, positive bonds between siblings make for great stories too. Morpheus and his brothers and sisters of the Endless. Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Wonder Woman and her sisters adventuring as the Wonder Family.
Then there’s the sibling as plot twist. The brother or sister you never knew Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman had — will they end up friend or foe, hero or villain, or just an obscure answer in some trivia game? For every retconned sibling who clicks with readers and writers, there are two or three who get forgotten as soon as their story’s told.
What follows are fifteen superheroes and supervillains with obscure siblings. Some of the siblings are blink-and-you-miss-them one-shots, or retcons that were subsequently re-retconned. Others are still around, but hover just below the edge of pop-culture consciousness. Read on and learn about which heroes have family ties that bind, and which have family ties that strangle.
Here are 15 Superheroes And Villains Who Are Secretly Siblings.
15 Nick Fury
Nick Fury’s younger brother Jake had a character arc driven by jealousy, failure, and retcons - so many retcons.
Initially a pacifist, Jake joined the military in WW II, but only wound up feeling more resentful he couldn’t equal Nick Fury's heroism. Years later Jake went up against SHIELD as the mysterious villain Scorpio, wielding the cosmic Zodiac Key to destroy his brother. After multiple added defeats and failures, he finally took himself out in despair.
It wasn't a bad character arc, but Jake was a prominent enough character that later writers couldn’t leave him alone. First the Scorpio Key resurrected him. Then, various past appearances were dismissed as LMDs impersonating Jake, then retconned back into his continuity. The 2009 Secret Warriors series retconned Jake again, making Scorpio an LMD while the real Jake worked undercover for Nick.
Tragic character arcs, who needs ‘em?
Catwoman spent a decade as Batman’s frenemy before anyone got around to giving her an origin. It turned out Selina Kyle only turned to crime after losing her memory (because that’s what you do when you’re amnesiac), and upon recovering it, she reformed.
Two years later, in Batman #69, Batman worries she’s backsliding. A new crook, King of the Cats, is using Selina’s old MO and apparently romancing her to join him on the dark side.
The King is Selina’s brother Kyle.
In a comedy of errors, Selina assumes Batman has deduced this, so Bruce’s confusion lasts to almost the story’s end. Kyle reformed, and promptly vanished from comics. That’s still better than sister Felina Kyle, who showed up once, in Brave and the Bold #176, after she had already passed.
It took the superhero Infinity Man more than twenty years to get an origin. If he’d had a choice, he’d probably rather not have been Darkseid’s brother.
Infinity Man was an unexplained oddity in Jack Kirby’s Forever People. Possessed of uncanny powers, he’d swap places with the five FP whenever they were outgunned. In the final issue, a villain blew him up, stranding the Forevers on the mystery world Infinity Man hung out on.
Two decades later, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World introduced us Drax, the brother we never knew Darkseid had. When Drax tries tapping the power of something called the Infinity Pit, Darkseid fatally sabotages the experiment. Instead of losing his life, Drax becomes Infinity Man and accepts the mission of protecting the Forever People. He later took out most of the New Gods (don't ask) before getting a new origin in the New 52.
12 The Vision
You think your family relationships are complicated? Try the Vision’s.
When Ultron created the synthozoid, he used the “brain pattern” of Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man, as a template for the Vision’s mind. Simon not being alive was no big deal - until his brother Eric learned about it.
The Grim Reaper had sworn to destroy the Avengers for taking out his brother.
When he learned the Vision was, in some sense, Simon reborn, he couldn’t do it. Instead he urged the Vision to switch teams and side with him.
Vision didn’t switch, but he did acknowledge the quasi-brotherhood. When Simon rose from the dead, though, Vision bonded with him much more easily. That infuriated Eric, who felt he’d lost both brothers again. The relationship between the three would stay complicated for years after.
11 Professor X
For the “Charles Xavier is evil” school of X-fans, nothing much beats taking out his twin sister.
Even as a fetus, Professor X had enough psychic ability to sense that his sibling, a fellow mutant telepath, was tainted by evil. He attempted to destroy her, but she survived as a mass of cells. Years later, she attained an adult human form and began a war of revenge against Charles and the X-Men.
From Cassandra’s view, it’s actually a war of survival. In her heart, she feels it’s the womb all over again, and only one of them can survive to birth. She combines a toddler’s capacity for resentment with psi-powers to rival Professor X. It’s a nasty combination for anyone going up against her.
Once you beat a demon-god as powerful as Dormammu, what do you do for an encore? For Stan Lee, the answer was to give Dormammu an equally evil sister to replace him in Doctor Strange’s rogues gallery.
Umar the Unrelenting debuted in Strange Tales #150, just a few issues after Dormammu perished fighting the cosmic being Eternity (he got better later). She explained that her flame-headed brother had trapped her in a netherworld for fear of her power; his death freed her, and Stephen once again had an omega-level threat to contend with.
Umar never lived up to her boasts of being even more awesome than her bro, Dormammu.
It took later writers to infuse her with personality and make her interesting, including being the mother of Stephen’s lover Clea.
It’s easy to retcon a brother if, like Catwoman, your early years are a blank slate. But Batman? By 1974’s World’s Finest #223, everyone knew he was an only child.
Guess again! Hunting a criminal, Batman discovers it’s his brother Thomas Jr., brain-damaged and locked away in an asylum before Bruce was born. Surprisingly, Thomas really is the bad guy, though it’s hand-waved away as the real villain tricking him into it. To top off the story, the ghostly Deadman takes over Thomas’ body for his own use.
Understandably PO’d, Batman catches up with Deadman in #227. The ghost reluctantly gives up his new body, then Thomas heroically sacrifices himself to save his brother. Everyone was now free to forget this addition to the Wayne family tree.
Matt Murdock really is an only child. Somehow though, he managed to convince Foggy and Karen for over a year that his identical twin, Mike Murdock, was real.
Matt made up his brother Mike to explain away evidence Matt was secretly Daredevil.
No, it wasn’t him, it was the lookalike brother he’d forgotten to ever tell them about. Matt sealed the deal by showing up as the flamboyant and apparently sighted Mike, hiding his blind eyes behind shades.
After more than a dozen credibility-straining issues, the Unholy Three (C-listers like most of DD's foes) resolved things by taking out Mike. Matt then reveals Mike had already trained a replacement Daredevil, someone unknown but definitely not Matt. Foggy and Karen bought that too.
7 Swamp Thing
Swamp Thing’s brother Edward Holland appeared in two Swamp Thing issues fans would prefer to forget exist.
In a Hail Mary reboot play, Swamp Thing asks his jealous brother Edward for a cure. To prove he’s the smart one in the family, Edward happily turns Swamp Thing back to Alec Holland. Too bad for Alec that a cabal hunting Swamp Thing is now after him; too bad for Edward that his girlfriend’s now hot for Alec.
The end game was apparently to shift from horror to superheroics by turning Alec into Bruce Banner. The unpublished Swamp Thing #25 would have had Alec transform into a mindlessly destructive Swamp Thing and back. Instead the book was canceled. Alec reverted to classic Swamp Thing in a guest appearance a year later. Edward hasn't been seen or remembered since.
6 The Demon
Retconning characters sometimes resembles a battle of reality warping gods, changing history on a whim. Case in point, Etrigan and his sometimes brother Merlin.
As conceived by Jack Kirby, Etrigan was a demon bound into service by Merlin. Savage at heart, he was forced to take human form and use his powers to fight evil magic. Fifteen years later, Matt Wagner did a reboot that kept Kirby’s origin intact but added a backstory twist. Etrigan’s father, Belial, had been unable to control his son, so he sired a half-human child whose magic could bind Etrigan. That half-brother was Merlin.
Wagner improved on Kirby, but John Byrne never met a retcon he didn't want to overturn - unless he wrote it. He eventually retconned out Wagner’s story as a lie by an evil mage. That lasted until the New 52 rebooted the Demon yet again.
It’s tough to be Raven, daughter of Trigon. For one thing, it means Trigon's your dad. For another, Raven has hundreds of brothers and sisters who were destroyed before she was born.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t Trigon who destroyed them all. He took out some who, like Raven, turned against him, but many of them perished by their mothers’ hands, after the women learned they’d spawned demons.
Raven was the only one to survive.
Or so it seemed for years. In the 21st century, the Titans faced six more survivors, half-brothers to Raven born at the same time she was. Each of them embodied one of the sins (Raven was Pride) which they could use to manipulate and tempt mortals. Raven went to the dark side for the umpteenth time and joined them, but when she rejoined the light, they went into hiding.
4 Doctor Strange
To give Roy and Dann Thomas credit, at least they explained why we spent thirty years without knowing Doctor Strange had a brother.
Victor Strange debuted in 1989. Stephen explained that a furious sibling argument in his surgeon days led to Vic getting struck by a speeding car. Guilt-ridden, Stephen placed the injured Victor in cryo, but felt too ashamed to tell anyone about him. When Victor revived, it turned out a spell Stephen used to try healing him had turned him into a vampire instead.
Over the next four years, Victor struggled to deal with his new bloodlust. He tried drinking from criminals as the vigilante Baron Blood, until he learned that only created more vampires. Finally he won his struggle, but only by staking himself. Nobody's resurrected him in the twenty-five years since.
3 Martian Manhunter
Several characters on this list have evil siblings. J’Onn J’onzz’s brother Ma’alefa’ak — Malefic — was so evil, he wiped out their entire planet.
The late 1990s Martian Manhunter series added yet another reboot to the many in J’Onn’s history. Rather than Mars being utopian or ravaged by war, it had been wiped out millions of years ago. Malefic, a worshiper of Darkseid, had been stripped of his telepathy after attacking J'Onn's wife. He retaliated by unleashing a telepathic plague that caused victims to burn themselves. Immune to what he'd wrought, Malefic delighted in watching his entire race's destruction.
When Ma'alefa'ak learned J'Onn had survived, he dedicated himself to destroying J’Onn on Earth. Appropriately he went down in flames, the same fate he’d brought down on his people.
A different Malefic exists in the New 52.
Giving the traitorous Teen Titan Terra a sibling resolved an awkward impasse at DC. Marv Wolfman and George Perez had introduced her at roughly the same time Mike Barr introduced Geo-Force, another earth-powered hero, as a member of the Outsiders. Wasn’t having two heroes with such similar powers overkill?
Rather than drop one character, the writers hit on a solution: make them siblings.
Prince Brion of Markovia gained superpowers through an experiment; his sister Tara fooled with the same equipment to gain hers. Despite her utter evil, Tara genuinely loved her brother and vice versa. Instead of looking like an unlikely coincidence, turning them into her siblings actually made them more interesting. The two series weren’t completely in sync, though.
After Terra’s passing, Teen Titans had Geo-Force unaware of his sister’s crimes; Batman and the Outsiders showed he knew.
1 Ghost Rider
Marvel’s Harley-riding Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, started as an orphan, then wound up with one of the most complicated family histories at Marvel.
After Johnny exorcised the demon Zarathos who had possessed him for years, Marvel introduced a new Ghost Rider, Dan Ketch, with different powers. Hearing about Dan, Johnny felt obligated to investigate, and discovered he had a brother. More than that — a lineage.
Dan’s version of Ghost Rider was a curse that befell the eldest in every generation of their family. Their Mom had saved Johnny from the curse, unaware it would strike Dan instead, or that Johnny would end up a different kind of Ghost Rider. It turned out the two riders were descended from the Blood, a tribe of sorcerers at war with Zarathos, which added several more complications to the Blaze family tree.
The current Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider apparently isn't a relative. Yet.
Do you have a favorite forgotten sibling? Tell us in comments.