In a lot of ways, family shapes the superhero genre. Since so many superhero origins involve the loss of wisdom-imparting parental figures, ideas about family can play a key motivating factor for both heroes and villains. While some of these characters try to run away from their family histories, others have bloodlines that can be traced back for generations. Since family plays such a big role for so many characters, introducing a long-lost relative is a quick, effective way to make a character question everything they’ve ever known. While this trope has been used in serial narratives for decades, long-lost relatives have shown up freakishly often in superhero comics, especially over the past few years.
With James Robinson, Carlo Pagulayan and Emanuela Lupacchino's upcoming run on Wonder Woman set to spotlight Diana's long-lost brother, Jason, these superhero family trees will keep on growing. Now, CBR is taking a look back at some of the most shocking long-lost relatives in superhero comics. For this list, we'll be looking at previously unseen parents, children and cousins who are related to major heroes and villains. We also won't be counting confirmed fake-outs, where a villain or someone else posed as a character's long-lost family member.
15 SUPERGIRL, SUPERMAN'S COUSIN
Although Supergirl's various origins have become deeply weird after decades of reboots, her most famous origin casts her as Superman's Kryptonian cousin, Kara Zor-El. Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in 1952's Action Comics #252, Supergirl lived on Argo City, a surviving chunk of Krypton, and was sent to Earth to be raised by her famous cousin.
Supergirl appeared throughout the Superman family of titles until she famously died saving the DC Multiverse in 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths. When Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner reintroduced her in 2004's Superman/Batman #8, her origin was modified so that she was now sent to look after her young cousin. While Superman grew up in Smallville, her ship veered off course into a meteorite that froze her in suspended animation until she arrived on Earth. On Supergirl, Melissa Benoist's Supergirl has a similar origin where she lingered in the Phantom Zone.
14 ARNO STARK, IRON MAN'S BROTHER
Originally, Arno Stark was Iron Man's alternate reality descendant in the once-distant year 2020. Created by Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe in 1984's Machine Man #2, Arno ran Stark Industries and used his Iron Man armor to work as a corporate mercenary. After failing during a time-traveling adventure, he lost his family and became a more heroic figure.
After Tony Stark learned that he was adopted in 2013, Arno made his Marvel Universe debut in Kieron Gillen and Dale Eaglesham's Iron Man #12. Although he was genetically modified by an alien to pilot a Celestial-killing armor, Arno required life support to survive and was hidden for his own safety. Tony and Arno embraced one another, bonding over their shared technological genius. The adoptive siblings began building a technological utopia on the Mandarin's old base. After Arno started using his own Iron Man-esque armor, he eventually became the city's sole custodian.
SPOILER WARNING: The following entry contains spoilers for the just-released Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1.
13 TERESA PARKER, SPIDER-MAN'S SISTER
In 2014, Marvel released Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business as the second entry in its revived original graphic novel line. With a script by Mark Waid and James Robinson and lush artwork from Werther Dell'Edera and Gabriele Dell'Otto, this project was part of a line with a focus on in-continuity tales with major revelations. With the introduction of Peter Parker's long lost sister, Teresa, it certainly lived up to that premise.
Like their parents, Richard and Mary Parker, Teresa was working as a secret agent when she met her famous older brother. Although the villain Mentallo cast some doubt on their relationship, Peter and Teresa teamed up to take down one of the Kingpin's schemes. While the final pages of that book seemed to confirm that she was Peter's sister, she wasn't seen for years until her recent reintroduction in Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kurbert's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1.
12 RED ARROW, GREEN ARROW'S SISTER
Although she hasn't made the jump onto Arrow yet, Oliver Queen met his previously unseen younger sister in 2013. Created by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino in Green Arrow #18, Emiko "Emi" Queen was born on the deserted Starfish Island to Oliver's dad, Robert Queen, and the assassin Shado.
After being raised by the villain Komodo, Emi became a master archer and eventually killed the villain. She traveled to Seattle, Green Arrow's base of operations, where Oliver reluctantly took his half-sister on as an apprentice. Although the pair grew close fighting crime, the teenage hero briefly turned on the Emerald Archer and helped her mom defeat a yakuza boss. After returning to her half-brother's side, she took the name Red Arrow and has had an ongoing presence in Ben Percy, Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra and Stephen Byrne's critically-acclaimed run on Green Arrow.
11 CORSAIR, CYCLOPS' DAD
During one of the X-Men's most famous cosmic adventures, Marvel's mutants met a band of roving space pirates called the Starjammers in 1977's X-Men #104, by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. The human Corsair led this team and helped the X-Men defeat the mad Shi'Ar Emperor D'Ken in "The Phoenix Saga."
Even after their initial meeting, the full nature of Corsair's relationship to Cyclops wasn't explored for a few years. Christopher Summers and his wife, Katherine, were abducted by aliens during the plane crash that supposedly orphaned Cyclops and Havok. Although the Starjammers and the X-Men worked together regularly, Corsair remained fairly distant from his mutant sons for years. Shortly after reconciling with Cyclops, Corsair was killed and Havok briefly took his place as the Starjammers' leader. After he was revived as a techno-organic being, Corsair embraced a time-traveling teenage Cyclops and had intergalactic adventures with his son.
10 VULCAN, CYCLOPS' BROTHER
In the 1990s, the identity of Cyclops and Havok's other brother was one of the biggest mysteries in X-Men comics. While characters like Gambit and Adam X were candidates, the third Summers brother wasn't revealed until 2005's X-Men: Deadly Genesis. In Ed Brubaker and Trevor Hairsine's miniseries, the history of Gabriel Summers, the Omega-level mutant Vulcan, was revealed.
After his parents' abduction, Vulcan was born in the Shi'Ar Empire and had a brutal upbringing. After escaping his tormentors, he joined a doomed incarnation of the X-Men and seemingly died trying to rescue the original X-Men from the island Krakoa. Once he was reawakened, he fought the X-Men and conquered the Shi'Ar Empire. During his brutal reign, Vulcan killed his father Corsair, captured Havok's Starjammers and waged war against the Kree Empire. At the end of the 2009 crossover War of Kings, the Inhumans' Black Bolt seemingly killed Vulcan in battle.
9 LINCOLN MARCH, BATMAN'S BROTHER
Over the years, a few different characters, even Bane, have claimed to be related to Bruce Wayne in some manner. Bruce Wayne's most recent self-proclaimed sibling is the Gotham City mayoral candidate and Court of Owls member, Lincoln March.
Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in 2011's Batman #1, March claimed to be Thomas Wayne Jr., Batman's younger brother who was born after his parents were involved in a car accident. After growing up alone, March blamed Batman for the death of his parents and befriended an adult Bruce Wayne. After he seemingly died, he was revived by the Court of Owls. Although he subsequently murdered several Court members, Lincoln was defeated by his older brother Batman on a few occasions. While the subject of Lincoln's parentage was never completely settled, he was killed by the villain Raptor in 2016's Nightwing: Rebirth #1, by Tim Seeley and Yanick Paquette.
8 ELLIE CAMACHO, DEADPOOL'S DAUGHTER
While Deadpool's zany, violent antics have made him one of the most popular characters in comics, those qualities aren't enough to make an emotionally rich character. In the same way the 2016's Deadpool found its heart through the mercenary's relationship with Morena Baccarin's Vanessa, comics' Deadpool has been emotionally grounded by his daughter Ellie Camacho.
Created by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and John Lucas in 2014's Deadpool #31, Ellie was raised by her mother Carmelita until her death. After discovering his adolescent daughter's existence, Deadpool rescued Ellie from the Flag Smasher's U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agents. Since she started living with Deadpool's friend, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Emily Preston, Ellie has been a regular, heart-warming part of Deadpool's life. While Ellis has been revealed to be a mutant, her specific powers remain undefined. In one possible future, she served as a hero with the ability to be reborn as a teenager after dying.
7 ANGELA, THOR'S SISTER
Although Thor's famous sibling Loki comes from Norse mythology, his other major sibling was born in the world of Image Comics. When she was originally created by Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman in 1993's Spawn #9, she was an angelic bounty hunter. After a lengthy legal rights battle resulted in her becoming a Marvel character, Angela's new family tree was revealed in the 2014 crossover "Original Sin."
After their infant child Aldrif seemingly died during a war between Asgard and the Tenth Realm, Odin and Freyja sealed the dimension off. The Tenth Realm's residents raised the child as one of their own and renamed her Angela. When she was transported to the Marvel Universe, Angela joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and defeated her brother Thor in combat. After Odin confirmed Angela's lineage, she was expelled from the Tenth Realm and briefly ruled the Asgardian netherworld Hel.
6 NYSSA AL GHUL, RA'S AL GHUL'S DAUGHTER
While Talia might be Ra's al Ghul's most famous descendant, he has an untold number of children, grandchildren and other heirs. Although most fans were probably introduced to Nyssa al Ghul through Katrina Law's portrayal of the character on Arrow, Nyssa was introduced in 2003's Detective Comics #783, by Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson.
After being born in the 18th century, Nyssa trained at her father's side for decades before being forsaken. She took the name Nyssa Raatko and survived for centuries using her personal Lazarus Pit. In Rucka and Janson's 2003 miniseries Batman: Death and the Maidens, Nyssa launched a failed assassination attempt on Superman, but successfully killed Ra's. After that, Nysaa and her half-sister Talia took command of the League of Assassins and declared that Batman was their shared enemy. Although she was poised to be a major villain, she's only made a few appearances since then.
5 THE MONGRELS, WOLVERINE'S KIDS
Like Ra's, Wolverine has lived for well over a century and has had several marriages and relationships that produced children. Although his memories of them have been lost due to his numerous memory wipes, several of his adult children made up a mercenary group called the Mongrels.
While his son Daken struck out on his own, the Mongrels included Gunhawk, Shadowstalker, Fire Knives, Saw Fist and Cannon Foot. Created by Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes in 2010's Wolverine #1, the team was hired to torture Logan and his friends by the Red Right Hand, a group of humans who all had grudges against Wolverine. Although the Mongrels were all expert martial artists and had minor powers, Wolverine killed every member of the team. After learning that they were all his kids, he was horrified by what he had done and buried each of the children next to their mother.
4 DOG LOGAN, WOLVERINE'S BROTHER
While a familial relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth was teased for years, nothing ever came of it. Instead, readers were introduced to Wolverine's biological older brother, Dog Logan, in 2001's Origin, by Paul Jenkins, Andy Kubert, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada.
Born in 1882, Dog Logan was the son of Thomas Logan, the groundskeeper of the Howlett Estate and Wolverine's father. While his famous half-brother was raised as a child of the Howletts, Dog became a brutal fighter due to his violent upbringing. Years after a bloody incident left Thomas and the Howletts dead, he tracked down Wolverine, but fled the scene when their childhood friend Rose was killed. After being transported to the present day by time-traveling diamonds, Dog continued his obsessive pursuit of his half-brother. After hunting Wolverine with laser-based weapons in the Savage Land, Dog took a job teaching at the new Hellfire Academy.
3 MARY MARVEL, SHAZAM'S SISTER
A decade before Supergirl was introduced, the original Captain Marvel, now called Shazam, met his long lost sister, Mary Marvel. Created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze in 1942's Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Mary Marvel was originally Billy Batson's long lost twin sister. After discovering her connection to Billy, she said the magic word, "Shazam," and joined the successful Captain Marvel line as one of comics' very first young female superheroes.
Like the rest of her Fawcett Comics co-stars, Mary was licensed and eventually purchased by DC Comics in the 1991. At DC, her origin remained mostly the same and she fought alongside Captain Marvel once again. In 2006, Mary lost her abilities and was given new powers by her old enemy Black Adam. This darker take on Mary prevailed until DC's New 52 reboot in 2011, and she's only made a few appearances since then.
2 CASSANDRA NOVA, PROFESSOR X'S SISTER
Originally conceived as a "telepathic Hannibal Lecter," Cassandra Nova is one of the X-Men's deadliest villains. After her introduction in 2001's New X-Men #114, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Nova was revealed to be a parasitic psychic force that took the form of Charles Xavier's twin sister. Although Xavier defeated the beast in the womb, an adult Nova emerged years later with immense psychic powers.
As part of her extended campaign against Xavier, the X-Men and mutantkind, Nova used Sentinels to kill 16 million mutants on the island nation, Genosha. After that, she possessed her brother and, while impersonating him, revealed his status as a mutant to the world. After tricking the Shi'Ar Empire to turn on itself and launch an attack on Earth's mutants, she was psychically imprisoned by the combined efforts of Xavier, Jean Grey and Emma Frost.
1 DAMIAN WAYNE, BATMAN'S SON
While Robins have always been Batman's adopted sons, the current Robin, Damian Wayne, is his biological child of Batman and Talia al Ghul. After being grown in an artificial womb, Damian trained with his mother and the League of Assassins in his earliest years.
In 2006's Batman #655, by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert, Damian's existence was revealed to Batman for the first time. Despite some friction with Batman, Damian became a brutal new Robin. When his father was lost in the timestream, Damian began to soften after forming a close bond with Dick Grayson's Batman. Despite his temporary death, Damian's origin has remained a fairly steady presence through DC's recent reboots. As one of the stars of Super-Sons and the founder of the current incarnation of Teen Titans, Damian's Robin is a pint-sized force to be reckoned with who's dedicated to carrying on his family's heroic legacy.
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