Comic book duos are a staple of the comic book industry. Of course, part of what makes comics so much fun is getting to see different characters interacting with each other, often as a cohesive team of partners. Sometimes these duos are permanent partners whose stories become inextricably tied together. At others, the characters only occasionally work together, but they team up so well that their stories always stand out. Oftentimes, these friendships start off antagonistically, because when two comic book characters meet for the first time, they almost always end up fighting each other. That’s just comics.
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Of course, it’s increasingly becoming a standard outside of comics, as Hollywood continues to expand its comic book properties and shared universes. “Thor: Ragnarok,” for example, is being billed as a buddy movie with Thor and Hulk, while Captain America and Falcon have shown great camaraderie onscreen. Then there was last year’s “Batman V Superman,” which ultimately saw the two heroes team up. If Hollywood wants to keep expanding on this concept, here are 16 comic book duos they could look to for inspiration.
16. NOVA AND STAR-LORD
During the events of 2006’s “Annihilation,” by Keith Giffen and Andrea Di Vito, the hero known as Nova had to pull together a ragtag group of heroes to fend off the forces of Annihilus from consuming the universe. Among his ranks was Star-Lord, a mostly forgotten Marvel character. The two successfully led the charge against Annihilus and saved the universe. After the war, they remained friends and helped save reality several times. After defeating Ultron and the Phalanx together, Nova helped Star-Lord form the Guardians of the Galaxy and set up their base of operations on Knowhere.
The two spent some time apart, but they eventually reunited when Thanos returned from the grave and the Cancerverse threatened to destroy reality. Using a cosmic cube, they sacrificed their lives to trap Thanos in the Cancerverse, which was set to collapse in on itself. It was later revealed that Nova was able to send Star-Lord back to his home at the cost of his own life, a sacrifice that has weighed heavily on Star-Lord’s conscience. Fortunately, Nova was recently resurrected, so hopefully these two will hook up again soon.
15. CLOAK AND DAGGER
Two runaway teenagers living on the streets of New York City, Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen accepted an offer of shelter from the wrong people. They ended up getting kidnapped by a madman, who was testing out a new type of heroin. When it was injected into the two teens, it surprisingly gave them superpowers. Ty found himself turned into a void of darkness while Tandy was able to create light daggers. They dubbed themselves Cloak and Dagger and have basically been inseparable since.
Based on their experiences beginning in “Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man” #64 by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan, they began taking down drug dealers and manufacturers. The two went on to encounter several Marvel heroes, most notably Spider-Man. They played a big part in “Maximum Carnage,” where Dagger was seemingly killed off. In reality, she had been seriously injured and retreated into Cloak’s mysterious material to heal. She returned just in time to help defeat Carnage and save the city. Recently, it was announced that the duo is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the stars of their own TV show.
14. RICK AND CARL GRIMES
Not all comic book duos have to be heroes; sometimes, they can just be family members trying to survive in a world full of monsters. Rick and his young son Carl are all that’s left of the Grimes family. They were separated at the start of the apocalypse, but were reunited in “The Walking Dead” #2 (2003) by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. Carl went from being his father’s son to his partner pretty early on, when Rick’s old partner Shane tried to kill Rick. In one of the series’ many shocking turns, Carl shot Shane, saving his dad but losing his innocence.
Throughout “The Walking Dead,” Carl is the person who gives Rick his purpose and his drive. He can’t just give up the fight, but he also can’t give up his humanity, or else Carl will lose it too. Carl, meanwhile, has actually taken a darker path than Rick. He’s usually willing to make difficult decisions, or attack an enemy like Negan head on. The two provide a balance for each other that goes far beyond the typical father/son relationship, making them one of the medium’s most compelling duos.
13. POWER MAN AND IRON FIST
During the late ’70s, Marvel decided to take two struggling titles and combine them, hoping to boost sales. This move would create a partnership that would ultimately become a major aspect of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Netflix series, “The Defenders.” While serving a bogus prison sentence, Luke Cage gained powers in an experiment gone wrong. He would go on to become Power Man, Hero for Hire. Danny Rand, on the other hand, had spent his life training in the mystical city of K’un L’un, and after defeating a dragon, gained the magical martial arts powers of Iron Fist.
Starting in “Power Man” #48 (1977) by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the two began working together. After helping Cage clear his name, Iron Fist decided to join up with him and become the “Heroes for Hire.” Their partnership was both personally and financially fruitful. Throughout the years, they’ve had their ups and downs, but they always end up teaming again. After stints on the Avengers, they recently got back together for “Power Man and Iron Fist” #1 (2016) by David F. Walker and Sanford Greene.
12. ROCKET AND GROOT
Although Rocket Raccoon may look cute, he’s anything but. Originally from a planet where animals were genetically engineered and given enhanced intelligence, Rocket typically has a surly attitude and an itchy trigger finger. The two were first seen together in 2008’s “Annihilation: Conquest” by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Tom Raney and Wellington Alves. Groot, an alien from a species of talking trees (and originally portrayed as a confused monster), can only say the phrase “I am Groot.” Luckily, Rocket is one of the few creatures that seems to be able to understand him… or is just good at making things up.
After Groot was heavily injured and all that was left of him was a few twigs, Rocket helped plant him so he could regrow his body. They then both joined the new Guardians of the Galaxy together. Luckily, when the team disbanded after several members disappeared, Rocket and Groot decided to stay together. While it sometimes seems like Rocket simply just uses Groot as his muscle, he is fiercely loyal to his friend. When the Guardians were reformed, Rocket and Groot rejoined and have continued to cause mischief around the galaxy.
11. WOLVERINE AND JUBILEE
Wolverine has taken on a fatherly/older brother role to several of the younger X-Men throughout his career, but the most famous would arguably be his relationship with Jubilee. This is because of their friendship being a big part of the ’90s “X-Men” cartoon. On the show, Jubilee was the youngest member of the team, and Wolverine (the oldest) often took her under his wing. It was an odd pairing, considering that she was a mall rat and he was a gruff former special ops warrior, but because of that, its Odd Couple sweetness worked.
Their connection in the comics was actually much darker. Jubilee was a runaway, and ended up hiding out in the X-Men’s base while they were stationed in the Australian Outback. In “Uncanny X-Men” #251 (1989) by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri, she rescues Wolverine, who had been beaten and crucified by the Reavers. She helps protect him while he heals, and then the two escape. They would travel together for awhile, having adventures across the globe before she would eventually join the X-Men. Even as an official X-Man, though, Wolverine remained very protective of her.
10. GREEN ARROW AND GREEN LANTERN
Back in 1970, DC Comics hoped to revive sinking “Green Lantern” sales by adding Green Arrow as the book’s costar. The book thus became “Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow” starting with issue #76 by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams. Hal Jordan, a member of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps, was at the time a strict believer in the system and rules. Oliver Queen, on the other hand, was a more radical thinker and opposed authoritarianism. This dynamic was used to tell stories that focused on social issues in America at the time, as opposed to typical superhero adventures.
One of the most notable stories was “Green Lantern” #85, still by O’Neil and Adams, which dealt with Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy, getting addicted to heroin. After the series ended, both characters eventually died, were resurrected, had their histories retconned, and survived multiple reality-altering crises. Throughout it all, though, they always remained friends. Even when Hal Jordan was dead and roaming the Earth as the Spectre, he and Queen would still meet up for the occasional chat.
9. WONDER MAN AND BEAST
For a long time, there wasn’t that much crossover between the rosters of the X-Men and the Avengers. Aside from Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, most mutants tended to stick with each other. One of the most notable exceptions to this was Hank McCoy, also known as the Beast. He joined the Avengers in 1975’s “Avengers” #137 by Steve Englehart and George Tuska, and he’s bounced back and forth between teams ever since. One thing that keeps Beast coming back to the Avengers is the fact that he’s best friends with Wonder Man.
Simon Williams was a failed businessman who gained ionic powers after being experimented on by Baron Zemo. They both first appeared together in “Avengers” #151 (1976) by Gerry Conway, Steve Engelhard, and John Buscema. Simon helped show Beast a different side of being a hero. Where the X-Men were feared for being different, the Avengers were celebrities of the Marvel Universe. The two became so close that when Simon seemingly died, and then returned to life, Beast leapt into Avengers mansion and tackled Simon, planting a kiss right on his mouth! Now that’s friendship!
8. HAWK AND DOVE
During the late ’60s, the country was divided by those who seemingly favored war and avowed pacifists. The two sides were labeled war hawks and doves, which provided the inspiration for Hawk and Dove, who first appeared in “Showcase” #75 (1968) by Steve Skeates and Steve Ditko. The original Hawk and Dove were teenage brothers, Hank and Don, who received their powers from a mysterious source, cosmic beings known as Lord Chaos and Lord Order. Hank was more militant and aggressive, while Don was more thoughtful and consumed with bringing peace, but perhaps less confident. Don, who took on the Dove persona, was killed during “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” written by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, seemingly ending the team.
Fortunately, Chaos and Order continued to need avatars, and appointed a new Dove, Dawn Granger, first appearing in “Hawk and Dove” #1 (1988) by Barbara and Karl Kessel and Rob Liefeld. While still less militant than Hank, Dawn was more confident than Don. The duo’s popularity comes from their obvious political undertones and dissimilarities — yet another “Odd Couple.” It often provided a balanced look at both sides of the argument between conservatives and liberals; something that might be useful today.
7. HARLEY AND POISON IVY
The friendship between these two Batman villains has a pretty complicated history. While Poison Ivy has been a mainstay in Batman comics, Harley first appeared in “Batman: The Animated Series,” but didn’t appear in the comics until several years later. So, Harley and Poison Ivy were first paired up in the animated series 1993 episode “Harley and Ivy,” where the two meet while robbing the same place. They team up and realize that they have a pretty good thing going. The rest, as they say, is history!
While Ivy is a villain, she was actually one of the best influences for Harley, who was in an abusive relationship with the Joker at the time. Ivy tried to boost Harley’s confidence, because she actually cared for her. When Harley was finally introduced in the comics in “Batman: Harley Quinn” (1999) by Paul Dini, Yvel Guichet and Aaron Sowd, her friendship with Ivy was quickly introduced as well. They appeared with Catwoman in “Gotham City Sirens” (2009) by Paul Dini and Guillem March, and Harley and Ivy would later become intimate with each other. They weren’t in a traditional relationship, but they both clearly care for each other very much, which is the most you could ever ask in an effective duo.
6. SPIDER-MAN AND THE HUMAN TORCH
Most of the entries on the list are examples of opposites attracting, but that’s not the case with these two. When they first met, back in “Amazing Spider-Man” #1 (1963), by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man and the Human Torch developed an antagonistic relationship. Over the years, however, the two would form a strong friendship, although they never stopped teasing each other — in the end, they are just too much alike.
One of the most memorable moments from their history was when Spider-Man realized that his new black costume was actually an alien symbiote feeding off his life energy. He went to the Fantastic Four to get it removed, which they did. Unfortunately, this left Spider-man without a costume. Knowing that Spider-man was desperate, Johnny Storm gave him an old Fantastic Four costume and paper bag with eye holes cut out. Ever the picture of maturity, he then stuck a “kick me” sign on Spidey’s back. They’ve had plenty of adventures together, but this one prank sums up their friendship pretty perfectly.
5. CABLE AND DEADPOOL
One is a mutant soldier from the future who traveled to the past in order to build a better tomorrow. The other is an insane mercenary with a healing factor who believes himself (quite rightly) to be a comic book character. Cable and Deadpool shouldn’t get along, but they ended up becoming Marvel’s modern day “Odd Couple.” While the two had met several times, usually as enemies, their… friendship seems like a strong word, but we’ll go with that… their friendship didn’t really begin until they both got involved with the “The One World Church” in “Cable and Deadpool” #1 (2004) by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Brooks.
Both Cable and Deadpool ended up getting infected with a genetic virus, and in order to cure them, Cable briefly absorbs Deadpool (utilizing his healing factor to ward off the virus). This causes Cable’s teleporting device to malfunction, so that whenever he “bodyslides,” Deadpool comes with him. At first, Cable manipulated Deadpool into performing tasks for him, often without Deadpool realizing what was going on. After a while, however, Cable’s message of peace began to have an effect on Deadpool, who started trying to be a better person, albeit with sometimes less than successful results.
4. BOOSTER GOLD AND BLUE BEETLE
The friendship between Blue Beetle and Booster Gold is one of the most entertaining superhero duos in the history of comics. Ted Kord replaced the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, but was unable to unlock any superpowers from the Blue Beetle Scarab, so he instead turned to martial arts and technology to fight crime. Michael Jon Carter was a disgraced athlete from the 25th century who traveled back in time to fight crime, but also mostly to build fame and fortune for himself.
The two characters met when Booster joined the Justice League in “Justice League” #3 (1987) by Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis. They have been bickering best friends ever since. Due to the nature of both characters, they’re usually used for light-hearted, even downright comedic stories — in fact, they’re very well known for it. Because of that, they may not be seen as A-list heroes, even though Booster desperately wants to be. They might not be the most effective heroes, and they may not strike fear into the hearts of criminals, but it’s always fun to see what happens when these two knucleheads team up. Good times almost always ensue.
3. FLASH AND KID FLASH
Like Batman and Robin, there have been several different versions of the Flash and Kid Flash. However, the combination of Barry Allen as the Flash and Wally West as Kid Flash is by far the most iconic and the most popular. West was the nephew of Allen’s girlfriend, Iris and a huge fan of Flash. Coincidentally, the same accident that gave Allen his Flash powers repeated itself, giving Wally speed powers of his own, as depicted in “The Flash” #110 (1960) by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Not one to miss out on a good opportunity, Wally West became the Kid Flash and started helping Barry fight crime.
This lasted until 1985’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #8 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, where Barry was killed off. Wally took up the mantle of the Flash until Barry returned from the dead in Grant Morrison and JG Jones’ “Final Crisis” #2 (2008). Then Wally disappeared when the “New 52” reboot occurred in 2011, much to fans’ dismay. As it turns out, however, Wally was just stuck in the speed force, and was ultimately pulled to safety by his friend, Barry in “DC Rebirth” #1 (2016) by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, and Gary Frank.
2. CAP AND BUCKY
James Barnes was an orphan living on the same army base where Steve Rogers was stationed. One day, Barnes discovered that Rogers was really Captain America, whose identity was a secret at the time. Having essentially spent his life training, he joined Rogers as his sidekick in “Captain America Comics” #1 (1941) by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, choosing to go by the name Bucky in his adventures in crime-fighting fisticuffs. The two fought side by side during World War II, until tragedy struck.
As revealed in “Avengers” #4 (1963) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Bucky was seemingly killed in a fight with Baron Zemo that also left Cap frozen in the ocean. It was later revealed in Ed Brubaker’s run on “Captain America” Vol 5 (2005) that his body was actually recovered by a Russian submarine, and he was transformed into the Winter Soldier. Both Rogers and Bucky would survive into the 21st century, due to varying bouts of suspended animation and super soldier serums. Rogers would eventually free Bucky of his brainwashing with the use of a cosmic cube, reuniting one of Marvel’s best friendships.
1. BATMAN AND ROBIN
When it comes to comic book duos, Batman and Robin are the first names anyone thinks of; they are called “The Dynamic Duo,” after all, and the team has been around since 1940. It was then that Robin first appeared as the Dark Knight’s sidekick, in “Detective Comics” #38 by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. While Batman is still clearly in charge, Robin has grown into so much more than a simple sidekick. The original Dynamic Duo is such an important part to the Batman mythos that over the decades, several different people have come and gone as Robin (and Batman, for that matter).
The first and most famous Robin was Dick Grayson, who would eventually move on as Nightwing. Bruce replaced him with Jason Todd, a street kid who Batman caught trying to steal the tires off the Bat-mobile. Todd was eventually murdered by the Joker, so up next was Tim Drake, a natural detective who impressed Batman by figuring out his identity. Then came Drake’s girlfriend, Stephanie Brown and then Bruce’s son, Damian, who has served both under his father and in the short period where Dick became Batman. Regardless of its members, this timeless duo will continue to fight crime long after we’re all gone.
Who are your favorite two-person partnerships in comics? Let us know in the comments!
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