Families. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. The old saying neatly captures an essential truth about family life. Family members may find each other infuriating, exasperating or downright unlikable, but at the end of the day they’re still bound together by blood ties. As another familiar saying goes: you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.
The heroes that make up the Marvel universe are no strangers to family disagreements, although their squabbles tend to be about weightier issues than whose turn it is to do the washing up or who finished the milk. Siblings in Marvel comics have all too often found themselves on opposite sides of the law, been forced to confront the reality of hard life choices, or had to cope with differing levels of success in their chosen field. Now, CBR runs through 18 of Marvel’s most enduring sibling feuds.
18. QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
Pietro and Wanda Maximoff have often been portrayed as having a very close relationship — almost unhealthily so, some might say. Both characters debuted in “Uncanny X-Men” #4, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and it was clear even at this early stage that Pietro had a controlling influence over his sister. Pietro may have thought that he was looking after his sister in the absence of parental figures in their lives, but his stifling influence prevented Wanda from developing as her own person. It was only some time into her stint as an Avenger, helped by a growing attraction to the Vision, that she was able to step back from Pietro’s influence and put her own desires first.
Since this point, the closeness of the twins’ relationship has veered back and forth, with both characters at times struggling with mental illness and making poor choices as a result. The bond between the two is enduring, though, and regardless of the frustrations they may feel, they will always be there for each other when required.
17. JOHNNY STORM AND SUE RICHARDS (STORM)
For some people, it’s hard enough seeing their family at the holidays and on special occasions. Spare a thought, then, for these brave souls that both live and work with their family. This is the situation with Johnny Storm and his sister Sue. Since the publication of “Fantastic Four” #1 in 1961, the two have been all but inseparable, serving together for all but brief periods. The dynamic between the two is interesting, at times being almost like mother and son rather than brother and sister. Part of the reason for this is the age gap, with Sue being several years older. Another reason is that when Johnny was growing up, Sue, for all intents and purposes, was his mom.
With their mother dead and their father imprisoned, it fell to Sue to look after Johnny and ensure that he still enjoyed a normal childhood. With Johnny often written as an irresponsible hothead, it’s not surprising that Sue is sometimes portrayed as being tired of his antics. Her efforts to push Johnny onto the path of responsibility have included making him COO of Fantastic Four Incorporated, in an attempt to give him some work ethic.
16. POWER PACK
Unless they’re members of the Waltons, most people would have some trepidation about forming a superhero team with their family. The Power family siblings didn’t have a choice in the matter, the four of them having their powers bestowed upon them by a dying alien. Aged between five and twelve when they first took on their superheroic identities, it’s not surprising that the siblings often argued about what course of action to take. Just as they should have been pulling together as a team, time and experience was pulling them apart. It’s a rare teenager that wants to spend much time with a younger sibling, regardless of the circumstance.
This friction between the children was initially shown through conflict over their powers, which only increased when the siblings swapped their powersets. More damaging was the decision of Alex, the oldest Power sibling, to absorb the powers of his siblings into himself, using this new powerset to join the New Warriors. Alex’s siblings were, understandably, less than pleased at this turn of events, and the breakdown in relations between the siblings was a major factor in his decision to quit the New Warriors and step back from the superhero life.
15. THE GUTHRIES
There must be something in the water in Cumberland County, Kentucky, because the Guthrie family have produced an impressively high number of mutants. Of the family’s nine children, five (Sam, Paige, Jay, Melody and Jeb) have developed a mutant ability. Unfortunately, all but Sam and Paige were depowered on M-Day. The addition of mutant powers means that the normal family dynamics between siblings are complicated. There is the rivalry between Sam and Paige, with Paige envious of his greater experience as a hero. There is the divide between the mutant siblings and those who have not developed powers (with one sibling, Joelle, becoming mixed up with the Friends of Humanity due to her jealousy). There is also the resentment of those, like Melody and Jeb, who have had to adjust to losing their special abilities.
It’s a bewildering mix of complications, but despite this, the Guthrie family still impresses as a strong family unit. Held together by the guiding hand of the family matriarch, Lucinda Guthrie, the Guthrie siblings may bicker and hold grudges, but at the end of the day, they’re family. Having lost their father and their brother, Jay, they’re fully aware of how precious these bonds are.
14. THE DESTINE FAMILY
Created by writer/artist Alan Davis in 1994, the Destine family were the stars of “Clandestine,” a series that revolved around the relationships of perhaps Marvel’s strangest family. A close-knit family they were not. The Destine siblings were often far apart in age — hundreds of years in some instances — and had a Djinn for a mother and an immortal absentee father. The siblings, having received long lifespans from their parents, had gradually drifted apart over the years, with the final schism being a dispute over whether their father had been justified in killing their brother, Vincent.
Family members were drawn back together when they were targeted by two evil groups. Reunited for the first time in years and with their father also returned home, Davis did a splendid job of showing the differing emotions that come with family reunions. For some siblings there was happiness, for some there was apprehension and for others there was anger. The most tragic situation was that of the young twins, Rory and Pandora, with their joy at seeing their father tempered by their hurt over his previous abandonment of them.
13. RICHARD AND ROBBIE RIDER
At the time of his creation in 1976, Richard Rider, better known as Nova: The Human Rocket, was a comparative rarity among Marvel heroes. Not only were both of his parents alive and happily married, but he also had a younger brother, Robbie. While Richard was very much a normal teen, struggling with combining his responsibilities as Nova, student, son and brother, Robbie was a genius who studied at MIT and later worked at Project Pegasus. Proceeds from a software programme he designed allowed him to purchase the Rider family home on Long Island, magnifying Richard’s inferiority complex.
The dynamic between the brothers is interesting because each envies what the other has. While Rich feels inferior to Robbie’s intellect, Robbie has long admired him for his actions as Nova. It was this admiration that prompted him to join the Nova Corps after the Worldmind began to seek out new recruits. Rich was initially horrified by this turn of events — not least because of his concern over the reaction of their parents — but after Robbie proved himself in conflict, he resigned himself to the idea, bringing the brothers closer together than ever before.
12. TONY AND ARNO STARK
For years after his 1963 debut, Tony Stark was portrayed as a stereotypical only child, being prone to selfishness and often not playing well with others. This all changed during Kieron Gillen’s run on “Iron Man,” where he revealed the existence of Tony’s “brother,” Arno Stark. The big reveal in this storyline wasn’t only that Tony Stark had a previously unknown brother; it was also the fact that Arno was revealed to be the biological son of Howard and Maria Stark, with Tony being adopted.
For someone whose world had been upended, Tony dealt with the realization rather well. When he eventually tracked Arno down, despite understandable awkwardness the meeting went well. Before long, the two brothers had joined forces to construct a futuristic city called Troy, utilizing their combined skills. With both men trying to prove their worth as the “real” son, a healthy sibling rivalry was soon established. Despite not being related by blood, the two shared many similar characteristics. They were both scientific geniuses, with Arno forced to wear an armored suit for life support, just as Tony had for so many years.
11. GENIS AND PHYLA-VELL
It’s rare to find a comic that has done as big a 180-degree turn as Peter David’s run on “Captain Marvel.” While the first volume of the title was very much a buddy comedy book between Captain Marvel and Rick Jones, the second volume was an altogether darker affair. It featured a Captain Marvel that had been driven mad by his cosmic awareness, becoming an unpredictable character who was feared rather than loved by the population at large. At the end of the first story-arc, Genis destroyed the universe. When he rebuilt it, there were a number of new features, including the existence of a younger sibling who was determined to take her brother’s place as Captain Marvel.
First appearing in “Captain Marvel” #16, the relationship between Genis and Phyla-Vell was awkward at best. She believed herself superior to him, feeling that regardless of whether his insanity had been cured, she was now a better candidate to possess the mantle of Captain Marvel. Ironically, neither sibling would find success with the role of Captain Marvel. Genis would join the Thunderbolts under the guise of Photon, and before being killed, Phyla-Vell would receive the Quantum Bands during the “Annihilation” crossover, becoming the new Quasar.
10. NORTHSTAR AND AURORA
The Beaubier twins may both have been members of the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight, but their journeys towards this point could not have been more different. After their parents were killed in a car crash when the twins were young, Jean-Paul was adopted by a well-off family. Self-confidence was never a problem for Jean-Paul and prior to joining Alpha Flight he would become a champion skier, competing at the Olympic Games. In contrast, Jeanne-Marie was raised at a religious girls school. When disciplined for telling teachers about her mutant power of flight, it was a trigger for the multiple-personality disorder that would plague her for years: her persona of a repressed women vying with that of an uninhibited extrovert.
The different personalities of the twins, as well as their separate upbringings, meant that they were not as dependent on each other as, say, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. However, the siblings did have the ability to generate light by holding hands with each other, although Aurora eventually asked for this power to be altered after becoming frustrated with her brother’s judgmental ways.
9. COLOSSUS AND MAGIK
First appearing in 1975’s “Giant-Size X-Men” #1, Colossus and Magik’s relationship has been tested by separation, betrayal and possession, but for better or worse the two siblings continue to be drawn back towards each other. As each other’s last reminders of a simpler life on their Collective farm, both have struggled to adapt to the changes that the other has gone through over the years. This is most apparent in the protective streak that Colossus has for his sister. His powers first manifested when he saved her from a runaway tractor and it was his his grief over her death from the Legacy virus that played a significant part in his quitting the X-Men to join Magneto’s Acolytes. Later, after Illyana had returned to the X-Men, he took on the power of Cyttorak in order to save her from further corruption.
The extent to which Pitor’s affections are reciprocated is a point of some debate. Illyana has spent so much of her life exposed to demons, sorcery and corruption that it’s sometimes hard to tell where the girl ends and the Darkchilde begins. After their actions as Phoenix avatars drove them apart once more, the siblings have recently become close once more in the pages of “Extraordinary X-Men.” Of course, it’s a safe bet that their relationship will continue to be tested in the years to come.
8. CLINT AND BARNEY BARTON
When Hawkeye first joined the Avengers, in “Avengers” #16, much of his backstory was still shrouded in mystery. The first substantial pieces were revealed in “Avengers” #64. Through the apparent ne’er-do-well Barney Barton, readers learned that Hawkeye’s name was Clint and that the two were brothers. It was soon revealed that the brothers had joined the carnival, where Clint was taken under the Swordsman’s wing and trained as an archer. He was left for dead after he witnessed the Swordsman committing a robbery, leaving Barney furious that Clint had turned down the chance of easy money.
In comics, as in real life, it’s not always apparent who the bad guys are. Barney was later resurrected by Egghead and subsequently trained in archery, taking on Clint under the guise of Trickshot. Despite this, he was still willing to help save Clint from going blind, agreeing to a bone marrow transplant to save his brother’s sight. The acclaimed “Hawkeye” series from Matt Fraction and David Aja heavily focused on the man behind the mask and it’s therefore fitting that Barney emerged as a key character in the book, reconciling with Clint and aiding him in his struggle to protect his friends and neighbors.
7. WONDER MAN, GRIM REAPER, VISION
If there’s a pair of Marvel characters that practically define sibling rivalry, it’s Simon and Eric Williams. One a criminal, one a hero; one the golden boy of the family, one the black sheep; both making bad choices due to their love for each other. Eric (The Grim Reaper) may be a villain, but his love for Simon has often helped humanize him, despite his often monstrous appearance. When growing up, the brothers’ mother would belittle Eric while constantly praising Simon. While this understandably led to resentment from Eric, the family bonds were still strong. It was this connection that first brought the Grim Reaper into contact with the Avengers in “Avengers” #52, seeking vengeance for Simon’s death.
A further layer to the rivalry has historically been the fact that the Vision was brought to life through the use of Simon’s brain patterns, causing the Reaper to veer between acceptance, tolerance and hatred of the Vision. His stance was hardened when Simon returned to life, making him perceive Vision as an inferior copy. It’s this belief that led to the Reaper’s latest “death.” In the “Vision” series, he attacked the Vision family home, only to be killed by the Vision’s wife.
6. BRIAN AND JAMIE BRADDOCK
Although Brian Braddock (aka, Captain Britain) is the twin brother of the X-Man known as Psylocke, in many ways it’s his relationship with their older brother Jamie that has had the greater impact on his life. Jamie’s life has been a study in missed opportunities and tragedy, with Brian feeling a great responsibility for his part in it. Jamie was older than his two siblings, but got himself into debt while heading Braddock Industries. He became involved in illegal activities in Africa to pay his debts, which resulted in him being captured by Doctor Crocodile, an African scientist, but when Brian learnt the truth about Jamie’s actions he abandoned him to his fate.
This was the turning point for both brothers. The torture Jamie suffered fractured his mind, unleashing his reality-warping powers. Believing the world around him was merely a dream, he attacked Excalibur before being stopped by Psylocke’s psychic blade. During Chris Claremont’s second return to “Uncanny X-Men,” it was Jamie that brought Psylocke back to life. And what thanks did Jamie receive for this? Psylocke telepathically forced Brian to break Jamie’s neck, in an attempt to end the threat of his future self.
5. SCOTT AND ALEX SUMMERS
It’s natural for siblings to want to forge their own path and be judged on their own achievements, rather than constantly being compared against a successful sibling. Unfortunately for Alex Summers, he keeps getting pulled back into the world of superheroics, where his brother Scott is an (in)famous figure in the mutant community. The pattern was set early, with Alex preferring to embark on graduate studies rather than serve as an X-Man. This was in sharp contrast to Scott, for whom being an X-Man was life. When Alex did eventually join the team in “Uncanny X-Men” #219, it was largely because he had nowhere else to go.
The brothers rarely served on the same X-Team, but Alex still struggled to define himself against Scott. When he became leader of X-Factor, he constantly second-guessed himself, frustrated that he was not a natural leader like Cyclops. Of course, Alex has many admirable points that Scott doesn’t, including being more of a people person, but as with many siblings it’s always difficult not to focus on perceived shortcomings rather than achievements.
4. CHARLES XAVIER AND CAIN MARKO
The tortured relationship between the stepbrothers, Charles and Cain, is one that is largely fueled by resentment and envy. Cain’s father, Kurt, became Charles’ stepfather after marrying Sharon Xavier. Kurt was a strict disciplinarian who often beat Cain. A shared enemy could have brought the new brothers together, but instead Kurt favored Charles while continuing to beat Cain, fueling Cain’s resentment and encouraging him to bully Charles in retaliation. The brothers later served together in the US Army and it was during this time that Cain found the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak that would transform him into the unstoppable Juggernaut.
When Cain first appeared in “Uncanny X-Men” #12, the antagonistic relationship between him and Charles was plain to see. There was evident resentment, certainly, but also perhaps a hint of jealousy that, with his X-Men, Charles had found the family denied to Cain. It’s perhaps no coincidence that in later appearances, Cain went on to establish a close — almost brotherly — partnership with Black Tom Cassidy.
3. THANOS AND STARFOX
Thanos and Starfox are both sons of Mentor, leader of the Titanian colony, but the two could not be more different. While Thanos has long worshiped death and embraced destruction, Starfox is a more lighthearted soul, forever embracing pleasure in all its forms. In appearance, the differences are also clear: while Thanos carries the Deviant gene and would never win a “hunk of the month” contest, Starfox is rarely found without a lady on his arm or in his bedroom, with his powerset including the ability to stimulate the pleasure centers of an individual’s brain.
It’s difficult to blame Thanos for feeling overshadowed by his brother, feeling jealousy for the way he interacts with others. Unfortunately for Starfox, as a supervillain, Thanos has often taken this resentment to ridiculous levels. He has often attempted to kill Starfox and in Dan Slott’s She-Hulk run, used a Thanos clone to enact a complicated scheme that saw Starfox blamed for Thanos’ devotion to death.
2. BLACK BOLT AND MAXIMUS
The King of the Inhumans and his unstable brother have never been close, with their rivalry dating back to childhood. Partly, the feud stems from resentment on the part of Maximus. Due to the destructive effect of his sonic power, Black Bolt had been kept in a protective chamber until he was 16, leaving Maximus as the focus of his parents’ attentions. When Black Bolt was finally released, Maximus resolved to make him lose control of his power so that he would again be sent away. The final nail in their relationship was some months later, when Black Bolt saw Maximus conspiring with a Kree emissary. Attempting to stop the Kree craft, he blasted it out of the sky with his scream. It crashed on the parliament building, killing the boys’ parents and affecting Maximus’ sanity.
With the numerous times that Maximus has fought his brother in the years since, regularly conspiring to take the throne or overthrow Black Bolt’s rule, it’s amazing how tolerant Black Bolt has been, giving him chance after chance. As the brothers have never been close, it’s likely that Black Bolt’s guilt over the destruction of their family plays a significant part.
1. THOR AND LOKI
A psychiatrist would have a field day attempting to make sense of the tangled relationship between the Thunder God and the Trickster. No two Marvel siblings are so bound together in the popular imagination, with the focus on their relationship in Marvel’s films bringing their dynamic to a whole new audience. Although both men were raised in Odin’s household, only Thor is Odin’s biological son. Loki was the son of a vanquished Frost Giant, who Odin took in and raised as his own. Loki wasn’t the typical Asgardian warrior, being more suited to cunning and guile rather than strength and bravery. As a result, he often felt out of place in Asgard, fueling his desire to seize control.
Over the years, Loki has fought both for and against Asgard, routinely ensnaring his brother in his schemes. Despite this, it’s clear that part of Thor still fondly remembers the brother he once had and the experiences they have shared, as shown by the way he interacted with Loki when the Trickster had been reborn as a young child.
There you have our picks for Marvel’s feuding siblings. Do you agree with our placings or have we missed any of note? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!
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