Comic books have challenged traditional relationships for longer than you might think. Sure, there was Superman and Lois, Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, but there has also been the love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica since their debut in the 1940s. Still, traditional marriage was put on display when Reed Richards married Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four Annual #3 from 1965. Even Superman tied the knot with Lois in the 1996 Superman: The Wedding Album book.
Over the years, as comic book creators attempted to make their characters more “realistic,” these sorts of relationships would become less common, with the hero often having multiple love interests. Batman went through numerous girlfriends and fiancees and Thor went back and forth between Jane Foster and the Lady Sif. The Modern Age of comics, and the fall of the Comics Code Authority, made the flawed, even immoral hero mainstream, because not even superheroes are perfect every hour of the day. To this end, and for our purposes today, we eventually saw many heroes and their significant others being unfaithful to each other. Here are 15 unfaithful comic book characters who couldn’t keep it in their pants. We’ve ranked the entries from the most innocuous to most heinous.
15 JEAN GREY
While everyone will always remember Cyclops as the cheater, Jean Grey wasn’t the most faithful partner either. The Wolverine-Jean Grey dynamic had been building for years until things really took the next step in the ‘80s and ‘90s. We can all admit how entertaining the Jean-Scott-Logan love triangle was, especially when it was played out on the X-Men animated television series.
During Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, the two have a few steamy moments together. One such case was when Wolverine and Jean were sent into another dimension in Uncanny X-Men #394. Believing they are about to die, the two share a kiss. In Morrison’s own New X-Men #117, the two kiss again following the discovery of Scott’s psychic affair with Emma Frost. It’s just more evidence that these two should have gotten together.
Before Aquaman and Mera became the united (and deposed) leaders of the Atlantean people, their marriage had been anything from perfect. Following the death of their child at the hands of Black Manta in Adventure Comics #452 from 1977, Mera turns against her husband and the two become estranged. She eventually goes off to live in another dimension, while Aquaman is left to pick up the pieces in Atlantis.
Arthur starts up a relationship with Dolphin, but is soon shocked to see that Mera has returned to him in Aquaman #12. She actually catches them in the act, however — after a brief scuffle — she seems to have forgiven his actions. Aquaman and Mera get back together and Dolphin ends up in a relationship with Tempest. Everyone seemed happy, no harm no foul.
13 JEAN LORING
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Scientist works late, buries himself in his work, wife runs into the arms of another man. Ray Palmer was so busy working in his lab and fighting crime as the Atom that he neglected his marriage. His wife, Jean Loring, made an effort to keep them together but things fell apart sooner than she was willing to admit.
Jean had been cheating on her husband with another man, crafting intricate lies to cover up the affair for months. When Ray finally caught them in the act in Sword of the Atom #1, everything went up in smoke. He became so distraught over the whole thing that he actually ran away from human civilization, discovered a city of tiny people in the jungle, and fell in love with their princess.
Death is a cruel mistress. She’s also a crueler lover. After falling under the thrall of Death herself, Thanos has done everything in his power to impress her. She has manipulated him, tricked him, and even cheated on him. Death had a relationship with Deadpool for a time, leading her two lovers to fight over her. In Captain Marvel, things went to a whole new level when she cheated on him with another embodiment of death.
In issue #17 of the Peter David and Jim Starlin series, Thanos joins forces with Thor and Genis to stop Walker, the embodiment of death from another galaxy. Lady Death had seduced him and manipulated him into killing every living being who worshipped him. He too was spurned by his lover and came to Earth looking for revenge.
11 PEPPER POTTS
Unlike what we’ve seen in the movies, Pepper does not end up with Iron Man in the end. Following an ongoing love triangle between Tony Stark and Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts eventually settles down with Happy in 1967. The two leave Stark International to live a happy life in the suburbs of Cleveland with their adoptive children. However, the marriage would not last and things fell apart.
As it turned out, Pepper ended up having an affair with an old high school boyfriend after she thought Happy was sleeping with someone else. Following their divorce, the two rejoined Tony Stark at his company. They were able to reconcile and remarry for a time, but Happy ultimately meets his end during the events of Civil War.
Late in Kyle Rayner’s solo adventures, the last Green Lantern travels into space in order to help protect the universe. In the process, he leaves his then-girlfriend Jade behind on Earth. Later on, when Kyle finally returns home, he enters his apartment expecting Jenny to be right there waiting for him to pick things back up. Instead, he finds her sharing his apartment with another man.
Once the two fight it out, it becomes clear that after Kyle was gone for several months, Jade believed that their relationship was over. She had met someone else and moved on, so it was unfair for Kyle to blame her for betraying him. Despite the heated argument, the two amicably part ways and Rayner moves out on his own.
In Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye #9 from 2013, Clint Barton becomes involved with a woman named Darlene Penelope Wright, AKA Cherry. The Tracksuit Mafia comes after her, and Hawkeye steps in. She apparently shot a guy and is now in deep trouble. Of course, the two sleep together despite Clint knowing better. Things then get complicated for him, as usual.
What makes it complicated? First, he ends up getting arrested for her and becomes involved in a potential murder. In order to protect the Avengers, Black Widow, Mockingbird, and Spider-Woman look into the matter. Then, Jessica — his kind-of, sort-of girlfriend — tracks Clint down when she finds out the truth. She hits him (a lot) and breaks things off with him. On her way out, she tells Kate Bishop to stay far away from Hawkeye.
8 ULTIMATE THOR
In The Ultimates 3, Thor trades his soul to Hela in order to allow Valkyrie and Captain America to return to the land of the living. In Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, Thor remains in Valhalla while his love is running around with the Ultimates back on Earth. Hela offers him a deal: if he gives her a son, she will allow him to leave.
While this was all happening, Valkyrie was being manipulated by Amora and Loki. The Enchantress shows her lover in mid-coitus with Hela, which only leads to more heartbreak. Of course, the Queen of Hel lies and Thor is unable to return to Earth despite giving her what she wants. He must ultimately wait for Valkyrie to die in order to face Loki in battle.
In Steve Englehart and Richard Howell’s The Vision and the Scarlet Witch from 1985, the titular characters live in a suburban New Jersey home. In issue #6 of the series, the couple throw a party and invite Wanda’s brother Quicksilver and his wife the Inhuman Crystal. While Wanda and Pietro are off dealing with their father, Crystal spends most of the night with Norman Webster, another guest at the party.
The two eventually begin an affair until Crystal suffers from a mysterious illness and is left in a comatose state. Worried with grief, Quicksilver is already on edge until he learns that Norman knows more than he’s letting on. Convinced that he’s responsible for Crystal’s condition and later learning of the affair, Pietro goes on the assault, attacking Norman and starting an all out brawl with the Inhuman royal family.
6 JAMES GORDON
In the seminal Batman: Year One, we discover that James Gordon, despite his heroism, is actually a very flawed man. He transplants his very pregnant wife to the dangerous Gotham City in the middle of the summer and proceeds to bury himself in his work. He ends up spending a lot of time with his new partner Sarah Essen, and the two naturally start an affair.
When Barbara originally found out, she stayed with her husband for a time. However, she would eventually leave Gordon and move back to Chicago to raise their child on her own. Gordon later reconnected with Essen and the two were married before she was killed by the Joker. This affair has been a blemish on an otherwise noble character for years.
5 INVISIBLE WOMAN
No marriage has been rockier than the union between Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Usually, Mister Fantastic spends too much time in the lab, leaving the Invisible Woman to seek out affection elsewhere. She has canoodled with Namor, Black Panther, and even Dr. Doom on several occasions. Doom, at least, has had to alter reality to make this happen.
Sue has a long history with Namor, spanning multiple decades and various continuities. When Reed is believed to have died in Fantastic Four #381, she meets with the King of Atlantis, and even though she believes her husband might still live, the two share a romantic kiss in Namor #50. They also come together in the Marvel Knights Fantastic Four title and make out in the Ultimate Universe.
4 GREEN ARROW
Absolutely everyone saw this coming. The playboy millionaire who sleeps around just couldn’t help himself, despite the fact that he was in a committed relationship. In Judd Winick and Phil Hester’s run on Green Arrow, Oliver Queen is introduced to the niece of Jefferson Pierce, the hero known as Black Lightning. At the time, Black Canary was out of town and Green Arrow was looking to get some.
Despite Connor Hawke and Mia Dearden’s clear disapproval of Oliver’s flirtatious behavior around the young Joanna Pierce, our hero made a move anyway. The two finally slept together in issue #28, and Connor later point blank challenged his father for cheating on Dinah. A whole two issues later Joanna is murdered by an assassin, and it was all Ollie's fault.
3 DICK GRAYSON
During Infinite Crisis, Nightwing is mortally wounded and nearly dies in the line of duty. Nightwing Annual #2 from 2007 tells the story of Dick Grayson’s rehabilitation from his injuries. He is helped by Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl, and the two reminisce about their history and how they grew apart after being so close.
In a flashback to the time after Barbara is paralyzed by the Joker, Dick finally returns home from his time on Tamaran to see how his old flame is doing. In that moment, the two rekindle their love and sleep together. The next morning, however, Dick realizes what he has done and actually hands her an invitation to his and Starfire’s wedding. Barbara, of course, is devastated and throws the paper back in his face.
Cyclops has always been a terrible husband. After marrying the clone of Jean Grey, he abandoned her and their son, and she turned evil. For years, both Cyclops and Jean Grey were defined by their love for each other, and their marriage in 1994 only cemented that status. By 2001, everything came crashing down around them when Grant Morrison came aboard for the New X-Men series.
During this series, we witnessed the breakdown of the Scott and Jean dynamic. It was discovered that Scott had been having a psychic affair with Emma Frost, causing Jean to distance herself from her husband. When she later becomes one with the Phoenix Force, Jean gives her blessing to Scott and Emma, encouraging them to start a proper relationship.
1 GWEN STACY
In the storyline “Sins Past” by J. Michael Straczynski that started in 2004’s The Amazing Spider-Man #509, Peter Parker learns that his ex-girlfriend Gwen Stacy had an affair with Norman Osborn just before her death. Gwen gave birth to twins and planned to raise them with Peter before Osborn tried to kill her.
The news of this betrayal hurt Spider-Man deeply, especially considering who she had slept with. Her children, Gabriel Stacy and Sarah Stacy, have turned up on several occasions. Gabriel, notably, took on the role of the Grey Goblin and American Son. As much as fans look back on this story arc with disdain, Straczynski has gone on record regretting the decisions that were made and hoped “One More Day” would ultimately retcon it from existence.
Sound off in the comments and let us know what what other characters have been unfaithful!