Q & A 7: What is your favorite friendship in comics?

In Q & A, a semi-regular feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

What is your favorite friendship in comics?

Anika

There are a lot of great relationships based on friendship. There’s the adorableness of Jean and Wanda in X-Men: First Class. There’s the odd affection Logan has for his girls. There’s any variation of the duos in the Fantastic Four. But all of those share a simplicity, a rightness that, while wonderful, is not, well, complicated enough to be my favorite. In that vein, there is one friendship that stands out….because it is hardly a friendship at all.

Bruce Wayne may be said to have many friends or no friends; Batman may be said to have many friends or no friends. Bruce Wayne may be said to have had three fathers; Batman may be said to have had three enablers. One person fits into each category: trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth. This is my favorite relationship because it is complicated, intricate bordering on imprudent. Alfred, of anyone and everyone knows best that Bruce Wayne is really quite insane. But Alfred also knows Bruce better than anyone; he might be the only person to know Bruce and not just Batman — and he believes, right or wrong, that helping is how best to help. Here is an illustration of my point:

Girlfriends come and go, villains will always be there — and so will Alfred, to take care of things.

Caroline

My favorite friendship is the Hal Jordan/Oliver Queen team-up that Denny O’Neill introduced for 1970’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow series. The premise of this now-legendary run was for the traditional conservative Hal and the revolutionary liberal Ollie to have adventures that would touch on the kind of political and social issues that comics of that era usually avoided. Looking back, whether the political content of the series seems embarrassing or unintentionally hilarious or totally awesome depends on your tolerance for anvillicious social commentary in fiction. But what’s undeniable is the great dynamic O’Neill created between these characters, which didn’t always fall along predictable lines. For all his concern for the welfare of man, Ollie could be a combative jerk, too busy with his own causes to notice his sidekick’s drug problem; Hal could be oblivious about larger issues of social justice, but he was also shown as a fundamentally decent guy, willing even to stand up to his cosmic Guardians if he thought they were doing the wrong thing. Most importantly, these unlikely friends managed to complement each others’ good and bad qualities perfectly so that — many writers and eras and a couple deaths and resurrections later — the relationship still works. In fact, as the recent DCU: Decisions comic shows, they’re still having fistfights over politics. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Jennifer

Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I started reading comics right at the beginning of the Civil War crossover, but I didn’t actually catch up with that storyline until after I’d read the entire run (up to that point) of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers. Those were the comics where I met the Avengers, and those were the comics where, more specifically, I met Captain America and Iron Man. In the end, I couldn’t call either series a masterpiece, but there was one thing they consistently got right: portraying the painful deterioration of the once-great friendship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

At that point, I hadn’t read the glory days of Steve and Tony’s friendship. I hadn’t read Iron Man #172, where Steve saves an alcoholic Tony from a burning flophouse. I hadn’t read the early Avengers days, where they formed the core of the team. I hadn’t read the Armor Wars, their first big fight, or Operation Galactic Storm, their second. I hadn’t read their significant interactions in Avengers Vol. 3, or any of the many times they had dropped everything and anything to help each other out, whether that help meant providing a shield replacement or saving each others’ lives. And yet, Civil War struck a chord — particularly Christos Gage’s Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War oneshot, and Brian Michael Bendis’ heartbreaking coda, The Confession. As I watched these men try to salvage their friendship in spite of all of their mounting differences, and then watched as Tony Stark mourned the death of his best friend to the point of admitting that everything he did during Civil War “wasn’t worth it” because of that death, I knew their friendship must have been something special to begin with. And so I began to investigate their history — and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Sigrid

There’s no question that the friendship I hold closest to my heart is the bond between Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers-Grey. Kitty was (rightfully) a little weirded out by Rachel at first. And Rachel always has had a problem expressing how she feels about the people she cares for in a manner that is appropriate. But over time Rachel’s adoration of Kitty — fostered in her tortured childhood — slowly changed into a real friendship. Kitty slowly taught Rachel how to smile, how to dance, how to enjoy life’s moments. Kitty gave Rachel a steadiness and a moral compass the damaged young Phoenix desperately needed. Rachel, in return, adored Kitty no matter how petulant or irascible Kitty was. Rachel ignored Kitty’s fits of jealousy and insecurity and just kept on caring for her best friend, no matter what.

The initial phase of their friendship ended badly, with Kitty failing to notice Rachel desperately needed her help. But on Phoenix’s return the girls stayed together in Excalibur until Rachel’s second death-like departure — this time to defeat and destroy the terrifying future of Rachel’s origin.

Kitty was instrumental in Rachel’s third round in the Marvel Universe, when Pryde and the X-Treme X-Men rescued Rachel from Bogan.

As things currently stand, Kitty is dead/not-dead/lost to us, hurtling through space. Rachel is lost as well, hiding with Korvus, on the run from the Shi’ar. They are both lost and alone, in the depths of the galaxy. I just know that they will find each other again.

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What about you? What is your favorite friendship in comics?

  • Margot

    I love all of your choices, but my answer is The Titans. All of them. The original five, who will always be bound by something. The Wolfman/Perez era team, who totally define what the Titans mean. The Young Justice kids, who saved the world by playing baseball and who were always there when they were needed, even if they weren’t active superheroes.

    No matter what they went through, even when they didn’t particularly *like* each other very much, they still loved each other.

    Yeah, those Titans kids? Those are my favorites.

  • Twyst

    It hasnt been explored that much, but i like the friendship between Ms Marvel and Jessica Jones. They seem honest with one another, and they feel real to me when they are talking. Ms Marvel has been thru a lot of crap, and so has Jessica, and Ms Marvel takes Jessica in stride. When Ms Marvel was having her crisis over being the best of the best, she had lunch with Jessica (i believe), and i really liked that :)

  • sigrid

    @Twyst The Jessica Jones – Carol Danvers friendship is one of my favorites. :)

  • Anika

    @Twyst – Absolutely. I read somewhere that some people read Alias and thought Carol Danvers was introduced there as Jessica Jones’ friend — which is ridiculous (she was introduced in 1969!) but says something about how special that friendship is to both their characters.

  • Chilly Willy

    Does family count as friendship? I love how the Endless interact (or don’t interact) with each other in the Sandman series.

    In Desolation Jones there is a friend of his, Emily. Even in the very short bit we see, there is something deep going on between them. I would love to see that developed in a new story. [Warren? Hello, you bastard! Write some more D Jones please.]

  • Julia L

    Margot: I agree about the Titans. At least the eras I knew (early years and Wolfman-Perez), there was always a solid friendship amongst the team. Even when some relationships were falling apart, they’d fall back on others. I loved the Dick & Donna friendship, especially during the “Who is Donna Troy?” story. She trusted him and could him things she couldn’t tell her husband. The best team books always had that element of friendship for me.

    For other friendships: I’m gonna go with my favorite Earth-2 friendship of Huntress and Power Girl. I really liked the old stories with them working together and dealing with their legacy issues. (I’m not really liking the New Earth/New Earth-2 stuff in JSA but that’s Geoff Johns writing issues more than anything.)

    Damn it’s really harder than I thought to pick one friendship.

  • I’m going to go awesome-school and say Nightcrawler and Colossus. I could just be thinking it in my head that they are the best-of-friends, but I think they are just the two non-Americans and they kind of realized that and just stick together.

    And plus, they’re both plain ol’ bad-asses so that could be why I lump them both together.

  • ilyena-sylph

    *laughs*

    Well right this minute, my favorite comics friendship is one that doesn’t exist anymore.

    And it’s Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke the Terminator and Gar Logan, aka Beast Boy/Changeling.

    Once upon a time, the two of them were damned good friends, even if it did take both of them slipping over lines a little.

    I really miss them and their odd, deep, occasionally combative combat-born friendship. Mostly because it’s one of the few relationships in the Titans I absolutely cannot turn romantic, no matter how I look at it.

  • Okay, Jen knows the answer to this one already, but Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. They had more fun together than pretty much anyone else in comics ever, and they loved each other enough to risk breaking the universe (both of them, several times) to save each other. And, I mean, how many other characters have run off together to start a wacky island theme resort? Just Blue and Gold!