In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
Who are your favorite siblings in comics?
Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Everything about them is utterly perfect. Completely screwed up and pathologically destructive! But perfect.
Pietro has always been overprotective of Wanda. Something about her brings out that side of everyone — not just Pietro but Magneto, Steve, Carol, Tony, Clint, Simon, Ultimate Scott, everyone, they rush to defend and protect her. She can blink and alter the fabric of the world but everyone (except, notably, Vision) instinctively takes on the role of knight protector. Pietro is just best at it. Pietro does not care about right, wrong, or the lives of anyone else. He puts Wanda first, last, and only. That level of devotion is terrifying. It’s insane. It’s wrong. But also beautiful.
And ultimately, worth saving.
There’s no family drama like Summers family drama.
Either Scott Summers (Cyclops) or Alex Summers (Havok) has been an anchor of various X-Men teams over the years. You rarely see the two of them in the same book at the same time, though, because functionally they are more or less interchangeable (tall, serious white dude, radiating energy powers and emotional trauma and affection for cosmically volatile women.)
I’ve always found it funny that fans tend to declare their loyalty for one Summers brother or another when they are essentially the same character. Switch out ‘chosen as leader at a young age’ angst for ‘I don’t get as much respect as my older brother’ angst, and you’re essentially telling the same stories. Despite their similarities, oddly, the brothers butt heads a lot. Though perhaps that’s only odd if you’ve never had a sibling, or known anyone who does. Granted, they are often fighting because one has been mind controlled by supervillains, or seduced by the other’s demon-possessed wife. Still, their clashes manage to have the familiar ring of sibling rivalry. In the end, of course, they’re only doing it out of love.
Firefly‘s Jayne Cobb said it best, dictating a mock diary entry from his sibling shipmates Simon and River Tam: “Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy.” For some reason, a good number of mixed-gender sibling stories are about a boy who is a little bit full of himself and a girl who is a little bit crazy. The trope goes back at least as far as Laertes and Ophelia and continues across media today in pairs like High School Musical‘s Ryan and Sharpay. But comics seem to have a special fondness for this trope, especially in the portrayal of fraternal twins. Anika already addressed one such pair in Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, but perhaps my favorite incarnation is the Beaubier Twins, Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie — otherwise known as Northstar and Aurora.
Like the other pairs, Northstar and Aurora are appropriately pompous and crazy. But they have other traits that make them more interesting both as individuals and as a pair. Northstar, who just moved in with his boyfriend in Marjorie Liu’s excellent first Astonishing X-Men issue, was one of the first openly gay characters in comics (and the first notable out superhero). Aurora, meanwhile, struggles with actual multiple personality disorder brought on by a traumatic childhood (not just metaphorical “craziness”), and when the stories about her mental illness go beyond the basic madonna/whore dichotomy of the bold and sex-crazed Aurora vs. the shy and devoutly Catholic Jeanne-Marie, they are frequently fascinating. (See the recent, sadly-cancelled Alpha Flight series by Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak.) But also interesting are the ways in which Northstar’s and Aurora’s stories have been consistently entwined. They have rarely had separate plotlines, and their identical mutant powers actually magnify when they touch; even their classic costumes are identical. Individually, they are fascinating characters, but writers seem to recognize that they work better together than apart, and it’s for this reason that they rank as my favorite superhero sibling pair.
My favorite sibling pair in comics is Rachel and Nathan Christopher Summers. Not Rachel and Cable, but Rachel and the baby boy, Maddie and Scott’s son. Rachel promises the kid, with every fiber of her being, that she will never let him come to harm. It’s a ridiculous, futile promise, and she knows that even as she makes it. But she’s an X-Man, and the ridiculous and futile are her birthright.
WELL! In a turn of events, all of our replies this week happened to be Marvel! And, mostly X-Men! Next week, then, we’ll bring you our non-X-Men answers to the same question. (What can we say? We have our preference!)
So what about you? Who are your favorite siblings in Marvel comics?