Partnership in comics isn't something we tend to get a lot. We have couples and sidekicks by the buttload, but true platonic equal partnerships aren't as common. So I decided to sit down and knock out a few of my favorites. And two quick notes: First, no superhero sidekicks, so Batman and Robin ain't making it onto this list. And two, it has to be a partnership not just a friendship, although every entry on this list fulfills both of those categories.
10. Captain America & The Falcon
So I figured I'd start off with a classic partnership. One that was so darn classic that they RENAMED THE COMIC BOOK IT FORMED IN. That's right, Captain America became Captain America and The Falcon for a brief time because the Falcon was always there, so why not throw him up in the title?
Sam Wilson was a former criminal until he was found by the Red Skull. The Skull used a Cosmic Cube to brainwash Sam into becoming a superhero so he could be used as a sleeper agent to kill Captain America. The brainwashed Sam met Steve Rogers and the two united to fight crime as Captain America and the Falcon, alongside Sam's avian partner, an actual Falcon named Redwing. When the Red Skull returned and deprogrammed Falcon, Sam realized he liked being a hero with Steve and refused to betray his friend.
That's right, the power of friendship beats the power of Nazis with reality-warping cubes. From that point on, Steve and Sam's friendship was legendary, to the point where, when Steve lost his super soldier serum and couldn't go on being Captain America, there was no doubt it would be Sam who took over for him.
9. Cable & Deadpool
Cable and Deadpool were both unlikely successes born out of that half-decade of misfires that was the late nineties. The mere with a mouth and soldier of the future met in Deadpool’s first appearance and they immediately hit it off. And by "hit it off" I mean "tried to beat the hell out of each other". Over the years, what was once a vicious rivalry turned into a friendly one and then into a legitimate friendship. Mostly thanks to the incredible character work on their long running team-up series which saw both characters mature and grow significantly over its run.
By the end, the two had formed an incredible partnership that made both characters struggle to feel complete without each other. I’d even venture to call them the perfect bromance if the term bromance didn’t make me physically ill to type.
8. Spider-Man & Daredevil
Spider-Man and Daredevil don’t have THAT many team ups to their names, especially when compared to the rest of this list. But what they do have is “The Death of Jean DeWolff” easily the most underrated Spider-Man story of all time. Peter and Matt team up to go after the villainous psycho known as the Sin Eater in a story that is tense, terrifying, and incredibly entertaining. Plus, it sets some incredible groundwork for both characters.
Matt and Peter have a strange relationship, varying based on the writer. Sometimes they’re friends, sometimes they’re confrontational, and sometimes they just plain don’t like each other. But no matter the situation, seeing the web slinger and ol’ horned together defending the streets of New York always feels right.
7. Green Lantern & Green Arrow
You ever have that friend with whom you disagree on almost everything but your arguments keep you both centered? That friendship is best depicted in Green Lantern and Green Arrow.
Hal Jordan was your typical "˜50s conservative and Oliver Queen was (and is) the most liberal tree-hugger comics have ever birthed. For serious, we're talkin' about a dude who quit the Justice League because they were too busy stopping alien invasions to deal with the "real problems on the streets, man". But, for a time the dirty hippie bowman and possibly racist whitebread space cop road-tripped across the nation learning about each other and the world at large. Oh, and the "˜possibly racist' thing wasn't me editorializing, Green Lantern is confronted in the first issue for helping alien races over his own fellow man.
Later on Green Arrow learns that his sidekick, Speedy, is a drug addict. And no, I'm not making the obvious joke here because it is such an easy joke I'd feel guilty getting paid to write it. But the key here is that Ollie and Hal's friendship is owed to a mutual sense of discovery and learning from each other. It's why the Green Lantern/Green Arrow dynamic has stuck around to this day. Also because they both hate Hawkman. Who is a jerkface.
6. Power Man & Iron Fist
Power Man and Iron Fist are the fleeting trends of the "˜70s turned into two characters that outlived both those trends. Luke Cage, alias Power Man was a former prisoner, experimented on until he turned into an unstoppable badass wearing a really dumb outfit straight out of an exploitation flick. Danny Rand, alias Iron Fist, is basically the protagonist of a kung-fu movie with a fist that is like unto iron. Together they were the Heroes for Hire, by which I mean they did hero stuff when people paid them money to.
As time went on, they both evolved. Well, Cage evolved into his own character mostly thanks to his time as a New Avenger while Danny kept on punching people with his iron fist. The reason I love these two so much is that neither should still be relevant, but their alliance kept them relevant, arguably saving both characters through the power of friendship.
Also, Luke Cage and his wife Jessica Jones (yes, THAT Jessica Jones) named their kid "Danielle". Adorable.
5. Cassie Hack & Vlad
I will concede I have a pretty serious soft spot for Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash. I like horror comedy and I like charming series that end with emotional gut-punches (spoiler for a later entry on this list). But the Cassie/Vlad relationship is something incredibly special.
Cassie was the lone survivor of "The Lunch Lady", a brutal slasher who also happened to be Cassie's mom. Afterwards, she decided to go across America re-killing killers who've risen from the dead. Along the way, she meets Vlad, a deformed but kind man who is quite good with knives. Together they form a duo to be reckoned with.
The relationship between the two is complex and variable, shifting from protective to familial to one verging on romantic without ever crossing that line. Vlad and Cassie fight internal demons as well as quite a few external ones but the most important thing throughout the entire series is that relationship between the duo, ESPECIALLY towards the end of the book.
No I'm NOT crying right now, you're crying.
4. Quantum & Woody
Yes I have talked about Quantum and Woody before, but hey, they actually fit the subject of this list perfectly. I also might have picked this subject specifically so I could write about these two again. Aside from being the protagonists of one of the funniest comics of the last fifteen years, Quantum and Woody are also a great example of two characters who work well as partners.
Woody is the anti-authoritarian perpetual thirteen year old at heart. Eric (Quantum), on the other hand is the straight-laced professional who plays straight man to Woody's antics. After spending years apart, the adopted brothers are reunited by their father's death. As the result of an accident, they both gain superpowers at one horrible cost: they have to see each other every 24 hours or both will dissipate.
Woody is given the offensive powers of laserblasting while Eric gains the ability to create force fields. The perfect combination of offensive (both meanings of the term) and defensive (ditto), Quantum and Woody are barely friends, but I love "˜em both. Even though they hate each other. Plus, they have a goat.
3. Tommy Monaghan & Natt “The Hat”
Well, I'm already sobbing so we are off to a GREAT start. Ok, gimme a second.
Ok, here goes. (Oh, spoilers for Hitman, by the way). Tommy and Natt from Hitman, a series I've talked about a ton already but maybe you should go read already, are the best of friends. The two met in the marines and after an incident during the Gulf War, they became permanently bonded. And by "incident" I mean "Tommy and Natt accidentally shot a bunch of British SAS who were supposed to be on their side." That is what I like to call an oopsie.
After their return to American soil, Natt and Tommy took up jobs as hitmen in The Cauldron, the one Gotham neighborhood even Batman doesn't go to. The duo stand by each other no matter what, facing down everything from the end of the world to pissed off ex-soldiers, to zombie dolphins. They will never let each other down or back down from a fight, even if it isn't their fight. They're gonna stick together, even when it's time for Butch and Sundance, and even past that point.
2. Christian Walker & Deena Pilgrim
It was difficult not to make literally half of this list composed of detective duos, but I'm gonna let them all be represented by Walker and Pilgrim. Hailing from Bendis and Oeming's long-running near-perfect comic series Powers, Christian and Deena are partnered together as homicide detectives specializing in power crimes. As such, they investigate a hell of a lot of super murders.
Walker's seen-it-all cynicism is balanced out by Pilgrim's"¦ well, usually, she would be the innocent one, but Deena's really more of the less experienced peppy but still cynical one. She's also a lot more hot-headed than Walker, a fact that puts here in some very dark places as the series progresses.
Honestly, the duo's relationship starts off pretty formal and builds into a deeper friendship long the way. You really get the feeling they trust each other with their lives and neither one feels right without the other. It takes a special kind of person to yell "you're under arrest" at the dude with laser eyes floating in front of you and Walker and Pilgrim are bonded forever by that specialness.
1. Blue Beetle & Booster Gold
Sometimes a friendship changes both parties and makes them both immeasurably better overall. This is the case with Ted Kord and Michael Jon Carter, the bestest friends ever.
Booster was a time traveler from the future who came back in time to get rich and famous. Ted was a young inventor who inherited the mantle of the Blue Beetle and served as the inspiration for Nite Owl from Watchmen. Together they became the hijinx causin' double act from the excellent Justice League International.
The two kept getting into trouble and launching get rich quick schemes. They are the source of some of the best comic book moments of all time and I love them both. They both had solo series without each other, but like all perfect friendships, they complete each other. The egotistical Booster and the sarcastic Beetle are perfect foils for each other, so much so that I'd venture to call them the perfect partnership and the perfect friendship in comic book history.