The fictional trope of the protagonist having an evil sibling is a time-honored tradition - and superhero siblings are no exception to the rule. With most caped crusaders having at least a half-century of published history behind them, most have experienced the old “secret and sinister sibling” reveal a time or two - even if a lot of those rogue relatives go on to be ignored by subsequent creative teams.
Whether an individual crimefighter plies their trade for DC or Marvel Comics, they’re likely to have at least one family member somewhere in their list of archenemies. Whether they share one parent or two, or whether they’re born at the same time or years apart, siblings have a tendency to move toward opposite moral poles when it comes to the world of comic books. Oftentimes, the draw of inserting some familial drama into a superheroic plot is just too strong for a writer to resist.
- Photo: DC Comics
The existence of Wonder Woman’s twin brother, Jason - and the fact that they’re both the children of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus - wasn't revealed until a 2016 post-Rebirth storyline - but after that, the revelations started coming fast and furious. Jason and Diana initially get along just great - until he reveals that he’s in league with an individual known as Grail, the daughter of Darkseid.
Jason finds himself embroiled in a dark plot of Grail's that involves resurrecting her father, and that brings him into direct conflict with his sister. At the moment of truth, his better nature wins out and Jason prevents Grail from ending Wonder Woman’s life - though it’s yet to be firmly determined which side of the moral spectrum he’ll ultimately fall on.Are you surprised?
- Photo: Marvel Comics
Few even realize that Doctor Stephen Strange has a sibling - never mind one who’s a vampire known as Baron Blood. Victor Strange may not show up very often, but he always makes an impact when he does - both on readers and the necks of his targets. Having perished years before, Victor is placed in cold storage by a distraught Stephen - only to wake up years later as an undead being with an insatiable taste for blood.
Taking up the mantle of Baron Blood from a WWII-era rogue, Victor isn’t entirely in control of his actions as he comes into conflict with his sorcerer brother - making him a supervillain of the tragic variety. He ends up staking himself in the heart to prevent harm coming to his sibling in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #56 - and he hasn’t been back since.Are you surprised?
- Photo: DC Comics
Nobody does evil siblings like the Bat Family, and Barbara Gordon is no exception. Her brother - the oldest child of Jim Gordon, as featured in the iconic Batman: Year One - spends much of his life in psychiatric care, but he eventually gets out and embarks on a career as a serial slayer.
During the " Black Mirror" storyline, James Gordon Jr .’s misdeeds come to light - and he’s briefly brought to justice before escaping to terrorize Gotham City once again. At one point, Batgirl appears to slay her brother with a Batarang to the face, but he survives the experience - minus an eye. He later goes on to join Task Force X under the name of X-Strike - though there’s yet to be any hint that his motivations are anything but malevolent.Are you surprised?
- Photo: Marvel Comics
Reed Richards’s father, Nathaniel, is a time-traveler - and that’s led to all sorts of familial complications for the adventurer better known as Mr. Fantastic. Nathaniel is typically an ally of the Fantastic Four, but he’s also thrown a wrench into their works on a couple of occasions, including the time he reveals that Doctor Doom’s adopted son is actually Reed’s half-brother.
Kristoff Vernard is - according to Nathaniel, at least - the result of a time-bending affair with a Latverian woman - though he ends up orphaned and adopted by the semi-benevolent Doctor Doom. Kristoff goes on to spend some time on the Latverian throne in Doom’s absence, and at one point, even believes himself to be the real Doom - though, overall, he’s usually been shown to be a lot friendlier than his dear old dad. There’s yet to be much in the way of fallout from the revelation, but it has managed to add another layer of complexity to the already fraught relationship between Doom and Richards.Are you surprised?