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12 Superheroes Whose Best Friend Turned Into Their Archnemesis

November 23, 2020 304 votes 45 voters 1.8k views12 items

List RulesVote up the comic book friendships that are surprisingly toxic.

Good characters turning bad is nothing new in comic books - or really any form of dramatic fiction - but it takes an especially cruel twist to turn a best friend into an archnemesis. And yet, that seems to keep happening to those crime-fighting caped crusaders who patrol the pages of Marvel and DC Comics. 

Nothing hurts more than a former BFF becoming a supervillain, but nothing adds more pathos to a superhero battle either, and so it’s come to pass plenty of times. In fact, some of the most evil villains in comic books used to pal around with some of the most prominent heroes. Occasionally, these bad breakers can be redeemed and brought back to the forces of good - but usually, they find it’s more fun to stay on the dark side.

Remember to vote up the most surprisingly toxic comic book friendships.

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  • Though they didn’t meet until college, Peter Parker and Harry Osborn quickly became the best of friends. Their relationship was eventually complicated by the fact that Harry’s father was the Green Goblin, archnemesis of Peter’s alter ego, Spider-Man. But what really complicated it was Harry proceeding to become the Green Goblin himself on two separate occasions, then croak, then come back to life as an even deadlier supervillain.

    Falsely believing Spider-Man had slain his father, Harry snapped when he learned his BFF had been the wall-crawler all along. He put on his father’s costume, hopped on his glider, and targeted Peter’s apartment. Without any of Norman Osborn’s trademark goblin-strength, however, Harry was easily bested by Spidey - beaten into amnesia, in fact.

    When those memories inevitably resurfaced, Harry took the time to re-create his father’s Goblin Formula and became the Green Goblin for real. His plotting and scheming eventually saw Peter and Mary Jane Watson trapped in a building that was about to explode, but Harry had second thoughts and gave his life to save them, sacrificing himself while calling Peter his “best friend.”

    Years later, Peter and Mary Jane sold their marriage to Mephisto, and one of the many side effects was Harry coming back to life. Harry remained a staunch friend and ally of Peter thereafter - and a vocal opponent of his dad - until he revealed himself as Kindred, a new supervillain and the source of more than 50 issues of misery for Spider-Man.

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  • After surviving the Holocaust, Max Eisenhardt changed his name to Erik “Magnus” Lehnsherr and began traveling the world. In time, he settled in Israel, where he volunteered his time at a psychiatric hospital for fellow victims of the Shoah. And that’s where he met Charles Xavier. 

    Strangely enough, both men frequently debated the politics of mutants, and if they could ever peacefully coexist with humans, without ever telling one another of their mutant powers. A strike by Hydra forced them to reveal their abilities, but Magnus's ruthless response also convinced Charles that their views were irreconcilable.

    The two parted ways, with Xavier going on to found the X-Men and Magnus taking on the name Magneto and forming the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Since then, the two have frequently gone head-to-head - Professor X once wiped Magneto’s mind clean - but they’ve also put their differences aside on numerous occasions, most recently in the founding of the mutant nation Krakoa.

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  • Batman's Childhood Pal Thomas Elliot Became Hush To Get 'Revenge' For Batman's Father Saving His Mother's Life
    Photo: DC Comics

    Prior to the tragedy that would come to define Bruce Wayne's life, his childhood best friend was Thomas Elliot. But young Tommy secretly harbored great hatred for the Wayne family because Bruce’s father had saved Tommy’s mother from the near-fatal car collision that claimed her husband - a mishap that Tommy engineered!

    Elliot became a surgeon, but a chance encounter with the Riddler led to him to the discovery that Bruce Wayne and Batman were one and the same. Seeking revenge, Thomas took on the supervillain identity of Hush and started pulling strings in the background of Gotham, doing everything he could to make the Dark Knight's life a living hell.

    Batman eventually figured out Thomas's secret identity and defeated his old pal, but Hush has returned time and again to cause trouble, with his most notable scheme involving the literal removal of Catwoman’s heart from her chest.

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  • In comic book continuity, Bucky Barnes was the Winter Soldier for decades, but he was only in that role for less than a year of real-world time before being brought back to the side of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. For much of Steve Rogers's post-ice time as Captain America, Bucky was assumed deceased, making his sudden reappearance - as a brainwashed Soviet super-assassin no less - especially shocking to both Steve and the readers.

    Upon being woken from suspended animation in the modern era, the Winter Soldier established himself as an immediate and significant menace, slaying a couple of key Cap supporting characters and committing various acts of terror against the American people. Cap being Cap, he never gave up on his sidekick and best friend, and was eventually able to use the Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky’s memories. Not long after that, Bucky was wielding the shield himself, taking over as Captain America in Steve’s temporary absence.

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