Wow, is it that time already? Sometimes, you have to give a shout-out to the men who have raised us. But in comics, sometimes having a dad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For every Luke Cage, we get a Magneto — because villainous fathers have always been a time-honored trope in the comics community. So with that in mind, we at Blog@ decided to take a look and create a light-hearted, sometimes tongue-in-cheek (and obviously subjective) look at the top ten best and worst dads in comics!
The Top 10 Best Dads in Comics: With parental fatalities often being the impetus for superheroics, it’s tough to find a good dad in comics. But the good dads are often the best, even if they’re no longer with us. Let’s take some time to tip your hats to these great men in sequential art.
10. Ted Knight: Ted shows that it’s never too late to connect with your kids. Somewhat estranged from his son Jack until his son David is killed, Ted soon establishes a bond with his son through advice and adrenaline. While Jack first was all about himself, now he’s a hero, partially because of circumstance, but mainly because of the interaction he has with his dad.
9. Mr. Fantastic: While Reed Richards is a bit of an absent-minded, albeit good-hearted, space case, it’s clear how much he loves his kids. It’s one of the reasons he’s pushed himself as hard as he can go, to support his children, and while he can sometimes be a little distant, when push comes to shove, you know Franklin and Valeria come first to this super-stretchable polymath.
8. Wally West: When he had to make a work-related trip, he took his kids along for the ride. This might be a glib way of looking at Infinite Crisis, but that’s pretty much what happened — during his battle with Superboy-Prime, Wally was being sucked into another dimension. But he brought Jae, Iris, as well as his wife Linda along with, and raised his kids — despite their superspeed aging — in that parallel world. He has since fought the Speed Force itself — taking a hit on his own limitless speed — to save his children from its shackles. This guy? A great dad.
7. Luke Cage: A superstrong fella with steel-like skin, it’s a tribute to Brian Michael Bendis how soft this one-time Hero for Hire can be around his baby girl. Luke, despite having a rough-and-tumble existence with the Avengers, has done everything he can to protect his wife and child — even selling his soul to Norman Osborn to rescue her from the Skrulls. When the enemies in question are shapeshifters, it’s tough to give Cage some flak — the man seems so dedicated to his family first and foremost that he deserves a spot on the Top 10.
6. Blue Beetle’s father, Alberto Reyes: Ah, one half of my favorite parenting couple in comics. Alberto Reyes has served his country and helped his community, despite being an unsung hero in the sleepy town of El Paso, Texas. Yet when his son Jaime returned from a year’s absence — with a suit of alien armor, no less — Alberto was the one who embraced him as his son, even if the rest of the family was a bit freaked out. Alway a man to turn to and a shoulder to cry on, Alberto Reyes is the reason why Jaime Reyes is a hero.
5. Cable: On the run from time-traveling mutant Bishop, Cable has protected the Mutant Messiah — a baby he named Hope — by any means necessary. A very cool dynamic that has revitalized the character, because now he has something to fight for. If mutantkind survives, know that it rests not on Cyclop’s Machiavellian plans, but on the parenting chops of Nathan Christopher Summers.
4. Pat Dugan, aka Stripesy: If you can’t beat ‘em, ground ‘em. And if you can’t ground ‘em? Make sure they have protection. In Pat Dugan’s case, that protection is a 7-foot-tall armored robot known as S.T.R.I.P.E.S., as he pursued his stepdaughter Courtney when she assumed to mantle of the Star-Spangled Kid. Never quite comfortable with her superheroics, Dugan did the responsible thing, and watched her back, until she could receive some dedicated training from the JSA.
3. Uncle Ben: “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” Uncle Ben’s words have rung through Spider-Man’s psyche for years and years, as his unseen ghost continues to haunt comics to this day. He toiled ceaselessly to provide a life for his nephew, even bequeathing him his first microscope. I doubt Uncle Ben would approve of Peter squandering his life for the sake of Spider-Man, but his love and honesty made one of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe.
2. Jor-El: When the odds seemed hopeless, Jor-El chose life. Creating a spaceship for his infant son Kal-El, Jor-El knew that the plan had a million-to-one shot of working — but work it did. Jor-El seemed to think of everything, even implanting a crystal that would create Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Despite being turned down by the Science Council, Jor-El did preserve Krypton, until his son would save the Bottle City of Kandor from the ruthless Brainiac.
1. Jonathan Kent: The greatest dad in the history of comics — Pa Kent. When Superman had a problem, Jonathan was the one he went to. This was the person who made the “super” second only to the “man.” Teaching his son to use his powers for good instead of evil, Jonathan Kent’s parenting will stand the test of time, as his kind, gentle son Clark is Earth’s greatest hero.
The Top 10 Worst Dads in Comics: This was a bit of an easier list, only because villainous dads are sort of a trope when it comes to comics. But there are some heroic stragglers on the paternity queue, so let’s take a look at the demented and the dead-beat!
10. Batman — Y’know, it’d be cool if Bruce Wayne simply adopted kids on a Bradgelina level. But he takes them off the streets and allows them to accompany him on caped vigilantism. This has already messed up his kids pretty completely — Dick Grayson can’t hold down a steady job, Jason Todd had his head bashed in with a crowbar (but he got better), and he gave Tim Drake enough of an allowance to build his own twisted cloning facility in his basement after his best friend died. Bruce Wayne may give his kids everything, but even he can’t teach life skills. (Disclaimer: Devin Grayson and the Black Cat‘s versions of Batman would put him on the Great Dad list. But that isn’t the status quo. Curse you, canon!!)
9. Green Arrow — Kind of a jerk when it comes to kids. He ditched his ward, Speedy, and then when the teen started living up to his name with a heroin addiction, GA starts slapping him around. He doesn’t even stick around to help him quit — that was all Black Canary. But the kicker — the kicker — is that he was there when his son Connor was born, and still walked out on him, then pretending he was so surprised when his starry-eyed kid had followed in the family tradition.
8. Cyclops — Cyclops has more issues than Action Comics. (Comics zing!) After he couldn’t get with Jean Grey (not without a shovel in the dead of night, anyway), Scott Summers went for the next best thing: her clone, Madelyne Pryor. But when the Real Deal came back from the dead, Scott left Madelyne — and his newborn baby Christopher — to, um, “check up on Jean and make sure everything was okay.” By joining X-Factor and not telling his wife where he was going. He ended up making up for it in the future by raising young Cable into a freedom fighter, but has since waffled around whether or not he trusts his son’s judgment by sending X-Force after him, just to make sure he’s doing his job right. Between this and his tendency to cheat on his significant other (moving on from redheads to blondes with Emma Frost), Scott Summers’ mutant power is being an optic-blast-powered homewrecker.
7. Magneto — He unwittingly drafted his twin children — as well as many other young impressionable mutants — into his war with humankind, abusing and manipulating their trust at every turn. When push came to shove, he’s put his cause before his kids (even shooting Quicksilver in the knees in the Ultimate Universe). While he did step in to prevent the Avengers from taking down the Scarlet Witch, it’s too little, too late, as his vendetta against the human race would eventually twist and soil the actions of all his children — Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Polaris.
6. Omni-Man — At first he was a good guy, until his secret life came back to haunt him. Nolan Grayson was a bestselling author as well as the hero Omni-Man — but when his son Mark, aka Invincible, finally comes of age, Nolan decides to let the other shoe drop: he’s an advance scout for the Viltrumite Invasion. He proceeds to beat the tar out of Invincible before leaving out of guilt, only to then pursue an affair with a bug-like creature on another planet. Oh, and the kid he has with the bug lady? His first wife Debbie is taking care of him. Omni-Man, you are one deadbeat dad.
5. Doctor Doom (and Apocalypse… and Ra’s Al Ghul) — At first, Doom’s relationship with Kristoff Vernard was benign, adopting him after his mother was killed by robots. (This is a common occurrence in Latveria.) But soon the parenting went bad, as Doom programmed his robots to brainwash young Kristoff if anything were to happen to him. Doc, when they say “live through your children,” it’s not meant literally! (Special mention goes to the ancient mutant Apocalypse, who had a similar stratagem for Stryfe in the 1990s series The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, as well as Ra’s Al Ghul, who planned to do the same to his grandson Damian Wayne in The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul.)
4. Darkseid — It’s kind of sad when the embodiment of all evil in the DCU only makes #4 on this list, but there you go. Treating his son Orion like political coin, Darkseid trades one of his kids to avert a war. To make matters worse, Darkseid continually belittles his other kid Kalibak, who just can’t measure up to the distant ideal that is Orion. And while some lucky kids get baseball games and movies from their dads, Darkseid just gave Orion the Anti-Life Equation. And did I mention he turned half the DCU into mindless zombies, as well as incinerated Batman?
3. Deathstroke — He’s kind of like the soccer dad gone wrong, juicing up his kids with mind-bending steroids to twist them into sidekick support roles. Deathstroke was so obsessed with winning that he even put a piece of Kryptonite into his daughter’s vacant eye socket! Dude, that’s messed up! Chalk up this mercenary’s drive to prevail at any cost, and you got yourself on the Worst Dads list.
2. Norman Osborn — Norman, Norman, Norman… he’s cold to his son to the point of driving him to costumed villainy. (Check out his thoughts on Mary Jane in the first Spider-Man film.) He puts hits out on Iron Man, Thor, Deadpool, and seems to have a mad-on for anything whose name rhymed with “Smider-Man.” He’s got the Marvel Universe by the short hairs and will cackle his way through his secret underground Cabal. Oh, and he decided to throw Gwen Stacy off a bridge when he got her pregnant and she wouldn’t give up the kids. This guy? One bad dad.
1. The Comedian — When your dad tried to rape your mom, that’s the sign of a pretty sick dude. Yet the Comedian was the embodiment of the American Dream in Watchmen, and we were all the more disgusted for it. The fact that he didn’t unequivocably shut down Laurie’s flirting with him — why yes, that would be his own daughter — at the word “GO” also bumps him up the list considerably, as well as the fact that he shot a woman in Vietnam who was pregnant with his kid. Yep, the Comedian pretty much hits every mark for being Worst Dad Ever.