What makes a hero? Is it bravery? Sympathy for others? Uncompromising morals? Or is it just having really terrible parents? I’m not sure about the latter, but being raised by horrible people clearly doesn’t hurt. Here are 10 mothers and fathers that prove being a good guy clearly isn’t genetic.
1) Corsair, Cyclops and Havok’s Dad
Major Christopher Summers was flying his all-American family back from a holiday on his plane when it was attacked by an alien spaceship. Chris shoved his young sons Scott and Alex out of the plane with parachutes, which is a little weird, and the stress caused young Scott and Alex Summers to first exhibit their mutant powers. However, Chris and his wife didn’t crash, but were instead abducted by the alien Shi’ar, who forced Chris to work in space mines. Eventually Chris escaped and became a leader of the band of space pirates known as the Starjammers, calling himself Corsair. But once free, he never once returned to Earth to check on his kids. He later explained that he assumed they were probably dead, but that seems extremely sketchy given that he shoved them out of a plane specifically on the chance that they would live. Basically, Corsair is just a deadbeat dad… in space.
2) Brian Banner, the Hulk’s Dad
Want to know where the Hulk’s anger issues come from? Look no further than his father. Brian was abused by his own dad and assumed his family was genetically disposed to be arseholes. As such, he swore to never have kids on to whom he could pass his “monster gene” — and then promptly had a kid anyway. Brian preemptively started abusing young Bruce, the son he was certain would eventually grow up to be a nightmare, while also becoming an alcoholic who can’t hold down a job. Brian killed Bruce’s mum in front of him, was put into a mental institution for 15 years, was eventually released to the older Bruce’s care seemingly cured, but of course immediately turned into an abuser again. Shortly thereafter, Bruce killed his dad by slamming his head into his mother’s gravestone, which may or may not have been an accident. Really, it’s surprising that the Hulk doesn’t have more issues.
Wolverine’s dad was no great parent himself — he shot Wolverine’s adoptive parents right in front of him in the Origin comic storyline — but Logan himself was actually kind of worse. Mainly because he killed most of them. Granted, they were all bastard children he didn’t know he had, that were taken by the ninja clan known as the Red Right Hand and turned into their bodyguards. In vengeance for sending him to hell for a bit (comics, everybody!) Wolverine tried to hunt down his tormentors but only managed to slaughter the bodyguards… which the Hand gleefully revealed were his own kids. To Wolverine’s credit, he hasn’t tried to kill the one son he knows he has — Daken — at least so far.
4) Omni-Man, Invincible’s Dad
In this Robert Kirkman superhero series, young Mark Grayson learns that his dad is basically a moustached Superman, an alien with super powers sent to help Earth from within and protecting it from other extraterrestrial foes. Then Mark learned his dad is a member of the Viltrumites, which is basically an alien race of Space Nazis, who sent their warriors to conquer inhabited planets through deceit. When Mark, as the hero Invincible, confronted his father about this, Omni-Man beat his son nearly to death. Omni-Man improved his relationship with Mark after that, but I’m still not sure Invincible sends him cards of Father’s Day.
5) Batman and Talia Al Ghul
You can’t blame Bruce Wayne for fathering Damian. He had a single night of passion with Ra’s Al Ghu’s daughter Talia (although in some instances it was implied that he was an unwilling participant), and was never told he knocked her up. Bruce was also never told that Talia used crazy League of Assassins know-how to accelerate the ageing of young Damian, all while training him to be his father’s killer, which isn’t exactly good parenting. But when Bruce eventually took his son under his wing, Damian became the new Robin, meaning he was ceaselessly in danger from heavily armed, murderous psychopaths, just like all the other Robins (meaning Bruce turned from bad legal guardian to a bad parent). Of course Damian was eventually killed in battle. At least Batman has the comfort of knowing he was a better parent than Talia, since she created the giant mutant Damian clone that actually murdered their son.
6) All the Parents of the Runaways
In this beloved Brian K. Vaughan series, a group of kids discover their parents are members of a supervillain organisation called The Pride who run Los Angeles. Obviously, this causes them to run away in hopes of stopping their parents’ nefarious plans, which is to sacrifice all the inhabitants of Earth for their dark god, named the Gibborim. In one sense, the Pride parents are more caring than the others on this list because they each planned on letting their kids be one of the six survivors after the death of humanity, which is nice. On the other hand, allowing their children to rule a world full of nothing but corpses isn’t exactly a envious gift.
7) Deathstroke, Jericho’s Dad
The son of Slade Wilson, the assassin known as Deathstroke, has had a truly bizarre superhero career that involves possession, demons, insanity, suicide, murder, and random bouts of heroism and villainy. But it all stems from the fact that Jericho was once kidnapped by terrorists trying to extort information out of Deathstroke by holding his son hostage. Deathstroke said “nah” and the terrorists cut Jericho’s throat. Slade managed to somehow save Jericho’s life, but his son was rendered mute and gained a boatload of daddy issues in the process.
8) Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi’s Dad
Yes, this major 20th-century villain is also an official character in the Marvel Comics universe as the father of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. He raised Shang-Chi on a steady diet of lies about how he was totally a good guy, and not an evil mastermind bent on ruling the world. When Shang-Chi found out the truth, Fu Manchu wasted absolutely zero time in sending assassins after his son to get rid of his new enemy, which included clones of Shang-Chi and a giant mutated gorilla. There’s basically only been one time in the last 40 years that Fu Manchi didn’t want his kid murdered, and that was only because he needed Shang-Chi’s blood in order to restore his health. Afterwards, he immediately started up the attempted murder again.
9) Trigon, Raven’s Dad
So the father of the Teen Titan known as Raven is basically Satan. A demon who has enslaved countless worlds in his own dimension, Trigon fathered Raven on a human woman and basically abandoned his daughter to be raised by a satanic cult, which is admittedly not great. When he did start paying attention to her, it was only to possess her into becoming his avatar on Earth so he could conquer our dimension. Basically, Raven isn’t a daughter as much as a tool for Trigon, and he has no problem forcing her to do anything — even marrying a supervillain like Brother Blood or dying — in order to increase his conquests.
10) Superman’s Parents
Look. I’m sure Jor-El and Lara loved their kid very much in order to make a tiny spaceship, put their infant son in it, and then launch it into space before their home planet of Krypton exploded. But this is just an interstellar version of leaving a baby on someone’s doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running away. What if the kindly Kents hadn’t found the baby? What if they’d been freaked out and ran away at the sight of the freaky space baby? What if Donald Trump had discovered little Kal-El instead? The possibilities for this to have gone horribly, horribly wrong are almost infinite. I’m not saying they should have left little Kal-El to die on Krypton, but if they really wanted his cousin Kara to look after him, perhaps they should have pooled their resources and made a spaceship for two people instead of sending them separately and hoping for the best.