Ah, Father's Day: a time for waking up early, making the old man some bacon and eggs and giving him the customary garish tie. It's a day to appreciate everything that man has done for you, whether or not you always agree.
Comic books has their share of fathers, each with their own set of pros and cons. Since the superhero-ing profession isn't the most family-friendly, I thought it would be a good idea to point out some dads who've made it work, and others who have been less than successful.
The Good List
I might catch some flack for this one, but Invincible's proud papa earns some points from me because of the massive redemption his character went through.
Nolan Grayson started off as Earth's greatest champion, betrayed the planet he loved, left his son and wife and absconded to another planet. While there, he wed another woman, had another child, returned to Earth and was promptly captured by the alien race he was fought againt. Nolan has been involved with multiple fights with his son, Mark, and is responsible for the murders of the Guardians of the Globe.
However, Nolan's fight against the Viltrumite Empire and the revelation that he was just trying to protect Mark lead him on the path of redemption; he wasn't totally guiltless, but damnit, he was trying to fix the problems he had started.
Before going off the deep end, Nolan was a writer who authored several science fiction and travel books. He was not shy about revealing his super-powered life to his family, and mentored his son as his powers grew. For the first few volumes of Invincible, Nolan seemed to be the dad that every teen superhero would want, and that earns him points.
Nolan represents the dad who has screwed up some things in his life but has made a genuine effort to repair the bridges he's burned. He's put a monumental effort into patching things up and making amends for his mistakes, and that earns him a spot on "the good list".== TEASER ==
I wrote about Jack Knight during a column about superheroes who had given up the profession, and that's specifically why he's on this list. After siring two children (one as a rape victim), Jack realized that in order to properly raise them as a family (with the wife of his second child) he would need to give up his dangerous profession.
I touched on this during the previous column, but Jack getting out of the game can be seen as a step towards responsibility that fathers gain when having a child. The world no longer is about them; the child is now that world. For taking the time to realize that his children are a bigger concern than his pursuit of justice, Jack earns a spot on "the good list."
While I was planning this article I toyed with putting Reed on the "bad" list; Mister Fantastic has always struck me as someone who puts his work before his family. However, due to some extreme luck, Reed's children turned out as smart as he did, so his camaraderie and interaction with them has been admirable.
Reed's relationship with Franklin and Valeria represents a father who hasn't quite given up everything he enjoys in order to manage his family. While he is occupied with improving the free world, there are moments where he is tender with his children, fostering their intelligence and creativity to help them grow to their full potential. Reed hasn't been so selfish to put his own greatness ahead of his kids', so that saves him from being too horrible.
It would be interesting, however, to see what would happen if his kids were born with "average" intelligence; witnessing Reed trying to deal with a child who loves punk music would be entertaining, for sure.
The Bad List
Christopher Summers, while awesome in certain ways (I mean, look at that costume!), made some major slip-ups at being a father. As a pilot, he flew his two sons (Scott and Alex) and pregnant wife in their private airplane on a trip. The ship was attacked by a Shi'ar cruiser, leading Christopher to strap Scott in a parachute, instruct Alex to hold onto him, and then threw them off the plane. He was then abducted along with his wife by the Shi'ar.
After witnessing his wife's death and surviving a prison sentence in spice mines, Christopher eventually rebelled against his captors and escaped with a number of other prisoners. They christened their team the Starjammers, as Christopher entered into a life-mate relationship with Hepzibah, a prisoner he saved from execution.
They then took to raiding the Shi'ar in revenge, as you would assume. However, never once did he decide to fly back to Earth to see if his sons were still alive; it took a chance meeting with the X-Men to lead to the possibility that they had survived their perilous escape. Corsair had seen his sons' parachute catch fire as they leaped out of the plane, and assumed the worst: however, I can safely say that a father who has the slightest inkling that his children may be alive would stop at nothing to verify it for sure.
So, you're a mutant with a chip on your shoulder and you want to show the world what you're capable of. You amass a number of other mutants who think like you do, forming a terrorist cell that looks to rule the Earth with an iron fist. In the midst of all this, you recruit your two children (Wanda and Pietro) into the terrorist cell, and force them into evil. Eventually, they see the error of your ways and defect to the Avengers.
Then you reveal that you've fathered another mutant, this time with powers similar to your own. At no point do you attempt to take responsibility for said mutants, except when they go insane. Instead, you're content to keep on your fanatical quest, manipulating, killing, lying and deceiving a million times over.
That's not the mark of a good dad.
While the original Green Lantern is an all-American powerhouse, it pains me to have to add him to this list. Time-displaced and possibly ageless, Alan remains an example of what can happen when you don't get with the times. While the relationship between Scott and his daughter, Jenny, has always been amicable, his relationship with his homosexual son, Todd, has been less than perfect.
Todd still harbors a deep resentment for Alan when he gave up both twins for adoption close after their birth. Todd grew up in an abusive household, escaping to be part of the Infinity, Inc. super-team with a number of his close friends. He reunited with Jenny and found out who their father was; this did little to heal the abandonment issues that had been festering in Todd's mind. As a result of manipulation, Todd became a super-villain, and was imprisoned; Alan felt guilty for what Todd had become, and vowed to be a part of his life.
Jenny's death while on a mission is space with Alan led him to cherish the time with his son, and gave him a deep feeling of guilt. While others remain skeptical about Todd's rehabilitation, it was Alan that has stepped up to the plate for him and offered him with as the JSA's security force. However, is this enough to make up for all the previous problems? The abandonment, the lack of communication? The death of his daughter? The awkwardness when it comes to his son's homosexuality?
Out of the two others on the "bad" list, I think Alan has a good chance of getting off it; however, with his new neck injury affecting his ability to show compassion, it may be some time before we see the happy family that the Scotts deserve.
Matt Demers is a Toronto columnist and a staff writer for Comic Vine. He looks forward to beers and barbeque with his dad this Sunday. You can find him on Twitter, or Tumblr; send him a message or leave a comment!