CV's Roundtable User Discussion 021 - Families

So welcome back to another Roundtable discussion. As sora_thekey is currently lost in the wilderness of Real Life, I'm afraid that you're stuck with me, xerox-kitty, as your hostess! Tea & scones anyone?

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Today I'm joined by Roundtable Veteran The Dark Huntress (DH), and three new-comers! Avenging X-Bolt, harleyquinn12 & primmaster64! Welcome!

Prim: Heya guys!!! Shazam!!!

DH: I'm DH and if my answers are a little tangential, it's because I'm still waking up ;)

"Shazam!" A Marvellous Family Gathering

Harley: Hey, Harley here. Long time CV user, and first time Roundtabler (for lack of a better word) so please go easy on me.

X-Bolt: The voices in my head say that I’m here to ruin your day. But the words on the computer screen say I’m X-Bolt and I’m here to talk about Families. Since the last time I listened to the voices I ended up singing the 500,2500,600 minutes song from rent in my underwear at 5:30 in the morning then I’m inclined to listen to the latter

As a Roundtable addict, DH will know what the first question is: What good comics or comic-related goods have you been into recently?

DH: I went to the shop last week and got an awesome haul xD

FF #1-2, Legacy #252, Flashpoint #3, Lois Lane and the Resistance #2, Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2, Birds of Prey #14, Secret Avengers #15, Fear Itself #2-3, Captain America #1, Uncanny X-Men #540, and Schism #1-2 I still need to read all the DC stuff, though.

Harley: What comics have I read recently? Well, I haven't gotten a chance to go my LCS lately, so I got a haul of three weeks worth of books yesterday. I read the next issue of Flashpoint, the last issue of Secret Six, and Rachel Rising, which was awesome! I also read the last Wonder Woman issue, and Thunderbolts!

Q1, This time we're going to discuss families in comic books. Normally we like to start by picking on a newbie with a "What is a...?" style question, but we all know what a family is. So, who comes to mind when you first think of "family" in comics?

It's In The Genes: The Merry Mutant Family
It's In The Genes: The Merry Mutant Family

DH: I think of the X-Men as a family and in a lot of cases, they are. There are so many instances of siblings being on the team: The Guthries (Cannonball, Husk, Icarus) the Summers (Cyclops, Havok, Vulcan), the Rasputins (Colossus and Magik), the Proudstars (Warpath and Thunderbird). I'm sure there are some that I'm missing as well. But if we're talking family in the strictest sense of the word, then I think that Marvel's "First Family" the Fantastic Four are what come to most comic book readers mind first, and they certainly do come to mine.

X-Bolt: I don’t really think of any whole team as a family. I think of certain incarnations or members as family. I suppose the Claremont era X-Men are the easiest example for me. Then again I’m not completely sure I grasp what truly makes a family in the first place. I guess it’s supposed to be a group of people who love and care about each other.

The Fantastic First Family Of Earth-616
The Fantastic First Family Of Earth-616

Harley: The first thing that comes to my mind is the Fantastic Four. They were created to work as a family, and they wouldn't only fight villains, they would have their own problems between each other. The JSA in recent years has also worked as a family. Especially during Geoff Johns' run on the book, new characters were joining the team every issue, and it was really fun seeing the characters interact with each other. They didn't always get along with each other, and most families normally don't, so I think the JSA was a very realistic representation of a family.

Prim: When I think of family in comics, I usually think about the Superman family and the Batman family. In the Batman family you have Bruce as the father, Dick is kinda the prodigal son, Jason is the bad seed, the bad son, Tim is the bright younger brother and Damian is kinda the little brother everyone loves to hate. Even with they're status like that they always find some way to cooperate between them. As with the Superman well over the years it has expanded, they always know they can rely on each other on bad times.

You've summed up my thoughts on families. The Fantastic 4 are Marvel's "First Family" in a Presidential manner of speaking; they actually have a 2.4 children plus uncles, and morally lead the way for the rest of the If I try to think of a DC equivalent there's no-one quite the same. Instead I think of Batman as an unofficial patriarch with his many adopted sons & illegitimate daughters ;)

Q2, There seem to be two types of families in comic books; the traditional blood-relations & those who don't share any genetics. Would you say that there are more of the unofficial 'shared experiences' type of families in comics?

Bat-Daddy With His Bat-Sons & Bat-Daughters
Bat-Daddy With His Bat-Sons & Bat-Daughters

DH: This question fits quite well with my first answer :) I'd definitely say that there are more of the unofficial type of families. There's a quote from a series of books that I read that I'll paraphrase here "there are three types of families in the world. Those that we are born to, those that are born to us and those that we let into our hearts". Superheroes, villains and even "regular" characters in comic books go through so much that we could never hope to understand. Out of control powers, wars with aliens, having to kill somebody in order to save somebody else, a person you trust being possessed, being attacked on a constant basis etc. These are all experiences that, when experienced with somebody else, can form a (nearly) unbreakable bond, one that's there for life. Take Bucky and Cap for example. They went through a war together (this is an example that actually translates really well into real life) and experienced so many things that many people never will. They may not have any blood relation, but they are undeniably family.

Harley: When thinking of non-blood related families, the Batman family is my first answer. Bruce has taken so many kids under his wing, like Dick Grayson, and Tim Drake, and Barbara Gordon, and over time you get to think of Bruce and his protégés as father and child. Overall, however, I would say there are more un-biological families in comics, even if it may be close. I guess the X-Men are a great example. You have married couples, like Scott and Jean, and parents and children, like Mystique and Nightcrawler, but many of the characters have become brotherly from sharing so many adventures over the years, like Angel and Iceman.

X-Bolt: Absolutely, I can hardly think of any biological family members who are actually close, the Summers brothers are always fighting about something and well....we all know about Nightcrawler's interesting bloodline. But when I look at characters like Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen I can literally feel the brotherhood among them...its like pleasant indigestion.

Interesting that you mention Oliver Queen as a brother, but not as Connor's father. He's more of a bromantic than a father-figure. But we'll touch on Daddy Issues later ;)

Prim: Well, I agree with Avenging-X-Bolt, there is a difference between blood and family. I'll take Bucky and Cap. They have a big brother-younger brother relationship. I could see Cap caring about Bucky in the recent Trial of Captain storyline and even before that. Cap loves Bucky like he was his own brother and will do anything to help him get out of any trouble he is in.

Super Mom & Fantastic Role Model
Super Mom & Fantastic Role Model

Q3, There was a blog in July which referred to a quote about the Invisible Woman. Apparently she isn't the kind of character that young readers can associate with (as opposed to the women in the X-Men) because she is a mother. Isn't there any room for a matriarchal figure on the front lines of the battle field?

DH: I call bull on that. Who the heck wouldn't want to be like Sue Richards? That woman is the epitome of what most females want. She's a verified badass, she's the glue that held the Fantastic Four together, she's incredibly intelligent (she's no Reed Richards, but who the heck is?), she's the key member of that team, she has an awesomely useful power and she's a great mom. On top of that, she has absolutely no problem calling Reed on the bull he pulls and what a terrible father he is (but that's a rant for another time). She's the epitome of a woman who is able to have a family and a career and do both well and she takes it to an entirely new degree.

Or is she an amazing strong & beautiful young woman who should be adored as a fantastic role model more often? ;)

X-Bolt: With the way certain teams act, a mother figure is EXACTLY what they need. Unless you're in the X-Men and your mother figure regularly alternates between being an all-powerful life/death avatar and a lifeless corpse.....and then your father figure goes and gets a scantily clad semi-bitchy stepmother figure 0_0 I can’t speak for female readers but I think that the motherhood concept is one of the things that makes Sue so incredibly amazing. There's really no harder job on earth.

Harley: Precisely. Personally, I think Sue Storm has one of the most interesting roles in comics. She has to fight giant robots in outer space, and she's really the head of the FF. An extremely powerful woman is just what a young girl needs to look up to. Being a mom doesn't make her less of a role model for girls than Wonder Woman or Ms Marvel, or any other heroine out there.

Q4, It's agreed that Invisible Woman is a good mother. Can you think of other examples of prime motherhood, or do the bad mothers out-number them?

Black Canary & Sin
Black Canary & Sin

X-Bolt: Black Canary comes to mind. I find the relationship between her and Roy Harper to be incredibly touching even though they aren’t blood relatives. Jean Grey was also an excellent mother to Cable and Rachel Summers. Catwoman also shines because she literally did the hardest thing a mother can do which is give up her child.

DH: I think there are so many mothers who outnumber them. And it's terrible. I have to agree with X-Bolt about Black Canary, though. Her relationships with both Roy and Sin are absolutely touching.

Harley: I guess you can consider Mystique a good mother although I'm not sure she's the best mom. Hippolyta is another example. I always consider Aunt May as one of the best moms, even though she's not really a mom. She was always there for Peter, and supported him through tough times.

X-Bolt: Would you mind elaborating on that mystique statement? I in no way understand how a woman who abandoned her first-born because he was human and then later traveled through time to kill him, threw her other son over a waterfall to save her own hide can in anyway be considered a good mother or mom

Mystique's Idea Of Motherly Love
Mystique's Idea Of Motherly Love

Harley: I wasn't exactly talking about Mystique being a good mother for Nightcrawler, rather as a mother-figure for Rogue. Of course she's not the best mother-figure though.

X-Bolt: OK I see what your saying and respect your opinion. In my own personal opinion, she isn’t. Her taking rogue in doesn’t make her a good mother to me, it makes her a worse mother because she played favorites. But that’s just my two cents

Mystique definitely looses ‘Motherly Points’ for trying to kill Nightcrawler when he was a newborn baby... and also for her other son, Graydon Creed!

Prim: Best Mom huh? Wow...Well I think of Deborah Grayson from Invincible, sure she's not perfect, she is far from it, but she does support Invincible to the end. For example, when Invincible decided to quit College because he really felt that he wasn't accomplishing anything in there. Which is true since he stated the government pays him better than any real job. It was tough at first but she supported her son in his decision.

Q5, MattDemers wrote a round up of good & bad comic book fathers for Father's Day. A lot of people reacted to the omission of Alfred. Who would you say is the best father-figure in comic books?

Harley: There are some great father figures in comics. Wolverine is in my opinion the most iconic. Not only does he have his own son, Daken to deal with! He's acted like a dad to several young X-Men; from Kitty Pryde, to Rogue and Jubilee, and now Idie of Generation Hope. I mentioned it before, but Batman is also a great dad. Like Wolverine, he has his own son, Damian Wayne. He's adopted so many kids, and helped them grow as not only heroes, but as people.

Aunt May and Uncle Ben, As Peter's
Aunt May and Uncle Ben, As Peter's "Parents"

X-Bolt: I was a big fan of the Steve Rogers and Peter Parker's relationship before OMD. I think he really is the father that Peter deserved and in the end he made more of an impact on Peter than Iron Man did. But my favorite has to be between Uncle Ben/Peter Parker and Martin Jordan/Hal Jordan.

Prim: I agree with X-Bolt again. Pete and Cap did have an awesome father and Son relationship. I would also add Superman and Superboy...and Christopher Kent.

DH: The best? Again, I think it's easier to find negative examples than positive ones. I'm going to have to go with Alfred for this one, without a doubt. I could go on for ages about all the terrible fathers in comics (including Batman himself) and the one who really has always stuck out to me and who immediately comes to mind when I think of fathers in comic books is Alfred, despite his lack of blood (or legal) relation to any of his "children". I kind of think of him (and this is an enormous generalization) as the nanny in those rich families. Mom and Dad are always at work (or there's a single parent) and the nanny is the one who bonds with the child. They essentially become their parent, their strong figure. They do all the dirty work (literally, like changing diapers etc) and provide a huge amount of emotional support. That's Alfred, to me.

Q6, From the older generation to the younger. Kids of heroes tend to have a rough time, with kidnappings, techno-viruses & being lost in time. Are kids generally targets & therefore a weakness for heroes?

Danielle Cage: Super Baby Or Easy Target?
Danielle Cage: Super Baby Or Easy Target?

Harley: I agree. Franklin Richards is one example. Villains view these children as the one thing that if lost, parents will go crazy. To pull at their heartstrings, villains will kidnap a hero's kid. They can be viewed as targets, as many heroes are careless and often don't watch over their children (Reed Richards), but when they are rescued you can see how glad the parents are to have them back. You could say it's a sign of good or bad parenting.

Prim: Most likely, unless they can take care of themselves.

X-Bolt: I'd put it the other way around actually

You don't think kids are a source of constant worry to protect them from villains?

X-Bolt: I meant that it’s worse for the children more than parents.

DH: Yes and no. I think that any emotional and/or physical relationship is a target for a hero. But if you cut out all of that out of your life, you're not living, you're merely existing. They'd lose sight of everything they fought for to begin with. Relationships like that humanize our heroes a bit. You see little arguments over small things and think "hey, I've argued about that with my parent before". It lets us associate with them a bit more and see the person behind the mask, so to speak. But yes, generally speaking, they are a weakness. Of course, on the other hand, they can also be their greatest strength. They push them to new levels, they motivate them and in some cases, even surpass them.

Q7, The Bastards of Evil thought they were the unwanted children of established villains. But can super villains be good parents too?

Prim: Hmmm that's...relative I think. I think that maybe sometimes villains to they things they do provide their children with food and health. Sometimes not.

Were The Pride Proud Of Their Children?
Were The Pride Proud Of Their Children?

X-Bolt: Possible but not probable. If a super-villain keep their activities a secret and away from their children then yes. But missing your kids soccer game or birthday because a robbery didn’t go as expected isn’t very good parenting.

Harley: I guess I would have to say yes. The Pride, who were the parents of the Runaways ultimately brought together the kids, so they technically were a good influence on them.

Good call. I'd forgotten about the Pride, but I doubt that Chase Stein would put his folks forward for Parents of the Year ;)

DH: To put it simply: yes. Harley raises a really good point. Those children are "heroes" because they saw the other side of life and decided that they were going to be better, they were so not having any of that. But on a different POV, being a good guy or a bad guy doesn't really determine whether you're a good or bad parent. Reed Richards is an absolutely terrible father and he's considered a good guy. It all depends on how they're raising their child. Likelihood is high that they're doing to be raised with the views of their parent, so I suppose that does come into play a bit. But if the child is safe, happy, and well-loved, then who's to say that you're a bad parent even if you occasionally try and take over the world?

Q8: In non-typical families, do particular characters take on specific and even unconventional roles? For instance, could Batman be viewed as both a mother and a father to his various adopted sons?

The JSA As A Happy Unofficial Family
The JSA As A Happy Unofficial Family

Prim: Yes I believed so. Batman has been there for Dick, Jason and Tim as both a father and a mother figure.

DH: I'd say yes, definitely. I'd actually go so far as to say that Alfred's more of a parent to the majority of those kids than Batman is.

Harley: I think the JSA was a really good example of this. You had the past heroes, like Flash and Wildcat as mentors to the younger heroes, you had Power Girl, who would lead the team, and keep everyone under control, and the new generation of heroes still learning the ropes, like Stargirl and Cyclone. They might not be actual roles a family would take on, but that's the first example that comes to mind. The older heroes were a bit like the parents, and the younger heroes were aptly the kids.

X-Bolt: Definitely. I think of Hal Jordan (shocking I know) and his respective relationships with Barry Allen and Oliver Queen and how they provided a balance for him. Ollie was like a cool uncle who you can party with and have fun and maybe learn a few life lessons but could also be a horrible influence while Barry was like a father who provides less than glamorous but useful, important, and true advice.

Q9: One of the criticisms laid against the pairing of Moonstar & Cannonball is that it is 'incestuous', yet they aren't biologically related to each other. Should there be taboos when forming sexual relationships between characters from non-conventional family units, or is it an over-reaction from old-fashioned fans?

Dani & Sam: Close Friends Or Too Close For Comfort?
Dani & Sam: Close Friends Or Too Close For Comfort?

Harley: Non-traditional families spice up comics a bit more. I do like when two characters were destined to be together, but if that's the only kind of relationship we get to see, it gets boring fast. Believe me, I'm not for incest in comics at all. There's definitely a problem if say, the Hulk hooks up with She-Hulk, but personally I think in the Moonstar/Cannonball case, it's okay.

DH: No, I think that there should definitely be taboos. As I believe I mentioned earlier, there are three types of family. Those we are born to, those that are born to us and those that our heart choose. Just because somebody isn't your blood doesn't make them any less family (excluding in the eyes of the law). Take Black Canary and Roy Harper for example. Not related by blood, technically not even related by marriage anymore, but if they ever hooked up that'd just be gross. He's like her son in every way that counts.

Prim: I'm not familiar with that relationship. But I think that as long as they aren't related in blood they could possibly date. There's nothing wrong with that. But if it is like Ultimate Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch then...ew.

X-Bolt: A long as they aren't blood related or related by marriage, its fine. For example Johnny Blaze/Roxanne Simpson or Nightcrawler/Rogue (I can dream, can't I )= Awesome if done right, but Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch = Bad, Bad, Bad! Oh dear lord forgive me, bad!

They’re actually related, so yeah... that’s beyond ‘bad’ ;)

Q10: We've talked a lot about the super heroing families, but are there any villainous families? (in either the traditional or non-biological sense)

M2 & The Brotherhood: Magneto's Legacy
M2 & The Brotherhood: Magneto's Legacy

Harley: I would consider the Maximoffs a villainous family. They're interesting as they all reformed over time, and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver didn't even know Magneto was their dad when they first joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. You could almost even consider the Gotham City Sirens as a family. Catwoman doesn't necessarily get along with Poison Ivy, and as I’ve said before families don't always get along with each other. And over time we've seen the sisterly relationship between Ivy and Harley grow stronger.

DH: I don't think you could really term them villainous at this point in time, but I think the Maximoff clan always comes to mind when people say villainous and family together. I don't think that any of them could actually be termed villains, especially not at this point in time (with the possible exception of Pietro), but they have all certainly committed heinous acts against humanity and against mutants, whether it was in their control or not.

X-Bolt: ummmm....... does this count Nuclear Family? LOL. Really none that I can think of but I’m sure there are a few out there.

Prim: The....Magneto Family? Um...I can't think of any at the moment but I'm sure there are some more.

Q11: Despite now being much older, I still associate with Katie Power from Power Pack as she is a bratty & noisy little sister. Even though it's been a (very) long time since I've been like that, she brings back memories of arguing with my own older brother. Are there any family characters you associate with? If so, who & why?

Power Pack: The Family That Fights Together
Power Pack: The Family That Fights Together

Prim: Family members that I associate with? I have an older sister....I sometimes feel a li’l bit like Johnny Storm. Probably because I sometimes do jokes like him and if Johnny ever made his sister mad, so did I...XD

X-Bolt: I’m an only child so it’s hard for me to pick one. I guess in a reaching way I could identify with Jason Todd. Sometimes I feel like the black sheep of the family and I often wonder if I’m more self-destructive than I let myself think. I’m almost always being out shined by certain relatives.

Are You More Like The Prankster Brother Or Logical Sister?
Are You More Like The Prankster Brother Or Logical Sister?

Harley: Being an only child this question is very difficult for me to answer, but although it is a weird analogy, I will say Sue Storm. No, I am not a mom, nor can I project force fields from my hands, but Sue was always the glue of the Fantastic Four. She kept the family together, and others usually think of me as the problem solver. If it doesn't sound too self-centered, people will always bring their questions to me. Perhaps I should start an advice column. I'm sorry if that was a bit self indulgent. :p

DH: I don't think I've ever really associated that much with anybody. I have characters that I love and characters that are my favorites and there are bits and pieces of all of them that I feel I have within myself (that sounds cheesier/creepier than it was intended), but there are none that I've ever really read and thought "oh my god, I feel the exact same way".

Closing: Well, as with all fledglings the time has come to leave the nest.

Harley: Bye for now everyone! This was a lot of fun! Now I must pick up Rose and find my TARDIS.

X-Bolt: Well I'm off..... Got lotsa Marvel Genesis stuff to do "wink wink". Yep some pretty amazing stuff that Marvel Genesis *more pronounced violent winking*. Anyway bon-voyagee, aloha, dasvidaniya, and good night cough *read Marvel Genesis* cough excuse me.

Prim: Well guys I guess this is it. Gotta go read more Superman or Invincible related comics! XD See you around!

DH: This is DH signing off to go and finish reading her New 52 comics :)