“You Need A License To Catch A Fish …”
By Chris “DOC” Bushley
With Father’s Day just a few days away, and my daughter snuggly sleeping in her bed, I began to ponder all the fathers and father figures brought to us each month in the pages of comics. The parallels between our favorite art form and real life are staggering, a true mirror of the vast facets of fatherdom we see everyday! From the fathers that would give everything for their children, to the delinquent dad that never taught his child right from wrong, the media darlings that have no time to gaze upon the angelic faces they have sired, to the ones that have chosen to be a “father” to those who need it the most.
Comics are at their best when they make us feel a connection, whether good or bad! The following list of fathers is not a group of the worst or best, but rather, a myriad of both. They are fathers that have made us reflect on how we raise our children, ones we can strive to be more like or those we never wish to become. Whether you agree or disagree, all of these characters have definitively made a connection to the readers — if not their children!
Batman/Damien: The father that never knew he was one! DC finally recognized the great Son of The Demon story as cannon, and we got to see Bruce Wayne deal with his true heir! Though a father figure to all the previous Robins, it was the son that hated him that finally made him question what kind of person he was. A great dynamic of a frustrated father and the son who loves to do the frustrating!
Wally West/Iris and Jai West: The dad who broke time to save his children! When his wife, Linda Park, was attacked by Professor Zoom, her pregnancy was terminated. Distraught by the loss of his twins, the Flash asked the Spectre to erase Wally West and Linda Park from the minds of the world. Too bad he and Linda forgot, too! Eventually, they both remembered and Wally fought Zoom again. This time the battle created a fissure in time and saved Linda’s pregnancy! He is the man that would turn back time for his children!
Alan Scott/Jade and Obsidian: The father figure to all, the dad to none! Alan Scott may have been one of the most patriarchal figures to young heroes, but his own children were always second best. Though Jade and Obsidian finally worked on a strained relationship with their father, the early years of abandonment took its toll on Obsidian. He became a villain on more than one occasion, fighting against the very team his father beloved so much — the JSA! You can be loved by the public all you want, but it’s the love you receive at home that will sustain you forever!
Rick Grimes/Carl: The dad who will never give up! Not a coma, dismemberment, torture, loss of a wife and baby, nor hordes of zombies can ever keep Rick from doing all he can to save his only son! He is the primal rage inside all fathers that will make us protect our children no matter what the circumstance! He is driven, almost to a fault, and when the dust settles — you will be damn sure he and his son emerge together!
Scott Summers/Cable: The dad that wasn’t there! Literally! The only way to save his newborn from certain death, was to send him into the future! Eventually, Scott and Jean Grey got the chance to travel to the future and help a young Cable under the guise of “Slim and Red.” But, no matter how that time spent with his son may have helped Scott feel better about abandoning him, Cable never truly forgave his dad. To this day, their relationship is more as teammates than family!
Magneto/Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Polaris: Thrice the sire, never the father! Wow, talk about daddy issues! When all of your children start out abandoned, turn to a life of crime and eventually all turn against you — you know you did something wrong! Even now, as an X-Man, his children fight on the side of his enemies. Manipulating your children to get what you want, will only give you manipulative children!
James Gordon/Batgirl, James Gordon Jr.: The everyman! Different continuity will give you different scenarios about who his children are or are not. But, whether he sired Barbara Gordon or not, he always tried to do right by his family! A single dad and the Commissioner to the most crime filled city in all of DC, “Jimmy” does all he can to be there for his children and teach them the difference between right and wrong. But even the best intentions can not stop pure evil as James Jr. has become a maniacal murderer! You try your best, but sometimes you fail!
Wolverine/Dakken: Like father, like son! Wolverine never knew that his son was born after his wife Itsu was slain. If he had, would it have changed the horrible events of his son’s life? Or are we only made to pay for the sins of our father? Either way, Dakken swore to destroy his father’s life at every turn! He would do anything to antagonize his father, including becoming “Wolverine” on Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. In the end, Dakken left his father with nothing but scars as a memory of his son. A father fueled by rage will only burn his own future!
Professor Bruttenholm/Hellboy: The father that didn’t have to be! When Nazi’s called a demon to earth, they never expected it to be an infant! Abandoned, Hellboy was “adopted” by Professor Bruttenholm and treated like a son. He was taught compassion, an appreciation for the arts and acquired a love of pancakes! Not even of the same species, the Professor should more compassion for Hellboy than most biological fathers on this list! It just goes to show that good men can help mold great “sons,” even if they are not their own!
Reed Richards/Franklin and Valeria Richards: Father fantastic! The scientist, the adventurer, the hero — the father! Say what you will about Mr. Fantastic, there is no question that he can balance it all! A hero to the universe, doting husband and loving father — he is the epitome of what a father can be. Through it all, at the end of the day, his children can look upon their father and be proud to know how much they are loved. And to all of us fathers out there — that’s all that really matters!
Happy Father’s Day!