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Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters in the U.S. on Friday. Part of the plot appears to center on Odin being lost on Earth. With Odin, it’s hard to say whether he is a good father or not. He seems to care deeply for Thor. Does he care for Loki, though? Also, Odin is very much a “tough love” type of father, prone to making decisions that may not really be for the best interest of Thor. So Odin does sit on the line of good fathers. Let’s be honest, though – there are some terrible dads, too. They exist in all forms of fiction, including comics and graphic novels. So while we could talk about the great dads in comics, it might be more fun to take a look at five of the worst comic book fathers who have (dis)graced the pages of old and new comics.
This is probably not fair to ol’ Logan but Wolverine is at or near the top of so many lists of the best things in comics, so it’s only fair to occasionally put him on a negative list, such as the worst comic book fathers. Unfortunately, Wolverine didn’t actually know for a long time that he had a son named Akihiro who goes by the alias Daken. That doesn’t change the fact that Wolverine is a pretty terrible father. He was gone for most of Daken’s life. After discovering Daken, he tried to provide a good influence, but it doesn’t really work out as first Daken (who has claws of a somewhat similar style as his dad’s) impersonates Wolverine in the Dark Avengers. Later, Wolverine feels there is no other option but to kill Daken, though not by stabbing or slicing but drowning. Ironically, Daken was later resurrected while Wolverine was killed during the “Death of Wolverine” story.
Omni-Man is the alter ego of Nathan Grayson and the father of the superhero Invincible (real name Mark Grayson), the title character of Robert Kirkman’s (creator of The Walking Dead) series Invincible. At first glance, Omni-Man would seem to be a good character, as he is a Super Man-type, an alien from a race called Viltrumites who has helped the people of Earth. But really he was biding his time until the Viltrumites would come to conquer the planet. In the process, Omni-Man kills many of Invincible’s teammates and then badly beats and nearly kills Invincible after he refuses Omni-Man’s offer to join the Viltrumites’ plan to overtake Earth. Maybe Viltrumites have different fatherly standards, but on Earth, Omni-Man gets a place among the worst comic book fathers.
The Comedian (Edward Blake), although considered a hero at times during his life, was a pretty terrible person, as revealed in Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Being a bad father isn’t really at the top of the many complaints about The Comedian, which would probably include murder and torture. One of Blake’s teammates was Silk Spectre II (Laurie Juspeczyk), the daughter of the original Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter), who was The Comedian teammate in the original Minutemen. It’s revealed that The Comedian once tried to rape Sally and in later years had a consensual relationship with her that resulted in Laurie. Not only was the relationship between Blake and Sally Jupiter complicated (to say the least), but The Comedian was often flirtatious with Laurie. While Blake may not have known that Silk Spectre II was his daughter, it’s still a creepy connection and it means you can add bad father to the faults of The Comedian.
In his own way, Norman Osborn does really love his son Harry, which is more than can be said for many characters in comics. However, Norman Osborn is also one of the most wicked characters in Marvel Comics, even beyond his time as the Green Goblin. Osborn’s actions frequently imperiled his son Harry and it’s hard to argue that Norman’s legacy didn’t impact Harry’s decision to become the Green Goblin for a time. You could argue that Norman has been the victim of mental illness, but at the same time when your son’s best friend is widely regarded as a huge hero and is still your biggest enemy, you’re probably not one of the best dads around.
Thanos is a titan of evil plans and one of the preeminent villains of Marvel Comics, but he may also be one of the worst comic book fathers ever. A major part of the storyline in the 2013 mini-series event Infinity (written by Jonathan Hickman) was Thanos’ quest to kill his own son Thane, who was an Eternal-Inhuman who also possessed great power. During the series, Thane actually turns the tables with the help of a number of heroes by trapping Thanos in a stasis field. While fatherhood is not one of the biggest elements of Thanos’ character backstory and has only recently been established, he still combines two elements – true villainy and attempted murder of his own son – that make him the worst comic dad.
There are many other fathers in comics, including scores more who are pretty lousy at being good dads. These are my picks for the five worst comic book fathers. What do you think? Who are some other interesting characters from comic books who have been awful fathers?