Monday, February 6, 2012

The First Fathers And Sons of Comics

It may have not been planned but many of this week's comics happen to deal with fathers and sons. That might not sound strange but when you think about classic comics there aren't many prominent father figures. Some of the most prominent super heroes don't have dads. Superman's father is dead, ditto for Batman, Uncle Ben is the closest thing to a dad Peter Parker ever had and we all know what happened to him. I'm not even going to go near Silk Spectre's daddy issues. Is there an underlying reason why most superheroes are also orphans?

These week's Detective Comics, Walking Dead and Gotham City Sirens all deal with fathers and their sons. In Detective, Commissioner James Gordon is increasingly concerned with the return of his son James Jr. who has been troubled to say the least and for reasons that are only hinted at, has been separated from his family for years.

In Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes has always sworn to protect his son Carl by any means necessary in their dangerous zombie filled world. In this month's issue Rick makes good on his vow, even sacrificing his fellow survivors in order to protect his son. In this exciting installment, Rick who has lost everything else may be unable to save Carl this time.

The Walking Dead may have reached a critical turning point in its plot that may shift the relationship between Rick and Carl.

Finally in Sirens, Arkham Asylum guard Aaron Cash discovers that the death of his infant son was not accidental but an underhanded scheme played out by the Joker. Realizing this, Cash goes against his duty as a guard and condones the proposed murder of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Noticing that this father son theme was in most of my pull list this week, it got me thinking about the sort of shadow role that many fathers of golden age superheroes have played throughout comic history.

In almost every hero's origin, thdir parents are murdered, pass away or are somehow tossed aside so that their offspring can meet their destiny of fighting crime. And what other tragedy is as universally relatable as well as strong a motivator. No matter who we are we all have parents, and losing them has fueled Bruce Wayne's war on crime as well as inspires Peter Parker to take responsibility for his spider powers by using them for good, while Tony Stark and Britt Reid, (The Green Hornet,) live in the shadows of their fathers legacies and attempt to better the world by using their vast inheritances to fund their causes.

Many of those heroes have been subconsciously making up for the lack of perennial figures in their lives over the course of their lives. Bruce Wayne for one, initially the ultimate loner, has fostered an entire family of Robins and Batgirls who all share a similar trauma. Raising three boy wonders is no easy task, and Bruce doesn't do such a great job interacting with his sole biological son Damian, who is the youngest, most arrogant and anti social Robin to date. It's curious to see Bruce mentor his previous sidekicks, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake so closely, (to the point of adopting Tim,) and neglect his own flesh and blood. Time will tell how this relationship evolves; Damian is a fairly new character in comic terms. In the meantime, Dick, (The original Robin,) has taken his mentors son under his wing to form a new Batman & Robin team that flips the dynamic of the duo by featuring a lighthearted Batman and a hot tempered Robin.

Thanks to the relationships we witness from page to page, it's easy to see that comic books are capable of telling much deeper stories than what appears on the surface. Comics are a yet another medium being used to explore humanity and it's many aspects. It may be colorful, campy and cryptic but this ink doesn't run, it bleeds.

4 comments:

  1. very nice comics about the Father and son...

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