In the real world, the loss of a parent is a hard thing to deal with, but it’s even worse in the comic books. When it comes to parents, a lot of superheroes get a raw deal, because most superheroes are missing one or both of their parents. Mostly, this is done to give heroes, like Batman, a tragic backstory that drives his or her pursuit of justice. In other cases, like Superman, it’s done to give the character a uniqueness in the comic book world. Sometimes, it’s just done to make the character easier to write without having to worry about a family popping up all the time.
Yet, in some rare and horrible circumstances, the superheroes are the cause of their own parents’ death. Sometimes, it’s an accident and other times it’s intentional, but it’s almost always a source of guilt to the superheroes, which can drive them even more or break them completely. In a few cases, the superhero has already lost their parents, but loses a parental figure in their lives that hurts just as much as a biological parent. That said, CBR runs down 15 times in comics when a superhero killed their parents or a parental figure.
Wolverine — the deadly superhero with razor-sharp claws in his hands — was a big hit from the beginning in the 1970s, but his past remained a mystery for decades. For a long time, no one even knew who Wolverine’s parents were, but that changed in 2002’s miniseries Origin (written by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada and Paul Jenkins, and illustrated by Andy Kubert).
In Origin #1, we met the young James Howlett who was the sickly son of plantation owners in Canada. When his family’s groundskeeper Thomas Logan killed Howlett’s father, the boy popped his claws for the first time and killed Logan. In the original miniseries, it was hinted that Thomas Logan was actually Wolverine’s biological father. That was later confirmed, meaning that Wolverine’s first claw attack was on his own dad.
Deadpool’s past has been confusing because he’s lied, forgotten or imagined changes to his own history. Sometimes his story was even changed just because it was funny. At first, Deadpool didn’t even know who his father was, but that changed to Wade being raised by an abusive father who was killed by one of his friends.
In the current continuity, Wade Wilson’s father Thomas Wilson was introduced in 2000’s Deadpool #45 (Christopher Priest, James Calafiore) as a stranger Deadpool ran into in a bar. Fast forward to 2014’s Deadpool #34 (Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Scott Koblish), part of the “Original Sin” storyline where (under the influence of one of his enemies known as the Butler), Deadpool was ordered to burn his mother and father in their beds. Fortunately, he didn’t know who they were.
First appearing in 1973’s The Tomb of Dracula #10 (Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan), the vampire hunter Blade became a part of the Marvel universe with a vendetta against all blood-suckers. When his mother was in labor, a doctor was called who turned out to be a vampire. The doctor bit Blade’s mother and killed her, but Blade himself survived and the vampire passed on immortality to him, along with an immunity to some of the worst parts of vampirism.
If it hadn’t been for Blade’s birth, his mother wouldn’t have been exposed to the vampire and killed, making him partly responsible for her death. A sense of guilt along with a desire for revenge has driven Blade’s mission in life to kill as many vampires as he possibly can, using special weapons and powers. He’s every vampire’s worst nightmare.
For a long time, the comics said that the Hulk was created by a gamma bomb explosion, but more recent comics have changed that. The explosion turned him big and green, but the raging persona of the Hulk was already inside Bruce Banner, caused by the abuse of his father. First appearing in 1982’s The Incredible Hulk #267 (Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema), Brian Banner tormented his family in the belief that his son was cursed. When he killed Bruce’s mother in a rage, Brian was put in a mental hospital.
Fifteen years later, Brian was released but still had delusions that led him to fight with Bruce on his mother’s grave. During the fight, Bruce knocked his father into his mother’s tombstone headfirst, killing him. At the time, Bruce believed it was an accident, but later came to believe he did it on purpose.
As an android with wind powers, the superhero Red Tornado doesn’t technically have parents, but he does have his creator named Thomas Oscar Morrow. T.O. Morrow was a scientist who was able to see into the future and steal technology that hadn’t been invented yet. Using his new inventions, T.O. Morrow built Red Tornado as a supervillain to defeat the Justice Society, but Red Tornado turned on him and became a hero instead.
T.O. Morrow and Red Tornado became mortal enemies with Morrow constantly trying to control his creation, and Red Tornado fighting for his freedom. At one point, a mutated copy of Morrow called himself Future Man discovered he was dying, so he tried to switch minds with Red Tornado. The experiment worked, but in 1981’s World’s Finest #268 (Gerry Conway, J.M. DeMatteis, Jose Delbo), Morrow was forced out of Red Tornado’s body, killing him.
John Constantine first appeared in 1984 with The Saga of Swamp Thing #37 by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. In his original appearances, he was an adviser to Swamp Thing on the supernatural and eventually got his own series. He also became a member of Justice League Dark. With all his mysterious and dark background, Constantine’s birth may be the darkest of all.
Constantine’s mother had been forced to get an abortion before becoming pregnant with him, leading her to suffer and die while giving birth to John. Constantine’s father is pretty much responsible for the death of his wife, but John shares some guilt for causing his mother’s death. Fortunately, Constantine grew up to become a powerful hero who uses his powers for the good of others.
Moondragon started out as Heather Douglas, a young girl riding with her family when their car passed Thanos’ spaceship landing. To hide his arrival, Thanos destroyed the car, leaving her as the only apparent survivor. She was found by Thanos’ father, Mentor, who took her to the planet Titan and she was raised by the alien monks of Shao-Lom. In her training, she developed psychic powers and martial arts as Moondragon.
It turned out she wasn’t the only one who survived the crash. Her father’s mind was transferred into a new body as Drax the Destroyer. He eventually returned to team up with Moondragon, but turned against her when she took over an alien world with her psychic powers. When Drax tried to stop her in 1982’s Avengers #220 (Jim Shooter, Bob Hall, Dan Green), Moondragon killed him. He was resurrected, but the damage was done.
Of all the New Gods created by Jack Kirby, the most heroic and longest lasting has been Orion. Born the son of the infamous dictator Darkseid, Orion was traded to the peaceful world of New Genesis to Highfather as a way of avoiding war. Even though he continued to live on New Genesis, Orion was dedicated to stopping his biological father’s plot to enslave the universe with the Anti-Life Equation. In fact, he was prophesied to kill Darkseid.
In 2008, Countdown to Final Crisis #2 (Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins) brought the prophecy to life as Orion fought to stop Darkseid from ruling the multiverse. Orion and Darkseid had a furious battle that ended with the hero ripping Darkseid’s heart out of his chest. Darkseid’s soul was reborn on Earth during Final Crisis, but Orion was the one to kill his body first.
Black Panther is one of the most prominent African-American superheroes in comics, a fierce warrior with high-tech weapons who also rules his native country as the king of Wakanda. He’s fought alongside the Avengers, fought crime in New York as a temporary replacement for Daredevil, and defended Wakanda from threats outside the country and within.
Before he became Black Panther, T’Challa was born as the son of the last Black Panther, T’Chaka. Sadly, Black Panther was never able to meet his mother because in 2016’s Black Panther #7 (Christopher Priest, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse), it was revealed that the queen of Wakanda N’Yami died in childbirth. It wasn’t Black Panther’s fault that she died really, but he did contribute to her death, so he counts among the ranks of parent-killers.
In 1983, Lobo was created by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen in Omega Men #3 as an alien warrior who was the last of the Velorpian race. He was later revamped into an alien biker who made fun of the 1990s anti-heroes like the Punisher and Wolverine, but Lobo ended up becoming just as popular as the heroes he was supposed to be mocking.
In 1990’s Lobo: The Last Czarnian (Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, Simon Bisley), Lobo’s origin was retconned to make his Utopian home planet of Czarnia one that he personally destroyed. He genetically engineered a plague of creatures with scorpion-like poisonous tails that wiped out his entire species, including his own family. Apparently, he did it as a child to win a science fair. Killing his parents was just a chance to get an “A.”
The king of the oceans in the DC universe is Aquaman, an ocean-dwelling hero who first appeared in 1941’s More Fun Comics by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. As a warrior with powers that let him live under the sea indefinitely, he’s also been a force to be reckoned with on land. When he’s not fighting with the Justice League, he also carries the responsibility of being the king of the ocean kingdom of Atlantis.
His background is tragic as he’s the son of a human lighthouse keeper, and a female outcast of Atlantis. In his original origin, his mother died soon after his birth from a mysterious illness. In the Flashpoint alternate reality, Aquaman killed his mother in childbirth, leaving him alone. The death of his father as well left him angry and violent.
The Inhumans were introduced in 1965, in Fantastic Four #45, along with their leader Black Bolt. Black Bolt was exposed to the Terrigen Mists as an embryo instead of later in life as the result of experiments by his parents, both members of the ruling council of the Inhuman city of Attilan. The experiment gave him amazing powers, most notable among which was a voice that can cause waves of destructive sound.
When he was older, an alien race known as the Kree worked with Black Bolt’s younger brother Maximus in a plot against the Inhumans. When the alien ship tried to escape, Black Bolt tried to use his voice to knock it down, but when the ship crashed, it landed on Attilan’s parliament, killing his parents along with the rest of the council. His guilt has helped him keep his vow of silence.
When it comes to killing parents, X-23 takes after her “father.” Scientists had been trying to copy their success with Wolverine’s healing factor and adamantium skeleton for decades without success. At one point, a secret organization called the Facility tried to create male clones of Wolverine with his DNA but kept failing. One scientist named Sarah Kinney had the idea to create a female clone, which survived.
Codenamed X-23, the girl was birthed and raised by Kinney as her surrogate mother. With accelerated healing and adamantium claws, X-23 grew up to be a fierce warrior, until she was given a mission to kill Zander Rice, the leader of the project. Rice used a trigger scent to put X-23 into a rage that made her kill her own mother. It wasn’t the first time she killed, but it is definitely the death she regrets most.
The parents of Peter Parker disappeared when he was young, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The elderly couple became his surrogate parents, taking care of him and raising him to be responsible. Uncle Ben, in particular, taught Peter that with great power comes great responsibility.
When Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider, he was changed into a teenager with spider-like powers. Adopting the wrestling persona of Spider-Man, Peter began using his powers to get rich instead of saving lives. When his selfishness made him let a thief go, Parker discovered the thief escaped to kill his Uncle Ben. Parker blamed himself for not stopping the thief and felt like he had killed his uncle. That guilt has driven Spider-Man to seek justice in the name of his adopted father.
When it comes to killing your parents, it’s hard to top what happened in Runaways, created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona in 2003. The series was about a group of kids who discovered their parents weren’t meeting together every year for a charity event. Instead, the children discovered their parents were a criminal organization called the Pride, who were trying to destroy the world for a trio of ancient gods.
The children ran away with items and weapons taken from their parents, exploring new powers and working together to try to stop the Pride. As the runaways were framed for murder and fought against their parents and each other, Runaways #17 (2004) brought the final confrontation between the two sides. The Runaways caused the undersea lair of the Pride to collapse, seemingly killing all their parents.
What was the worst parental death in comics? Let us know in the comments!
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