Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm Still Your Father

Fathers don't just have surprise reunions with their offspring on talk shows--they also occasionally happen in the pages of comics. Whether one venue is more dramatic than the other depends on your point of view; but generally you can count on fathers of super-heroes to have more of a twist on their story than just anger issues that explode on a television stage.

Take Franklin Storm, for instance--father to Sue and Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four, it seems that he's on the lam when the Mole Man attacks the city.

It seems that neither Sue nor Johnny have ever wanted to talk about their family with Reed or Ben--which is a little odd, considering the history that Reed and Sue have with each other and how they were even next door neighbors when they were kids. If Franklin Storm had been sent to prison, why wouldn't Sue have confided in Reed about it?

The answer comes when Sue is critically wounded in the FF's battle with the Mole Man--and Storm has no choice but to reappear in order to save her life, which opens the door to the secret that Sue has been keeping for many years.

We still don't know what Dr. Storm did to get himself put away in the big house--but he'd soon have bigger problems to worry about, when the Skrulls use him (after a fashion) to attack the FF as the Invincible Man.

Leonard McKenzie, the father of the Sub-Mariner, would also be a pawn in a trap laid by evildoers in order to conscript Namor into their service--and unfortunately he would suffer a similar fate. McKenzie is quite elderly at the time, but, captured in a befuddled state, the dimness of the years begins to clear when he's brought before Namor and he finally remembers his connection to his son.

The situation on board Llyra's sub escalates when Stingray tracks its location and engages in a no-holds-barred battle with Tiger Shark. In the confusion, Namor is able to escape imprisonment with his father--but this all too short reunion would have a tragic ending.

Both Tiger Shark and Llyra escape, though clearly they have much to answer for.

So does Nathaniel Richards, father to Reed, who has been located on a parallel Earth which had been devastated by war and the destruction of its moon. In the guise of "the Warlord," Nathaniel has been ruthlessly "lord"ing it over the planet's inhabitants--which didn't seem at all like the father Reed remembered.

Yet all was not as it seemed. When the FF arrived and attempted to confront Nathaniel in his citadel, they eventually discovered that the Warlord was in fact Nathaniel's scheming wife, Cassandra, who, lusting for power, had assumed his guise and gone on to ravage the planet, carefully keeping Nathaniel ignorant of what was going on. Once the FF uncovered her ruse and dealt with her, Nathaniel was eager to begin making amends.

Scott Summers wasn't quite as understanding when he finally discovered his father was alive as the rogue space adventurer, Corsair. It would take a little time for both of them to smooth out the rough spots.

Eventually, though, Scott and Corsair reconciled, and it was time for Scott's brother, Alex, to receive the good news, as well.

Corsair, of course, was far too late to reclaim the years he'd lost with his two sons, as they were fully grown men now--and he returned to his life with the Starjammers.

On occasion, though, it would be the parent who would find that their child was almost a total stranger to them. In the beginning, that wasn't the case at all with Professor John Grey, who had found a promising educational environment for his daughter, Jean:

But when Jean and her father would meet again in the pages of X-Men, Jean had... er, changed. And father and daughter had heated words for each other.

When all was finally said and done, things wouldn't end well for Jean--and thanks to the Shi'ar, who eventually decided this family tree needed serious pruning, her entire family line (with the exception of Rachel, her daughter from an unrealized future) was wiped out.  It's safe to say that the Shi'ar would never have been booked on a reunion show like "Ricki Lake." (Though we probably wouldn't have been able to rule out "Jerry Springer.")


Jason Atomic said...

Something strangely Kirdbyesque about Namor in that first Colan panel, was he doing layouts on these early issues?

Anonymous said...

Many of us have long suspected our fathers as being good candidates for being supervillains, I know I certainly did.
Ah, my Pop. If he had had access to a hollowed-out volcano as a lair, some advanced weaponry and an army of henchmen, he could have really shaken things up. He always did have a Dr. Doom vibe about him.

B Smith said...

First Colan panel? I was going to say there was something unColanesque about the Namor in the second panel shown....almost Ross Andru-ish, except Fen looks fairly unAndru-ish, so perhaps I'd best leave it.

Comicsfan said...

B, I noticed the Andru likeness of Namor, as well.