Kyle Wylie on some super role models.
When I was a young boy, I had a love affair with comic books. I remember gathering any little money that I could and visiting the local comic book shop and picking up the new releases of some of my favorite superheroes. Although I don’t read them as much as I used to, I still appreciate what those amazing stories meant to me growing up. Now that I’m a father, it means a lot to use those experiences to bond with my young son, who is currently developing his own mini-obsession with the repackaged versions of heroes such that I once enjoyed.
I thought it would be cool to explore the subject or fatherhood in the comic book universe. For better or worse, fathers have shaped the lives of some of our favorite superheroes and villains. What follows are my picks for the greatest father figures in that world.
Before I get into it, I’d like to mention that while researching for this article I had a difficult time finding positive father figures. Even the characters that I mention below had some sort of terrible tragedy that befell them that directly or indirectly affected the people who loved them. Then again, I guess that’s what makes for a great storyline: an individual facing struggle digs deep to overcome the odds and emerges with the resolve to protect the innocent. We eat that stuff up. Besides, a character that grew up with wholesome, nurturing, parents who lived to be 85 would probably be boring to read about.
4. Uncle Ben (Spider-Man). While not his biological father, Uncle Ben has been a huge influence on Peter Parker’s life. When Peter’s parents died in a plane crash, Ben and his wife Mae stepped up to the plate without another thought and raised Peter as their own son. His untimely murder at the hands of a bank robber had a long lasting effect on Peter’s psyche, ultimately guiding him in his decision to become Spider-Man. He realizes that he needs to use his new found powers to help others over personal gain. This quality of noble selflessness is a seed that was planted by his uncle when he taught Peter that “with great power comes great responsibility.” As a matter of fact, if you look at earlier issues, you see a Peter Parker that was a nerdy kid who was constantly bullied due to his nerdy disposition. He is actually quoted as saying something along the lines of, “Someday, I’ll make them pay.” If Peter wasn’t given that moral compass by his uncle Ben, who knows? Maybe he would have carried a chip on his shoulder that would have led him to become one of the greatest villains of all time as opposed to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
3. Commissioner James Gordon (Batman). Okay, this one is a little tricky. As an actual father one could argue that he wasn’t really that great. His son, James Jr. became a psychotic serial killer that he eventually had to bring in. He is completely aware that is adopted daughter Barbara (actually his niece) is running around in a skin tight outfit, fighting all sorts of sordid characters in Gotham city, yet he chooses to be in denial about it.
To me, what deems him worthy of being on this list is his relationship with Batman. Over the years their relationship has evolved from one of skepticism to one of great trust and dependence. There are numerous occasions where Batman has looked to him for advice and Gordon has even saved his life at time or two.
2.Professor Charles Xavier (The X-Men). Some allege that the inspiration for Charles Xavier was Martin Luther King, Jr. and his struggles during the civil rights era. In that spirit, Prof X has always been portrayed as the fearless leader of a peaceful solution between human and mutant kind. Met with extreme and often violent opposition, he has been persistent in his goal and has consistently remained optimistic of humans and mutants coexisting (much to the chagrin of former friend and current rival, Magneto). Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, the school he founded, is a haven for persecuted mutants all over the world. Indeed, Xavier has been a strong paternal figure providing guidance for countless mutants, the most notable of which is Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops.
1.Jor-El and Pa Kent (Superman). These guys are hands down, tied for number one. They each represent the ideals of fatherly love, sacrifice and the role of a father to guide in a young boy into manhood.
Jor-El, a brilliant Kryptonian scientist who after realizing that his volatile planet was going to explode, sacrificed his own life to ensure his son Kal- El would survive. Once Kal- El’s ship landed on Earth, he was found and quickly adopted by the Kent family. Through the lifelong teachings of Jon, Kal-El (Clark) developed those small town values, a love of Earth and the people in it. This laid the groundwork to what eventually would become the driving force behind Superman’s desire to help others.
In the end, I think what makes these father figures so compelling is that they represent the collective values that we appreciate in an ideal patriarch. The ideals that they represent are ones that we as men and as fathers should strive to emulate every day in our own lives.
So what do you guys think? If there is anyone else that I am missing on this list, please feel free to comment below and why. Happy reading and excelsior!