Today is Father’s Day, which means dads everywhere are being celebrated. The intersection of fathers and comics is one fraught with history – both good and bad – but one ripe with wonderful examples of fatherhood.
My own journey through fatherhood has been exhilarating. I’m dad to three amazing kids, and they bring utter joy to my life every day. It’s an experience like no other. You start with this tiny, helpless person-shaped thing and hopefully wind up with a fully-functional adult, to whom you have hopefully imparted enough wisdom that they themselves can in turn share your parental legacy with their own kids. It’s awe-inspiring and humbling and sometimes terrifying but is the most rewarding gift life can bring.
Many of our favorite comic characters lives’ are defined by their parents in one way or another. It’s an easy storytelling device to give your character their motivations. Of course, comics has a lot of terrible fathers as well – as is the case with all pop culture – but for every Norman Osborn, there’s an Uncle Ben; for every Odin, you have a Pa Kent. Sterling examples to be looked up to in both awe and wonder, who though not perfect, strive to raise the best kids they can and thus play a crucial role in creating the heroes we know and love.
Fatherhood is Uncle Ben, who humbly spoke of power and responsibility and created a hero for it.
Fatherhood is Battlin’ Jack Murdock, who died for the sin of not wanting to fail his son and become something to be shunned.
Fatherhood is John Custer, who taught his son the most important lesson of all and was killed for it right before Jesse’s eyes.
Fatherhood is Jonathan Kent, who took a child not his own and raised him as though he were regardless.
Fatherhood is Jefferson Davis, who understands what it’s like to make difficult decisions for something better.
Fatherhood is Rick Grimes, who would stop at nothing to protect his son.
Fatherhood is a lot of things. It’s sacrifice. It’s patience. It’s sometimes frustrating. It’s sometimes disappointing. It’s love. It’s pride. It’s commitment. It’s awe and wonder. We can turn to comics and find a great many bad fathers, but there are plenty of great ones as well. But in the real world, we can choose to be our best selves for our children’s sake, and in our small way, hope to make the world just a little bit of a better place by impressing that best version of ourselves onto them.
And in that way, aren’t fathers just the teensiest bit like superheroes themselves…?
Thank you to all the fathers out there, real or imagined, related or not, who make the world a little bit of a better place just by being there. Hats off, too, to my fellow Comic Watch dads: Cody White, Rob Struble, Ross Hutchinson, Mike Eakins, and everyone else! Today is your day… enjoy it!
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