Wicked 10: Terrible Comic Book Dads

Wicked 10: Terrible Comic Book Dads



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If comics have taught us anything, it’s what not to do as a father. From Darkseid to Thanos and all points in between, here are the ten worst dads in comics.

Father’s Day has come and gone, and most of the country spent Sunday afternoon reflecting on all that the patriarchs of the households have done for us. Maybe you don’t always see eye to eye, but there’s plenty you can learn from fathers. Just don’t take parenting tips from the pages of the comics. When it comes to bad dads, these characters lower the bar to the floor.

Raising kids is not easy. Oftentimes, it’s a thankless job, especially in the rebellious teenage years. In the end, it’s worth every hardship and sacrifice to see your children happy. At least, that’s how normal parents think. When it comes to parenting, these guys are among the worst. Maybe it’s relentless abuse. Maybe it’s turning a kid into a brutal killing machine just to get dear old dad’s affection. Sometimes, it’s got to do with murdering innocents in front of their kids’ eyes. For all those reasons and more, these are ten of the worst fathers in all comics. 


Peacemaker’s HBO Max show combined a couple of characters to make his far-from loving father, Auggie Smith, aka Red Dragon. We learned that Auggie is the supervillain leader of a white supremacist/neo-Nazi. The comics told a different story. Instead, Peacemaker’s dad is the former Nazi, Wolfgang Schmidt. If he had only served in Hitler’s army, that would have been bad enough, but Wolfgang actually was the commandant of a concentration camp responsible for the deaths of more than 50,000 Jewish people.

We don’t see a lot of Wolfgang throughout the comics, but it would appear that he wasn’t necessarily a horrible father. For the most part, he seemed like a fairly normal dad and successful businessman. When Wolfgang’s Nazi-loving past was uncovered, he committed suicide before the news went public. If that wasn’t emotionally damaging enough, he did the deed on his son’s fifth birthday. After that, Christopher was haunted by visions of his dead dad. Wolfgang would appear to Peacemaker in full Nazi uniform, berating Christopher as a constant failure.


The X-Man whose popularity helped save the title from being canceled altogether in the 1970s will celebrate his 190th birthday this year. Until Logan’s origin story gets retconned yet again, the comics say James Howlett was born in 1832. For a guy who is approaching 200 years old, he certainly doesn’t look it. Is it from his mutant healing ability or could it be an unhealthy amount of botox injections? He’ll never tell.

Being the super-ripped, manliest of men for almost two centuries, there’s no doubt that Wolverine has spread his seed far and wide. Boy do the writers enjoy toying with that concept. Besides having clones, there are plenty of little Logans running around the Marvel-616. Every few years, the creative team decides to add a new to the mix and cross their fingers that the Wolver-kid gets as popular as the old man. 

The indication is that the old man couldn’t care much less about any of them than he already does. The only one of his kids he seems to halfway like is Laura Kinney, aka X-23 and the all-new, all-different Wolverine. The fact that he prefers his clone over his children is a psychiatric study in itself.

Understandably, that creates serious rifts between him and his progeny. Remember Daken, the Dark Wolverine? Yeah, Wolverine held his face in a puddle of water until he drowned. But in Logan’s defense, Daken was a homicidal maniac, and he did get resurrected years later. Still, death by puddle drowning is a bad way to go, especially when your old man is the one to do it.


Wolverine may be a terrible, deadbeat dad, but at least he didn’t torment them and his grandson. At least Logan can claim to be a better parental role model than Eddie Brock’s abusive old man, Carl. 

We really saw the worst of Carl Brock during Donny Cates’ epic Venom run. Carl’s abuse toward Eddie was explored, and we also got a hint of how he mistreated Dylan. It was later revealed that Dylan was Eddie’s son, so that means Carl kept the abuse in the family by beating both his son and his grandson. The day will come when some form of Venom gets his revenge, and that will be a day worth celebrating. 


Wolverine may have enough kids to start his own baseball team complete with a bullpen, but he’s got nothing on Zeus. The God of the Sky and the King of Olympus fathers kids like a vending machine dealing sodas at a high school. Sometimes he has godly kids with his wife, Hera, but many times it’s with various mortals. After the little demi-gods are born, it’s adios and back to Mount Olympus while Hera plots revenge on Zeus’ side chick and little bundles of joy. Hercules enjoys boasting about his godly heritage in comics, but Hera tormented him for years. Maybe if Zeus had cared a little more - or have kept his libido in check for once - he could have protected Herc.


Ancient, all-powerful gods can basically do anything. They were the original superheroes, and comics publishers have always tapped into their divine abilities for creative inspiration. Along came Marvel Comics, and suddenly Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is a bonafide, cape-wearing superhero. Once the floodgates were open, both Marvel and DC dipped into ancient mythology to bring many more gods and goddesses to their respective universes. 

One thing about the comics and their interpretations of the gods is that none of them make for great parents. Take the All Father himself, Odin. He is considered one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel-616. His rune magic puts him on par with the likes of Zeus and Galactus. He also has a short fuse like his favorite son. In fact, he’s beaten up Thor a few times in the comics. Once, when the thunder god dared to interrupt his mother’s trial, Odin nearly killed Thor. Perhaps Asgard could use a god of family therapy. 


Before anyone complains, I realize that the modern interpretation on the Victor Creed/Logan relationship is defined as being siblings. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the story was much more interesting. Chris Claremont wrote Sabretooth as Wolverine’s god awful parent. 

The story was that Sabretooth looked at Wolverine as the inferior version of himself. Since the two have their mutant healing abilities, Victor knew he couldn’t kill Logan, so he tortured him physically and emotionally every chance he got. Normal people get their kids a birthday cake and a present, but Sabretooth had his own special way of remembering Logan’s birth. Each year, no matter where Wolverine was hiding, Sabretooth would find him and murder romantic partner just in case the “runt” was getting too happy. At least he remembered his baby boy’s birthday.


Where Marvel has Mephisto as their acting Satan incarnate, DC has Trigon the Terrible. He conquers entire planets and turns their populations into slaves. In fact, he conquered his first world when he was just one year old. By the time he turned six, he had destroyed another. When he was born, he killed everyone present at his birth, including his mother. Over the course of his life, he has ruled millions of planets, though Earth eluded his grasp. Enter: Raven.

More famous than Trigon is his superheroic daughter, Raven. As a member of the Teen Titans, she has had many showdowns with her demonic dad. Maybe we have all misunderstood Trigon. He only wants Raven to take up the family business of enslaving billions of sentient beings. Maybe attempting to murder all her friends and set her home planet on fire didn’t bring them closer together. Who knew? Then again, it’s hard not to hold a grudge when your dad leaves you to be raised by a satanic cult of demon worshippers. 


Parents don’t get much worse than Omni-Man. To be fair, he was a good father to Mark Grayson for the first 17 years of his life. They lived what appeared to be a fairly normal life in the Midwest in true Superman fashion. Nolan and Debbie Grayson seemed to be a loving couple raising an emotionally well-adapted son. At that time, Nolan was pretending to be the world’s greatest hero, fighting off threats around the globe all while still being a responsible dad and husband. 

It wasn’t necessarily an act because he did truly love Mark, but Omni-Man would show his true colors as a bloodthirsty Viltrumite bent on world domination. As soon as Mark gained his powers, Nolan massacred the Guardians of the Globe and explained his true purpose. Then he nearly beat Mark to death while committing mass murder basically to prove the point that, compared to his duty to Viltrum, human beings meant nothing. That is taking tough love to the extreme.

We can’t ignore the fact that Omni-Man had other satellite operations in effect as well. While he may have been a decent father to Mark, he was definitely playing favorites. Nolan had kids on other planets that he basically ignored. On top of his psychotic tendencies, we can add intergalactic deadbeat dad to the list as well.


If you’re looking for a parental role model, Thanos is a great bad example. Although the Black Order call themselves “the Children of Thanos,” they are actually his army. The most famous of his adopted daughters, Gamora and Nebula, are held to a higher standard. By adopted, I mean more like kidnapped. After taking them under his wing, Thanos flooded them with his malice and cruelty. His parenting philosophy is basically “survival of the fittest,” and he trained them as assassins from a very young age. Just imagine, instead of your dad cheering for you at a Little League game, he’s refereeing your murderous sparring session. 

Let’s not forget the time when he had the Infinity Gauntlet with all six gems and how he tortured Nebula. Before he was resurrected for the epic story, she stole his ship, the Sanctuary II, and claimed Thanos was her grandfather. She was actually his daughter, but I don’t think I would want the world knowing he was my parent, either. 

When the Mad Titan returned, he was none too happy. After he collected the Infinity Gems, Thanos burned her with energy beams. Instead of letting her die, he used the gems to transform her into a grotesque zombie-like creature. She was neither alive nor dead and in constant agony. Nebula eventually gained the Infinity Gauntlet and changed back to her normal form. Instead of settling for righting Thanos’ wrongs, she lived up to dear old dad and attempted to conquer the universe herself. Of course, Thanos helped spoil that, too. What an a-hole.


In all of comics, an argument can be made that Darkseid is the absolute worst of the worst. He’s basically the interdimensional space Satan who reigns over the fiery Hell that is Apokolips. No matter how horrible Thanos has been, he aspires to Darkseid’s level of cruelty. Even as a child, Darkseid manipulated Desaad into killing his beloved cat then made him feel so guilty that it basically corrupted his soul. That would only be the start of his maniacal career as an intergalactic despot as he laid waste to entire planets on his path to find the Anti-Life Equation. 

Anyone who takes pride in being the most horrendous godlike being in all of the universe naturally isn’t exactly parenting material. That didn’t stop Darkseid from fathering many children, whom he treated as weapons. Kalibak will stoop to any level of depravity to gain just the slightest hint of approval from his father. Once, he attacked Orion without Darkseid’s say so. After Kalibak’s defeat, Darkseid vaporized him as punishment. Being the good guy that Darkseid is, he resurrected Kalibak when he thought he had learned his lesson. 

That’s better treatment than Mister Miracle received. In a peacekeeping deal with rival New Genesis, Darkseid and Highfather exchanged children. Darkseid sent Orion to New Genesis while Mister Miracle lived on Apokolips, where he was tortured virtually day and night. Mister Miracle would eventually escape, but the experience left him deeply scarred. 

As for Orion, he grew into a great warrior for his new home. That would put him at odds with Apokolips and Darkseid. To kick off the events of Final Crisis, Darkseid murdered his son when he shot him with a time-traveling bullet. At least he was creative about it.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.

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