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Adult Fear / Comic Books

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  • The Amory Wars: Coheed and Cambria are forced to kill three of their four children early on, with the youngest (the twins, Matthew and Maria) getting poisoned and the oldest (Josephine, who had gotten engaged, and shortly after, gang raped while her fiancé is beaten) getting beaten to death with a hammer. The second oldest, Claudio, was out with his girlfriend when it happened, and when he gets home he finds Josie dead on the kitchen floor.
  • 52:
    • The Question is suffering from terminal lung cancer exacerbated by years of smoking as his body and mind gradually waste away. Despite his history of fighting alien menaces and international conspiracies there is nothing he can do to stop his cancer from metastasizing.
    • His companion, Renee Montoya, previously used a laser gun to prevent the an assassination attempt against a Physical God. Upon finding out her friend's dying of cancer, she takes him on a journey to a mystic city that can cure him. He dies just outside the gate.
  • Deadpool is a Papa Wolf in general, with one of his Berserk Buttons being harming children. But, this is doubled when it comes to his own daughter, Eleanor. He constantly worries for his daughter's safety. On three separate occasions, he has been seen willing to beg for her life, or beg someone to help him save her.
  • Runaways:
    • The kids fight vampires, aliens, and evil robots, but the only reason they have to deal with these things in the first place is that their own parents turn out to be evil. For most of them, this comes as a shock; for Chase, not so much. Then they all start living in underground hideaways and putting themselves in danger to keep LA safe from the power vacuum created by their parents, resulting in even more physical and emotional trauma and, in Gert's case, death.
    • In one of the earlier chapters, Frank Dean attacks other members of the Pride and completely freaks out when Karolina disappears.
    • When the kids accidentally travel to the past and run into Dale and Stacey Yorkes (before they died), the Yorkeses are quite panicked and ask straight away if their daughter is with them. When they learn that Gertrude is dead, they immediately plan to return to her and make sure she's safe. Then they bring over a futuristic bomb to get revenge on the kids for letting Gert die in any timeline.
      • From the same arc, there is Mr. Prast. We don't know his first name, we only hear a few lines of dialogue from him, and he only appears in one or two panels in the entire arc, but the things he does to Klara are enough to horrify even Xavin.
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    • In the Age of Ultron alternate universe Victor Mancha is the caretaker of a bunch of orphans, and the last of the original Runaways alive. The AoU Mancha has two simple fears, less glamorous but scarier than his past ones: he fears to be unable to protect his protegees, and he fears the day he'll start forgetting about the past and the happy moments he shared with his now absent friends.
    • Kathryn Immonen seems to love using this trope when she writes the team. In her "Homeschooling" arc, a sudden accident kills Old Lace and buries Klara under a pile of rubble, and in "It's Not Lupus", Molly and Chase become violently ill for no immediately-clear reason. Immonen also wrote the above-mentioned Age of Ultron one-shot.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Action Comics #252, Kara's parents see their fellow citizens dying everywhere and the only way to save their daughter is constructing a rocket, blasting her off into space, and praying for her survival.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton, Superman fears losing his cousin the way his friends lost their respective protégées.
      Superman: I know the others think I stepped over the line bringing up Donna and Jason. There is nothing more horrible — and I have seen incredible horror — than the death of a child.
    • In Bizarrogirl Superman is away, Bizarrogirl rampages through Metropolis, and Supergirl looks for her Bizarro doppelganger, so Dollmaker takes advantage of the chaos to kidnap several kids.
  • Hey, remember those "terrorist organizations" that used to show up in Saturday morning cartoons? Wearing identical uniforms and commanded by hamfisted martinettes with delusions of grandeur? Well, then take a look at the JSA vs Kobra minseries, in which a chess-playing former analyst takes control of one such organization, and proceeds to turn it into, well, a terrorist organization — members who could be anyone, improvised explosive devices — but with all the reach and potential resources of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink universe. Ever wondered what a terrorist organization would do with mind-control magic and bargain basement enhancive tech?
  • The Marvel Comics event Fear Itself is ultimately driven by Odin's fear of losing his son Thor and the desperate, insane measures he takes to prevent it from coming to pass. He fails.
  • Scott Lang's entire tenure as Ant-Man. He became a petty thief due to his inability to support his own daughter, and faced jail time for that. Freed, he was forced again to steal, this time the Ant-Man duds and Pym Particles because it was the only way to get a doctor able to cure his daughter's failing heart. Ultimately, dad and daughter were able to enjoy a few years of happiness: just for Scott Lang to see Cassie brutally killed in front of his eyes. Ouch.
    • This is Played for Laughs in the MC 2 universe, where Cassie Lang is a grown-ass woman and a superhero and perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but Scott still frets over her as if she's a little girl.
  • Ma and Pa Kent experienced this as they watched helplessly as their adopted son was beaten to a bloody pulp and then died on national television. To make matters worse, they weren't even allowed to attend his funeral.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • The comics kicks off with the Cutie Mark Crusaders up to their usual adorable shenanigans, trying to get their cutie marks in Fluttershy's backyard... and then they get attacked by animals.
    • In issue five, the main cast is plagued with nightmares that are disturbingly mundane and realistic: Twilight dreams about being rejected by her mentor, Applejack dreams about not being able to provide for her family, Rainbow Dash dreams about her wings being broken, etc. All of them are things that more terrifying due to the fact that they could actually happen.
    • In issue 71, the Mane Six get a message from Twilight wrong, their conflicting contributions accidentally turning the Haunted House they created into a deathtrap. Which their students just went into.
  • In the very first issue of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, a pair of kids are killed when Godzilla makes his arrival. And it doesn't stop there. Another kid gets swallowed alive by Rodan, a girl loses her parents and brother to Godzilla and she gets a concussion during a fight between [MechaGodzilla] and Anguirus. The sequel series has the main character Boxer lose two girls, one being a girl he was a bodyguard for and the other was his daughter who was killed during Godzilla's landfall in Los Angeles.
    • Gangsters and Goliaths, what sets Makoto Sato off on Takahashi is the latter threatening his sons.
    • Godzilla Legends has a young psychic boy getting kidnapped by shapeshifting aliens who want to use him for his psychic connection with Titanosaurus to aide in their conquest of Earth.
  • In noche (aka Betty by night or Betty by the hour) Adult Fear is one of the drives behind Betty's decision to keep being an hooker. She began whoring herself some years before the birth of her son to support her deadbeat father at first, then herself. Then, her son happened, and she keeps selling herself to grant him the lifestyle they grew accustomed to, knowing that, in time, she'll lose her livelihood along with her beauty. She also tried more menial jobs: her livelihood was so severely reduced that she was quickly forced to return to her main and more lucrative profession.
    • Played for Laughs, due to the comical nature of the series, but really much the primal Adult Fear: Betty is really competent at her job. But she loathes it, and, furthermore even her son, when he's not appreciating their nice home, his fancy new toys and having the happy childhood her mother lacked, seems ashamed to have a Single Mom Stripper as a single parent. However, she can't leave her work without having her son potentially fall into the same hardships and misery that brought her on the streets beforehand, but, also, she's painfully aware that her biological clock is ticking, and someday she'll be just too old to keep on with their lifestyle.
  • Batman:
    • Batman villain Scarecrow's main schtick of using fear gas usually produces horrifying but improbable hallucinations, like being covered in spiders or suffering some kind of Body Horror, but some of his victims cry out in fear for loved ones or memories of past abuse. Batman for one is forced to relive the murder of his sidekick and adopted son, Jason Todd, when exposed to fear toxin.
    • A Death in the Family, as the title would suggest, centers entirely around Bruce Wayne being forced to bury his son Jason, with all of the horror and tragedy that concept implies.
      Batman: I've always wondered... always... Was he scared at the end? Was he praying I'd come save him? And in those last moments when he knew that I wouldn't... did he hate me for it?
    • Your ex shows up, demanding the return of the child you two sharenote , who she'd previously placed a large bounty on, and threatens to destroy your whole city if she doesn't get her way. You try to fight it, but your allies keep falling, and in the end you have watch as your son is murdered by one of your ex's minions. Yeah, there's a reason Batman is progressively losing it in the Batman and Robin title... and the Future's End: Batman & Robin one-shot revolved around the culmination of this trope in an alt-futurenote .
    • Batman's schtick in general is this. Whereas most heroes worry about similarly costumed villains, aliens, conspiracies and magical beings; Batman is just as likely to be taking down violent gangs, drug-dealers, crime families and serial killers as he is to fight Penguin, Scarecrow and the like.
    • The Riddler knows perfectly well that he could make a good living and be happy if he turned face...but he can't bring himself to stop committing crimes. Imagine being so mentally ill you inadvertently destroy every chance you get for happiness and success but still sane enough to realize you're doing it. Over and over and over.
    • From The Killing Joke:
      • Imagine being a father stripped naked forced to look at naked pictures of your bloody newly paralyzed daughter.
      • Also, imagine being informed that your pregnant wife was just fatally electrocuted.
    • Robin Series: Despite being a worthless father, who is abusive without even realizing it, Jack Drake's utter panic and threatening Bruce away from further contact with his son with a gun upon discovering his son is running around Gotham at night fighting criminals as Robin is completely justified.
    • The Batman Adventures: Hugo Strange. Going mad from the death of your son, and not being able to stop it. Seeing his face everywhere you look. Bonus points for also resembling an old man suffering from Alzheimer's, itself an Adult Fear in its own right.
  • Some of the concepts in X-Men plays pretty heavily on this. Some people view mutants as monsters, meaning your child might turn out to be this. Even for those who accept mutants, God Loves, Man Kills give us the image of two small children murdered on a playground simply because they are mutants: the world is full of danger that preys on the vulnerable.
    • Perhaps no more potent for any character than for Chris Summers. Bad enough that he thought his sons were dead. Turns out they survived, but the mistreatment in their childhoods left quite a lot of damage. He is still trying to protect Scott, to keep from losing him... again.
  • The Babysitter in Blankets by Craig Thompson. His face is never shown fully, and it's revealed that the babysitter molested Craig and his little brother. Given how traumatic this event was, chances are his parents didn't even know this happened until the book was published!
  • Comes up more than once in Ms. Marvel from the very first issue, culminating in #9 when Kamala Khan returns home after a giant robot attacked her high schoolnote :
    Aisha Khan, Kamala's mother: Imagine how I felt, seeing the news and driving to the school like a maniac to look for you—and you weren't there! I thought you were crushed in the rubble! We came here so our children would be safe—safe from the chaos and corruption and bombings back home. Only after we arrived did we discover school shootings, date rape drugs and gangs. And now giant robots! What did I do to deserve this...
  • And Then Emily Was Gone is all about a young girl, Fiona, looking for her missing friend Emily. Everyone believes Emily just ran away, but Emily herself said she was being hunted by Bonnie Shaw, the bogeyman.
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Dr. Storm is repeatedly afraid of losing his children to monstrous creatures and beings beyond his comprehension because of the world they now inhabit. And he's powerless to stop it.
  • 100 Bullets gives an absolutely chilling example when a waitress is visited by the main character Agent Graves who tells her what happened to her missing daughter, whom it turns out had run away from home, became a drug addict, and a prostitute, eventually dying of AIDS while still in her teens. and is giving her the opportunity to kill the person responsible for causing this and not receive any comeuppance. Turns out it was her husband who had been raping their daughter for years. She doesn't hesitate.
  • Violine:
    • The title character is a 10-year-old girl who spends nearly the entire story being chased, attacked or otherwise left in the company of adults who do not have her best interests in mind. Her mother is cold and abusive, the family doctor is perfectly fine with harming her if it means continuing to be paid large amounts of money, her teachers are unfeeling (and the one who actually is nice to her turns out to be heartlessly selling animals to the school for dissection and cares only about the money). Things get even more distressing when she goes to Africa to find her father. There, she's nearly eaten by crocodiles multiple times, is nearly poisoned several times by the disguised doctor, captured by a dictator, held at gunpoint, abandoned in the open ocean, attacked by a sadistic military leader (multiple times, in fact, and the later attempts have him with robotic arms that could easily crush her throat, something which he's very open about threatening), and forced to abandon a ship filled with explosives. Oh, and from the third volume onward, her father is with her for all of this. While he does his best to protect her, he often is forced to watch as both of them are shoved into deadly situations that he might not be able to save her from.
    • There's also the part where her father tells his side of the story. His happy childhood fell to pieces when his parents left him in the care of a nanny who turned out to be incredibly controlling and abusive. They only found out about this when they came home earlier than she expected and found that she'd locked the poor kid up. And yet not only does she manage to convince them to keep her around, but she poisons them, leaving him in her care for the rest of his life. He has to run away from home when he realizes that she and her brother plan to turn him into an invalid so they can continue to control his money, which leaves him homeless and forced to run to a country he's never been to before. Things get a lot better as he works his way up to a good job, marries the love of his life, and has a daughter, then everything falls apart as his wife is kidnapped during a revolution, he sacrifices his chance to find her to save baby Violine (who was left in her crib in a burning house), and has to abandon his wife just to make sure his child is rescued from an incredibly unstable and unsafe country. His abusive nanny is still at his old house and manages to convince him to do exactly what his own parents did - leave his child in her care while he leaves to find his wife. He is arrested when he returns to Africa and spends nearly a decade either in prison or on the run. And while he and his daughter are later reunited, he learns that the nanny lied about being Violine's real mother and raised her as abusively as he had been. To cap it all off, the last issue reveals that Violine's fake mother is a master hypnotist, which is undoubtedly how she'd kept her position for so long. Not only does it add a new layer of creepiness to her (she's an abusive guardian who can force anyone with the power to get rid of her to let her stay, no matter if she's caught or not), but she uses that power to hypnotize Violine's dad into trying to kill her.
  • Birthright opens with the main protagonist playing with his father in the woods, and then in one moment, he disappears without a trace. The comic is about him being transported to a fantasy realm to fight evil, but it also focus on the aftermath of a family dealing with their child going missing, and eventually breaking apart when the father is accused of murdering his son and hiding the body.
  • Horror comic Clean Room focuses on monsters, but the first scare is when a little girl is run over by a car in front of her family, twice. Her parents are powerless to help until afterward.
  • The ending of Plutona is terrifying for any parent. Teddy was out sick from school for a couple of days but said he was well enough to go back. Then he never came home. His parents will absolutely blame themselves for not asking more questions in those days and odds are good they will never get answers of any kind.
  • Ice Cream Man runs on this trope. While it does contain some more standard horror elements most of the really scary stuff comes from things like losing a child, witnessing the death of a loved one, drug abuse, going nowhere in life and other adult concerns and anxieties.
  • Wonder Woman: Hippolyta's fear of losing her daughter has driven the plot of several Wonder Woman tales.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In an issue where Hippolyte is reminiscing about Diana's childhood she recounts a story in which Paradise Island was invaded and she'd thought the islands few precious children, including Diana and Mala had been sent safely away, only for Diana to jump out from behind one of the attackers to tackle her and get captured. It all worked out in the end, but Hippolyte had to watch helpless as her young daughter was taken down by a foe that had already defeated and disarmed Hippolyte.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): After hearing a prophecy that Wonder Woman will die Polly manipulates the events of The Contest to put Artemis in the costume in place of her daughter. In the end while Artemis does indeed end up killed eventually so too does Diana, whose death is directly caused by the actions her mother took to ensure she wouldn't win the contest.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Hippolyta's fear of outliving her mortal daughter due to her own immortality causes her to try to force Diana to accept becoming one of the god's champions despite the manipulative and cruel practices of the Olympians which drives Diana away from her in her teenage years. Eventually Hippolyta acquiesces and allows Diana to leave the island knowing she'll likely never see her daughter again.
    • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Hippolyta's daughter runs away from the safety of their paradise Warrior Heaven home and gets killed while someone Hippolyta trusts hides that Diana ever left. While Diana is able to return, this time as a true Amazon as she died in battle protecting others, the fact that her daughter went through such hardship and danger and it was hidden by someone who she trusts to tell her the truth and advice is no less nightmarish.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Veronica Cale's daughter is cornered by two men and left in a vegetative state during a school field trip, with no one even noticing anything was amiss until the attack was over and the men had walked off. The magical nature of the attack notwithstanding this is a parent's nightmare.
  • Wendigo Wood: Hank Williamson came home from Korea to spend time with his daughter, only for her to go missing while he was away. His search for her lead him to a forest full of Wendigoes.
  • Simon Dark includes such circumstances as a teenage girl being attacked by a serial killer in her own kitchen right after her father wishes her goodnight, and a teacher who is a serial rapist preparing to kidnap girls from the local high school.
  • Spider-Man: Life Story: A good chunk of Life Story #3 deals with this. Aunt May in her dementia state taking Peter's babies for a stroll only to get distracted and stare at a window while abandoning the kids, only for them to be recovered by NYPD is full of this.
  • In one of the Max Finder graphic novels, the titular character, a middle school detective, breaks his leg during a nighttime investigation of the local river (the scene of the crime) due to a collision with the culprit; while here the injury was accidental on the culprit's part and they were non-malicious, in real life, even a previously nonviolent criminal could very well decide that the Snooping Little Kid needs to be silenced. Then in the following mystery, a housebound Max gets very bored and starts spying on one of his neighbors, getting partner Alison and mutual friend Zoe to help with the investigation when said neighbor starts looking like a possible culprit in a recent theft at a local computer store; when the neighbor discovers them digging through his garbage, he and his friends are furious and the neighbor personally storms into Max's bedroom, with the solution text all but stating he went up there to cripple Max by breaking his other leg; while Max is able to defend himself by whacking the guy upside the head with one of his crutches and Alison is able to talk him down before things escalate further by proving Max's suspicions were misplaced, all of the "criminals" were older than Max, Alison and Zoe and had they been the criminals Max suspected them to be, a second broken leg would probably have been the least of his worries.
  • In Superman Forever, Lex Luthor finds out that his infant daughter Lena is missing and goes ballistic. Superman helps Lex find his missing daughter and rescues her from Bizarro, who threatened to blow her up with dynamite to send her off in a rocket similar to how Superman was sent from Krypton to Earth.
  • Democracy: The terror in Promachus' eyes when he sees his son coming near at him (while he himself is trapped under someone) and a Scythian archer is about to kill him (and probably killing Leander after he is done with him) says it all.
    Promachus: Leander… run home! Run…
  • Red Xmas: Every adult in the world has their child kidnapped by an evil Santa Claus.


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