Follow TV Tropes

Following

Parental Substitute / Comic Books

Go To

  • In John Byrne's Alpha Flight, Shaman is the father-figure to Snowbird (a six-year-old adult), which is ironic considering his relationship with his real daughter. The daughter's baby-sitter and parental/big sister substitute Heather later on became the leader of Alpha Flight, after her husband (the original leader) died. Her husband has been a father substitute for Wolverine, of all people.
  • The Avengers has Hawkeye and Captain America, which has been alluded to several times in canon. Hawkeye, who had an abusive, alcoholic father and several irresponsible successors of that field, unconsciously sees Captain America as a father figure. This is highlighted whenever Hawkeye has a tough time and Cap is there to give him a pep talk or lecture. The earliest examples of the relationship, in fact, took place as soon as Hawkeye joined the team. He jokingly called Cap "dad" and Cap felt a responsibility to look after him. It doesn't help that Stan Lee initially intended for Hawkeye to be Cap's long-lost illegitimate son.
    • Its not uncommon for this to happen with any other young and not-so-young hero too. Bucky, Rick Jones (who himself like Doctor Strange also took care of Hulk when he was in child-like Savage Hulk mode), Spider-Man, and many other young heroes have looked up to Cap as a father and vice versa. He even acted sorta like this to Moon Knight (yes, THAT Moon Knight) in the Secret Avengers, being one of the few who didn't see him as nothing but a crazy schizoid and encouraging his more heroic attempts.
  • Batman is chock full of Parental Substitute goodness.
      Advertisement:
    • Bruce Wayne serves as a father-substitute for Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Cassandra Cain, all of whom he adopted in the Post-Crisis/Pre-Flashpoint continuity. Cass also has a mother substitute in Barbara Gordon.
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl the Wayne family took Barbara Gordon in after her parents were murdered.
    • Alfred has, through the years, gone back and forth between an objective servant, to legal foster father, to father figure and back, depending on the writer. However, it's become very common to portray him as an amalgam of the two - officially a servant, but acting as Bruce's surrogate father. This is shown strongly by Alfred being the only one who can tell Bruce off without any repercussions, and is openly stated by Alfred in the "Battle for the Cowl" arc:
      Superman: Alfred, are you alright?
      Alfred: Alright?... No, sir, I'm not... my son has died.
      • Bruce acknowledges this as well; in a Batman and the Outsiders special following Batman R.I.P., Bruce has left a prerecorded message for Alfred in case of his death where he calls Alfred his second father, and takes the opportunity to say "Goodbye, Dad".
      • Batman R.I.P. stresses the father/son relationship between Bruce and Alfred to the point where the possibility is raised that Alfred might be Bruce Wayne's biological father, if the scandalous rumors spread by the Black Glove are to be believed.
      • In the first issue of Superman/Batman, Clark's thoughts are about how complicated the relationship between Bruce and Alfred is, and that even he can't understand it completely.
    • Advertisement:
    • Damian Wayne sees Dick Grayson as a mix of an older brother and a father. Especially after his mother Talia was actually cloning him and deemed him not perfect enough and kicked him out of the Al Ghul's house.
    • Leslie Thompkins is occasionally referred to as a mother figure by Bruce. Depending on the Writer, she might have been his foster mother after his parents' deaths, but she was much less involved in his day-to-day upbringing than Alfred was.
    • Jim Gordon is sometimes played up as this as well, particularly in one episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Batman says that part of his close connection with Gordon is because Gordon is the same age Thomas Wayne would be were he still alive.
    • Batman's frequent role as a surrogate father-figure was ultimately deconstructed with Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Batgirl III). Stephanie was the daughter of the criminal Cluemaster and went into costumed crime-fighting to oppose him, and eventually gravitated into the Bat-family, but after she became Batgirl she realized that Bruce had been a horrible father figure (She even slapped him). She criticized him on all the manipulation that he put her through, as well as the generally condescending and dismissive attitude he had, and pointed out that the improvements she has made in her life were in spite of him, not because of him.
      • During her own series, Oracle/Barbara begins to act as one for Stephanie as well, which is strange considering Steph's mom is very much alive. She also acts like this to Wendy Harris, helping her deal with the loss of her legs and her brother, and help her re-enter the superhero world.
  • Advertisement:
  • During Marvel's Civil War, Tony "Iron Man" Stark and Peter "Spider-Man" Parker fell into a father/son relationship, until Peter realized he didn't like what Tony was up to and tried to rebel against Stark's superhuman registration initiative. After that, they stopped seeing eye-to-eye.
  • The Flash: Wally West considers Barry Allen as a more of father than his own biological one. In return Barry thinks of him as his own as well. Considering Barry's fate (or Wally's depending on universe), their relationship turns into Tear Jerker between them.
    • There is also Bart Allen, 'Impulse' and later 'Kid Flash' who comes from future. With his father being dead and his mother in future, he considers Max Mercury as his father figure. Like his predecessors Wally and Barry, theirs also ends in tragedy.
  • Doctor Strange has served as this for the Incredible Hulk's simple and childlike Savage Hulk incarnation. The Ancient One may have been a father-figure for Strange himself, judging by all the Like a Son to Me dialogue between them.
    • The Joe Fixit incarnation identified Michael Berengetti, the Mob boss he worked for in his Vegas thug days as a father figure.
    • When Bruce Banner’s father killed his mother and was institutionalized, he was taken in by his Aunt Susan, his father’s estranged sister, who, being a child of abuse herself, did everything she could to protect him and lavished him with all the care and attention she could. Subverted in that Bruce’s trauma, repressed emotions and vastly superior intelligence meant he could never really bond with her no matter how much she tried.
    • Immortal Hulk reveals that, of all the Hulk-sonas, the Devil Hulk, the one Bruce is most afraid of, was born of Baby Bruce's desire for a loving dad. But since Bruce "didn't know what love was", Devil's affection comes out in the form of wanting to kill Bruce's actual dad, and Bruce's fear warps his perceptions of what the Devil Hulk was trying to say into him being creepy and sinister, something he's put out about.
  • Power Girl:
    • Pre-New 52 Power Girl was already an adult woman when she arrived on Earth, but Superman and Lois Lane treated her as their daughter anyway.
      Power Girl: [tearfully] You took me in! You treated me like I was your daughter!
      Earth-2 Lois Lane: Oh, honey... as far as we were concerned, you were our daughter.
    • Post-New 52 Power Girl was a little child when her rocket landed on Earth. Pa and Ma Kent volunteered to raise her, and Superman took her in when she was a teenager.
  • In the Runaways series, Nico and Karolina serve this function for Molly and Klara, particularly in the last arc, "Home Schooling", in which Old Lace dies and Chase abandons the team.
  • In Gail Simone's Secret Six series, Bane tries to become a father figure to Scandal after she becomes depressed about the loss of her beloved Knockout. While he's not always good at it, since he never had a normal family life himself, they do eventually end up genuinely caring for each other this way. The fact that Scandal's actual dad is an utter monster who doesn't accept her sexuality doesn't hurt either.
  • Spider-Man is of course filled to the brim with parental substitutes, starting of course with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. After Ben Parker's murder, the irascible J. Jonah Jameson came to assume a quasi-paternal role, eventually playing "bad surrogate dad" to Joe Robertson's "good surrogate dad" (however Jonah, even though he is a notorious skinflint, footed the bill for Peter and Mary Jane's wedding). Gwen Stacy's father, Captain George Stacy, also took a kindly father approach to Peter (deducing his identity with Spider-Man) until his untimely death. In later years reporter Ben Urich, Ezekiel, Doc Connors (at times, in the Animated Series he even gave MJ away at their wedding), and detective Lamont would all take a fatherly attitudes to him. Not so many mother substitutes, although Betty and Gwen did have a tendency to mother the seemingly shy and insecure Peter Parker, and Aunt Anna functioned as a surrogate mother to Mary Jane.
    • In the movie adaptations, Norman Osborn tried to become Peter's paternal substitute in the first one.
    • Jameson also functioned as a father figure to Betty Brant. Betty's mother used to work as Jameson's secretary, and when she died Jameson gave Betty her mother's job to support herself. When Betty married Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds, Jameson was the one to give her away. She and Ned were Put on a Bus after that, and a Running Gag quickly developed that depicted Jameson going through all kinds of hassle trying to find a new secretary, which revealed just how much Jameson depended on Betty's help.
  • In the original Spider-Woman series, Charles Magnus serves this role for Jessica Drew.
  • Star Wars: Kanan: As in most master-padawan interactions Depa Billaba quickly becomes a mother figure to her padawan Caleb Dume, which contributes to how much guilt he feels over leaving her to her death even though she ordered him to decades later after he's taken up the name Kanan to hide from the Empire.
  • Supergirl has several parental figures.
    • Her cousin Superman is or tries to be this, always.
    • Pre-Crisis Supergirl was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers. They were loving, supportive parents, even after discovering that she was a super-powerful alien.
      Edna Danvers: To others, she's the world's greatest heroine, but she's more than that to us! She's the daughter we dearly love!
    • In the Post-Crisis series, Lana Lang filled in as her parental figure. In Bizarrogirl, Kara all but asks Lana to adopt her officially.
    • Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers become post-Crisis Kara's guardians when she moves into National City in Supergirl (Rebirth). They are both her DEO-appointed handlers and her foster parents, and they try to help her understand and adapt to Earth.
    • Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl: Wonder Woman became Kara's surrogate mother when she showed up on Earth.
  • Superman:
    • Superman, in turn, has taken on this role to Supergirl and, to some degree, to Jimmy Olsen.
    • Also Nightwing's, if Nightwing: Year One is any indication. After Batman fires him, he goes to see Clark. It's not hard to interpret it as a child getting away from his abusive father (the story portrays Batman as a Jerkass) and instead staying with his mother (the caring, nice Superman).
    • In Krypton No More, Superman is tricked into believing that Jonathan and Martha were really his birth parents and Fred and Edna Danvers are his cousin Linda's natural ones. Later on, he figures out that he was lied to.
  • In Venom we learn that Bennet Brant (Betty Brant's older brother) had a surrogate father-figure in the form of the Crime Master. This had the unfortunate effect of causing Bennet to take up the Crime Master identity years later when he decided to become a supervillain and continue the legacy of the original. He also took on Jack O'Lantern as a protégé/son-figure; given that Jack O'Lantern is basically an Ax-Crazy lunatic who runs around with a pumpkin on his head, you can guess how well that turned out.
  • In Violine, it turns out Violine's "mother" is really her father's old governess, Marushka, who falsely claimed to be her mother.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Julia Kapatelis acts as Diana's mother figure off of Themyscira. This set up is later revealed to have been partially arranged by the Olympians (or at least they take credit for it, which they're known to do for things they outright opposed), and works to give her someone else to trust, confer with and confide in at those times when Themyscira is unreachable.
  • X-Men: Professor Xavier was this to the original five, but especially serves as a father substitute for Cyclops. Which, given Charles's modern-day trend of grasping the Jerkass Ball, tends to make for a dysfunctional relationship.
    • Special mention to Xavier’s relationship with Storm, not only did he meet her before even creating the X-Men but he also gave her blessing to marry Black Panther and named her the most important mutant in history. One time Xavier and Storm were finally reunited after Skrulls had held him captive, Storm was overjoyed but Xavier gently told her to hush before they both started crying.
    • Wolverine has a tendency to become this to young teammates, especially female ones (Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Jubilee), but also e. g. to Colossus (in a more "tough love" kind of way).
    • Also from the X-Men, there's foundling Nightcrawler and his adoptive gypsy family, and his kinda-stepsister Rogue, raised by supervillain couple Mystique and Destiny after running away from home.
    • Surprisingly Gambit is a strong father surrogate for X-23, more so than even her older Opposite-Sex Clone Wolverine.
    • For a while, Scott/Cyclops himself would act like this, and occasionally still does. Unfortunately writers prefer writing him as a soldier and military leader rather than anything else so its becoming far less frequent.
  • Donald Duck to Huey, Louie and Dewey, and Uncle Scrooge to all four of them. Being raised by uncles or aunts is seen as such a big Disney convention that German Duck fans even coined a pseudo-scholarly term for the process: Veronkelung ("uncleification").

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report