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Behind every good man is a good … mom. Comic books may not always be kind to moms — just ask Martha Wayne, Mary Parker or Lara-El — but the moms who do survive their children’s origin stories go on to do some pretty incredible things. So in honor of Mother’s Day, here are six comic book “mom” moments, where mothers really stepped up to the plate for their kids.
1. Martha Kent knits Superman’s costume: I’m not totally 100 percent sure if this is still considered to be in continuity or not, but it’s something I always accepted — that Ma Kent, Superman’s adoptive mother, made Superman’s costume. That’s probably because of my earliest exposure to the character (beyond the Superfriends cartoons, anyway) — the reruns of The Adventures of Superman I used to watch as a kid. The first episode saw Ma Kent sending Clark off to Metropolis with a suit made from the baby blankets in the rocket that brought him from Krypton to Earth, with the idea that the fabrics wouldn’t tear. When John Byrne rebooted Superman in the 1980s, he kept that element, sort of; in Man of Steel, Ma Kent makes Superman a skintight costume out of ordinary Earth fabric, so it will have “near invulnerability through its close proximity to Superman’s aura.” In any event, a good superhero needs a good costume to wear while fighting evil, and Ma Kent more than stepped up to the job.
2. Queen Hippolyta makes her daughter out of clay: When you’re queen of the Amazons and you really want a daughter, what do you do? It’s not like you can settle down with a nice boy from the other side of an island with no men. Well, in Queen Hippolyta’s case, she made her daughter out of clay, then asked the gods to use their magic powers to give her a soul. And thus came Wonder Woman, daughter to a woman who went to extraordinary lengths just to make sure she was born.
3. Scarlet Witch uses magic to make twins: What’s better than using magic to create one daughter? How about using it to create two sons? OK, this one might be a little controversial, based on where the storyline eventually led, but when the Scarlet Witch created her sons early on, it wasn’t the act of a crazy woman, it was the act of someone who wanted to be a mom. However, she was married to an android, so what do you do? Use a little magic to make yourself pregnant.
Ultimately the story took a tragic turn, leading to a reborn Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Avengers Disassembled, The House of M, “No more mutants …” and, eventually, the birth of two Young Avengers. So maybe there’s a silver lining there at the end.
4. Aunt May cancels her subscription to The Daily Bugle: One of the big story elements of J. Michael Straczynski’s long run on Amazing Spider-Man was Aunt May — Peter Parker’s surrogate mom — finding out that her nephew was Spider-Man. And one of the first things she did after she found out was also one of my favorite moments of JMS’s run on the book. For years the Daily Bugle and its publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, had walked all over Spider-Man, declaring him a “threat” and/or a “menace,” so she did the only sensible thing a mom could do — she went down to their offices and canceled her subscription. That definitely earned her a lot of “cool mom” points in my book.
5. Invisible Woman helps her son cope with hell, literally: Childhood can be pretty traumatic all by itself, but when you’re the mutant son of the world’s greatest superhero adventurers, it just gets worse. Franklin Richards has ensured a lot over the years, but one of the worst tings he went through was being sent to hell by Dr. Doom during the “Unthinkable” storyline. With some help from Uncle Ben, Sue Richards was able to help her son cope with his experiences in the underworld and readjust to normal life — at least until the next FF villain gets a hold of him.
6. My mom introduces me to the joys of comic shops: And finally, yeah, this one is a bit more personal — my mom introduced me and my brother to the joys of the comic shop. It was a day or so after my brother’s birthday, and he had a wad of birthday cash to spend. Instead of the usual trip to Target, she took us to Lone Star Comics in Dallas, which we never knew even existed. Up until then our lives had been all about the spinner rack, but she introduced us to a world of back issues and direct-only comics.
And it didn’t end there. She probably didn’t realize she was setting herself up for years and years of weekly trips to the comic book store. But it wasn’t anything she ever complained about or resented us for — it just became part of our weekly schedule, like basketball practice. So thanks, mom, for introducing us to this new world, and for smiling every week when you brought us back.