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Episodes Thematic

Issue 136 – Children of Super Villains

If you think your parents are harsh, you’ve got nothing on these kids. It’s a thematic episode about the children of super villains! Listen now!


  • Intro
  • Background (2:22)
    • Let’s talk supervillain parents. How do you go about modelling good behavior for your kids when your own behavior tends to lean towards world domination? Do you try and create a Little Lord of Destruction to follow in your footsteps and eventually take your place? Or did the parenthood switch actually flip and you’re horrified at the thought of your kids taking after you, leading to you doing everything possible to try and break the cycle? And if it’s the latter, how do you do it? Do you go the Tony Soprano route and just keep them far away from your activities and just give them the best life possible so that they’ll never want for anything and never have to turn to crime? Oops, now they’re spoiled brats who lack empathy and act hurtfully towards others without a second thought. Do you abandon the kid and stay far, far away from them so your corruptive influence will never touch them? Oops, growing up with an absent parent is actually a major contributor to a lot of social problems. Do you shield them and try to live a double life as a mundane workaday respectable person? OK…that’s a major time bomb waiting to go off when they discover the truth. Or do you decide the kid’s worth going straight for? Ahh…there’s the rub.
    • 1. The ones who want their kids to follow in their footsteps, actively groom them to do so, succeed at it, and feel no remorse about it. The one that springs to mind immediately is Senator Roark from Sin City. Evil, ruthless, cunning, and sadistic to the core, his boy Junior (That Yellow Bastard) is every bit of his father and then some. I’m sure there are others, but he’s at the top of my list. (4:16)
    • 2. The ones who want their kids to follow in their footsteps, but fail at it miserably for one reason or another, and the kids become heroes. How the parents feel about it varies; there are lots of examples, but my favorite is definitely Darkseid with Orion. Mortal enemies, destined to fight to the death and both very willing to do so, but buried in the subtext all those decades (and finally stated in Countdown to Final Crisis when Orion “kills” him) is that Darkseid is secretly very proud of what a fierce, bold, renowned warrior Orion has become, even if it’s all being pitted against him. (8:30)
    • 3. The “do as I say, not as I do” parents. These are ones who desperately want their kids to be good, but they’re not willing to model good behavior themselves and give up their lives of crime. Most of the members of The Pride qualify — I think Xavin’s wanted him/her to eventually grow up and be a Skrull overlord, but for the most part, they just want their kids to have normal happy lives and go to great lengths to keep their supervillainy from them. (15:06)
    • 4. The “give my kids everything they could want so that they won’t need to be criminals” parents. Best example I can think of is definitely Tombstone. When he’s not away in prison, he gives his daughter Janice everything. Spoils her rotten. Eventually gives her a first-class education at Columbia Law. She worships him and wants to be like him, but he’s horrified that she would stoop to follow in his footsteps; he got her that law degree so she’d never have to. And besides, as he says, a lawyer’s work is basically crime that you can’t get arrested for. (And really, he’s not wrong.) Of course, she becomes The Beetle. (22:26)
    • 5. The ones that are horrified at the effects their villainy has on their kids, and desperately want to change and go straight. Easy example is The Lizard. Curt Connors became The Lizard almost entirely by accident, and devotes nearly every lucid moment alternating between trying to cure himself and mitigating the damage to his family that his episodes cause. And he either must be really really good at it or Martha and Billy Connors are saints for how much they put up with from him. Until Martha dies and Curt has to change Billy into a Lizard to cure him of the Carrion virus. #BecauseComics. (30:20)
    • 6. The ones that unconditionally love their children whether they’re allied with them, fighting against them, or don’t want to have anything to do with them one way or the other. They’d do anything for them and fly to their side in their times of need no matter what. Hello, Magneto. That one’s obvious. A slightly different dynamic would be Galactus with Silver Surfer. The arcs written in the last 20 years by JMS and Greg Pak have really showcased an entirely different dynamic between the two. Surfer will always be Galactus’ creation and still finds himself at odds with him from time to time, but the two will help each other out if the other needs it at the drop of a hat. Surfer understands Galactus a lot better, and to the extent that Galactus as a cosmic entity is capable of such things, I think Surfer is clearly his favorite herald, and he has an infinite capacity for forgiveness no matter how many times he rebels. I liken them to a father and son where the son has grown into a mature adult himself. Even if they don’t have a lot in common, they’re always family, and they’ll always have an unspoken bond. (38:48)
  • Break (46:18)
  • Treatment (47:54)
    • This isn’t even one of those themes where I have to stretch it to find a real-world analogue. Lots of us were raised by parents who didn’t model great behavior for us. Heck, in our generation, half of us grew up with broken homes, and a lot of those situations led to one parent being absent and barely raising us if at all. There have been libraries worth of sociological and macroeconomic studies that have detailed the effects. If you’re a prospective new parent who’s fortunate enough to be aware that you’re a very flawed person who needs to avoid passing on your negative tendencies to your kids, how do you go about doing it?
  • Ending
    • Recommended reading: Comics. Just read comics.
    • Next episodes: Squirrel Girl, Wiccan, Donna Troy
    • Plugs for social

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