30 Things I Like About Comics—#11 The Kents

Superman is torn between his Kryptonian and Human parents during Zero Hour. Taken from the cover of Superman #93 by Dan Jurgens and Josef Rubenstein

In a nutshell, everyone knows that Superman crash landed onto Earth and was adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who shaped him into the big blue boy scout and the world greatest hero. But do you know what happened to the Kents?

Originally, they died shortly after Clark graduated high school and took off to Metropolis. In John Byrne’s reboot of Superman after Crisis, he brought the Kents and made them a fixture in Superman’s life.

Byrne and later the 1990s Superman writers (led by Dan Jurgens) showed how important the relationship between the parents and the son was. No matter what the situation was–fighting off Darkseid, his love life with Lois, job stresses–Clark always knew he had his parents there for him. The would do anything for their son.

The other great thing was that Ma and Pa Kent are what link Superman to his humanity. Even though he’s pretty much a god amongst insects, he still seeks their guidance and approval. On the flip side, his parents love him unconditionally, and they are just as happy and proud of him whether he saved the universe or just saved 15% by switching to Geico.

Everything was fine until the “Brainiac” story arc, where Superman saves the world, yet fails to save his father, who passes away from a heart attack during stress of Superman preventing a missile from destroying the Kent home.

I have mixed feeling about this. I understand that the death of a beloved character like Jonathan Kent is powerful, especially when it’s viewed through Clark’s eyes. But I really think it didn’t need to happen. Too many super heroes are loners and have no family, like Batman and Punisher and Wolverine…and the list goes on.

What made Superman was his parents. Clark loves them, and they were proud of him. And that’s the way Superman should always be.

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