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.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#20 Happy Canada Day!

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

So how does Canada Day count as something I like about comics? Canada is a very important part of the comic book world for many different reasons!

The first and most obvious way is that the comic book world has seen its fair share of prominent comic book creators! This goes back as far as Joe Shuster–one of the co-creators of Superman! Did you now that John Byrne, Todd McFarlane, David Sim, Stuart Immonen and Hal Foster are just some of the great comic book artists that the Great White North has produced? Just imagine how much less fun comic books would be without them.

Although there are many Canadian super heroes (and super villains), Marvel has the most elaborate Canada in comics thanks to Byrne, who is graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada. Byrne’s first high-profile work was on Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont, where he created Alpha Flight, a super hero team mostly made of Canadians!

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Alpha Flight was a project of the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Department H. Although the team’s lineup rotated, it usually featured Aurora and her twin brother Northstar (the first gay super hero), Arctic tundra goddess Snowbird, the gamma-radiation created man monster Sasquatch, and the diminutive Puck. Alpha Flight was the best of Canada’s three government organized super hero teams, ahead of Beta Flight and Gamma Flight. To continue the flightiness, there was even an Omega Flight, which was a group of villains who wanted to take out sometimes Alpha Flight leader Guardian.

Alpha Flight has been a staple of the Marvel Universe since introduced back in 1979. They’ve had countless on going and limited series through the years. But that’s not the only way Canada contributed to making super heroes.

The Canadian government also sponsored the ongoing top-secret Weapon X program, which recruits (and sometimes forces) mutants and humans and genetically modifies them into living weapons. Some of the most popular Canadian Weapon X products are Deadpool, Sabretooth and Wolverine, definitely the most popular Canadian super hero and arguably one of the top five!

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Just as the real world Canada is allies with the United States, the same goes for the two nations in the Marvel Universe. Weapon X is the Canadian branch of the Weapons Plus Program, an agreement between the two nations to create super soldiers that goes back to World War II.

Grant Morrison added this new wrinkle to Weapon X during his run on New X-Men in the early 2000s. On the American side, their biggest success was the creation of the Super Soldier Syrum which powers Captain America.

So let’s celebrate Canada Day by honoring the country’s great comic creators and characters! Crank some Rush, drink a Molson if you want and have a great day!