Comic books have provided the subculture with an invaluable source of tragic storytelling, with parental figures' deaths sparking the origin stories of many of the most popular heroes across all publishers, like Spider-Man and Batman for example. Parents have also been presented as the evil to be rebelled against in stories such as The Runaways and Invincible.
However, heroic parents are also sometimes faced with the tragic circumstance of having a child who fails to follow in their heroic footsteps. Children of the greatest heroes can often fall victim to the temptations of the darker side of the panel, choosing not to go into the family business of super-heroics and preferring to take the continuous loss of being a comic book villain.
Knowing that villains are always thwarted doesn't make their actions any easier to take. Some of the children of superheroes have been seen dabbling in petty criminal activity, but others go beyond any possible redemption, like murdering key characters, even their parents.
This list is made up exclusively of examples from DC and Marvel (more of Marvel than DC to be honest) but there's a plethora of heroic tragedies in the comics from all publishers. Before checking them out, here's 15 Superheroes You Didn't Know Had Evil Children.
Despite having at least seven children in the main Marvel Universe, Wolverine's most well known and highest-profile child was Daken. Born in 1946 after his mother, Itsu, was killed by The Winter Soldier in an attempt to draw out Wolverine, X-baddie Romulus then cut the unborn Daken out of his mother's womb, surviving due to his inherited healing factor.
During Norman Osborn's post-Secret Invasion paradigm shift, Dark Reign, Daken was chosen to impersonate Wolverine in his "Dark Avengers", with Daken originally agreeing to do so in order to obtain the Muramasa Blade (basically the One Ring of swords).
Daken constantly betrays everyone he works with, even in the moments he's teamed up with his father - in Dark Wolverine #86, he betrays Wolverine to help Romulus. He then flips again, taking out Romulus, but fights his dad anyway and loses. Kids, eh?
Everyone knows that Thor is the son of the All-Father, but Odin was also the foster-father of the far less altruistic Loki. In Thor #8 (2008), and in the Thor movie, we see Odin defeat Luafey, the King of the Giants of Jotunheim, subsequently adopting the ruler's son as his own. However, this was all a plot put into place by a future version of Loki himself, to ensure that their destinies would be forever entwined.
This future version of Loki ensured the death of Odin's father, Bor, with Odin ignoring his father's pleas for help. The God of Mischief then haunted Odin as Bor's ghost, urging Odin to adopt the son of a king he has killed - King Laufey.
Loki has consistently been evil throughout Marvel's history, with his villainous machinations being the reason that the Avengers were formed. In Avengers #1, Loki manipulated the Hulk to wreak havoc on Earth, drawing out Thor and leading to the first team up of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. So it's not all bad, we suppose.
Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, The Wasp - Hank Pym has gone by many different titles, but exclusive fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may not know that Pym was also the original creator of Ultron. While he was tinkering with super-intelligent robotics, Ultron was born. However, as the AI gained sentience, it learned how to manipulate humans, with Pym being his first victim. Ultron brainwashed his "father" into forgetting that he was ever created, allowing him to grow on his own.
Ultron-5 was the first significant development of the character since its creation; taking on the alias The Crimson Cowl, he formed a new version of the Masters of Evil. In Avengers #55, he manipulated the Avengers into believing that their beloved butler, Jarvis, was the Crimson Cowl, ultimately revealing himself when his victory seemed assured, in classic supervillian style.
After Ultron was thwarted, he swore vengeance on the Avengers, and thus began his continuous attempts at destroying the heroes, repeatedly losing but becoming deadlier and deadlier with each upgrade to his hardware. Yep, this one's on you, Hank.
The League of Assassins aren't known for raising well-adjusted children, and this is particularly evident in Batman's son, Damian Wayne. Grown in an artificial womb from the genetic material of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Damian was raised as a perfect killing machine by his mother.
Talia kept Damian's existence a secret until he was 10-years-old, at which point she left him in the care of Batman as an attempt to disrupt his work as Gotham's defender. While trying to "help" his father in his fight against crime, it is clear that Damian is overly violent and has no qualms with killing if necessary, much to his father's dismay.
Eventually taking on the Robin mantel, Damian gradually reforms, under the tutelage of Dick Grayson. However, these events were prior to DC's 2011 "New 52" relaunch in which the histories of heroes were rewritten slightly, making it unclear which parts of Damian's history survived. He may look the part of a Boy Wonder, but he's as dark as they come.
Both Scott and Alex Summers (Cyclops and Havok) were raised as orphans on Earth after their parents were "killed", but the truth is that Christopher (Corsair) and Katherine Summers were kidnapped and taken to Shi'ar space. Katherine Summers was pregnant with the third Summers child at the time of the kidnapping, and upon her death, the child is placed in an accelerated incubation chamber to insure he would grow up healthy and so could be sold into slavery.
Arriving on Earth, he was found by Moria MacTaggert and sent to Xavier's School. There he took on the name, Gabriel Summers, with the code name "Kid Vulcan".
Vulcan would eventually do battle with the X-Men in the events of Deadly Genesis, killing Banshee, and easily repelling the attacks of his former team. He then flew off into space, bent on revenge on those who killed his mother, eventually naming himself the Emperor of the Shi'ar Empire and killing Corsair for begging his son to end the violence.
Jim Gordon is famously known for being the Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department. However, after the events of Endgame (2015), Bruce Wayne was once again presumed dead, and Gordon became a version of Batman that was fully sanctioned by the GCPD.
Gordon's daughter, Barbara, became Batgirl/Oracle (depending on which continuity you abide by), but she was not his only child. His first born son became something of a homicidal maniac. Jim Gordon Jr. was known for killing animals from an early age, so even with a white knight of a dad, this kid was sort of a bad egg from the start.
During the events of The Black Mirror, it was discovered that James Jr. was not only responsible for torturing people to death, but that he intended to poison a child nutrition facility. James then kidnaps his sister, the wheelchair-bound Barbara, only to be tracked down by Batman (Dick Grayson). Detective Comics #881 ends with Commissioner Gordon shooting his son's legs to prevent his getaway. We imagine Jim Jr. didn't appear in the family's Christmas card the following year.
Every once in a while, two heroes have a relationship that doesn't end in heartache and messed up kids, but this definitely isn't one of those times. Marvel's Earth-967 is an alternate future where the Sentinels have ravaged the Earth, either killing or imprisoning many of the mutants and superhumans. In this world, Franklin Richards (Son of Reed Richards and Susan Storm) and Rachel Summers (Daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey), got married and had a bouncing, evil baby boy.
Jonathan Reed Richards, taking on the name Hyperstorm, became a world conqueror and destroyer, taking over his post-apocalyptic home world first in Fantastic Four #414.
Hyperstorm's powers alone make him a terrifying opponent (manipulation of the universe's four fundamental forces - gravitation, electromagnetic, strong, and weak forces). Meaning he can literally manipulate energy and matter. Hyperstorm could not be defeated by the FF alone, as the team had to awaken Galactus to help take down the evil despot, with both titans being drawn into a dimensional void in the end.
Professor X, being a mutant, was almost guaranteed to have a mutant child, and David Haller (Legion) didn't disappoint in that regard. David was living in Paris with his Israeli diplomat mother, Gabrielle, when his powers first presented themselves. When a terrorist group arrived and murdered David's stepfather, his psionic abilities manifested, and David incinerated the brains of the terrorists in his rage.
The effects on David eventually changed his mind forever, as he absorbed the consciousness of the leader of the terrorists, Jemail Karami, in New Mutants #28. Legion's personality was splintered so severely that he was never the same again. His mind continued to fracture, with each resulting personality controllling a different ability, with some being inherently evil. In X-Men Legacy #1 (2012), one such personality emerged, intent on killing its competing personalities.
It can be argued that David himself is not strictly evil, as he suffers from schizophrenia on an increased scale, due to his mutation, but there's no denying that when his evil personalities are in the driver's seat, everyone is in danger.
Cable himself is a complicated child. The child of Scott Summers and, clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, Nathan Summers was sent into a future where Apocalypse ruled. There, he joined The Askani (the last clan to oppose Apocalypse) and joined up with them. Tyler Dayspring was the son of Aliya Dayspring, a member of the Askani clan.
Although Cable isn't actually confirmed to be the boy's legitimate father, its assumed he is, and although they are freedom fighters in a war-torn universe together, Tyler's path took a turn towards the darkness.
After the apparent fall of Apocalypse, Tyler took on the name Genesis, seeking to claim the tyrant's power as his own. He sought to use Wolverine as one of his Horsemen, much like Apocalypse. To do so, he had to take the adamantium from Cyber, one of Logan's enemies. Genesis used flesh-eating bugs to strip the organic matter from Cyber, hoping to use the remaining indestructible metal to make Wolverine as he once was and enslave him. He was a total jerk, basically.
Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) was created to be a mirror of Wonder Woman, albeit cursed to live out multiple lives with tragic outcomes. The life she lived in which she married Terry Long led to one such tragedy.
In an alternate timeline, Donna and Terry had a son, Robert Long, who was born with all the powers of a god and a full awareness of them, even in his infancy. This knowledge drives the young Robert completely insane, and he uses his abilities to instantly age himself to adulthood, takes on the name Lord Chaos, and kills his mother, Donna, on his way to conquering the world.
This future's super team, The Team Titans, form a plan to travel into the past to kill Donna and Robert to prevent Lord Chaos from ever existing. The plan fails, with Lord Chaos himself traveling back and safeguarding his younger self. However, Donna pleads with the Mythical Titans to strip them of their powers. The Titans do so, and take Chaos with them.
Professor X seems to have troubled kids no matter which reality he's in. On Earth-13729, Charles and Moira MacTaggert were something on an item, but psych! Moria was Mystique the whole time. Classic X-Men trope strikes again.
This version of Charles Xavier II was born, and he grew up to be complete monster. Feeling that the X-Men of the time were a disgrace, he telepathically enslaved them, but left them with enough of their own minds to know they had zero control - forming his own twisted Brotherhood.
In X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2, the Earth-13729 version of Colossus comes to a disagreement with Charles II and stabs him with Magik's soul sword, paralyzing him from the waist down and giving him at least a little comeuppance for his actions. Charles II retaliated by telepathically destroying Colossus' mind and killing him.
Charles Xavier II actually had a half-brother on Earth-13729 - Raze. Raze Darkholme was the child of Mystique and Wolverine, and he was as messed up as that concoction of genes would suggest. In his own timeline, he grew up and murdered his mother, using his shape-shifting abilities to take her place in the world.
However, Raze inherited secondary abilities from his father, specifically his claws and a form of berserker rage, arguably making him a larger threat than Wolverine and Mystique ever were.
In X-Men: No More Humans, Raze was instrumental in the plan to remove all of the humans from Earth and make the planet a paradise for all of the mutants from across the multiverse. It's also revealed that he is the only member of his half-brother's Brotherhood who was not under telepathic control, showing that he made a conscious choice to be there.
Venom's past is as checkered as they come in the Marvel Universe, having bonded with criminals and heroes alike. Eddie Brock certainly has some supervillainy in his past, though he's come around to the antihero side of things in recent years. Other symbiote hosts like Flash Thompson, meanwhile, were pretty straightforwardly heroic. So contrary to what casual readers may think, the symbiote doesn't necessarily breed evil.
Over the years, Venom has spawned many "children", but none more diabolical than Carnage. When Venom's first host not named Peter Parker, Eddie Brock, was imprisoned, he was the cell mate of Cletus Kasady - a murderous psychopath who was staring down the barrel of a life sentence. While Brock/Venom escaped, it left its spawn behind, which bonded with Kasady, creating one of the most murderous characters in Marvel.
The Carnage symbiote is more submissive than its "father", bending to the will of Cletus. However, as it has formed such a strong bond with the psychopathic criminal, if it was bonded with anyone else, it would force Kasady's memories onto its new host as a form of psychological torture, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #233.
James Braddock was the greatest member of the multi-dimensional Captain Britain Corps. Merlin, aware of this fact, instructed James to relocate to Earth-616 in the Marvel Universe, where he was to sire an even better Captain Britain to ensure the legacy of the Corps would remain intact.
While he made his life in his new universe, he married and had three children - James Braddock Jr, Brian Braddock (Captain Britain), and Elizabeth Braddock (Psylocke).
James Braddock Jr, known as Jamie, sees reality as his playground - made of strings that he can pull and manipulate. After finding out of his brother's secret identity as Captain Britain, Jamie occasionally helped with Corps activity. However, he later got involved in criminal activities such as murder and the African slave trade.
Bruce Banner is often the tragic and misunderstood character of the Marvel Universe, perceived as a monster while in Hulk form, while often acting the part of the hero as part of The Avengers. However, in the Old Man Logan continuity, he lived long into the future where, due to his continued gamma radiation, his brain warped and he became evil and sadistic in his ruling of the land.
Not much is known about the Old Man Logan Hulk, but readers do learn that he mated with his cousin, She-Hulk, in order to have children (She-Hulk being the only one who could bear hulk-babies).
The children born of their union later became known as the Hulk Gang, an incestuous gang of Hulks who tormented those in the wasteland which their father ruled. The gang murdered Logan's family because they were bored, and had nothing else to occupy their time. Logan killed them in his rage, going after them all individually. He gave that cutie Billy-Bob a free pass, though, so there's that.
What other heroic comic book do-gooders had a villainous child? Let us know in the comments.