Comic books are notorious for their complicated storylines and head-scratching continuities, but on top of that they’ve also got more than a few twisted family trees. Families are always going to be complicated for superheroes, but usually that just involves keeping secrets or endangering loved ones. But that’s not the case for these unlucky heroes. These guys have a whole other set of complicated family problems, ones that all stem from a family member being a raging psycho.
While we all might know about famous cases like Magneto and his children Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, Thor and his adopted brother Loki, and Mystique and her son Nightcrawler. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has even introduced us to Daisy Johnson and her father Mister Hyde. But there’s still quite a few more unfortunate souls out there with familial connections to the dark side.
Some of these might be familiar to the avid comic book reader, and of course this is only a handful of examples, but hopefully there will be a few in here that will surprise you. Let’s have a look at who’s not getting invited to Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon, here are 15 Superheroes You Didn’t Know Were Related To Villains.
15. Wonder Woman And Ares
We all know that comic books and their continuity are extremely confusing, that includes the long history of Amazonian Princess Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman. Depending on which continuity you choose, Wonder Woman and her frequent nemesis Ares have been related in two different ways.
Ares and Diana are both based on Greek mythology, which is known for having quite the complicated family tree thanks to the philandering Zeus and his mischievous offspring. So it’s little wonder that the DC comic version of the Greek Gods would have lineage that’s just as tangled. In a 1992 issue of Wonder Woman it is revealed that Ares is actually the father of Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, making him Wonder Woman’s maternal grandfather.
But like so many of her comic book friends, Diana has had her origin story changed more than once, including in the New 52 continuity. In the New 52, Diana is now the biological daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus. Who else is the child of Zeus? Ares. Making the two arch-rivals now half-siblings.
14. The Flash And Blue Cobalt
After Barry Allen’s parents die, he believes himself to be all alone in the world. That is until he finds out he’s not the last of the Allen family; he actually has a twin brother Malcolm, who was thought to have died as a infant. This should be happy news for the speedster, except for one tiny detail– his twin is a supervillain hell-bent on destroying him. That certainly puts a dampener on this family reunion.
Malcolm was raised by a family of abusive con artists who taught him how to wield the family superpower– a blue flame that can cover his body and create a flaming sword (among other things). When he sees the happy and fulfilling life his brother Barry has, he becomes intensely jealous, leading him to go from small-time criminal to full-blown evil supervillain Cobalt Blue. As Cobalt Blue, Malcolm then tries to destroy Barry and everything he holds dear. Siblings, am I right?
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the two will reunite through the power of brotherly love. After Barry’s death during the Crisis On Infinite Earths the only thing Malcolm is concerned with is being cheated out of his chance at vengeance and sets his sights on the rest of the Flash family.
13. Runaways And The Pride
Teenagers everywhere love to rebel against their parents, which usually involves something like getting a piercing or listening to rock music. But what happens when your parents are evil supervillains involved in a criminal organisation? Well, rebelling then might include turning to the good side and becoming superheroes.
While fans of this series no doubt know about the Runaways‘ connection to supervillains, casual comic book readers might be surprised to know that there’s an entire superhero team that was created because of villainous family members. The Runaways are the children of the supervillain group called The Pride. The parents in question include the Wilders, who are mob bosses; the Yorkes, who are time travellers; the Hayeses, who are mutants; the Deans, who are alien invaders; the Steins, who are mad scientists; and the Minorus, who are dark wizards.
The group controls the Los Angeles area and is responsible for a number of nasty acts, including human sacrifice. When the children witness said sacrifice, they steal a number of weapons and resources before running away to form their own superhero group, committed to stopping their parents. So perhaps rock music and piercings are pretty tame compared to some other teenage rebellions.
12. Batgirl And Cluemaster
Like so many in the Bat Family, third Batgirl and fourth Robin Stephanie Brown has quite an unfortunate family tree. She’s the only daughter of secondary Batman villain Cluemaster, AKA Arthur Brown, a failed game show host who favours leaving puzzles and clues in his wake.
Cluemaster, who has been a frequent Batman foe and Suicide Squad member, spent most of Stephanie’s childhood in prison and as a result doesn’t have the best relationship with his daughter. When he is finally released from prison, Stephanie is furious to discover he’s gone straight back to his old criminal ways. She decides someone must stop him once and for all and plans to “spoil” his evil schemes. This leads her to take up the mantle of Spoiler and fight him under this disguise. She helps Batman take him down and subsequently suits up every time he comes up with a new villainous plan. Eventually Stephanie takes up the role of Batgirl, and later Robin, and continues to fight crime under Batman’s wing.
While the Cluemaster is certainly a bad guy, it is clear he does love his daughter, and on occasion does things that might make her proud (including joining the Suicide Squad). But unfortunately the rehabilitation never quite sticks, constantly putting father and daughter at odds. It seems almost impossible to have a happy family in Gotham.
11. Aqualad And Black Manta
Black Manta is one of Aquaman’s greatest and most enduring enemies. First introduced in a 1967 issue of the Aquaman title, Black Manta was equipped with a high-tech underwater suit and a deep hatred of the sea and its protector. But as it turns out he also has something else: a son, who grows up to be the protégé of his nemesis.
Aqualad, who first appeared in the Young Justice TV show, grew up unaware of his powers or his origins. He was taken away by Mera and placed with human parents to protect him from his father. When his origin and powers are finally revealed, he has a few run-ins with his father. Unfortunately these are anything but happy reunions, as Black Manta continually tries to kill him and his family. He admits to Aqualad that he and his mother meant nothing to him and tries to stab him. It sure does suck to be the offspring of a supervillain.
10. Hulk and Red Hulk
Think your in-laws hate you? Well, imagine if your in-laws turned into hulking rage machines who regularly tried to kill you. Such is the case between The Hulk‘s Bruce Banner and the Red Hulk, AKA Thunderbolt Ross.
Thaddeus E. Ross is the father of Betty Ross, Bruce’s long time love interest and eventual wife. And while most fathers might dislike their daughters’ boyfriends, Ross’s hatred for his son-in-law goes well beyond the normal dynamic. He obsessively hunts the Hulk, unleashes the Abomination to kill him, repeatedly tries to destroy Bruce and Betty’s relationship, and even shows up to their wedding wielding a gun and shoots one of the guests. And all that happens before he’s even turned into the villainous Red Hulk.
Fuelled by his hatred for Bruce, Ross then turns himself into a red Hulk-like monster to further his vendetta. While hulked-out, Ross has repeatedly tried to kill the Hulk, murdered multiple people, fought the Avengers, and even joined a supervillain team called The Offenders.
While he has fought on the good side since then, he’ll always be the world’s worst father-in-law to us. So next time you have to spend time with your in-laws, just be thankful you didn’t marry into the Ross family like poor Bruce.
9. Batgirl and Lady Shiva & David Cain
The second, and certainly not the last, member of the Bat Family on this list is Cassandra Cain, AKA the second Batgirl.
Assassins and secondary Batman villains Lady Shiva and David Cain share more than just a job description; they also share a child. Lady Shiva, also known as Sandra Woosan, was ambushed by the League Of Assassins and, in exchange for her life, agrees to bear a child for fellow assassin David Cain. He planned to raise the child as the world’s greatest assassin, training her from birth in nothing but violence. He teaches her how to read the body language of an opponent but neglects to teach her how to read or write; he teaches her how to kill a human being, but not how to interact with one.
His abusive methods eventually backfire when Cassandra runs away from him and chooses not to follow in her parents’ villainous footprints. She instead takes up the mantle of Batgirl and fights crime with the rest of the Bat Family.
Like most of the family dynamics in Gotham, the Cain/Woosan family have a complicated relationship. Both parents have been known to show true emotion for their daughter from time to time, before they inevitably end up trying to abuse or kill her. So we doubt these guys will be one big happy family any time soon.
8. Professor X And Juggernaut
We all know the X-Men family tree is pretty convoluted, with so many characters connected to each other by blood or marriage or adoption or cloning or any of the other crazy comic book storylines. So while you might be familiar with Magneto and the twins, or Mystique and Nightcrawler, did you know that Professor X himself also has family ties to another mutant? He’s the step-brother of supervillain Juggernaut.
Juggernaut, AKA Cain Marko, is the son of scientist Kurt Marko, who married the mother of Charles Xavier when the two were just boys. While under the same roof, Charles was favoured by Marko for his intelligence while Cain was frequently psychically abused. There was no love lost on Cain’s side, who bullied Charles at every opportunity. When Charles developed his telepathic abilities, Cain believed he was deliberately invading his private thoughts. This, coupled with the accidental death of Cain’s father, made Cain even more hostile towards him and eventually declared him his enemy.
7. Superboy And Lex Luthor
As Robin is to Batman and Kid Flash is to The Flash, Superboy is the teenage equivalent of DC’s number one hero Superman. Originally cloned from Superman DNA to be a superpowered pawn for Project Cadmus, Superboy ends up becoming a fully fledged hero in his own right. He even becomes a big part of both Young Justice and Teen Titans.
It’s during his time with the latter superhero team that he discovers his true origin. Instead of being the clone of Superman and the human Director of Project Cadmus, Paul Westfield, he’s actually the clone of Superman and… gasp! Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor.
After the initial shock and confusion wears off, Superboy tries to understand the man who shares his DNA. He even visits Luthor’s childhood home and creates a list of their similarities. Lex, it seems, also feels the pull of genetics, referring to Superboy as his son and showing he cares about the boy on multiple occasions.
Of course, as with all relationships between heroes and villains, the two never get on for too long before they end up at odds again. Lex eventually comes to see Superboy as a failed experiment due to his connection with Superman. At least he has one good father figure to count on. We can’t help but wonder if this means that, technically, Lex and Superman might be related too, since they share a child together. Now that would make for some awkward family dinners.
6. Deathstroke And Jericho
While Deathstroke, AKA Slade Wilson, has three children in total, two — Rose and Grant — have followed in his evil footsteps (although his daughter Rose has since changed her affiliations). But his third child, Joseph, decides to buck family tradition and follow another path instead. He becomes the superhero Jericho. A metahuman who can control anyone he makes eye contact with, Jericho is a member of the Teen Titans, an organization that regularly fights against daddy dearest.
The father and son have had quite a rocky relationship over the years, like for instance when Jericho is possessed and begs his father to kill him before he loses control… and his father obliges. Or like when Jericho takes possession of Deathstroke’s body and starts to slowly lose his mind. Or you know, when his father is constantly trying to murder all of his friends. Yeah, being the child of a supervillain really sucks.
5. Raven And Trigon
Life is tough for any superhero, but it’s made even tougher when you’re the daughter of a terrifying demon who might have given you evil genes. Such is the life for hero and Teen Titans member Raven, who is the half-human, half-demon daughter of the sadistic inter-dimensional demon known as Trigon.
Raven is constantly endangered by her connection to the hellish demon, and over the years she’s been possessed by the evil she inherited from him, stalked by his worshipers, attacked by her demonic half-brothers, and almost killed by the demon daddy himself.
Unlike a lot of entries on this list, there are no silver linings for this father-daughter duo, because there isn’t even a little bit of love between them. In fact, being a demon, Trigon is pure evil and incapable of feeling any emotions like love, even towards his only daughter. We’re starting to think there’s no such thing as happy families in all of the DC universe.
4. Batgirl And James Gordon Jr.
While we all know Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, did you know she’s also got family connections to the dark side? The original Batgirl isn’t the only child of the Gordon family, she also has a brother – who just so happens to be incredibly evil. James Gordon Jr, named after his father, is a psychopath who began maiming and killing animals as a young child. He also possibly murdered one of Barbara’s friends when they were young. He eventually escalated into a full-blown serial killer.
In his short run in the comics he poisons babies, murders multiple people, kidnaps and tortures his sister, and tries to kill his own mother. Barbara, forced to defend their mother from his attempt at murder, throws a batarang at him, striking him in the eye and causing him to fall over the side of a bridge. He secretly survives the fall and is then recruited by Amanda Waller for the Suicide Squad.
3. Black Panther And Jakarra
The MCU’s newest recruit might be popular with viewers, but he’s not so popular with some members of his own family, namely his half-brother Jakarra. Jakarra is the son of Wakandan King, T’Chaka, and is a General in the Wakandan army. He becomes intensely bitter when T’Challa succeeds their father as King and as the Black Panther. Believing himself to be a more worthy candidate for the title, he begins to plot against his own flesh and blood.
He has his men create a military coup to throw his brother off the throne, and also exposes himself to raw Vibranium to gain powers. The Vibranium mutates him into a giant red monster with super strength. Jakarra then rampages through Wakanda and tries to destroy the country. Luckily T’Challa arrives in time to stop his evil brother and save his country. Unluckily T’Challa has no choice but to destroy the monster that was once his own brother.
2. Spider-Man And Prowler
Miles Morales took over the Spider-Man title from Peter Parker in 2011, when the original hero died. He comes into his own powers much the same way as Parker; being bitten by a radioactive spider. Only this time, Miles is bitten by a spider that had stowed away in his uncle Aaron’s backpack after he had broken into Oscorp. Miles’s uncle is a thief known as the Prowler.
While he might start off as just an average thief, Aaron slowly evolves into a full-blown villain after blackmailing Miles into waging war with his enemies. After Miles defies him, his true colors are revealed and he begins to attack Miles, viciously beating him and threatening to dump his corpse in his father’s lap when he’s done. Sheesh.
Thankfully, Miles is spared having to continue fighting his once-beloved uncle when the latter’s weapons backfire on him, killing him in an explosion. We’re starting to think there’s no happy families at Marvel either.
1. Robin And Ra’s Al Ghul
Many people might know Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul. They might even know his daughters Nyssa and Talia, but did you know there’s another member of the al Ghul family? In recent years, Ra’s also had a grandson, Damien Wayne, the fifth version of Robin and the son of his greatest enemy. Batman and Talia al Ghul are Damien’s biological parents, making him the maternal grandson of the Demon’s Head.
Damien starts off emulating traits from his al Ghul family heritage: being extremely violent and malicious– even going so far as to want to kill his rival for the Robin mantle, Tim Drake. He eventually begins to transform into a more heroic person, worthy of the Robin persona. He is even accepted into the Bat Family and rejects his mother and grandfather’s ideals.
Of course ditching his grandfather shouldn’t be too hard a decision, considering Ra’s is a complete psychopath who once tried to take over Damien’s body to resurrect himself. We have a feeling we won’t see the al Ghuls and the Waynes gather around for Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon. That would make for one hell of a holiday reunion though.
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