Comic Art Friday: From soccer moms to Super-Moms

Today’s Comic Art Friday is dedicated to all you mothers out there. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

It probably comes as no surprise that superhero comics aren’t exactly a bastion of motherhood. Most of the prominent female characters in the genre are, after all, presented as some fanboy’s delusion of post-pubescent hotness — a delusion that the word “mother” douses like a bucket of lake water on a campfire.

Nevertheless, we can point to a handful of comic book stars whom some tyke calls “Mom.” Let’s look at a few.

The Invisible Woman, pencils by comics artist Geof Isherwood

The best-known super-Mom in comics has to be Susan Storm Richards, a.k.a. the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, drawn here by Geof Isherwood.

Sue’s firstborn child by hubby Reed Richards is a son named Franklin, who although born way back in 1968 (in Fantastic Four Annual #6, to be precise), is still portrayed in the comics as a preadolescent. Sue’s younger offspring, a daughter named Valeria (usually called simply Val), came on the scene more than three decades later in “real time,” but in the comics is generally supposed to be a few years younger than Franklin. (Val’s insanely complex backstory makes her the surviving product of what was believed to be Sue’s miscarriage in the June 1984 issue of Fantastic Four, yet she resurfaces as a fully developed child in a 1999 story arc.)

The Spider-Women (Jessica Drew and Julia Carpenter), pencils by Michael Dooney, inks by Joe Rubinstein

Julia Carpenter, the second Spider-Woman, was mainstream comics’ first “single mother” superheroine. (That’s Julia in the black costume at lower right, alongside the original Spider-Woman Jessica Drew, in this artwork penciled by Michael Dooney and inked by Joe Rubinstein.)

Julia, who joined the Marvel Universe during 1984’s Secret Wars event, is Mom to a daughter named Rachel. Julia’s responsibilities and challenges as a superhero mother have figured frequently into her storylines over the years.

Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson-Parker, pencils by Al Rio, inks by Bob Almond

Our third and final featured mother is a character that many people won’t even realize fits the category: Mary Jane Watson-Parker, hitching a ride above with everyone’s friendly neighborhood Web-Slinger, courtesy of penciler Al Rio and inker Bob Almond.

Although in 2010 Marvel continuity Mary Jane and Peter “Spider-Man” Parker have never been married (don’t even get me started on that idiotic Brand New Day folderol), in the alternate future continuity known as MC2, MJ and Peter are married 40-somethings with a teenage daughter named May (nicknamed “Mayday”) and an infant son named Benjamin. May, who inherited her now-retired father’s arachnid powers, carries on the family legacy as the costumed crimefighter Spider-Girl.

And that’s your Comic Art Mother’s Day.

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2 Comments on “Comic Art Friday: From soccer moms to Super-Moms”

  1. Damon Says:

    This got me to thinking, and that’s always dangerous. Technically, isn’t Ms. Marvel a mother? Didn’t she give birth to Immortus or some guy back in the day? Or am I misremebering?

  2. SwanShadow Says:

    Damon: From a strictly technical perspective, yes, you’re right.

    In Avengers #200, Ms. Marvel is kidnapped and raped by a baddie named Marcus (who was Immortus’s son, if I remember correctly; as soon as I’m done typing here, I’m going to pull up that issue and revisit that story). Carol then bears Marcus’s son, who almost immediately ages into adulthood. (Years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation did an episode with a similar plot, entitled “The Child,” with Deanna Troi standing in for Ms. Marvel.)

    Chris Claremont, who’d been scripting Ms. Marvel’s monthly title, was so angry about the storyline that he retconned the event out of existence in the very next Avengers Annual. Another writer, a woman whose name escapes me for the moment, wrote a scathing article entitled “The Rape of Ms. Marvel” for one of the fan publications of the time. It garnered quite a bit of attention, and more or less foreshadowed Gail Simone’s infamous “Women in Refrigerators” two decades later.

    Not exactly a Mother’s Day story.


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