Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Favorite Comic Book Families

December 22, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Cyclops Cable Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed our Favorite Comic Book Holiday Stories Here’s what some of you had to say:

Tayo Jones: “I remember Leah. Broke my heart first time I read it. The final page will melt even the coldest of hearts”

Spacecowboy: “Slayride – Detective comics #826
The Long Halloween #3 was awesome as well.”

Matthew Crider: “Stargazing – Transformers UK #145”

Bishop: “Carl Barks had some great ones, albeit not super heroes.

The Christmas Aliens from the TMNT Michelangelo one-shot back in 1985 is also a personal favorite.”

Cruel Angel: “Uncanny X-Men 143 Kitty vs the N’Garai demon”
Some awesome comments last time! Go and check out the rest, if you can. Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we discuss our…

Favorite Comic Book Families
The holiday season is one that conjures up thoughts of family and friends. For some that’s a good thing while others cringe at the thought of traveling to be surrounded by those you’re grateful to only see once or twice a year. You can imagine how comic book families could be around this time of the year and I thought it would be fun to celebrate our Favorite Comic Book Families this week.

As you’ll see, I use the term family pretty loosely.

Did you know that DC put out a Batman Family series which ran from 1975 to 1978? They also put out a Superman Family (1974–82), Super-Team Family (1975-1978) and Tarzan Family (1975–76). But I want to talk about Batman’s “family” first, perhaps the largest one that will be on here. This “Family” operates more like a tight knit network under the guidance of Batman. He’s pretty hands on and like any family, sometimes that can be a little overwhelming. But each one knows where they stand and support one another. Yes, they’ll speak out if someone steps out of line or they don’t agree with a decision. What stands out most is how Batman/Bruce Wayne relies on this surrogate family, keeping him from being fully swallowed by his vigilante quest. With Batman as the head, you can count (and I know I’ll miss someone) Alfred Pennyworth, James Gordon, Robin, Oracle, Batgirl, Flamebird, Blackbat, Batwoman, Nightwing, Red Hood, Catwoman, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Red Robin, Azrael, Huntress, Harvey Bullock…and the list goes on. It’s quite a group to rely on.

Can you imagine spending the holidays with the Magneto and the fam? Not only do you have the Master of Magnetism, you have Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Polaris. Maybe Quicksilver’s ex, Crystal, can stop by. Or you can have fun explaining how the Vision was married to Scarlet Witch and they had two kids but in reality they were manifestations brought to life from shards of Mephisto’s soul. OK, I never kept up but did Speed and Wiccan turn out to be legit Tommy and Billy? I find conflicting stories on the subject. Regardless, we’ll keep it there. If we start adding in the alternate reality/extended family, we’d be here all day.

Opening up another can of worms, The Summers Family may be the most convoluted one on the list. Looking at him, you wouldn’t think Cyclops from the X-Men would be that complex. But add in the backstory of his dad, Christopher Summer or Corsair to his friends, along with Alex, Gabriel, Nathan, Nate, Rachel, Hope…this family could have its own column. I’m not even getting into Nathan/Cable, Nate Grey, Stryfe, or the “other” Rachel. For someone who used to be the boring X-Man back in the day, Scott has a lot of issues. Some of which we’re seeing in the new X-Men series.

I’d imagine Odin, Thor, and Loki sitting around a table could be awkward with all the issues there.

Speaking of issues, no family has the father/son dynamic like the Grayson Family from Invincible. Invincible (Mark Grayson) is the teenaged son of Omni-Man (Nolan Grayson), an extraterrestrial superhero of the Viltrumite race. Invincible inherited his father’s superhuman strength and ability to fly and he has sworn to protect the Earth. But wait! The Viltrumites are actually a warrior race who conquer planets for their Empire, killing anyone who refuses to join. Invincible’s dad was sent to Earth as an advance agent and Mark, refusing his father’s offer to join the Viltrumites, tries to fight him. Bad idea. He’s almost killed by his dad. There’s way more twists and turns but that right there would make any dinner conversation over a holiday turkey kind of awkward. Of course we can’t forget about Mark’s half-brother from another planet.

To lighten things up a bit, let’s talk about The Marvel Family. Although I prefer to call them the Shazam Family. The Marvel Family was established in 1942, starting with the original Captain Marvel, Billy Batson. We quickly met Mary (Mary Marvel), Freddy (Captain Marvel Jr.), Eugene, Pedro, and Darla. Seems like one big happy family, right? Not so fast. Every family has a black sheep and this family has their Black Adam. An older Egyptian renegade protégé of the wizard Shazam, who gave Batson his powers, and who was the first to be granted superpowers by the wizard. Adam eventually grew to abuse his power, and became a tyrant. He’s played both sides of the fight over the years and brings his own family along for the ride.

Another family that is pretty clean cut is the Superman Family. Like Batman, Superman sits at the head of a large group of both family and those he considers family. You have his cousin, Supergirl and Superboy, depending on continuity. Ma and Pa Kent are his heart and compass on Earth. Although they were killed, his real parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, play a huge part in his life. The icing on the top is Lois Lane. the love of his life. Truly a super family.

The Inhuman Royal Family are the ruling class of the Inhumans. They’ve been in the spotlight a little more recently and definitely belong here. The head of the family is Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans and husband to Medusa, the mother of Ahura and older sister of Crystal. Crystal is the ex-wife of Quicksilver and mother of Luna. Then you have Gorgon, cousin of Medusa and Black Bolt. Karnak is cousin to Black Bolt and brother to Triton. Let’s close the family tree with Maximus Boltagon, aka Maximus the Mad, who is the brother of Black Bolt.

Let’s bring it full circle and end with the Fantastic Four. They are Marvel’s “first family” and have a long, rich history of showing the strength of the family bond in a crazy universe populated by the likes of Doctor Doom, the Mole Man and more. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and his wife, Sue Storm-Richards/Invisible Woman, her brother Johnny Storm/Human Torch and their friend, Ben Grimm, Reed and Sue’s kids, Franklin and Valeria. While the Fantastic Four movie looks to be in trouble and the comic is going away, make no mistake, this family always finds a way to come out together.

OK, who’s your favorite comic book family and why? Who did I miss?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!