Top 10 Tuesday: Marvel Superhero Offspring
By Kevin McVicker
First, thanks to Christopher Fokken for coming up with this great idea for a Top Ten list. That means if you don’t like it, blame him.
Second, the qualifications used to develop this list are twofold: the relevance of said offspring and the heroics of the parents. The title is specifically “Superhero Offspring” after all, so both factors must be in play. Note that the heroics of the offspring are not weighed into consideration.
Skaar (Bruce Banner & Calera the Oldstrong)
It seems like Skaar has everything it takes to be on the list, but at the end of the day and possibly in large part due to my bias of (or lack of interest in) stories where he has been involved, he came in at number 11 on this list. For a Top Ten list, that means immediate dismissal to the honorable mentions. I think most will agree that compared to most others on this list, his relative mark on Marvel Comics has probably been the smallest.
Tommy Shepard and Billy Kaplan (Wanda Maximoff & Vision… kind of… maybe)
While in their own right, both of these characters deserve to be on this list in terms of relevance and importance, it is the question of their heritage which actually has kept them as merely honorable mentions. While we’re all confident that they are in fact the reincarnated spirits of Vision and Scarlet Witch’s imaginary kids, that sentence alone should not only make it understandable why they are left to the honorable mentions but also why so many people hate comics (and equally why so many people love them).
10 – Daken Akihiro (James Howlett & Itsu Akihiro)
Some characters have so much hope and promise, and it’s sad when their stories are eventually squandered and they’re regulated to c-list characters on a d-list book. Well, thanks to the less than spectacular post-death-of-his-daddy series that he was part of (because I’m petty and myopic), Daken only makes it to number 10 on this list.
9 – Talia Wagner (Kurt Wagner and Wanda Maximoff)
This may be a controversial choice, but I think by the time you get to the end of the list, this one may sit more easily than many. This non-continuity character was an extremely important and well developed component of the Exiles series from the early to mid-00s. As a huge fan of this series I was disappointed in her lack of involvement in any form that I noticed (but please correct me if I’m wrong) in the yet-to-be completed but finished Secret Wars event (I would put a date to add relevance to that reference, but years from now I’m sure the last three issues will still be unreleased).
8 – May Parker (Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker)
While many of the classic What If? issues became a reality (What If Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four, What If Spider-Man’s clone had lived, What If Rick Jones was the Hulk, What If someone else besides Spider-Man had been bitten by the radioactive spider, What If Jane Foster found the hammer of Thor, What If the world knew Daredevil was blind, What If Spider-Man hadn’t married Mary Jane, What If the Punisher became Captain America – serious, each of those were What If issues years and decades before they were written into continuity – and that actually sounds like another great Top Ten list), one particular What If? issue was so popular that it actually spun into its own series. While May Parker was regulated to her own universe separate from the 616, her series was on-going for years, and later she (or at least a version of herself) showed up in the Spider-Verse series. So while she may be another controversial choice, I think she’s a no-brainer for this list.
7 – Cassie Lang (Scott Lang and Peggy Rae Burdick)
Introduced in Scott Lang’s very first story as the entire reason he adopts (well, steals) the Ant-Man mantle, Cassie eventually became a superhero in her own right after her father was killed by a reanimated Jack of Hearts. Scott got better, but their short lived reunion was ruined by Doctor Doom. Cassie also got better, but currently without any of the Pym Particles which allowed her to be a member of the Young Avengers. Given the large fluxes in comics, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Cassie in a superhero role.
6 – Carnage (Venom)
So here is where the ire of the masses will definitely begin if not previously. First, I keep using the word “offspring” and I did that purposefully. Carnage is the offspring of Venom. Secondly, I never said the ranking had anything to do with the heroic nature of the offspring, only the parent (the reason Vision isn’t on this list). As any child from a single-parent home behaves, Carnage acted out in order to get attention and just so happened to become a mass murderer by doing that. It looks like thanks to Red Onslaught, Carnage may be turning a new leaf and is basically becoming who Venom use to be. Progress!
5 – Lorna Dane (Erik Lehnsherr and Suzanna Dane)
Slightly over a year ago this list may have had two other of Lorna’s half-siblings on here, but it turns out not any more. So now Lorna is the lone heir to the Magneto lineage, and apart from a few hiccups early in her career (and then in the middle and slightly recently) she seems to have the entire craziness thing worked out, recently even being the leader of a for-profit superhero team. While her mother didn’t do anything but die three years after Lorna was born (women… am I right?) (Editor’s Note: KEVIN! -Jarid), Erik has had the same ups and downs in his attempt at being a superhero. Last we saw him, the best term may be “antihero”, but with the third incarnation of an all-new Marvel who knows what the all-new Magneto has to offer us.
4 – Rachel Summers (Scott Summers and Jean Grey-Summers)
Like several others from this list, Rachel’s origin is somewhere outside of the mainline continuity, but eventually hopping over and back in time from a dystopian future, she has solidified herself in the ranks of the X-Men even becoming one of the main teachers at the kinder, gentler X-Men campus. In terms of heroic parents, her real dad never killed Professor X.
3 – Valeria Richards & Franklin Richards (Reed Richard and Susan Richard)
Maybe my bias placed these kids so far up on the ranking, but as kids of superhero parents go, these are definitely my favorite. Valeria being one of the smartest people on the planet, but still a little kid at the same time has made some of my favorite scenes in both Fantastic Four, X-Factor, and the Runaways Secret War tie-in series. Franklin having his future-self travel back in time has had his own great heroic moments, especially in the Fantastic Four series in the 90;s. Gotta love kids that are barely potty-trained, but are key and fundamental to the Marvel Universe.
2 – Ultron (Hank Pym)
Look back at my stipulations on placing Carnage on the list and I believe you’ll understand why Ultron belongs. The offspring of a single parent relationship who based his entire theory of the solution to life on both his father’s pragmatism and nerd rage, and has become a universal level threat at points killing untold numbers of people. Last we saw him he had merged with his father and thanks to Eros flew off into the deep reaches of space presumably to learn how to love himself (OGN Rage of Ultron). What does this offspring’s future hold, or is the offspring no more, or is there something entirely new, or will all that be ignored?
1 – Nathan Summers (Scott Summers and Jean Grey)
It is almost impossible to say that another offspring has had as large an impact on the Marvel Universe, while at the same time having such heroic parents. I like to give Cyclops a hard time, because I find the character boring, but it is hard not to say, apart from one incident (where he killed his mentor!) he’s lived a heroic life. His mother Madelyne Pryor (clone of Jean Grey) started off as a hero but things ultimately didn’t end so well for her (even though she’s alive again – another reason why folks love/hate comics so much). On top of that, Cable is as capable a leader (especially in tactical terms) as anyone who has been an X-Men (and most of the Avengers). While sometimes his methods are seen as harsh and antiheroic, he gets the job done. When everything comes to fruition the way he plans, most people begrudgingly acknowledge he was right all along. While the Marvel Universe wouldn’t be the same with most of the characters on this list missing, I believe Nathan’s impact may be the most dramatically felt.