10 Famous (And Frequently Dysfunctional) Comic Book Families

A new number one for <b>Fantastic Four</b> brings the team to Volume 5 of their adventures at Marvel Comics, but that doesn't mean they're not still comics' First Family. <p>Family is a running theme in superhero comic books, whether it's the literal family of the Richards clan or a more figurative family like the "Bat-Family." The latter was the focus of the New 52 storyline "Death of the Family," wherein Joker's machinations took the team apart, breaking their bonds of trust. <p>Whether it's literal or metaphorical, from birth, marriage, or choice, the theme of family isn't going anywhere. Here are ten of our favorites. <p><i>Albert Ching contributed to an earlier version of this article.</i>


The Guthrie family has been in and out of the spotlight since the eldest, Sam, entered the scene in <b>New Mutants</b> back in 1982, but Sam and his sister Paige are both joining Wolverine in re-starting the school in Westchester this fall in the "Regenesis" relaunch of the X-Men titles. <p>Aside from the human Cannonball and the girl that could peel away her skin as Husk, there are 8 other Guthrie kids running around (or that have been running around at some point). The X-Gene is prevalent in this family, and exactly why has never been explained (as opposed to the Summers or Greys who were groomed genetically for their potential). Jay Guthrie had wings and a healing factor, and is now dead. Elizabeth has never manifested in our universe, but in Age of Apocalypse, she had growth powers. Melody and Jeb both had powers prior to Scarlet Witch's tampering on M-Day. But hey, that still leaves us with a couple of Guthries to spare now that the X-Gene has been kicked back into high gear!


Jay Faerber's superheroic family in <b>Noble Causes</b> was unique for the size and complexity of the family. Marriages came and went, new members were brought in, and the dysfunctional life of the family was as much a problem as any supervillains. They also were unique in that their archenemies were actually another superpowered family, the Blackthornes. <p>This is a big, crazy family, and a great example of how comics, even superhero ones, can play out very much like soap operas. Faerber consistently used tropes from superhero books and placed them in the jacked-up conditions of this group, making it fun and f*(@ed up at the same time.


Wonder Woman has gone through some of the most significant changes since the reboot of the entire DC Universe with the launch of the New 52. Chief amongst them: She's now a Greek Demigod, making her part of one of the oldest "superhero" families in recorded history. <p>The Pantheons, as precursors to our modern myths, featured larger-than-life characters with mystical or superhuman powers, and complicated soap operatic family ties. With Wonder Woman as the half-sister of the likes of Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, and gods whose names <i>don't</i> start with the letter A, she's now a part of both the ancient pantheon of Greece and the modern pantheon of the Justice League. <p>In her ongoing New 52 solo series, many of Wonder Woman's siblings have shared her spotlight, and been featured as glorious otherwordly creatures. And of course, if you see her donning the helmet and title of "God of War," you can bet that means there's some sibling rivalry (see: killing each other) going on, as well. <p>Wonder Woman's family is one of the newest to comics, but the oldest in history, and that makes for the fun in dysfunctional.


Don't get confused, as this is a <i>very</i> popular surname in the worlds of comics. In this case, we're talking about the first family of <b>Invincible</b>. And what a twisted little family of superpowered characters it is. <p>It starts with Omni-Man, Nolan Grayson, who is a member of the galaxy-conquering Viltrumites. Omni-Man masquerades as a hero for quite sometime, when he was technically supposed to be the envoy for a coming invasion. He has a son with a human, and Mark Grayson becomes Invincible. They fight after Omni-Man reveals his true colors and kills this Earth's super team, and Nolan disappears. <p>Well, Omni-Man just wound up on another planet, and had <i>another</i> kid with another native race. Oliver, through the story, winds up on Earth, and becomes Mark's protege. The Graysons are a great case study in nature-vs-nurture, and a nice example of how legacy can be built up quickly, even in a new universe.


Originally hailing from Earth-2 (and once again, though in a different form), Alan Scott was the Golden Age Green Lantern. Fueled by the green energy of the mystical Starheart, Scott fought evil alongside the Justice Society of America. <p>Alan Scott also wound up having a couple of children in his day. He and Rose Canton, who was also the villain Thorn, had two children, Jennie-Lynn Hayden and Todd James Rice. Why all the different last names? Well, the twins were given up for adoption and split up by their mother who feared going crazy again and hurting them. The children, it turned out, both gained powers related to Scott's longtime exposure to the Starheart. Jade was essentially a Green Lantern who didn't need a ring. Obsidian was the darkness that balances the light, with the ability to merge with, possess, and control shadows in a manner similar to the constructs of GLs. <p>Alan Scott is back in action in the New 52 on <b>Earth 2</b>, but he's much younger and doesn't have kids, meaning Jade and Obsidian are a long way off, if they ever make it back into comic continuity.


Magneto will never win dad of the year, if such an award actually existed (and in the Marvel Universe, maybe it does). However, he is trying to be a lot better these days, seen showing some real paternal concern for his daughter Scarlet Witch in the pages of <i>Avengers: The Children's Crusade</i> especially needed when many of the Avengers and X-Men would rather imprison her, or worse. <p>Of course, Magneto's family doesn't stop with the Scarlet Witch. He's also father to Quicksilver (Scarlet Witch's twin brother) and Polaris (whose mother was a college student named Suzanna Dane), and grandparent to Luna Maximoff (Quicksilver's child with Crystal the Inhuman) – and, maybe, Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers, who appear to be reincarnations of Scarlet Witch's thoroughly improbable children with the synthezoid Vision, that had been thought to be shards of Mephisto's soul (pretty much Satan in the MU). Who wouldn't want to take a family vacation to Wundagore Mountain with this bunch? <p>While the family aspect here doesn't come into play as often as you might think in X-Men stories, half-siblings Quicksilver and Polaris are serving side-by-side on the <i>All-New X-Factor</i>. It seems unlikely Scarlet Witch will join them anytime soon, as she's currently dead over in the pages of <i>Uncanny Avengers</i>, and ditto to Magneto, who has quite possibly left the X-Men behind after years of working alongside Cyclops.


The concept of family is so intrinsic to Captain Marvel and his extended supporting cast that they starred in 89 issues of a series simply titled "Marvel Family" starting in 1945. <p>Starting with the original Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, the rest of the gang got in the fun with his twin sister Mary Mary Marvel, yup and Captain Marvel Jr., their buddy Freddy Freeman. The family expanded with Uncle Marvel (not really an uncle, but an old, powerless dude that the kids humored for a while, which apparently wasn't considered creepy back in the '40s) and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, who also was not biologically related to the Batsons as he was, in fact, a rabbit. <p>Billy Batson is now operating under the name Shazam in the New 52, with several possible new family members having already been introduced.


The Summers family (and the Greys for that matter) have a long, illustrious past in the Marvel Universe. These two families have actually been guided (and in some cases genetically engineered) with the express purpose of creating the ultimate mutant. In one timeline, that was Nathan Christopher Charles, or Cable. In another, it was Nate Grey, and in yet another, Rachel. <p>The sheer number of Summers that have been featured in the last few decades of Marvel comics is astonishing. There's Christopher, Scott, Alex, Gabriel, Nathan, Nate, Rachel, Hope, and that's not including Jean, clones (Madelyne, Stryfe) and some question marks that are still floating around out there. <p>The fun on this one is when you really start playing connect-the-dots a bit. For instance, Scott Summers and Jean Grey's clone Madelyne Pryor had a baby, Cable. Cable was raised in the future by Scott and Jean in alternate bodies called Slymm and Redd, and with the assistance of Rachel Grey as Mother Askani, his genetic sister from another timeline who had lived thousands of years thanks to the Phoenix Force. If Hope (Cable's adoptive daughter) winds up having some genetic connection to Jean, then it's possible that Nathan also raised a clone or partial clone/descendant of his genetic mother. Never change, Summers family. Never change.


For the Last Son of Krypton, Superman has a pretty big family. There's, of course, his cousin Supergirl, who also escaped Krypton (well, at least in most versions of the character's history), and Superboy, who in the old continuity was the clone of Kal-El and Lex Luthor, and in the New 52 was the clone of Superman and Lois Lane's evil son from a possible future. And of course, adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent found him in Smallville and raised him since he was a baby. <p>But there's also Superman's dearly departed family the "House of El," most notably his parents Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, who were pretty super themselves. Jor-El, Superman's pops, was a noted scientist on Krypton and while Lara's history has varied greatly in different incarnations and generally less clearly defined, she's frequently portrayed as an accomplished individual in her own right. <p>Of course that doesn't include Power Girl, who is the Supergirl of Earth 2, stranded on the "main" Earth in the New 52 continuity. His future son has also recently taken the place of the clone Superboy, which is sure to cause all sorts of problems of its own down the line.


The Fantastic Four is frequently called the "first family" of Marvel Comics, and there are lots of good reasons as to why. Debuting in 1961, they kicked off the "Marvel Age" as we still know it today, and they are, at heart, a family. <p>Consisting of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and his wife, Sue Storm-Richards/Invisible Woman, plus her brother Johnny Storm/Human Torch and their best friend, Ben Grimm, the Fantastic Four (despite numerous, ultimately temporary, membership changes over the years) have always been more of a family than a superhero team. And it's a family that's only gotten bigger: Reed and Sue now have two kids, Franklin and Valeria. Oh, and Valeria considers Doctor Doom – the team's greatest enemy for essentially their entire existence to be an uncle to her. They say you don't choose family, and that might be a good reason as to why. <p>It doesn't stop there: Nathaniel Richards is the time-traveling father of Reed, and their metaphorical family has only grown thanks to the Future Foundation. <p>Relaunch all you want, but no matter what, the Fantastic Four is a fantastic family with history, adventure, and excitement as much a part of their DNA as the fictional Richards genetic code is.

10 Famous (And Frequently Dysfunctional) Comic Book Families

Date: 03 February 2014 Time: 06:30 PM ET