Tag Archives: child abuse

Bad Romance: Poll-What is the Most Toxic Relationship in Comics?

7 Apr

With so much history behind them, comic book couples are bound to have some dark chapters, but these relationships stand out as uniquely detrimental for one or more parties involved. So, who do you think wins the title of the most toxic relationship in comics?

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Hank Pym (Ant Man, Giant Man, etc) & Janet Van Dyne (Wasp)

“Dammit Janet”

hank_pym_slapHank Pym has never been a model partner. He has kidnapped, beaten, and attempted to murder poor Janet over the years. While their drama makes for a compelling read, no good can come from this pair being together.

Hank has suffered from a variety of mental illnesses, some prompted by his exposure to unsafe levels of chemicals, some generated from his deep-rooted Napoleon complex. Whenever he is feeling down, Janet makes a perfect scape goat.

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Bruce Wayne (Batman) & Talia al Ghul

“She’s a Maniac”

deaddamianNo one has ever accused Bruce Wayne of making constructive decisions, but taking the daughter of one of his (many) mortal enemies as a lover may have be one for the books. Talia genetically engineered a son, Damian, by combining her own DNA with Bruce’s. As time past, she systematically abused the boy as part of his assassin’s training. After he came to live with Bruce, and formed a relationship with his father, Talia returned to kill the boy, robbing Bruce of the son he had come to know and love.

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Dinah Lance (Black Canary) & Green Arrow (Oliver Queen)

“She’s a Good-Hearted Woman in Love with a Good-Timin’ Man”


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So, Dinah and Ollie have been on-again, off-again for the better part their existence. Oliver Queen was a bit of serial philanderer, which never bodes well for a couple. Dinah also had great misgivings about the ethical ramifications of beginning the ‘normal’ life she so wished to have with Oliver. She believed that bringing children into the world was irresponsible for two people who led such dangerous lives. Oliver died tragically in a battle over Metropolis, but was later resurrected. The pair reunited shortly, but a combination of jealousy and apprehension in regard to the new young female ward in Oliver’s care caused her to break things off again. The two reunite and marry, at a ceremony that is (of course) interrupted by super villans. During the course of their marriage Oliver continually undermines Dinah professionally, and often uses his own judgment to dole out justice. Eventually his subterfuge goes too far, and Dinah dissolves the marriage, while Oliver sits in jail for murdering a supervillan.

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Mary Jane Watson & Peter Parker (Spiderman) … & Gwen Stacey

“Keep On Lovin’ You”

gwenmjspiderPeter loved Gwen Stacey with all his heart, until that one time he accidentally broke her neck while he was trying to save her life. I mean we have all been there, right? So how will he move on? Enter spunky, gorgeous, driven Mary Jane Watson. It should be a happy ending, but alas, Peter is a bit of a workaholic. He has great responsibilities to attend to after all. Mary Jane never fully moves out of the shadow of Gwen Stacey’s memory. Peter’s grief and guilt only exasperate the problem. Oh, and eventually he sells his marriage to Mary Jane to the devil (Mephisto) in return for Aunt May’s resurrection from the dead.

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Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) & Vision

“Just My Imagination”

scarletvisionShe is the child of Magneto, and he is the brain-child of Ultron, the pair seem wired for failure out of the gate. There’s another fact that foreshadows an ill-fated romance: Vision is an android (read robot). Initially the couple was unable to have children (because Vision is not human) but eventually Wanda acquires the psychic energy required to become pregnant. She gives birth to twin boys, William and Thomas.

Some time later, Vision tries to take over the world. This goes about as well as one would expect. He is eventually kidnapped and dismantled. When he was reassembled, his personality was severely changed, and things became strained. At the time of his destruction the twins were reintegrated to the soul of Mephisto and cease to exist. Wanda then becomes a bit unhinged herself.

Her mental breakdown eventually resulted in the manifestation of chaos magic powers, that cannot be controlled. She projected a world in which Vision was back to his old self and the boys were still young and in need of her mothering. She eventually used those powers to wipe out mutant powers across the globe leaving only a handful able to access their powers.

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Carol Ferris (Star Sapphire) & Hal Jordan (Green Lantern)

“Fly Me to the Moon”

halcarolIt’s a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl; boy gets ring becomes super powerful; girl gets gem and does the same; alien race hypnotizes girl into trying to kill boy because they want her as their queen… You know, just the standard romance stuff.

Carol and Hal start out as a forbidden romance. She is the heiress to the company that employs him as a test pilot. However, when cosmic forces get involved, things get much more complicated. Hal became a Green Lantern.  Upon inheriting Ferris Aircraft from her father, an alien race, the Zamarons, chose Carol as their queen. They gave her a powerful gem which gave her extraordinary abilities, and she became Star Sapphire. Initially Star Sapphire was reluctant to leave Earth because of her love for Hal. The Zamarons then hypnotized her to believe that Hal was an enemy. Over the years a pattern emerged, Start Sapphire and Green Lantern would battle, Hal would win and then fix Carol.After getting rid of the Star Sapphire identity seemingly for good, Carol began a relationship with a male component of her own personality called, Predator. Throughout the series Carol tries to deal with the power associated with the Star Sapphire aspect of her identity, and grapples with her feelings for Hal. The two can never seem to get their footing.

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Betty Ross (Red She-Hulk) & Bruce Banner (Hulk)

“Monster Mash”

redhulkhulkBruce Banner was bombarded with Gamma rays, and turns into a giant green monster when he gets angry. This does not look promising for his love interest. Betty is the daughter of “Thunderbolt” Ross, and she loved Bruce before he had anger management issues. Aside from the obvious “getting caught in the crossfire” problems, Betty eventually became ill with radiation poisoning from prolonged exposure to Bruce’s Gamma rays. When he tried to perform a blood transfusion using his own blood, the Gamma particles in his blood killed her.

We are talking comics here, so of course Betty is not really dead. She reemerges as the Red She-Hulk. When Betty reappeared in the civilian world she refused to be reunited with Bruce.

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Emma Frost & Scott Summers (Cyclops)

“Grey Cloudy Lies”

scottemmaThis is another love triangle, or quadrangle, or other geometric figure yet unknown to us used by soap opera writers to construct their stories. Scott and Jean Grey were written for one another. Since the earliest days of the X-men, the two have been a steady center of romantic focus. When Jean exits, to go do her whole Phoenix thing, Emma enters beginning a telepathic affair with Scott. When Jean returns, Emma is reluctant to forfeit the bond she feels with Scott. She poses as Jean to confuse him, and continues to attempt engage him telepathically. Exit Jean again, and Emma and Scott are back on. Emma will never live up to Jean for Scott, despite whatever telepathic messages she sends from beyond the grave that the couple is making out on top of (Yes, really). She and Scott are constantly haunted by the memory of Jean Grey.

hawkeyeKate Bishop (Hawkeye) & Clint Barton (Hawkeye)

“I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You”

kateclintThe tension between these two is so thick you could cut it with a knife. They obviously have feelings for one another, but are too stubborn to let on. While Kate occasionally reminds Clint of the impropriety of his tendency to treat her like a romantic partner, she is guilty of the same thing. They rely on each other in real ways, and seem to feel a genuine respect for one another, but the fact remains that Clint is an indiscriminate lover who cannot take anything seriously. He cares deeply for Kate, but cannot see what is right in front of him.

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Anna Marie (Rogue) & Remy LeBeau (Gambit)

“Killing Me Softly”

Gambit5touchingAside from the fact that the couple cannot touch because it would result in Remy’s death, well no, that’s really it. Rogue’s powers would harm Remy in unimaginable should their skin come into contact. This equals endless frustration. For a brief time, when they are both powerless, the couple lives a happy, normal life. However when they regain their powers, the loss of physical contact proves very stressful for the pair. Oh, and Gambit becomes one of the four horseman of the apocalypse (Death) and tries to kill Rogue a few times.

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Damian Wayne: Where the Hell was Child Protective Services?

3 Mar

So Batman Inc, #8 ripped my heart out.

*Spoiler Alert* – just so we are clear if you are waiting for the trade or your shop’s shipment got damaged, or you had 50 books to get through this week, and you don’t want to know what happened in this issue, stop here. I might also suggest that you step away from the internet, purchase earplugs and blinders, and find an underground bunker to hide in… because everyone is talking about this.

First of all let’s talk about this cover.

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To the left of Damian’s face is a drawing showing the facial proportions for a baby, to his right is a drawing showing a child’s facial proportions. Is is just me, or does the one on the left look a whole lot more like him? When I look at this cover, it reminds me of a baby in a Christening gown.

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So from the start, contents of this issue seem a little perverse. Damian Wayne looks like an infant with the phrase “R.I.P.” emblazoned boldly under him. So, babies, death, sounds like a good time right? Let’s read on.

Damian comes to the aid of his adult counterparts. While his father, Bruce Wayne (as Batman) is locked away in a safe underwater. Of course Damian’s mother, Talia Al Ghul,  is busy as well; having put his father in the aforementioned safe, she has a responsibility as a Batman villain to give a long speech full of taunts and bravado. So obviously, they are occupied. He has escaped Alfred’s watchful eye, and Tim & Dick have no choice but to fight alongside Damian as all hell breaks loose.

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There are an alarming number of adults who miss the chance to intervene and save Damian, from his grizzly fate. Talia, his mother, has abandoned him. Bruce, his father is caught up in his own conflicts. Alfred, his caretaker, has somehow lost track of him. Dick, his stepbrother, may be allowing him to behave so recklessly because of some sort of nostalgia for his own Robin days. Tim seems too concerned about his interpersonal conflicts with Damian to appreciate the danger he might be in.

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I think all of these people would face legal action if Damian’s case was  brought into a court of law.

ImageFirst of all there is Talia al Ghul

She is the genetic mother of Damian Wayne, she and Bruce have a somewhat tumultuous past…

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Naturally, she decides to genetically engineer a child that combines her DNA with that of Bruce Wayne. I mean… logically, right? But she doesn’t impregnate herself, she incubates Damian in a tank that looks like it once housed Zordon from The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. So far, Talia has managed to sleep with Batman, have his baby, and not get a single stretch mark or give up alcohol for nine months. This is enough to make me kind of hate her.

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So, since she is going to all this trouble, surely she will be an excellent mother, spend all her time doting on little Damian and trying in every way to make his life as wonderful as it can possibly be … yes, that is what one would think, however; she sorta goes the other way with it.

As she admires the fruit of her test-tube; she lets Damian know that global domination is in his future. Oh, good. I know every mom seeing her kid for the first time thinks he or she is perfect, and possibly even more perfect than all the other babies whose mothers have ever looked at them, but I don’t know many who start planning out their kids careers at during their child’s first moments; and I don’t know any who start grooming them for world takeover before their child draws his or her first breath.

ImageDing! The timer goes off, and Talia welcomes Damian to the world with a smile and look of wonder that seem at home on the face of any new mother. This is pretty much the upper limit of their relationship, it doesn’t get much better. Of course, like any good mother she has plan’s for Damian’s education.



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ImageTalia trains Damian to become an assassin. This could be seen as abuse, but she always remembers his birthday, and its for his own good, right?

At any rate, Damian is put through years of physical and mental “conditioning” that result in him becoming a very talented but socially inept 10-year-old.

So mother-of-the-year, Talia is not. In some ways she loves Damian, and in some ways he loves her. He is a little boy after all, no amount of training is going to change that fact.

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Eventually,Damian goes to live with Bruce, probably for the best right? I mean how could a kid in the hands of superhero possibly come to any harm? Even if it is an unstable environment, anything is better than getting your ass kicked on your birthday, right? Surely Damian’s lot in life will improve now that he has a whole support system of caring adults.

ImageYeah, about that…

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So how did we go from movies and popcorn to a dead kid? Long story. First of all, Bruce and the Bat-family do try. He makes a genuine effort to take care of Damian and teach him how to do the right thing. He forbids Damian to kill, which seems like a good start. Most parents I know have the same rule.

ImageDamian struggles a little with the house rules. Gets in trouble, you know the usual settling in with a new authority figure stuff.

No one really seems to question the implications of a 10-year-old needing to be expressly forbidden to murder someone. This is probably as good of a reason as any to get the kid in therapy. Red flag, anyone? No? Okay, then lets continue.

Since we have agreed that it seems acceptable for ten-year-olds to have homicidal tendencies, let’s talk about how Talia reacts to his new (and dare-we-say improved?) moral compass.

ImageShe resurfaces in Damian’s life to tell him she’s disappointed in him, aw Mom, you shouldn’t have… But lest you think lacks the commitment to completely destroy her son psychologically, she also formally disowns him.Image

Where’s Bruce while all this is going on, you might ask yourself… turns out he has a pretty good excuse for turning a blind eye to what’s going on, see he’s kind of, oh what’s the word… dead.

So Damian learned he had a father, lost said father, and was abandoned by his mother. No one has considered that perhaps Alfred and Master Dick aren’t exactly the dynamic duo of parenting, that maybe Damian could benefit from some normalcy, be around kids his own age, have some pizza, a cookie, maybe? No? Okay. Just checking.

Eventually as most dead superhero dad’s do, Bruce comes back… that’s a really long story… so let’s just go with it.

So what’s it like, having a kid who has grown up learning how to kill people come to live with you when you have dedicated your life to putting people like that away? On the other hand, what’s it like to have Batman for a dad?

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It’s just PEACHY…

Bruce and Damian have their ups and downs. That’s for sure. Bruce tends to see him as another soldier in the war on crime, and Damian tends to overreach his means to try and win his father’s approval. They do have their tender moments.

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Just look at this example of fatherly love. Bruce is carrying a beaten and battered Damian away from a fiery end… wait a second… what the hell was a 10-year-old doing in a situation like this to begin with? Well there has got to be one nice moment, hasn’t there?

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There’s the money shot… So, Mom is evil, and while Dad occasionally allows him to be put in harms way; its essentially all sunshine and rainbows over at Wayne Manor, yeah?

ImageOkay, so this was early on, but still, is this anyway to treat a traumatized child when you are a full grown man?

Not Bats finest hour…

But it all turns out well in the end.

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Really? You’re bringing this up again? So it doesn’t end well? But I mean the kid had a few good years, right? Its not like he got put in the middle of his parents feuds, or had to take on emotional burdens beyond his years or anything….

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Well… huh… okay, so I guess things got a little messy. His parents didn’t get along. A lot of kids parents don’t get along. At least they kept it hemmed up between themselves. He was never literally put in the middle of their fights or anything, never forced to choose between his mom and his dad….Image

Well, that sucks.

All right so Damian was mistreated, physically abused, mentally abused, neglected, abandoned, forced to choose between his parents, lost his father, and died. That’s terrible, especially when you consider how well most kids recuperate from early emotional trauma.

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Touche’. Fair enough. I see your point. Bruce had a fairly idyllic childhood. His parents loved him, and put his needs before their own. One bad night changed him forever. Violence creates lasting scars and mental fixations that plague us for the rest of our lives.

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Even under the best of circumstances, parenting can fall short and fate can take over.

Martha and Thomas loved Bruce, and they would have given anything to protect him.

I just wish someone had felt that way about Damian.

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We all start out as kids, trying to live up to our parents’ expectation. Then some of us become parents’ trying be worthy of our kids. Missteps are easy. Children are precious. We have an ethical responsibility to make sure that they are cared for and loved. With all the things that can go wrong, why would we ever add to the challenges facing our children knowingly?

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