[Movie still from X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox]
Comic books have most real-life situations beat in terms of parental complexity. For many characters, parental figures and/or mentors are in constant flux, and it’s not uncommon for a character to be raised by people other than their birth parents. With that in mind, we took a closer look at some of the more influential birth mothers of comic book history.
As the mother of Superman, Lara is probably one of the most well-recognized birth mothers of comic book history. Though her son may have been raised by the Kent family, Lara plays a significant role in her son’s life. Knowing that the planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction, Lara makes one of the hardest decisions possible: to send her son off into the darkness of space in the hope that he will survive a long trip to an undeveloped world. This scene has been played hundreds of times in film, television, radio and other media. Here, Lara functions as a metaphoric stand-in for a much older mother who made the same sacrifice: Jochebed, the mother of Moses.
Sister Maggie (Margaret Murdock)
Daredevil is one of Marvel’s more grounded characters, and his mother Maggie is similarly grounded, both by faith and by her son. After having Matt at a young age, Margaret ended up in the grips of extreme postpartum depression. Driven by a series of dark thoughts, Maggie attempted to kill young Matt in his crib. Her then-husband Jack stopped her and the two decided it was not safe for her to be around Matt. Instead of possibly endangering her son again, Maggie decided to leave and join a convent. Over time she becomes a prominent figure in Daredevil’s life, providing spiritual and emotional guidance.
It ain’t easy being blue – just ask X-Men characters Mystique and Nightcrawler. The two mutants have been at each other’s throats for decades. Being at odds in a war of philosophical differences can only make being mother and son even more distressing. It was a long time before Nightcrawler found out the truth of his parentage, but his belief in God saw him through the tough days of reconciling the fact that he was the child of one of his enemies and the Satan look-alike mutant Azazel.
It’s possible that Peter Parker comes by his adventurous ways through his parentage. Mary Parker may not have been around for all of Peter’s life to teach him to take chances, but there must be some sort of genetic coding that makes the Parker family a group of danger-seekers. As an agent of the CIA, Mary went on a series of adventures with her husband Richard before their fateful deaths. During these missions, Mary encountered a variety of Marvel Universe mainstays, including Wolverine and the Red Skull (Albert Malik). She proved herself to be just as capable as her more famous son.
It’s one thing to be the mother of a mutant or spider-bitten super-man, but for Sarah Hughes, things are much more complex. Ms. Hughes is more than just a mother – she’s also a powerful witch. During the late 1500s, Sarah had a little fling with the demon Azzael. The eventual offspring of this night of passion would become one of the most powerful demons in the existence: Hellboy. It’s important to keep in mind that Sarah Hughes is not just the mother of a famous hero, but part of King Arthur’s family tree, making Hellboy the heir of The Once and Future King. Sarah is a one-of-a-kind mother who tries to repent for her demonic dalliance on her deathbed but is prevented from doing so by Azzael. However, her good intentions seem to have been spiritually passed on to Hellboy, who grows up a benevolent demon.