Father’s Day is a time to honor the greatest dads of the DC Universe. And sometimes, like right now, to throw serious shade at a few of the worst. Look, we all know fatherhood is a great responsibility, so props to all of you amazing dads out there. Clearly, what you do each day isn’t easy because some of the most powerful people in the DC Universe—people who can bend steel or summon cosmic forces with a thought—don’t seem to be capable of it. (For the record, fellas, fatherly bonding does NOT mean destroying your children for your own amusement. No, not even when your kid is an unsufferable little twit like Lor-Zod.)
We don’t generally recommend looking to comic book characters for parenting advice, but if you do decide to seek inspiration there, we suggest looking to Superman, Alfred Pennyworth or Black Lightning. You absolutely do not want to model your approach to fatherhood after anyone on this list. No, not even Lobo. We don’t care how much you dig his mullet.
Here are seven of the all-time worst DC dads ever put to paper.
First Appearance: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134
Unlucky Offspring: Orion, Kalibak, Grail and Grayven
Fatherly Failings: Darkseid’s relationship with his son Orion got off on the wrong foot when the warlord traded the infant to his worst enemy. As a result, Orion grew up on New Genesis and fought against his father’s forces on Apokolips.
While Darkseid has some respect for his son’s skills, that hasn’t stopped him from constantly trying to kill him. Orion stands in the way of Darkseid’s plans for unlimited power, therefore he must die. And it’s not just Orion that Darkseid was lousy to. Although the obedient warrior Kalibak is the type of son Darkseid should want, the powerful ruler of Apokolips doesn’t treat him with much respect. Darkseid constantly belittles Kalibak and once reduced him to ashes as punishment for his failures. After killing Kalibak, Darkseid revived his sycophant son, only so they can repeat the toxic cycle again. It’s an unusual father-son activity, but Darkseid isn’t a usual father.
The bloodthirsty Grayven has also fallen victim to his father’s temper. Darkseid once violently punished his Grayven for failing to defeat Superman, which is a bit unfair since he hasn’t been able to stop the Man of Steel either.
First Appearance: The New Teen Titans #2
Unlucky Offspring: Rose Wilson, Grant Wilson and Joseph Wilson
Fatherly Failings: Slade Wilson doesn’t have a great track record with his children. As a mercenary, Slade’s lifestyle didn’t leave room for much parenting and his missions sometimes put him up against his own children. His oldest son Grant died trying to emulate his father. His younger son Joseph has the power to jump inside other people’s bodies and while he was under Trigon’s demonic influence, Slade stabbed him through the back with his sword. Joseph retaliated by jumping into his father’s body and forced him to murder his best friend Wintergreen.
Slade’s relationship with his daughter Rose isn’t much better. Disgusted by her heroic nature, Slade forced his daughter to ingest the strength-enhancing formula that powered him, which corrupted Rose and turned her evil. When Rose appeared to be morally conflicted, Slade chastised her until she gouged out her own eye to prove she could be just like him. Slade then placed a piece of Kryptonite in his daughter’s empty socket (maybe next time try a necklace or pair of earrings, dude). Rose was horrified when she learned that the radioactive rock was slowly poisoning her, causing her to angrily leave her father. Slade Wilson may be the world’s greatest mercenary, but getting along with his kids is a challenge he can’t seem to overcome.
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283
Unlucky Offspring: Lor-Zod
Fatherly Failings: Parents each have their own reasons for wanting to have kids, but usually it’s so they can add more love to their homes. For General Zod, having a child was just a creative way to stage a prison break. While he was trapped in the Phantom Zone, the villainous Zod and his mate Ursa conceived a son. Being born in the Phantom Zone meant that Lor-Zod was immune to the timeless effects of the dimensional prison. He was not, however, immune to his crappy parents.
Lor-Zod was abused by Zod and Ursa, who made it clear that he only existed so they could escape their tortured captivity. Using a rocket, eventually Zod sent his son from the Phantom Zone to Earth. There, Lor-Zod was adopted by Lois Lane and Clark Kent, living a blissful life under the name Chris Kent. Sadly, Zod wouldn’t let his son have a happy ending and used his son as a doorway to escape the Phantom Zone. Once out, Zod and Ursa caught up with Lor-Zod and continued their abuse of him. The young Kryptonian used his powers to fight back, but his parents were indigent, going so far as to threaten to kill their son once he outlived his usefulness. As Zod flippantly told Superman, “I can always make another.”
Eventually, Lor-Zod was able to trap his parents in the Phantom Zone again but was forced to follow them or the doorway would remain open. Maybe that angry chip on his shoulder is well-earned after all…
First Appearance: The New Teen Titans #2
Unlucky Offspring: Raven and a crew of demonic offspring
Fatherly Failings: It’s common for fathers and daughters to clash over ideological differences, but Trigon and Raven take things to a new level. The demonic Trigon has taken over many dimensions and would really like to add Earth to his collection. The problem is his daughter Raven is part human and an empath, and she’s not too keen on seeing humanity enslaved or destroyed by her pops. As a result, Raven formed the New Teen Titans to push back against Trigon’s assault.
Trigon would love for his daughter to go into the family business and has used his powers to demonically corrupt her on more than one occasion. Raven’s light is one of the only things that can repel her father, but the pressure can be overwhelming. Since world domination is more important than fatherhood in his eyes, Trigon has no issues trying to destroy Raven or her friends when they get in the way of his plans. Why settle for a Father’s Day card when you can have the entire world?
First Appearance: The Omega Men #3
Unlucky Offspring: Su-Lehmon, Crush and an army of hundreds of angry spawns
Fatherly Failings: How much do Lobo’s kids hate him? They have so much contempt for their father that they once banded together as a giant army to kill him. During the miniseries Lobo: Infanticide, a large gathering of his offspring bonded over their mutual hatred for the Main Man. His daughter Su-Lehmon led two hundred of her siblings in a sneak attack on their father. Lobo, for his part, showed no fatherly feelings towards his bastard children and murdered them one by one for hours. When Su-Lehmon was the last one standing, Lobo finished her off with a mega-fart explosion. Consider it a deadly version of a dad saying, “Pull my finger.”
That’s all ancient history, though. Currently, Lobo has one child that he knows of—a teenage daughter named Crush. Until recently, she was a member of Teen Titans. Now, she’s about to embark on a road trip with her old man in the just-launched new miniseries Crush & Lobo. Surely, nothing bad will happen and the two of them will get along just swimmingly, right?
First Appearance: Batman #567
Unlucky Offspring: Cassandra Cain, Marque and a group of deadly assassins
Fatherly Failings: Some fathers will help their daughters learn to tie their shoes, read or ride a bike, but David Cain has a different parenting style. The infamous assassin raised his daughter Cassandra to be a weapon, and that meant having an untraditional childhood. While other little girls were jumping rope, Cassandra was leaping over knives in rigorous training exercises. When Cain was disappointed with Cassandra’s performance, he would shoot her. Her childhood was so abnormal that she famously wasn’t taught how to speak. Instead, Cain wanted violence to be the only language his daughter used.
Worst of all, Cass didn’t even know when her birthday was until she was almost an adult. What kind of father deprives their child of a birthday party? Eventually, the good-hearted Cassandra rebelled and joined Batman’s team as Batgirl and later Orphan. As a member of the Bat-Family, she’s fought back against her father many times, and he kind of deserves it. Next time, just get your daughter a damn birthday cake, you putz.
First Appearance: The Brave and the Bold #57
Unlucky Offspring: Sapphire Stagg
Fatherly Failings: It’s not easy to see your daughter dating a man you don’t approve of, but Simon Stagg takes things a bit further than most dads. As the CEO of Stagg Enterprises, Simon’s used his empire to control everything, including his daughter Sapphire’s love life. So, when Simon wasn’t so keen on Rex Mason, her choice of suitor, he funded an expedition to keep the two apart. To ensure that Rex and Sapphire could never marry, Simon even had one of his henchmen attack the adventurer during the trip and leave him for dead.
Fortunately, Rex survived and became the elemental superhero Metamorpho. Despite this, Simon continued to do everything in his power to get rid of Rex, including intercepting the messages the hero was trying to send to his daughter. It didn’t work, and Metamorpho eventually became Simon’s son-in-law. While the two men have had occasional truces, Simon still attempts to kill Rex from time to time. He claims he has his daughter’s best interests at heart, but we’d imagine Sapphire disagrees.
Aren’t you glad you’re not the child of a super-villain? Seriously, be sure to call your father this weekend and thank him for caring about your well-being more than world domination. And if you’re a father yourself, have a very happy Father’s Day! If this article proves anything, it’s that you’re the real superhero around here!
Who’s your favorite bad DC dad? Did we include him on the list? Let us know over in the DC Community!
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.