Being a superhero is always difficult and only sometimes rewarding. When dealing with the kind of atrocities that Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, Doc Ock, or the Joker are capable of, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s also never a good idea to forget how incredibly dangerous being a superhero can be. Many superheroes, vigilantes, and crimefighters have died in the line of duty, trying to make the world a better place. Worst of all is the fact that many of these superheroes—often the ones exposed to the most danger—are the ones who all too often take on a crime-fighting partner or expose young children to their dangerous lifestyle.
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Too often does the superhero community make superheroics a family business—one where kids are put into the line of fire. There are also people out there looking to hone children into weapons, who claim they want what is best for them, but then put them in danger on an endless loop. There are still others who think incredible powers should be bestowed upon young children too immature to responsibly use those abilities, simply because they are pure of heart. Sometimes superheroics can be an ugly business. Here are 15 heroes who needlessly endanger children.
By many measures, Superman has been a great father to Jon Kent within the Rebirth continuity. He’s loving, understanding, and always willing to teach his son important lessons about responsibility. It’s too bad that when you’re raising a Superboy, you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to his whereabouts, and Superman isn’t always able to do that when he’s off doing so many different things.
In the short amount of time that Jon has been around, Superman has allowed him to get involved in a fight with the Eradicator and the two have gotten transported to Dinosaur Island. It’s hard to say for sure what is and isn’t Superman’s fault, but allowing his 10-year-old son to continuously sneak out of the house with Damian Wayne (in Superman and Super Sons) is a recipe for disaster.
During her run on Birds of Prey, writer Gail Simone gave Oracle a teenage protege who forced her way onto the superhero scene, despite every adult around her attempting to stop her. Charlie originally shows up in 2006’s Birds of Prey #96 attempting to take on the identity of Batgirl. After Oracle brings her into her circle, Charlie takes on the name Misfit, but is initially forbidden to go out on missions.
Though Oracle attempts to train her responsibly, Misfit’s ability to teleport often results in her disobeying orders and getting into altercations she doesn’t have the skills to handle. On one such occasion she accidentally causes the deaths of many innocent people. She is also later kidnapped by Darkseid and tortured at the Dark Side Club. Oracle tried to do this the right way, but a teenager is going to do what she wants.
13. R.J. BRANDE
A Durlan shapeshifter disguised as a rich businessman from Earth, R.J. Brande becomes the financier of the Legion of Super-Heroes after Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad save him from assassination. While the many Legionnaires who work to protect the universe all have different superpowers to defend themselves, they are all (at least in the original continuity) no older than teenagers.
Not only does Brande help a bunch of kids establish an organization to fight a bunch of galactic criminals, he also leaves them to do it all on their own without much in the way of adult supervision. Over the years, many of the kids who make up the Legion were killed, including Lightning Lad, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, and Dream Girl. Not all of them got better.
12. REED RICHARDS
This might be surprising to hear, but superheroes don’t normally make for the best parents. Reed Richards, despite his best efforts, has seemingly put his children in harm’s way at nearly every turn. That is, when he’s not ignoring them to go off and do science instead. To be fair, even the best parents might have some trouble handling super powered children.
After Annihilus attempted to use Franklin Richards as a power source, Mr. Fantastic was forced to shut down the mind of his own son in Fantastic Four #141 from 1973. Franklin and Valeria are also left unattended in Dark Reign: Fantastic Four after their father’s experiment strands the Fantastic Four in an alternate reality. The Baxter Building is then attacked by Norman Osborn, who nearly harms the children. We don’t even have to bring up the Future Foundation.
11. HANK PYM
Following the Dark Reign storyline, it is discovered that Norman Osborn had manipulated several superpowered teenagers. Trying to do the right thing, Hank Pym enrolls them into Avengers Academy in order to help steer them away from villainy. His methods, though, prove questionable when the students confront Osborn in prison, and they are attacked on multiple occasions while they are out on assignment with their teachers.
During Fear Itself, the students are actually sent out to fight some of the members of the superpowered Worthy. Their use in a war is the primary reason Veil decides to quit the team. They also become involved in the conflict between the Phoenix Five and the rest of the heroes during the 2012 Avengers vs. X-Men event. This is not the best way to be a mentor.
10. LUKE CAGE AND JESSICA JONES
If you thought the Richards family was bad, at one point the superpowered couple of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones actually managed to misplace their baby. During the events of Secret Invasion, Danielle Cage was left in the care of Jarvis at Avengers headquarters while the world’s superheroes fought a war with Skrulls pretending to be their friends and allies. You would think that with all the secret aliens hanging around, they would be a little more careful.
All the missing heroes are discovered at the end of the series with Jarvis a surprising addition among them. Jessica Jones then realizes what this means for her baby, so she runs off to find her to be missing. This storyline is then picked up in New Avengers until Danielle is found and saved. Things could have ended a lot worse if it wasn’t for the help of Norman Osborn.
9. THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
This might be one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations. For years, the Justice Society has worked to prepare the next generation of crimefighters, but when several kids decided they wanted to join the team, they were all rejected. They went on to found their own superhero team in 1983’s All-Star Squadron #25 called Infinity Inc., which culminated in the death of the young hero Skyman.
Later iterations of the JSA tried to be more hands-on when it came to future generations. Instead of rejecting the next legacy heroes, they embraced them, gave them a place on the team, and sent them out to fight crime. This is how teenagers like Stargirl, Jakeem Thunder, Damage, Cyclone, and Lightning ended up having to stare down supervillains on their own. Damage actually ended up getting killed by a zombie!
8. THE WIZARD SHAZAM
The Wizard Shazam has been endangering children for decades, since his introduction in Whiz Comics #1 from 1940. After bestowing his power onto an unstable adult, he created the villain known as Black Adam, so he decided to target children in order to create a hero with a pure heart. The orphan Billy Batson was selected by the Wizard and lured to the Rock of Eternity by the ghost of his father. Thanks, Shazam!
He didn’t even stop there with just one child under his influence. The Wizard also gives his powers to Billy’s sister Mary and allows Billy’s friend Freddy to share his champion’s powers. When you add the Lieutenant Marvels to the list, this old guy compiled a small army of kids to do his bidding. Too bad Mary Marvel would eventually become corrupted and turn evil in the pages of Final Crisis.
7. THE ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH
The original Human Torch, Jim Hammond, was an android who could burst into flames and fly. So, of course, Marvel (or their Golden Age equivalent) set him up with a human sidekick of his very own. Introduced in Human Torch Comics #2 in 1940, Thomas Raymond was a mutant boy who could control fire just like his mentor, so the two decided to fight crime.
The duo went on to fight in World War II with the Invaders, a team that also included Captain America and his teenage sidekick Bucky. While many of the other heroes on the team didn’t make it out of the war, Toro managed to survive. After the war, Toro was actually kidnapped by the Soviets and brainwashed to serve North Korea until the Human Torch freed him. Sorry kid!
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA
It’s hard to believe that a World War II era superhero managed to expose their teenage sidekick to more danger than the Human Torch. Captain America led his partner Bucky into the very dangerous battles of World War II after he made his debut in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941. By 1948, Bucky had been seriously wounded in battle and needed to be replaced by Cap’s girlfriend at the time.
Captain America’s talent for endangering children was on full display when it was depicted in The Avengers #4 in 1968, that Bucky had been considered killed in action on the same mission that ended with Cap being frozen in ice. Little did he know that Bucky Barnes was actually recovered by the Russians and brainwashed into becoming a deadly assassin for decades.
5. WHITEY WHITEMANE
Sometimes aliens don’t really understand humanity and the idea that children shouldn’t be sent out to do dangerous things. The horse-like alien Aelfyre “Whitey” Whitemane encountered the Power family in Power Pack #1 from 1984. Perhaps his judgement was skewed because he was on his deathbed, but the Kymellian offered up his powers to four pre-teen children.
The team of kids that would go on to become known as the Power Pack includes Alex (age 12), Julie (age 10), Jack (age 8), and Katie (age 5). These kids were not prepared to inherit such power and responsibility at such tender ages. Their abilities brought them face-to-face with many real world problems that children so young maybe shouldn’t have to deal with on their own, including drug abuse, kidnapping, gun violence, and homelessness.
4. GREEN ARROW
Oliver Queen was yet another billionaire playboy who became a masked crimefighter in order to make up for all the harm he had done before his epiphany. Like many other superheroes, Green Arrow also took on an orphaned sidekick named Speedy. While many of their oldest adventures seemed to be all fun and games, things got all too real in 1971.
When Green Arrow went on a cross-country adventure with Green Lantern, Roy Harper had nowhere else to turn and soon became addicted to heroine. In Green Lantern #85, when Queen discovered what had become of Roy, he punched him in the face and kicked him out of the house. This is actually the exact opposite of what you should do to a drug addicted loved one.
3. BIG DADDY
Damon McCready (AKA Big Daddy from Kick-Ass) is probably the single worst father on this list. Sure, he loved his daughter Mindy (AKA Hit-Girl) very much and took care of her, but he also trained her to be a violent killer at a very young age. He shot her, gave her guns as presents, and taught her all manner of fighting and killing techniques.
It’s only later in the story that we learn everything he told his daughter was a lie. He wasn’t an ex-cop looking to get revenge for the murder of his wife, he was just an ordinary person who collected comics and wanted to raise his child to be special. He more or less kidnapped Mindy and pretended that they were seeking revenge for the murder of her mother, who had been looking for her missing daughter for years.
2. CHARLES XAVIER AND THE X-MEN
The idea of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was a noble one because the Marvel Comics Universe is a dangerous place for mutants. However, he went too far when he decided to turn those children into his own private para-military unit. Many of the kids that Xavier has taken in over the years have been hurt or killed in the line of duty.
All his machinations led to the unfortunate reality that Xavier had actually put together an army, and his top students continued it long after his death. When Cyclops took over the team, he took things even further by assembling X-Force, a secret strike team that could do the dirty work that the school couldn’t be associated with. Charles Xavier set out to make the world safer for mutants, but he might have put them even further into harm’s way.
Batman is by far the worst offender of endangering children because Bruce Wayne has enlisted a seemingly endless supply of young kids to fight his war on crime. Orphaned as a young boy, and clearly traumatized by the murder of his parents, Batman has recruited and trained children who have had similar experiences in their lives.
Not only do these kids often get hurt, but some of them have actually died in the line of duty. Jason Todd was beaten to death by the Joker and Batman’s own biological son Damian Wayne was stabbed. They both would be dead today if it wasn’t for the magical benefits of the Lazarus Pit. In other stories like The Dark Knight Returns, an old Bruce Wayne recruits an army of street kids to do his bidding. Duke Thomas, if you’re reading this, get out while you still can!
Those were our 15 heroes. Do you know others who have put children in danger? Let us know in the comments!