Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Because I'm over enamored with my own cleverness:

Over on a livejournal community, I ended up posting a response to someone stating how ironic it was that between them, Bruce is a better father than Clark.

Well, I disagreed with that. Vehemently and with far more words/effort than I probably should have. But since I rather like the post, I decided to duplicate it here for possible discussion. Because I'm an egotist and overenamored with my own cleverness.
--

"I'm glad someone agrees with me. I've been kind of frustrated with Clark's and Kon's relationship. It's kind of ironic to me that Batman is actually the better father."

That's not really a fair statement to make, I think. For one, Clark never chose to take on a child to begin with. He had his genetic material stolen and a child formed from it to be used against him. This is an act that I'd consider metaphorically a rape, at the very least. (Not all that different from Starman, when the Mist has sex with an unconscious Jack Knight and thus is impregnated with a baby). Clark isn't a father here, he's a victim, and the fact that he's opened his arms to Conner at all, isn't blaming him for the manner of his conception, proves he's a very big person.

And by my criteria, that statement's still inaccurate. My criteria is as follows: intention, effort and results.

In terms of intention, let's look at both for a moment. Batman's "children" are soldiers in his crusade, trained harshly and dispatched on the street in dangerously eye-catching costumes (I don't care if Dick designed it, I wouldn't let my ward go out like that) where upon they're put in incredible danger. It's not as if these kids are metahuman with the whole "With Great Powers Come Great Responsibility" thing. There is nothing these kids can do out there that a fully trained adult cannot. And they had to train a tremendous amount to get to this point as well, placing their bodies under remarkable stress, just to make them fit and able to go out every night and face people who want to hold them hostage, hurt them, torture them and kill them. And there have been casualties.

Now, what does Clark do? He gives the kid his name and sends him to Smallville. Yeah, nothing happens in Smallville, and yeah, Clark could be more of a presence in his son's life. But Clark did the best he could by placing the kid in a home with people he knew with 100% certainty could deal with raising a superpowered child with all the love and support he could need. They managed quite well with him after all. Now is this best for Kon, maybe, maybe not. But Clark's *trying*. He's got the kid where he can be guided and supported, and kept out of random danger except for when with the Titans.

I mean, it's all well and good to say that Kon was happier in Hawaii, but he was also facing dangerous situations everyday. Here he can be as protected as possible.

So in terms of intention: super soldier for your crusade vs putting a kid with a good family that you know will support and love him regardless...I can't see anyway that Superman doesn't win there.

Effort:

Well, Batman *is* more of a presence in his "kids'" lives, I have to admit. Clark's got a more hands-off approach. But then *is* that necessarily a bad thing? I mean, Clark doesn't know anything about child-rearing, is very career oriented in both senses: civilian and superhero, has a career wife. They couldn't give Kon what a kid needs. And would that be fair to Lois? To raise her husband's cloned son? One that wasn't even obtained consentually?

Now Bruce gives attention to his kids, but is that a good thing? In Batgirl, Cass had a death wish because she once killed someone and that's so much against who Bruce was that she couldn't deal. Tim's suffered isolation because of Batman's long time insistence that he keep distant and secretive with Young Justice, and is under such pressure to succeed that he's basically been carving away all the parts of his personality that aren't suited for a Robin. When's the last time we saw him really relax, or play D&D with friends, or geek out over cars or computers?

In contrast, Clark's distant, but he does play a role. In Teen Titans, when Kon's skipping class, he comes and talks to him, and it's not treated like a one-time thing. It's portrayed like he comes to check on Kon a lot.

So in terms of effort: well, suffocating destructive pressure versus complex-creating hands-off-ness...I suppose they're tied really. But I figure having a few complexes is better than suicide or pathological self-dissection, so I'll give Clark this too.

And finally results: It's hard to judge this really, because the kids are still developing, but let's try:

You have Dick Grayson: a competent fighter, warm and emotional human being capable of forming bonds with many people...and is also a basket case of insecurity and uncertainty to the point where both Outsiders and Nightwing indicate he needs a lot of therapy.

Jason Todd is dead...okay, back and evil. But still.

Tim Drake's molding himself so much into the perfect partner for Batman, he doesn't really know who he is anymore. Except that he doesn't want to be Batman...which seems to be inevitable. It says something though that after the initial shock, no one was really surprised by how he turned out in Titans of Tomorrow. (And he's the only one who doesn't see Bruce as a father figure to boot)

Steph Brown is dead, another victim in Bruce's crusade.

Cassandra Cain has never had the chance for a normal life. Bruce never insisted she learn to read, or tried to keep her off the streets until she got settled into a real life. She went from being on the run from David Cain to being another vigilante who's life is all about fighting. Oracle does her best, but Batman's not biting. Cass is still incapable really of holding a job on her own, is vastly uneducated (which Bruce could have had fixed by now, he's got access to specialists all over the world). Bruce is better than David Cain...but that's not saying much. "At least he doesn't shoot her in the back" does not a good father make.

Okay, now lets look at Clark's one and only attempt: Kon feels isolated, lost, lonely. He's just discovered with an unmistakable certainty that he can be controlled and that his powers mean that he can easily kill if he's not careful.

In a sense, Kon is very much like a child of rape in the real world who's just discovered the truth behind his conception. Doubts come crashing down. It becomes: "My god, my father is a monster!" "My god, I share half my genes with a *monster*!" "My god, what if it's genetic! *I* could be like him!" "My god, my dad violated my mom!" (comedic gender shift aside, I would personally consider a lot of the crap Lex has done to Clark as a violation...not in the least creating a child to fight him) "My god, when my mom looks at me, does she see *me* or *him*?" "How can she love me at all?"

The thing is, Kon's issues if you look at them in a metaphoric sense, well, they're no different from that which most teenagers face. Most teenagers feel like no one understands them, like they're alone and don't know what they're going to do with their lives. They're resentful of authority and people who think they know better, but at the same time know they want what's best for them.

The whole thing about how dangerous his powers are is a realization that Kon had to come to somehow. As Clark undoubtedly has. When you're that powerful you could easily hurt someone. This isn't Clark's fault.

And the last bit, well, that's not so normal, but again, that's not Clark's fault. He's the victim here and he's trying his best. And Kon knows that. *That* is why Kon's got his brain so wrapped around the idea that his genes from Clark are where all of his "goodness" comes from and that he could so easily fall. Because Clark *is* good and poor Kon suffers from a lot of perceived inadequacy that it's easy to blame on "inferior genes".

So let's look at these results: emotionally tortured basket case/dead and evil/self-constructed machine/dead/unable to live a normal life vs what amounts to be a normal teenager, suffering exaggerated but still recognizeable difficulties we've all had to face. Clark wins there as well.

So by *my* criteria, I'd say hands down, Clark's the better dad.

16 Comments:

  • At February 03, 2006 7:06 AM, Blogger Marionette said…

    You didn't mention Superman's cloned daughter, who he basically left out in the cold to fend for herself for most of the time they were together, and who he ultimately made no effort to save when she disappeared into some kind of time/space portal.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 7:07 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Hmm, I tend to think she's a special circumstance though. :-) But okay, so he's got one fuck-up out of two to Batman's...five.

    Heh. It's sad that a fifty percent success rate still wins.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 8:48 AM, Blogger Marionette said…

    Well to be fair I'd place the real blame on Steven Seagle, since he wrote all but one of her stories, and the DC editorial staff who decreed that she be buried and forgotten as fast as possible to make way for the next model.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 10:49 AM, Anonymous Steven said…

    Yeah, Superman's approach to Supergirl(s) has basically been the same:

    pre-Crisis: dump her in an orphanage.

    Matrix: dump her with the Kents.

    current: dump her with the Amazons.

    Superboy: dump him with the Kents.

    You get the feeling that Clark REALLY doesn't want to be a father?

     
  • At February 03, 2006 1:10 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    marionette: yeah, which is a shame, I thought she was more interesting than the current Supergirl. More potential.

    Steven: Aw, that's not fair. First, Clark *isn't* Kara or Mae's dad and doesn't have any responsibility toward them like that. That he took interest at all was nice. But they're cousins, and she's borderline an adult. As her closest relative, it'd be nice if Clark took her in, but I don't believe he's legally bound to do so. And Kon's basically metaphorically a child of rape. Clark's doing his best for him, but it must be hard nonetheless. And pre-crisis Clark was a dick.

    He didn't dump Kara with the Amazons, Diana took her in against his will. He'd wanted to take more of a direct role in helping her grow accustomed to this planet.

    Matrix was an adult alien being, basically. And he had no role in her creation either. He wanted to help her, so he took her home, but she's also not his responsibility.

    And as for Kon, who better than the Kent's really? If you're gonna give the kid up for adoption...well, the Kent's are the best choice ever. They managed with him after all.

    But actually I agree, I can't really see Clark or Lois having children of their own accord. They're career-first people and not everyone's suited for children. It's probably better that he realizes it now, instead of fucking the kid up more (*cough*Bruce*cough*)

     
  • At February 03, 2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To be fair to Superman, he didn't much like the idea of Supergirl going to the amazons. He has been portrayed as super protective of her. On the abomination that was Cir El, she appeared and disappeared all the time. It wasn't like he had to deal with her one way or the other. They didn't let her stay too long with him so as to drag the mystery of is she or is she not Rachel.. er Superman's and Lois daughter.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And I disagree about Lois and Clark not being able to care for a child. One of my favorite stories is the Adventures of Superman one where Rucka introduces yet another SuperGirl :)
    The dialogue between Martha and Lois about the costume fitness was hilarious to say the least.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 2:16 PM, Anonymous green means wheelpower said…

    Dick was saved from self-destruction after his family died Jason was saved but fell by his own anger which bruce tried to excise his death caused bruce to act as any father shoud ala atime to kill Tim should be clasified as meta, pushed his way in and datmanb tooled his custume so he could be tract& ny ipossible to kill Cass is taught by babs and earned bats acceptance Steph forcced her way in & was comforted & afirmed ( later avenged ) by bats in her last moments The indian boy in new delhi in Legacy Bruce cares like hell w/ no means to show it normally he ties nuff saID

     
  • At February 03, 2006 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He never addressed that one of his wards couldn't read. He was super concerned that she may have killed someone. But he did not care at all that a basic skill like reading was beyond his ward means. If that is not poor parenting I don't know what poor parenting is.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll say this once, Cass has the equivilant of 2 closed head injurys w/out actual damage that "injury" can only be "cured w/ time and will if at all. there is no magic bullet or teacher. She has anaccepting family @ friends the only thing that matters

    But who am I but a man w/ cerebral palsy and advocate who got the same from Kalinara and others?!!

    Destroys ignorance with astral Katana of enlightenment
    sincerely
    George Robert Peter Hanley wheeler grph@ yahoo.com

     
  • At February 03, 2006 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll say this once, Cass has the equivilant of 2 closed head injurys w/out actual damage that "injury" can only be "cured w/ time and will if at all. there is no magic bullet or teacher. She has anaccepting family @ friends the only thing that matters

    But who am I but a man w/ cerebral palsy and advocate who got the same from Kalinara and others?!!

    Destroys ignorance with astral Katana of enlightenment
    sincerely
    George Robert Peter Hanley wheelergrph@yahoo.com

     
  • At February 03, 2006 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, she has been trying to learn on her own (Cass). She even asked for help to Steph so she would teach her. And there is a whole (misguided in my opinion) Bird of prey issue where it shows Barbara totally annoyed with Cass for her refusal to lear how to read. So, I think that that pretty much establishes that her inability to read is not due to cerebral injury or mental disease but to the fact that nobody sat with her and teached her how to read.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous Steven said…

    Wow, that went weird fast. To get back to the topic at hand:

    Okay, I was being glib, but I never thought of Superboy as Superman's son. Especially with his original origin, where he didn't have ANY kryptonian DNA and only one power that cleverly approximated most of Superman's powers (I still think that's a better, cleaner origin, but I'm a huge Karl Kesel fan). In that way, he was no more Superman's son than Steel was. And even with the added genetic connection, their relationship has never been parental.

    So it's not so much that I think Clark doesn't want to be a father, it's just that I think he's never had to be one, even to his clone (son/brother/biggest fan).

    Obviously, the Kents are the greatest parents in the history of comics, but when Clark and Lois do have kids, and eventually they WILL have kids of their own, they are not going to send them away to the farm. Which I think shows that, whether he wants to or not, he does NOT think of Conner as his son.

    I do think Clark will make a great dad. He'll stay at home with the kids, writing his novels, while Lois is at work, or drop them off with Lertitia Lerner, super baby sitter, when duty calls.

     
  • At February 03, 2006 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey, Superboy is Superman's and Luthor's love child. Superboy has half their genetic code after all :) I wonder how they acomplished that, a point they made about Superboy in the original series over and over was the kryptonian DNA was very difficult to crack, and I doubt that they were able to extract genetic material the usual way, with Superman being dead and all... :)

     
  • At February 03, 2006 5:33 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Wow, lots of folks today! Thank you all of you for speaking up and adding your own perspectives. I'll have to answer this more generally than I would normally. (You guys should get blogs! It'd be easier. :-P)

    I do like Batman, but I agree with the anons who've said that Batman hasn't done his job as a father figure. I don't think he's to blame for every thing that went wrong for the kids, but there were quite a few things he could have done that he didn't.

    Now Cass's circumstances are special. I don't know if they're medical or not, I mean, closed injuries, linguistic gaps, there are many of factors.

    However with Bruce's money and connections, you can't tell me he couldn't be hiring the best specialists money can buy to help that girl. Even brain damage can be circumvented to some extent with time, patience, skilled medical help. She'll probably never be a great or fast reader, but she should be able to read a shopping list by now. Oracle's been seen trying to help, Steph too, but Bruce, not so much.

    Hi George! Thanks for commenting! I do think that definitely Cass has the family and friends to support her and that's what really matters. But Bruce could be doing more for her, and I think it's a little appalling that he's not using all that money (or connection to JLA technology) to help her more.

    steven: I see what you mean definitely. :-) I think Clark doesn't really know what Kon is to him really. He feels responsibility, but this isn't a child he's watched grow up. Kon isn't an infant, he's a kid, but he's physically/emotionally a teenager NOT a baby. Kon's had a life before Clark took him under his wing, and it'd have been really hard to take Kon in now. Lots of clashing. This way Kon gets some of the independence from *him* that he probably needs.

    It's definitely a complicated issue. I just think it's not fair to use his treatment of Kon as evidence that Bruce is the better father. :-)

     
  • At February 06, 2006 10:14 AM, Anonymous green means wheelpower said…

    Gets back on calm wagon, we are missing the point which is due Clark @ Bruce care and watch over their charges dispite their less than ideal circumstances. Answer YES therefore they are both good fathers

    I took offense mainly because IMHO that bruce cares is at the core his defining quality and I think Cass is let be because of senseitivety just read the posts George

     

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