Now, I know what you’re thinking- wait, isn’t Mother’s Day in May? Oh shit did I forget to send my Mom a card?
Well, if you’re in the US, then relax- you’ve still got time to forget it again this year. I, on the other hand, have until Sunday, and I already got my Mum a card. So there. My daughter’s working on hers for me, I’m guessing 😉
It’s as good an excuse as any to do a list! So here are five of the best Mums/Moms in comics – though this isn’t a ranked list. These are just five maternal figures I think are neat slash badass slash brilliant and perfect.
Freyja, All-Mother – Thor
Arguably, Odin’s one good parenting decision is that he married Freyja of Vanaheim, the All-Mother. She is the biological mother of Aldrif, a daughter she thought lost for many heartbreaking years until she resurfaced as Angela. She also lost her son Baldr because of her other adopted son’s – ahem – mischief, and her other biological son was lost to Hel and, most recently, to Valhalla.
She’s lost a lot as a mother, let’s just put it that way.
Then again, in War of the Realms (which kicks off next week holy shit) it would appear she has another daughter – Laussa, a babe in arms, who now has to be kept safe in Journey into Mystery #1 alongside her (now not dead) second-born son Baldr and a few Champions and the odd West Coast Avenger.
Though she is not Thor’s biological mother, she raises him regardless and shares in both his triumphs and losses. She encourages the best in him but is quick to recognize his faults where needed. It’s essentially because of her caring hand and steadfast love that Thor becomes Thor. Aside from this, she’s also a wise and devoted queen. She leads Asgardia in Odin’s absence and is the only voice of reason as Malekith’s army sweeps across the Ten Realms. She’s taken out by Loki because seeing Odin on the throne just makes Malekith’s job that much easier. As soon as she revives and Odin is left in the dust after the destruction of Asgardia, she’s more or less the All-Mother again, about to lead a last-ditch attempt to turn the tides against Malekith in the upcoming War of the Realms event. And she has a hammer.
I love her. Did I mention that? I know this isn’t a ranking as such, but if it was… just saying… she’d probably be number one.
Alana – Saga
A mum on the run, just trying to survive. She’s whip smart, tough as nails, sarcastic, reluctantly romantic, and strong as hell. To say she and her husband Marco have been through the wringer is very much an understatement. They collectively see so much loss, war, violence, and all-around awfulness that would make most of us just want to give up. Alana has to keep going. She has her family.
She has Hazel, her brilliant daughter, born of two warring factions. She has her husband. She also has a long line people who have come and gone in her own ever-changing found family. Hazel never gets a brother – just another tragic loss Alana has had to try and live with – but she is never short of people who love her.
It’s kind of hilarious slash extremely infuriating that Saga gets called “anti-family” by some idiots trying to get it banned from libraries, since the one thing that’s remained steadfast and constant throughout the long, epic, and often painful journey is Alana’s family. It’s the most pro-family comic around, and that’s down to Alana.
Aunt May – Spider-Man
Honestly, this woman deserves a medal. No matter what universe, there’s always an Aunt May, whether she’s a well-meaning but elderly woman trying to raise a teenage boy as best she can or, like, a suburban Alfred, she’s there for Peter Parker and the various Spider-people who pass through. And y’know… having worked with a few kids who live with older relatives after bereavement or family removal, I can really appreciate Aunt May as a presence so much more. Again, not Peter’s biological parent, but she’s basically his mother. She loves him and raises him, leaving such an impression on his life that he… sells his soul to get her back?
She’s as much a part of his story as his suit, web shooters, powers, and Uncle Ben. She’s always there for him. This part of his story resonates with children of unconventional families, probably more than most people realize. You all know at least one person who was raised by an older relative. That part of Spider-Man’s origin is part of what makes him so relatable and beloved.
Leetah – Elfquest
Recognition is a very interesting part of Elfquest lore that might need a little explaining. Y’see, two elves can be together romantically or sexually. Elves don’t always tend to be monogamous either, they were into polyamory and night-before-battle-orgies before it was cool… but Recognition is something that will connect two souls forever. It can happen within a pairing or outside. It can be between two souls from different lands (or different races of elves). It’s spontaneous and can’t always be predicted. Fighting the bond results in physical and emotional suffering. It’s complicated, strange, and no one truly understands it. The only certainty is that it will inevitably result in a child – or, in the case of Cutter and Leetah, two.
Leetah, formerly the Healer of the Sun Villagers, meets Cutter, chief of the Wolf Riders. At first, they are completely at odds, but as soon as they recognize, things… um… happen. Their relationship matures and changes as they both learn to accept each other’s differences and strengths – much like the two tribes themselves. Leetah becomes a doting mother to twins Suntop and Ember, eventually leaves her people in the desert to go to the land of the Wolfriders, and eventually travels to the birthplace of all Elves. She is a wise healer, empath, and magic user who finds the brutish and rough lives of the Wolf Riders difficult to get used to… except when her children are threatened. She’s a more Gaia-esque figure, feline and beautiful, in stark contrast with the down to earth Cutter, but, like the best mothers, is also strong in her beliefs. It takes some time and a lot of heartache and mistakes, but she soon learns when to help and when to step back.
Jessica Jones and Jessica Drew
I had to join them because they’re both Jessicas and both PIs, okay? It just makes sense.
Jessica Jones’s story is one of survival and struggle. Becoming a mother to Danielle Cage is part of her trying to move on and leave her truly harrowing past behind her. Naturally, her time caught in the clutches of Kilgrave inevitably takes its toll on motherhood, but she still strives to be the best Mom she can. Even with her marriage to Luke Cage being somewhat shaky (because we can’t have stable couples in superhero comics AMIRITE?!) and her trauma coming back again and again, she’s doing her damnedest.
Jessica Drew, on the other hand… her motherhood is something she chooses to do solo from the get go, a very bold choice and one that wasn’t without controversy. The fact she goes from someone who very clearly hates the idea of children to one who decides to just go for single motherhood was probably a big jump for a lot of fans, myself included. But like a lot of people, I was impressed with how well it has been handled. It’s a look at the messier, stressful, and dare I say less lovable side of motherhood, as well as some of the complicated baggage surrounding the choice women make in becoming parents.
Obviously there are a lot more mothers out there (maybe we can make another, longer list for Mother’s Day in the US?). One thing I’ve found linking the mothers I chose for this list is that they’re all trying their best. None of them are parenting in the best of circumstances, some dealing with a troubling past, loss, long journeys, war, or even just making a family work in a difficult job. Those of us who are mums get this – whether we’re parenting with our own versions of difficult origins stories, seeing it reflected in our favourite comics (yeah, newsflash, mums read comics!) is very heartening.
So, whoever the woman in your life is, the one who raised you or guided you, here’s to you/us! If Freyja, All-Mother, or a Jessica or Leetah or Aunt May or Alana can make her family work, then we definitely can too.
(Also bear this in mind when gift buying – maybe a Funko Pop instead of a box of chocolates? Or some comics? Or even a Wonder Woman mug or something, maybe?)