Q&A #145: What orphan in comics pulls at your heart-strings the most?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

What orphan in comics pulls at your heart-strings the most?


Apparently losing one’s parents is vital to superherodom. I made a list of the top ten orphans who pull on my heartstrings. And yes, I actually narrowed it down.

10. Hope Summers: lost sets of parents, grew up in an apocalyptic future, and can’t trust anyone except Cable. CABLE.

9. Bucky Barnes: a plucky WWII orphan who fights Nazis at age 15 and dies a hero’s death. Sort of. But post-plucky-Bucky pulls on my heartstrings even more.

8. Magneto: speaking of WWII orphans. He’s a Holocaust survivor. His parents are not.

7. Natasha Romanova: and then there’s the girl raised by a tripped out Soviet spy operation. And by raised I mean programmed to kill.

6. Gwen Stacey: meanwhile in NYC, Gwen is a motherless girl who loses her hero cop dad to supervillains and then becomes the poster child for Superhero Failure by ending up dead herself.

5. Peter Parker: orphaned as a baby, Peter lost his surrogate father due to his own mistake and he’s still trying to make up for it. Also the superhero in the above mentioned Superhero Failure. Still trying to make up for that, too.

4. Bruce Wayne: Bruce saw his parents gunned down and grew up to be a crime fighter. Dressed as a bat with super awesome technology. Which is totally logical. Batman is made of tragedy.

3. Tim Drake: the only thing more tragic than Batman is Robin and the one that tugs my heartstrings most is my baby Tim. I want to give him a hug just thinking about it.

2. Mindy McCready: all questionable moralities and relations aside, Mindy loved Big Daddy. I have a playlist made up of the music that plays in the movie scenes from Hit-Girl’s appearance to save Big Daddy and Kick Ass through “Bad Reputation” and it makes me tear up every time I play it. Every time.

1. Little Orphan Annie: is Little Orphan Annie.


My instinct on this one was to name Scott Summers, aka Cyclops of the X-Men. Remember when he used to spend his breaks from school riding around in a cab so that he didn’t have to tell the other X-Men he didn’t have a home to go to?? After the character was introduced, his backstory got more and more Dickensian with every retcon. He after all spent a portion of his childhood in an orphanage run by Mr. Sinister. Then he escaped to be taken in by Jack Winters, an abusive thief who wanted to use him for his powers, before being kidnapped by a creepy psychic bald guy who wanted to recruit him into a superhuman militia. . .oh, wait, that was Professor Xavier. So that’s probably a good thing, mostly, or at least if it hadn’t happened he wouldn’t be in any X-Men comics.

But then I remembered that Cyclops probably doesn’t really count as an orphan, because it was eventually revealed that his father had not died in an airplane accident. No, he was abducted by aliens, and eventually became — like you do — a space pirate. So, not really an orphan, despite the stereotypically orphan-like childhood.

However. . .Corsair was killed in the Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire storyline a few years back. This is one of the few comic book deaths I am actually bitter about. Still, I think this sneaks Scott in under the technicality of being ‘an orphan.’


The death of Anya Corazon’s father in Spider-Girl #2, and the fallout in the subsequent issues, was one of the most realistic, heart-wrenching depictions of loss and grief that I’ve ever seen in a superhero comic. Anya had already lost her mother years earlier, but unlike most heroes, she had an exceptionally good relationship with her father, who had raised her ever since and supported her in every endeavor. He even knew about, and mostly condoned, her superhero activities. Luckily, Anya has a support network around her, including her friend Rocky and a surrogate family in the form of the Fantastic Four. But her father’s death is something that will probably always haunt her, and makes me whimper just to think about. Kudos to Paul Tobin for writing such an effective story.


… I have a lot of trouble remembering who is an orphan in current canon and who is not. Um.

Does Laura Kinney (X-23) count as an orphan? If so, she’s my favorite these days, and all credit to Marjorie Liu for taking an insane back-canon and making a real character out of it. Nice work, Ms. Liu.

So what about you? What orphan in comics pulls at your heart-strings the most?

  • I’m a little surprised no one even mentioned Superman. Sure, Ma and Pa Kent were great surrogate parents and loved Clark dearly, but Superman not only lost his parents, but every other member of his species (except for Supergirl and General Zod and a million other Kryptonians that have shown up over the years). The only aspect of Superman that has ever really appealed to me is that he is totally alone on Earth, and yet fights for it uncompromisingly.