Should Ma & Pa Kent be Alive During Clark’s Adult Years? (Great Debate)

The kindly couple from Smallville who found baby Kal-El in the rocket ship, raised him as their own, named him Clark Kent and instilled in him the strong moral compass to use his powers to help those in need. Jonathan and Martha Kent are sometimes shown to have passed on before Clark becomes Superman, in other versions of the story they remain alive to continue to help guide their adult son. Which is better?

In the latest instalment of our “Great Debate” feature, we ask the question…

Should Ma & Pa Kent be Alive During Clark’s Adult Years?

Great Debate - The Kents

Who do you agree with?

Many thanks to our Great Debaters – Mario Bennese and Marc Lax.

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June 2, 2022 7:38 am

I’m more neutral on the Kents being alive or dead discourse among the fandom.

In my opinion, regardless of whether the Kents are alive or dead, Superman is a hero because of their lives and teachings not because of how they died.

June 2, 2022 9:12 am

I personally have no horse to bet on in this race but I have no problem with Jonathan and Martha being alive to see Clark become Superman. Also, from a familial standpoint, it makes sense to keep Clark’s parents alive during the time Clark himself becomes a father, if only to ask for advice on how to raise a superpowered child. Yes, I’m perfectly aware Jonathan and Martha are dead in Superman and Lois, but creativity is an art, not a science. The creators of that TV show were able to tell a good story by letting their own instincts… Read more »

June 2, 2022 10:06 am

This is another case where what matters, at least to me, is how writers handle the alternatives. Jonathan’s death in the original Reeve movie meant something in terms of Clark’s character development, while in Man of Steel the death was pointless.

I have an idea for another debate question. My ethical stance on superhero relationships is, you should propose marriage or sex with a civilian only if your prospective partner knows about your double identity, especially if you’re an alien. Do you agree? Only some incarnations of Superman follow this principle.

June 2, 2022 12:19 pm

I think it depends on the story. For Superman the movie, pa Kent’s passing was the push that made Clark leave Smallville to become Superman. It’s was the same push that happened in Man of Steel, Superman and Lois, and in Smallville. However in Lois and Clark the new adventures of Superman, and in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman’s parents are both very much alive. Giving him advice from time to time. More so in the Lois and Clark series.
What matters to me most is how Superman is treated in the story and if that story makes sense.

June 2, 2022 3:15 pm

The benefits of them being alive far outweigh the benefits of them being dead, in my opinion. When they’re alive, they’re part of the story. They can react to things, have feelings about things, even sometimes be heroes in their own right. Them being alive made “the death of Superman” feel so much more tragic, seeing it through their eyes. And when Jonathan fought his way across the afterlife to bring Clark back – epic! (If ridiculous and comic-booky). They can interact with other characters beyond Clark – from helping take care of The Matrix, Linda Danvers, Connor, Kara, and… Read more »

June 2, 2022 7:00 pm

I think it’s time we see a version where they are alive. I loved the byrne era of comics when they were still around and he could come to them for advice. Same in Lois and Clark, superboy and Justice League unlimited. It was already done perfectly in superman the movie and clumsily in man of steel.

June 2, 2022 10:00 pm

I prefer the middle ground, where Jonathan is dead but Martha is still around. That is the best of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned.