Granny Googness And 4 Other Bad Mothers

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I love my mom, and so I want to say that this list is no reflection of my feelings about my mother, mothers in general or the institution of motherhood.

Because, you see, it’s an interesting thing I’ve noticed that most comic book characters with a maternal naming convention are, well, pretty damn villainous. I haven’t done the research yet, but I’d wager that it’s the same with paternal naming as well, and that might trace back to the youth-based market of comics in the early days: How many teens are mad at their parents most of the time? A lot, I’d wager.

But let’s move away from Matt’s Pop Psychology Corner, and instead look at four of comics’, and one of animation’s, most villainous matrons. I’m talking about five bad mothers — shut yo’ mouth!

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Granny Goodness

The most fearsome mother in comics has no children of her own, but is mother and matron to legions. Granny Goodness, created as part of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC, is the master of the orphanage on Apokolips, the world ruled by the iron fist of Darkseid. She trains wave after wave of young soldiers to “Die for Darkseid” and is also the leader of the Female Furies, the elite warrior women of Apokolips whose numbers once included Big Barda.

The fascinating thing about Granny Goodness, as with most of the dark gods of Apokolips, is that they have rarely been given any sympathetic backstory. Walt Simonson did an excellent short in “Secret Origins of the Super-Villains 80-Page Giant” #1 that deals with Granny coming up in the ranks and raising a puppy to serve with her. If you know your military history, you know this won’t end well, but I don’t want to spoil it here. Also, Cecil Castellucci and Adriana Melo’s current “Female Furies” series features Granny heavily, and takes on the power dynamics of Apokolips through the modern lens of a post-MeToo world, which adds more dimension to why Granny is the way she is. But very little changes that Granny is a dark god of Apokolips, and a terrifying figure.

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Mother Mayhem/Blood

Mother Mayhem is the first of two religious mothers on this list, but is also the only one who is also biologically a mother. Mother Mayhem is the title of the majordomo of Brother Blood, the leader of DC Comics’ Church of Blood and a regular enemy of the Teen Titans. Mother Mayhem often serves as the face of the Church of Blood, the hype woman for Brother Blood as he plans, and delivers his message when he has “died” before returning.

The truth is significantly more creepy. Brother Blood was not 700 years old but was instead a title passed from father to son. And Mother Mayhem was the title of his consort. She would give birth to and raise the new Brother Blood, until he killed his father and took the title. The Titans encountered more than one Mother Mayhem during their long-standing rivalry with the Church of Blood.

Recently, during the Rebirth-era “Titans” series, a new iteration of the Church of Blood was introduced, with a new leader. While the current Brother Blood was captured and imprisoned in Damian Wayne’s secret supervillain prison (Oh, Damian, you scamp), one of Blood’s … harem (shudder) was exposed to energy from the breaking of the Source Wall and took the name Mother Blood, directing her minions to determine ways to harness more Source energy to rewrite reality. At the end of the series, Mother Blood was trapped in the Bleed, the fluid that separates different universes in the DC Multiverse, but has anything like that ever kept a supervillain down?

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The Matriarch

This is another maternally named character who is involved with a creepy religion. Much of Jim Starlin’s career has featured works that criticize organized religion. “Dreadstar” and the various DC miniseries he wrote with Lady Styx as the villain are good examples. But the first, and my favorite, example was fight with the Universal Church of Truth, their god, the Magus (who happened to be an evil, time-displaced future Warlock), and his right-hand woman, The Matriarch.

The Matriarch served the Magus in the original Starlin “Warlock” run but was by no means a loyal servant. She was scheming to have Warlock brainwashed, so she could control the Magus and thus become the church’s new god. Stylish and not dressed in any priestly raiments, the original Matriarch more resembled a crazy ’70s sci-fi extra or rich widow than the chief priestess of a church. Sadly for the Matriarch, the Magus discovered her plans to remove him and dropped her through a trapdoor, a la Mr. Burns on “The Simpsons.” She died in Warlock’s arms, although when he eliminated the possible future of the Magus, he spotted her, alive and well, in the new timeline.

When the Universal Church of Truth became the main recurring villains of the Abnett and Lanning run on “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the Matriarch returned with it, leading the Church as they waited for the Magus’ return. It was never made clear if this was the same Matriarch or a different one with the same title. While her god was eventually killed during “The Thanos Imperative,” this much more loyal Matriarch attempted to resurrect the Magus but was foiled by the short-lived cosmic hero team the Annihilators.

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Mother Night

I’m gonna state what should be a pretty noncontroversial opinion here: I hate Nazis. There are really no better bad guys than Nazis, because you don’t have to feel bad for them. And when it comes to comic book Nazis, the Red Skull, Captain America’s arch-foe, is Nazi No. 1. Over the years, Red Skull has had all sorts of toadies and cronies, from the well-known like Crossbones to the more obscure like Cutthroat. But one of the most notable has to be master hypnotist Mother Night.

Mother Night was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in “Captain America” #123, where she went by the alter ego Suprema. It would be years before she appeared again, now under the employ of Red Skull as the tutor and nanny to Sin, the Skull’s daughter. Mother Night became a regular part of the Skull’s cadre during most of the late ’80s and early ’90s, often being hinted at as the Skull’s lover. They eventually had a falling out, and most of the Skull’s agents faded away into obscurity after Mark Waid began his run. She would appear one final time at the beginning of Ed Brubaker’s run, where she would be killed by the Winter Soldier.

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Ma Beagle

When I started this list, I wanted to get some characters in here who weren’t Marvel or DC characters, but I wasn’t able to find any easily. I thought I had come up with one, but alas, while the character had roots in comics, she was created for animation. Still, I thought it would be fun to mention Ma Beagle, matriarch of the Beagle clan from Disney’s “DuckTales.”

The Beagle Boys were created by the great creator of many things Duck, Carl Barks, and served as constant thorns in the side of Scrooge McDuck. They were a homogenous, identical band of robbers, always looking to steal as much as they could. When those classic Duck stories started being loosely adapted into the “DuckTales” cartoon, the Beagle Boys were given more distinct looks and personalities, as well as a new leader: Ma Beagle, mother to the primary Beagle Boys.

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A take on Ma Barker, the real-life matron of a clan of criminals, Ma Beagle was considerably smarter than her sons, and avoided capture when they were invariably arrested at the end of each episode. She could bake a pie with the best of them, usually with the means to escape from jail baked in. She was a staple of the original series, voiced by legendary voice actress June Foray, and has returned for the Disney XD reboot via actress Margo Martindale.

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