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Five Painfully Awkward DC Family Gatherings

Five Painfully Awkward DC Family Gatherings

By Joshua Lapin-Bertone Thursday, November 26th, 2020

The holiday season is here, but this year, things are a little different. Doctors, scientists and government experts all strongly recommend we don’t gather this year, which for many of us, is a bummer.

But is it really? Gathering with family around the Thanksgiving table may be a tradition, but so are painful silences, difficult conversations and passive aggressive comments about how you’re throwing all your potential away by working for a company that makes “funny books.” (Okay, maybe that last one is just us.) We’re just saying, we all love our families, but sometimes those holiday dinners can get a bit tense and it might not be so bad that big Thanksgiving gatherings are canceled this year.

Don’t agree? Well, you needn’t take our word about how awkward those gatherings can get. Most of your favorite DC characters have had their fair share of them. Here are five brutally, painfully, cringingly awkward DC family gatherings that may just make you thankful you’re staying home this year.

Harley Comes Home for the Holidays

There’s no place like home for the holidays…unless you’re Harley Quinn. In Gotham City Sirens #7 (written by Paul Dini and penciled by David Lopez), Harley journeys to her childhood home in Brooklyn hoping she could spend a nice holiday with her family. Unfortunately, she’s in the door for all of five seconds before she regrets her decision. Her mother wants to know why she couldn’t be more like Stargirl, her deadbeat brother spends all her money, and her jailbird father tries to squeeze some favors from her. All this time, we thought that Harley was the crazy one in her family, but after seeing the rest of the Quinzel household, it might be time to rethink that.

Ma Kent Owns the Dinner Table

Even the Kent household isn’t immune to family drama. This one time, things actually got so bad during a Christmas dinner in Action Comics #823 (written by Chuck Austen and penciled by Ivan Reis) that Martha Kent was forced to put everyone in their place. Lois and Lana were fighting over Clark, and at the time, Lois and Clark had been married for years. The passive aggressive comments caused Martha Kent to turn full on mama bear and give the girls a piece of her mind. As if the moment couldn’t have gotten weirder, Superboy took the opportunity to hit on Lana. We appreciate the confidence, Conner, but read the room, dude.

Sued by Your Stepmom

Blended families can be tough, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s not always easy for a stepparent and stepchild to get along. But the Raymond family took things to a whole new level when Ronnie’s stepmother attempted to take him to court. That’s right, she sued her own stepson!

In The Fury of Firestorm #45 (written by Gerry Conway and penciled by George Tuska), Ronnie gets a double dose of surprises from his father who shows up unexpectedly to introduce his son to his new fiancée, Felicity Smoak. (That’s right, readers! Decades before Arrow, Felicity was cuddling up with Firestorm’s dad. Can you say, “Ew?!?”) The family went out to dinner, where Felicity made it clear she wasn’t a big Firestorm fan. In fact, she bragged about how she was going to sue the superhero for inadvertently wrecking her company months earlier. She spoke of Firestorm with such disdain, unaware that one half of the Firestorm matrix was sitting right across the table from her. We’ve all had issues with our stepparents at one time or another, but getting sued by them is a level of family drama only the Nuclear Man himself can achieve.

Love is Color Blind

If that last one wasn’t enough to convince you how awkward blended family gatherings can get, this one might have you hiding under the bed the next time someone even suggests a holiday gathering.

Doom Patrol’s Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl) and Steve Dayton (Mento) had only been married for a few months before they adopted the teenage shapeshifter Gar Logan (Beast Boy). Imagine the difficulties of raising a teenager, trying to make a new marriage work, and being a part of the world’s strangest super team. Something has to give, and finally tensions erupt during a family meal in Doom Patrol #113 (written by Arnold Drake and penciled by Bruno Premiani).

Rita was late to dinner, so Steve and Gar begin dining without her when Steve casually tells his stepson that maybe he can get an operation to turn his skin “normal” again. Rita overhears this and everything hits the fan. She lectures her new husband on how Gar should take pride in his green skin, and Steve responds by calling their son a stringbean—with Gar sitting right there. The comic didn’t reveal where Steve slept that night, but it doesn’t take an oracle to conclude he had a lumpy slumber on the sofa.

Supergirl Comes Out to Her Parents...Sort Of

Dropping bombshells is a major theme of awkward family gatherings. Sometimes a relative comes to the dinner table to share news that they’re having a baby, getting a divorce, moving to Europe, coming out of the closet, or if you’re really lucky, a combination of all of those things. Sometimes the news is well received, other times the family erupts in hysterics.

Linda Danvers kept all this in mind in 1997’s Supergirl #14 (written by Peter David and penciled by Leonard Kirk) when she chose to reveal to her parents that she had recently merged with Supergirl. The revelation itself was awkward, but it was made more difficult by her parents as they wouldn’t even let her finish the reveal. They kept interrupting to ask if she was either gay or pregnant and somehow managed to blame Ellen DeGeneres (well, it was the ’90s). When Linda finally is able to spill the tea, her parents overreact as parents are known to do. All is eventually forgiven, but certainly not forgotten. Why, it’s almost enough to make us glad we’re not superheroes. Almost.

See what you’ll be missing out on this year? And let’s not forget that people like Supergirl, Beast Boy and Firestorm have superpowers to help them escape when things get too uncomfortable. We mortals have to rely on extremely obvious excuses (“I just realized that I forgot to feed my cockatiel…”) and generously spiked eggnog. So, this Thanksgiving, don’t despair that you’re not spending it with family. Celebrate that for once you won’t have to worry about things taking a turn for the awkward and weird. And please, whatever you do, leave Ellen out of it!

A version of this article originally ran on DC Universe. Be sure to subscribe to DC Universe Infinite for unlimited access to more than 24,000 comics from every era of publishing, plus original titles, special fan events and more!

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for and, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.