“Being a parent, being a father, tests you constantly and it changes you.” Whether it’s revenge, saving a loved one or saving the world, extreme circumstances force people to take extreme measures, especially in the world of comics. Instead of letting the proper authorities handle it, something inside them snaps and they take matters into their own hands. In Ryan K. Lindsay’s Fatherhood, that ‘extreme circumstance’ is fatherhood for one desperate man and those extreme measures are getting his little girl her favorite doll, by any means necessary.
After an acrimonious divorce that ended with his daughter being taken from him, the protagonist of Fatherhood becomes obsessed with giving his daughter something precious to her. In a dark tale of devotion giving birth to obsession, this nameless father becomes something larger than he thought possible when the local store runs out of the “Perky Pat” dolls that his daughter desires. In a fit of love driven madness he turns to violence in order to secure this gift for his daughter. It’s very interesting to this see perspective on parenthood as the story highlights what happens when someone’s whole world is tied up in something that’s suddenly taken away from them.
As the afterword by writer Ryan K. Lindsay states, “…being a father, tests you constantly and it changes you.” The implication with Fatherhood is that it might not change you for the better and this unending test could take it’s psychological toll on you if you were no longer allowed see the child that’s become this all-encompassing aspect of your life. It takes the very notion of parental sacrifice to a severe level. In the same way that Frank Castle or Bruce Wayne snapped psychically and their divergent personalities took over, guiding them through trying times they couldn’t normally handle, Fatherhood follows the same path, but with results that could be pulled from tomorrow’s headlines. The protagonist’s divergent personality is just as violent and ruthless as the Punisher or the Batman, but his end-game isn’t justice or even revenge: it’s one last desperate attempt at putting a smile on his child’s face, somehow making the act more grim and despondent, especially in light of the inevitable consequences to follow.
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