Jonathan Kent, Clark Kent’s adoptive father, remains one of Superman’s biggest influences in why he does what he does. It was Jonathan and his wife Martha’s homespun, community minded values that started the world’s first hero along on his journey. Sadly, Jonathan’s death seems to be a recurring theme in the various Superman stories.
5. Superman (Vol. 2) #77 (1993)
Shortly after Superman was killed by Doomsday, Jonathan Kent suffered a heart attack. By the time he made it to the hospital, his heart had stopped. In the real world, he was dead for three months due to a hiatus that the Superman line of books went on immediately afterwards. Eventually, Jonathan’s heart was restarted but only after he had helped bring his son’s soul back from purgatory.
4. Superman (Vol. 1) #161 (1963)
After his parents found a buried treasure chest on the beach, a young Clark Kent brought them to the past to discover the treasure’s origins. When the trio returned home and his parents grew sick, Clark blamed the island’s ancient fruit for the malady. His parents’ death, and the guilt he felt because of it, caused Clark to vow never again use his powers. Only after discovering that their deaths were caused by an ancient fever plague still contained in the chest did Clark finally forgive himself.
3. Superman: The Movie (1978)
Though we’re not given much time with Jonathan Kent in this film, the time that we do get is pretty wonderful. In just one small scene between father and son, we are shown that while he understands Clark’s teenage feelings of the moment, he sees a bigger future for his boy. His collapse just a few moments later makes his final advice to Clark even more poignant.
2. Action Comics (Vol. 1) #870 (2008)
In 2008, Jonathan Kent had been alive in comics for 22 years (save for that brief blip in 1993), his longest streak ever. Sadly, his heart caught up with him after he and Martha narrowly dodged a missile shot by Brainiac in a moment of revenge against Superman. While his mother plead for his help, Clark was distracted by the restoration of the Kryptonian city of Kandor. It was reverie for his ancestral origins that caused Clark to falter when his father needed him most.
1. Smallville, Episode 100 – ‘Reckoning’ (2006)
When Clark made the decision to travel back in time to save Lana Lang, it meant that he wasn’t around to inadvertently save his father. Only after holding his father in his arms as Jonathan died did Clark realize what he’d done. The guilt would haunt him for years. John Schneider’s embodiment of Jonathan Kent over four and a half years was longer than any other actor and his presence on the show was sorely missed. It should be noted that I teared up at his funeral.