The relationship between a superhero and his/her sidekick is an amazing thing to behold. Why is this person content with living in the shadow of someone else? Is the hero a mentor or a demon? Will the sidekick ever emerge as a hero in their own right? Are there inappropriate feelings involved? It’s all quite interesting, and a dichotomy that gets unending attention in the world of mainstream comics.
Some sidekicks are iconic (Robin) while some are simply absurd (Aqualad), but all of them deserve our respect. To finish out the last week of August, we decided to reflect on some of the most awesome-filled superhero sidekicks in comics.
Sidekick To: Green Arrow
Speedy, aside from having a pretty lame name and an apparent guarantee of living in shitsville, is a model sidekick. First, let’s get this out of the way: both Speedys, Roy Harper and Mia Dearden, have been bundled with personal traumas like getting addicted to heroin and discovering they are HIV positive as a result of their days forced into being a child prostitute (respectively). And yet, both characters have proved resilient; Roy is currently kicking ass with one arm as Arsenal (briefly Red Arrow), and Mia continues to keep Oliver Queen in check, when he’s not parading around in that ridiculous Star City forest of doom.
Sidekick To: The Tick
Arthur is the definition of “nice guy”. He’s the guy you walk all over at work, the guy you borrow money from, the dude whose girlfriend you steal. But because he’s that much of a pushover, it makes him a great sidekick, at least in the eyes of The Tick. After all, if it wasn’t for Arthur’s good nature, the superhero duo wouldn’t have a hideout -- it’s Arthur’s apartment.
The guy gave you a hideout, Tick, the least you could do is give him a cool superhero name.
8. Fallout Boy
Sidekick To: Radioactive Man
No, not the god damn band, and I’ll wait until that vapid thought exits your brain...
Gone? Good. Before Fallout Boy was turned into a term that creates shudders down your spine, it represented the sidekick of the beloved Simpsons superhero, Radioactive Man. Beginning as a comic within the show, Radioactive Man was soon its own real life comic book, and even had a video game, Bartman Meets Radioactive Man.
Rod Runtledge was a lifelong nerd that was saved from a deadly laser by Radioactive Man and as a result had a snippet of the hero’s powers transferred to his body. Now he serves as his loyal sidekick, just grateful for the chance to be fighting crime along side his hero.
Sidekick To: Atrocitus
Only recently I caught up to the current issue of Green Lantern, and issue #55 had a little nugget of awesome inside: the origin of the cutest Red Lantern in the galaxy, Dex-Starr. Starting off as an ordinary kitten named Dexter and adopted by a human he loved, their bliss was cut short when a home invasion left his owner murdered and himself as a stray. While having the most depressing cat dream ever recounting the horrific events, the Red Power Ring zeroed in on little Dexter’s feline rage and transformed him into what we see today.
Sticking by the side of Red Lantern leader Atrocitus, Dex-Starr has been a source of comfort for the rising-in-stock villain, by his side at all times and even willing to throw down with Dawg, Lobo’s companion, in Atrocitus’ defense.
As they say, misery loves company.
6. Old Lace
Sidekick To: Gertrude Yorkes/Chase Stein/Death
Who wouldn’t want to have their very own telepathic dinosaur? Blurring the line between sidekick and straight up pet, Old Lace was devoutly loyal to Gert in every way. It helped that they were telepathically linked, of course, but Old Lace showed plenty of free will when control reverted to Chase after Gert’s death, not listening to him as directly.
Though she was sidekick to only one Runaway at a time, Old Lace was truly part of the team and fought for all of them. Also, did I mention she’s a dinosaur?
5. Ebony White
Sidekick To: The Spirit
Racist claims aside: Ebony’s devotion -- and smack talking -- to The Spirit is one of comics’ longest enduring relationships. Much like Batman and Robin, this duo is still together to this day, though Ebony has changed from a young man to a young woman, adding a whole new undertone to the relationship, at least in the way it’s currently being written.
Regardless, Ebony has always been there to help Spirit out of a jam, even if he/she has had some disparaging comments to follow up with immediately. We’re cool with Ebony being a male or female -- in fact, many sidekicks have changed genders and kept the same name -- as long as he/she remains loyal to Mr. Denny Colt.
4. Jimmy Olsen
Sidekick To: Superman
Despite how many time’s we’ve heard the term “Superman’s Pal”, I’ve always thought that good ol’ Jim Olsen was less a pal and more a sidekick. At least, as much anyone could be a sidekick to the Man of Steel. I mean, he’s got super-hearing, super-vision, super-everything, what the hell does he need assistance for?
Well, staying human, mostly. Much like Bruce Wayne had Dick Grayson to keep him grounded, I’ve always thought that Jimmy Olsen served the same purpose for Superman. While he might not be so great in fisticuffs, at least he’s got that signal watch to make sure Supes always knows where the trouble is.
Plus, he’s simply a great character that only gets better with age.
Sidekick To: Booster Gold
It might be something about snarky sidekicks in general, but Skeets is not only one of my favorite sidekicks of all time, but one of my favorite characters. Always buzzing around Booster’s head and making him look like a fool, Skeets also delivers the factoids that Booster needs to not mess everything up. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that without Skeets, Booster would be a complete and utter failure as opposed to the pseudo-failure that he is today.
Sidekick To: Superman
Krypto, while also the quintessential superhero pet (read our Top 10 Superhero Pets), is one of the world’s best sidekicks. Though he speaks only in Kryptonian dog language (which is strangely similar to human dog language), the language of man and man’s best friend is universal. Krypto is always there for Supes and his pals, having rescued Ma Kent, Pa Kent, Lois, and Jimmy at one point or another.
Being a superhero’s pet is easy, but doubling as a sidekick requires true devotion. It’s safe to assume that Krypto is smarter than most humans, which makes him a shoe in on this list.
Plus, he’s super freaking cute.
Sidekick To: Batman
What is there to say about The Boy Wonder?
Robin is the epitome of the sidekick. The lineage started with Dick Grayson, who Bruce Wayne took under his wing after seeing something of himself in the boy. The line continued down to the less successful Jason Todd, the fan adored Tim Drake, and now Bruce’s son Damian. Though all the Robins have had their own distinct personalities, their fundamental relationship with Batman has always been the same.
Robin’s got Batman’s back at all times, and keeps him firmly grounded when he runs the risk of going a little bit too far into the darkness. One of the most interesting concepts of the Batman and Robin relationship comes from the ethics of allowing a minor to run around Gotham City, and the effect that could have on their lives. In the case of Jason Todd, Bruce’s influence resulted in a violent death, which in turn added a depth to Bruce’s character.
Batman will always have a Robin, no matter the hardships either of the characters are enduring.