My 13 Favorite Sidekick Moments, by VITO DELSANTE

The writer of Stray — about a former sidekick making his own way — has put together an excellent list of Sidekick Moments. He definitely got #1 right!

Stray #4 from Action Lab is out 6/3, by Vito Delsante, Sean Izaakse and Ross Campbell. If you dig street-level superheroing, you’ll dig it. And if you dig the travails of the sidekick, you’ll dig it even more. — Dan



As a guy who co-created a character who goes from sidekick to hero, I’ve always had an affinity for kids and teens who hang out with adults in costume. I don’t know; I guess it stems from thinking that my absent father was a superhero (specifically, Batman). My brain thought that since he wasn’t around, he must be fighting crime, so naturally, I had to learn how to fight and defend the weak. I was, of course, his sidekick.

You’ll notice that these will be pretty heavy on the DC side, as the Marvel Age of Comics took the sidekick out from behind the hero, and gave him his own comic (like Spider-Man). Jimmy Olsen could have easily been on this list, too, but he’s more of a “pal” than a sidekick.

13. The Formation of the Teen Titans — The Brave and The Bold #60 (June 1965): In terms of importance, this could easily be #1, but I had to reserve that one for something … someone … else. You could say that the first appearance of the TT was B&B #54 (an informal team-up of Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad), but #60 was when they were officially named, and added the most important element of the team: Donna Troy, aka Wonder Girl. In ways I can’t even number, Donna is probably the most important Titan after Dick…maybe more.


12. Young Avengers Assemble — Young Avengers #1 (April 2005): Marvel rarely, if ever, does sidekicks, and truth be told, the YAs aren’t sidekicks; they’re legacy characters. It’s a thin line, probably (it’s the difference between the Teen Titans and Infinity, Inc.). They make my list because, like I said, it’s rare for Marvel to do something like this. And when they did, they did it in true Marvel fashion: superteens with real problems. The marketing behind this book was superb.


11. Bye Bye Birdie: The Death of Jason Todd – Batman #428 (Dec. 1988): The “problem” with sidekicks is the fact that, by nature of their average age, they are extremely fragile. The discussion of child endangerment and the idea of putting a kid in the crosshairs of a weapon are real things to consider, and Jason Todd (Robin 2.0) illustrated this perfectly. The fact that readers didn’t like him and voted him dead is huge. He was revived via Lazarus Pit many years later, but the failure to keep him safe affected the Batfamily for decades.


10. Nightwing Moves to Bludhaven – Nightwing #1 (October 1996): He’d been Nightwing for years before this, but when Dick Grayson moved out from under Batman‘s wing, out from the shadow of the Teen Titans, and became his own man, he did so by moving to a new city: Bludhaven. If this series (which ran until 2009) isn’t the blueprint for everything we did in Stray … it was, and remains, a huge influence on Sean and me.


9. Falcon Takes Over – Captain America #25 (Oct. 2014): It’s extremely difficult to justify calling Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) a sidekick, but I view him as similar to Nightwing (bird motif and all). The thing is, Sam was always destined to be more, so when he took over for a now-elderly Steve Rogers, it felt like he was finally getting his due (being a breakout character in the Winter Soldier movie didn’t hurt either). Far more satisfying than Nightwing going to Bludhaven. Falcon might have come after Dick Grayson, but it felt like we waited longer for this.


8. The Danger Club Saves the World – Danger Club #1-8 (2014-15, Image): It’s the modern day Brat Pack. There’s a real sense of adventure, but also, finality. I loved this book, and I hope more folks see it in trade paperback. It was smart, brutal, and also beautiful to look at.


7. Damian Meets (and Defeats) Every Robin – (Too Many Instances to Count!): Damian Wayne, the latest Robin, is a bit of a dick. Raised by assassins, his new role is that of his father’s sidekick… or partner. So what does he do? Decides he has to prove himself by defeating every other Robin (except Stephanie Brown) in combat. Tim Drake? Beat. Jason Todd? Beat. Dick Grayson? Technically, no, but Dick concedes that he’s the best Robin because he’s the one wearing the “R.”


6. Rick Jones Creates the Ultimate Avengers – Avengers: Forever #1 (Dec. 1998): If there is one person in the Marvel Universe, besides Bucky Barnes, that can be called a sidekick it’s Rick Jones. He’s ‘kicked Hulk, Captain America and Captain Marvel, not to mention created his own team (the Teen Legion) and became a hero in his own right (sigh… A-Bomb). But when Kang the Conqueror battles Immortus, only the Avengers can defeat them, and only one person can pick the perfect Avengers team: Good ol’ Rick Jones.


5. Kid Flash Saves the World: Young Justice: Season 2/Episode 20 (March 16, 2013): It’s a recurring theme in the DC Universe that anyone wearing the lightning bolt of the Flash is doomed to die in a crisis. This time, however, the doomed is Wally West, aka Kid Flash. It can’t be understated how surprising this is: Wally is supposed to take over for Barry. So… just watch. It’s perfect:

4. Brat Pack – Brat Pack #1-5 (August 1990 to May 1991): I have to confess missing this the first time around, but when I finally read it? No lie… it changed everything. It might not be a stretch to say that this mini-series, about sidekicks and the sick, twisted mentors who chose them, was a reaction to Jason Todd‘s death. It is certainly NOT for children. And, if you believe the book, neither is sidekicking.


3. The New Warriors (Debuting in Thor #411-412, New Warriors #1, 1989-90): Welcome to the book that influenced just about all of my peers. If you put 10 comic writers, all around the 35-45-year-old range in a room, at least seven of them will name this book as one of their major influences, and with good reason. Just like the Young Avengers, you can’t really call them sidekicks, just teenage heroes. But there is a Teen Titans influence that is hard to argue. Nicieza and Bagley definitely equaled Wolfman and Perez in the stakes department.


2. The Winter Soldier – Captain America #1 (Jan. 2005): In terms of who came first, who wore it best, that sort of thing, Bucky debuted in 1941 (a year after Robin) but with a better, less leggier, costume. And then, many years later, during the Silver Age, we found out he died a hero. That is, until Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought him back to life as a Soviet spy. In terms of sidekicks growing up, it’s hard to find an example of one doing it like this, where they became the arch-villain (for a while) to their mentor (Jason Todd as the Red Hood happened right around the same time, but not with as much panache). Ultimately, his character arc was extremely fulfilling; he went from sidekick to supervillain to hero to mantle bearer. In terms of sidekicks? This is the template we all try to follow.


1. The Introduction of Robin – Detective Comics #38 (April 1940): This list doesn’t happen without this one. I could easily, EASILY, replace 1 with 2, but in terms of my favorite? This is clearly #1. I am, and will always be, an unabashed Grayson fan. He could be Robin or Batman, Nightwing or Red Robin. He can be a spy for Spyral. I will always, always, consider Dick Grayson and his life as a sidekick as the model for Stray, the book and the character, and that’s because I will always see a little of me in that pixie-booted kid.


Author: Dan Greenfield

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