We’ve been paying a close attention to J. Michael Straczynski’s return to Image comics and the relaunch of Joe’s Comics as its own imprint. His next series that he’s launching is Sidekick and this is pretty interesting considering there’s a lawsuit in place about the Red Cowl’s name, but hey we’re reading it and frankly it’s got nothing to do with us. If you’re unfamiliar with the group reviews we’ll break it down for you. Each of the writers/reviewers of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass and afterwards their reason why. Here’s a blurb about the issue before we begin: WITNESS A MODERN HERO'S FALL FROM GRACE! The Cowl and Flyboy: renowned superhero and sidekick despite dopey names. They were famous, popular, and happy until the Cowl's assassination. Now, no one takes Flyboy seriously. Follow his trajectory from barely tolerated hero to figure of ridicule, and witness his slow descent into madness, darkness and crime.
In a deconstruction of superhero sidekicks in the way Watchmen handled heroes, Sidekick #1 follows Flyboy in his trials and tribulations as he deals with the loss of his hero, The Red Cowl.
Broke, disrespected, and aimless, Flyboy tries to enlist a new hero to assist while failing to rekindle with his ex. He busts a prostitute and has her perform favors on him in an alley. He voyeuristically spies on his former lover. And what’s worse is that his assassinated hero had such a squeaky clean image to live up to. Although predictable, the book entertains. Holding no punches, Sidekick explores what happens to such boy heroes as they lose their worth and fail miserably when they can’t ascend to the role of full hero.
Where J. Michael Straczynski’s book didn’t impress me, this one did. A great cliffhanger ending also sold me on the premise.
I like reading comics where our main character is a side character in their world. Image makes this comic fun to read even with all the sad things that happen. This is exactly where Sidekick picks up. Barry has no future and cannot be taken seriously as a true hero. Probably because he is being a coward and getting bjs while off duty from a hooker down the street. So you feel bad for the guy but then at the same time you want him to get his act together. I have a feeling that Barry’s luck will not change anytime soon. Well at least until he stands up and stops being a sidekick.
I liked the story line, but I didn’t love it. I think this comic may be an easy one to just pick up and start reading no matter the issue. That is why I will borrow some issues and then see where it goes. Moonglow could bring an interesting twist into things and maybe even turn Flyboy into a villain. Also, the ending leads to a plot that could be a life changer for Barry and his career, but that story line will probably not pick up for a while. Hence why I am going to borrow right now.
I wasn’t convinced about Sidekick when I first looked at the cover. I mean, sure, I respect a dude who wears a shirt with his own face on it, but I was convinced this was going to lift too heavily from titles like The Boys and The Standard, both of which I really enjoyed for their own presentations of the Golden Age as tarnished brass. As it turns out, however, Sidekick - while rubbing alongside similar elements - sets itself apart as its own beast.
Straczynski steers his main character, Flyboy, with palpable pathos here as he drifts between the disaster of his mentor’s sudden (and public) murder, and the depression and desperation of trying to fill his shoes in a world that doesn’t take him seriously as anything other than a sidekick You can almost feel your ears pop the lower you travel with him along his downward spiral. At the same time, Mandrake proves more than capable at visually juxtaposing the bright, shiny lightness of spandex stardom with the darkly-draped shadow of depression. Gruesome, dark and pathetic, Sidekick #1 is a heavy, emotional slog with an ending that was completely unexpected and will be massively interesting to see hit the fan.
There are two types of superhero stories told in the modern era; the first is the overly corny everything is grand throw back to the beginning of the medium style of books, and then dark and gritty. Frankly I’m tired of both because there shouldn’t be such a sharp divide. Sidekick falls in with the latter of the two “types” and deservingly so.
I could appreciate what JMS was going for and Mandrake’s art was fitting of the grittiness and tone of the story, but I just didn’t care for it. It reminded me the things I didn’t like about The Boys and I just couldn’t get past that. It might be because I don’t find sidekicks interesting in the least bit and so dealing with the psychosis of them (which has been popular this year) is just pretty boring. I will likely give this series another shot, but this first issue wasn’t special. Instead it was rather average.
There are a lot of mature super hero stories these days, they are almost as common as the stereotypical superhero story. And like all things, it's either a hit or a miss and unfortunately, for me, this is a miss. I didn't really find the story or the characters engaging at all. The art is decent but not enough to pick it up for me to recommend to you to buy it.
I recommend to borrow it however for those who like to read the adult super hero story, you may enjoy it and this could be just the thing for you. Give it a try anyways but I don't recommend going out of your way to purchase it.
First, I rolled my eyes at Sidekick. Then I got slightly interested, at which point I quickly became very depressed. I left the whole thing more than slightly interested and very much intrigued, also much more depressed. It took a while to pin point where everything was going and then once I thought I had it the book just kept pulling me into a darker place. A scene or two near the beginning were cringey and obvious (dilapidated sidekick get head from a prostitute) and Flyboy is a little sad-sack but this universe has promise and even in its first issue went a lot of places I didn’t expect. I'm more than willing to see where this thing goes.
Score: 4 Borrows and 2 Buys
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Tom Mandrake
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 8/7/13