I’ll admit that I was a bit reluctant to take over reviewing this series, but when it came down to it I was the only one with the time. I’m not the type of person to let a writer’s personal statements get in the way of enjoying a good story. I know that some readers take issue with JMS for that reason, but for me as long as the story isn’t blatantly offensive or hateful I don’t care about what the writer says outside of the comic (within reason of course). It’s the story content that matters. JMS is one of my favorite writers and I’m amazed by his range and diversity when it comes to the stories he tells in the medium. That said I’m not a huge fan of this series. I finally figured it out when I sat down and began the review. It reminds me of The Boys, which was a great series, but at times if failed to do one thing: be uplifting. The thing is when you read a story that’s weighed down by realism, you really need a moment in which there is happiness and there wasn’t much in The Boys and there isn’t much with Sidekick either. I do find it interesting that there are so many comparisons to other comic properties in Joe’s Comics already, but I’m cool with that. It reminds me of The Red Ten; Tyler James was never going to be allowed to kill the Justice League so he did it on his own with similar characters so that fans could understand it. Sometimes I think the results are better than when the creators work on the actual property and it’s not like JMS could write The Boys now could he.
We open up to Flyboy drinking on a rooftop feeling sorry for himself. He’s really fucked up after the Red Cowl’s death and in order to bypass his metabolism he has to drink five times as much to numb his brain. Frankly I don’t know what’s keeping this guy going because he’s got the shittest life possible and has no way out from underneath the pile dumped on him. His night gets “better” when the Red Cowl’s signal light pops on.
Flyboy heads to the signal where he finds Joan Darling. We walk through her relationship with the Red Cowl and Flyboy as we flash through some memories. Joan was the Red Cowl’s equivalent of Lois Lane and we see Flyboy is a bit of a perv when it comes to Joan. She tells him that she has an empathic connection to Red Cowl, a gift she’s never shared the details of before. She asks Flyboy to find him and they’re theory is that he’s lost in the time stream (Nope). Flyboy decides to approach the smartest man in Sol City: Professor Tannenbaum.
I can appreciate and understand everything that’s going on in this comic. It’s well constructed and has fitting dialogue. It’s just very shallow. I don’t mean that just because it’s not uplifting that it has no heart, I just mean that there is no heart to it to begin with. The thing about characters that suffer from “Peter Parker Syndrome” in which their lives are just dumped on, they have a support system to help them get through it. Or at the very least they have some relatable characteristic that the reader can latch on to and be a part of. With Flyboy I don’t know whether to hate him or feel apathy for him. Especially after several events we witness in this issue. One thing is for sure, I’m done feeling sympathy for him because he’s a mental unbalanced nut job. Again, I can see the skill of the story, but I’m not seeing it on any other level.
The one thing about the story that doesn’t feel shallow is the art. Mandrake does a great job with the visuals, but the story is what the story is. He can’t change the fact that Flyboy is a perv and attempted rapist, he can only extenuate it. Mandrake does a fantastic job with Flyboy’s facial expressions which play a huge role in depicting the characters mood or fake mood for any given scene. I wish that the art did more for the story, but it only has so much to work with. Mandrake is a great visual storyteller, but the story here is still shallow no matter how much heart he puts into it.
If you liked the first issue then I have no doubt that you’ll like this issue, but for me it didn’t offer anything new or challenging for the superhero genre. It may turn out that I’m wrong and that there is something incredible brewing with this series, but as of right now I’m not seeing it. I’m seeing an overly mature superhero story that’s being hammered by realism just for the sake of shock.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Tom Mandrake Publisher: Image and Joe’s Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 9/11/13