Sidekick is the latest offering from J. Michael Straczynski, and it comes as a result of his disdain for sidekicks. He admits that he never liked teenage sidekicks and that the purpose of this series is to watch a sidekick fall from grace as each issue progresses. The comic kicks off with a brief memory of what used to be, before Flyboy (a boy that can fly?) lost his mentor and partner in crime fighting. From there on it shows his fall from grace, disgrace after disgrace, then a flashback and then some more disgrace.
Description: 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.
The opening scene sees Flyboy using the law in order to get a free session with a prostitute after she insults him. You do not want to be Flyboy. Straczynski goes to great lengths to emphasise that. This book is definitely one for the mature reader, so expect to see sexualised scenes and foul language throughout. The violence in the opening issue is quite graphic, but sadly does not offer anything new.
A sidekick without his mentor is a bum and a loser that you were expect to see. We do not get to know why he even bothers to continue down the superhero career path. We do not get to see why he chose to be a hero’s sidekick and why he is going through all this effort to be a sidekick again. Maybe Straczynski is planning on revealing more about this character in future issues, but right now everything feels cliché and Flyboy’s fall from grace feels a bit forced. His attempts to surprise the reader were very predictable, especially to a seasoned reader.
The art in Sidekick #1 is inconsistent across all of the pages. It is as though Tom Mandrake is a computer battling with its facial recognition system. The characters faces look different each time, even when the frames are on the same page. This is especially noticeable in Flyboy. His proportions seem to also shift consistently. In some scenes he looks like he has put on weight as a result of depression, then in others he looks ripped as though he were in his prime. This causes major confusion to the reader. You become uncertain as to what is happening presently and what is happening in the past. You do not expect to see a character gain and lose weight from frame to frame. Hifi’s colours are about the only saving grace in this comic. They really manage to capture the despair of our protagonist. The colours allow us to feel Flyboy’s void in his life and the darkness and desperation that hang over him. Hifi assists in creating a gritty feel that allows the reader to relate to this sidekick’s plight.
Is it worth picking up the second issue? Maybe, even though the final page is just about as cliché as it comes. It might be interesting to see why Flyboy is adamant on being a sidekick and just how much further he can plummet from grace.