Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Tom Mandrake
Release Date: August 7, 2013
Sidekick is the second book to come out of the new Image imprint ‘Joe’s Comics.’ The book follows the sidekick Flyboy and his decline after the death of ‘his’ superhero, The Red Cowl.
JMS has had a very polarizing career when it comes to writing superhero comics. His approach to updating the common superhero tropes from yesteryear and adding realistic emotion and characters has experienced highs (2/3rds of Rising Stars, Supreme Power) and lows (Superman: Grounded). Sidekick fits right into the JMS superhero mold and uses the Silver Age superhero/sidekick team up and injects it with modern sensibilities. Like the fairy tales of our childhood, it’s always interesting to see a type of story we hold so near and dear explored from a different angle. After one issue in though, the series will have its work cut out for it to be remembered as one his better superhero stories.
Issue #1 was too disjointed to truly function as an introductory issue. The issue did its job and explained the characters and set the ground for the universe, but it lacked the creativity of so many Image issue #1’s that have come out this year. There was a predictable feel to the plot and how the book flowed. Two page flashback, then two page current day story, then two page flashback and repeat. Without an interesting bridge to connect the minor stories and each story jumping to a new setting and character, it was sometimes tough to follow and take in all of the information. It felt like a laundry list of ideas JMS wanted to fit in and not a cohesive story. There was also an odd disconnect in the dialogue in the beginning of the book. The first few pages had a definite Silver Age look and feel, and definitely brought the point home with the dialogue used. But then that form of dialogue is never used again within the rest of the book. Even the flashback stories throughout Sidekick use modern dialogue and in the process makes the opener feel completely alien to everything else.
Flyboy suffers from the same problems as the plot itself. From what they decide to show off in issue #1, there is more to dislike than like in him, and there was no consistency in how he was being portrayed. As the story progresses and there is more of Flyboy’s backstory revealed, I think the character will become more relatable and someone worthwhile to follow.
Tom Mandrake fits the book nicely. His character and costume design mesh with the Silver Age feel that JMS wanted to accomplish and looked solid. Little details, like Flyboy’s hair never changing while in costume, helped keep the consistency in the art that the writing seemed to struggle with on every page.
Having been a pretty big fan of JMS in the past, Sidekick #1 was a letdown. It lacked the crispness that usually accompanies a JMS script, which is even more surprising with an original property. There are still flashes of brilliance (the scene where Flyboy watches his ‘kickstarter’ video and how far away he was from his goal) and hopefully the series can rebound with more character building in issue #2.
The Verdict: 6.5/10