Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review - Side-Kicked #1 (@DarbyPopComics)

"...but you're replaceable."

The life of the superhero is a job filled with attention and praise. Thanks for law enforcement. Fear from villains. The life of a sidekick features many of the same responsibilities, but very little in the way of recognition or thanks. It makes you wonder why be a sidekick in the first place. Side-Kicked #1 from Darby Pop Comics asks that question. The issue is written by Russell Brettholtz, illustrated by Miguel Mendonça and Rick Ketcham, colored by Sara Machajewski and lettered by HdE.

In a world where the only thing worse than a super-villain is an over-confident, reckless super hero, it is up to the under-paid, under-appreciated sidekicks to make the heroes look good and keep normal folk out of danger, but what happens when these sidekicks have had enough and go on strike?

There's certainly nothing new about the concept of sidekicks getting the short end of the stick when compared to the deeds of the heroes themselves. Brettholtz manages to imbue Side-Kicked #1 with a fresh take though by essentially having the sidekicks unionize in a sense. Much of the issue is spent extolling the popularity of the heroes and punishing the sidekicks for cleaning up after them, so by the end of the issue there are clear battle lines drawn. The dialogue by Brettholtz helps with the hero/sidekick disparity, as the heroes spout monologues while the sidekicks seem like average joes. Everyone dreams of being a superhero, but the greater reality is that most would probably end up as a sidekick.

Despite being a book about sidekicks, Mendonça and Ketcham gives the characters a superhero feel. Juggling normal lives with that of being a superhero is never easy and Mendonça and Ketcham illustrate those alternate lifestyles cleanly, presenting characters who enjoy a drink to unwind. Each of the main characters have a look that distinguishes them from their cohorts and Machajewski does readers a solid by giving them each a primary colored shirt. Most of the book features a standard, grid format, but there are a couple of full-page spreads that look fantastic. Characters do inhabit settings that are sparsely detailed behind them, but there's enough there that the reader can get a sense of where they're at.

Not since the Sidekick Lounge in The Tick have sidekicks been so disrespected. Despite that, there's still some fight left in the sidekicks and they're no longer going to be content with just being an afterthought to the so called "superheroes." Brettholtz offers a script that's pretty evenly paced and delves into the battered psyche of someone who does all the work and gets no credit. The art team of Mendonça and Ketcham do a great job of rendering the universe in Side-Kicked #1, as the characters come to life and you get a sense of the duality of their identities. Side-Kicked #1 is a solid first issue that explores what happens when enough is enough.

Side-Kicked #1 is available on Comixology now.


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