Review - Sidekick #1

"Let's hear it for the Red Cowl and Flyboy!"

Sidekicks tend to have a rough go of things. They're always in the shadow of the "hero" and are often maladjusted in some way that gives them even more of a disadvantage in life. When the superhero dies though, it's up to them to step up and become to hero. Sometimes though, sidekicks don't really handle that promotion that well and it's the subject behind Sidekick #1 from Image Comics.

The issue is written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Tom Mandrake, colored by HiFi and lettered by Troy Peteri.

Red Cowl and Flyboy are a renowned superhero and sidekick duo who are famous and popular, until the Cowl is assassinated. Without a superhero to mentor a sidekick, Flyboy is going through something of an identity crisis. Almost as quickly as he becomes the man beside the man, he falls from grace, spiraling downward into madness, darkness and crime. Following Flyboy as he copes is what makes the story seem so intriguing.

Sidekick #1 is a return to superhero comics for Straczynski and he switches things up a bit with the plot of the story. Red Cowl is a true hero of the city, but when he's assassinated, Flyboy is left aimless. He looked toward the hero for both emotional and financial stability; both pillars are decimated with the death. Straczynski relies on the reader to draw on their own archetypes when it comes to establishing Red Cowl as a character. There's a very evident Batman/Robin vibe presented, which makes the events of the story and ending reveal that much more intriguing.

Mandrake's art maintains a superhero feel. There's an older feel to the illustrations (perhaps Bronze Age) that really helps with the overall feel of the book. He handles scenes that follow Flyboy exceptionally well, offering the reader an accurate portrayal of what a mid-life sidekick crisis is really like. Panels rely on white borders (as opposed to black), which also contribute to the solid presentation. There are some racier scenes that Mandrake handles with class, ensuring that the content of the panels don't overtake the message being offered.

Sidekick #1 isn't the first series to look at superheroes and sidekicks a little differently, but what the reader is left with is an intriguing story that boasts the subversion of a sidekick's success. It's a book that hits the reader with the same level of maturity that Watchmen boasts, only without all of the Alan Moore oddness. Flyboy is a broken man thanks to the events of the issue and the ending proves that things will only get worse if he uncovers the truth. Setting up for the ride seems to be enough of a hook though and readers will definitely want to see how things continue.

Sidekick #1 is available now with interiors below.