Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New Beginning - Sidekick #1

The sidekick is an integral part in many superheroes' lives. If asked, anyone could name at least one whether it be one of the (many) Robins, or perhaps someone a little more offbeat such as Arthur (sidekick to the Tick). The much harder question to ask would be how many sidekicks can you name who managed to truly step out of their associated hero’s shadow? You may have some fans who mention Young Justice, Teen Titans, Nightwing or Bucky, but even then you open the door for argument.

As a result everyone seems to take sidekicks for granted. Always standing faithfully at the side, taking the role of the trusty apprentice. So what happens when the hero dies? Where does a sidekick go and what do they do? Hot on the heels of the success of Ten Grand, the second title from the Straczynski’s reinvigorated Joe’s Comics imprint looks at just that.

Sidekick revolves around Flyboy, the right hand man to Red Cowl, who once saved the city from a bomb in one shining moment, but has otherwise led a stereotypical sidekick life. Living in the limelight and being appreciated as a team was serving them both well, until a fateful parade. A sniper took advantage and killed Red Cowl.

Without a hero to anchor himself to Flyboy’s life spirals into chaos. He’s not seen as worth much on his own and finds himself going to further lengths to find meaning for himself. He even tries avenues such as the superhero equivalent of Kickstarter but nothing is having effect. To make matters worse, the wealthy real life persona of the late Red Cowl has left nothing behind. Flyboy really can’t catch a break. It’s only at the end of the comic - when a mysterious and buxom woman comes to find him - that things in his mind are on a seeming upswing.

Something tells me that this will spiral further out of control, as the final pages drop a faintly predictable bombshell: the Red Cowl is still alive and living the high life in anonymity. “Being dead is the best life anyone can have.”

Straczynski’s story is dark and truly depressing at times, slowly growing more and more depraved as the story unfolds. The editorial from JMS promises that Flyboy's life will only get even worse. It’s the equivalent of car crash TV to read, akin to watching David Brent in The Office. It’s awkward and uncomfortable - combined with an odd feeling of pity - and it just made me want to read more. I can already tell that this story is going to become a guilty pleasure with an addictive aftertaste.

The artwork is provided by Tom Mandrake who has a huge catalogue of titles to his credit under DC alone. Whereas the overall artwork didn’t have me in complete awe, it was amazing the level of detail and emotion that every face had in it. Emotive and powerful work.

Although it's a little twisted, the story is one that I think will really hook people. The quality of writing is automatically implied simply by the name on the cover and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s living up to the ideals that JMS has stated he wants Joe's Comics to provide to his readers. I was happy to read the issue and happier to read more.

Matt Puddy is not responsible for the late running of this train.

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