Tag Archives: comic books

Size Lessons in Comic Books

Size is Relative

A story with the size lesson tries to teach the reader a lesson related to size in a literal sense. The lesson might be that what is big in one setting is small in another setting. Conversely what is small in one setting may be big in another setting. In short, size is relative.

Archie’s Madhouse revisited the size is relative theme again and again in issues #48, #52, #53 and #62.

size-relativity-archies-madhouse-48-1966 size-relativity-archies-madhouse-52-1967 size-relativity-archies-madhouse-53-1967 size-relativity-archies-madhouse-62-1968

Harold is small compared to the Silver Surfer but a giant compared to a planet filled with life that is so small only Harold can perceive them (Silver Surfer V6 #8).

size-relativity-silver-surfer-v6-8-2017

Harold’s story is basically a remake of Horton Hears a Who! A big elephant because of his big ears can ironically hear the inhabitants of Whoville that are too small to be perceived by anyone else. We learn that a person is a person no matter how small they are.

size-relativity-horton-hears-a-who

Journey into Mystery V1 #63 shows that there is always someone bigger in the universe in “Goliath! The Monster that Walked Like a Man!”

size-relativity-journey-into-mystery-63-10 size-relativity-journey-into-mystery-63-11

Journey into Mystery V1 #72 shows that baseball can be seen from a different perspective.

size-relativity-journey-into-mystery-72-31 size-relativity-journey-into-mystery-72-32

In “Brief Lives”, Omega Men #26, the Spider Guild tries to conquer giant aliens in the planet Ogyptu that live for millennia and move, think and perceive the world at a geological pace.  The entire invasion by the Spider Guild over a thirty year period is barely perceived by the giants.

size-relativity-omega-men-v1-26-27 size-relativity-omega-men-v1-26-28 size-relativity-omega-men-v1-26-29 size-relativity-omega-men-v1-26-31

Tales of Suspense (Marvel) revisited the size is relative theme in issues #9, #13, #23, and #34.

Tales of Suspense #9 “Earth Will Be Destroyed!”

size-relativity-tales-of-suspense-v1-9

Tales of Suspense #13 “When the Earth Vanished!”

size-relativity-tales-of-suspense-v1-13

Tales of Suspense #23 “The Changeling”

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Tales of Suspense #34 “The Coming of the Giants”

size-relativity-tales-of-suspense-v1-34

Tales to Astonish (Marvel revisited the size is relative theme in #3, #5, #18, #37 and #49.

Tales to Astonish #3 “I am the Giant from Outer Space”

size-relativity-tales-to-astonish-v1-3

Tales to Astonish #5 “I Landed on the Forbidden Planet”

size-relativity-tales-to-astonish-v1-5

Tales to Astonish #18 “Monsteroso”

size-relativity-tales-to-astonish-v1-18-23 size-relativity-tales-to-astonish-v1-18-24

Tales to Astonish #37 “The Star Raiders”

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Tales to Astonish #49 “The End of the World”

size-relativity-tales-to-astonish-v1-49

Small is Beautiful

The lesson can be that small beings are more useful than big beings in some situations. Bigger is not always better. Sometimes small is beautiful to quote the economist E. F. Schumacher.

The Lion and the Mouse is an Aesop fable in which a mouse is spared by a lion. The lion is pretty arrogant about his size. Later the mouse frees the lion from a net by gnawing at the ropes. The small size of the mouse allows the mouse to do something the lion cannot. This is a small is beautiful lesson.

small-is-beautiful-the-lion-and-the-mouse

Marvel has Ant-Man (Marvel) who ironically defeats Loki in the debut issue of the Avengers.

small-is-beautiful-ant-man-avengers-v1-1

DC has the Atom (DC) saves the Justice League of America in the same issue he joins the Justice League in Justice League of America V1 #14.

small-is-beautiful-atom-justice-league-of-america-v1-14

Harold in Silver Surfer V6 #8 uses his small size to help the Silver Surfer during various adventures.

small-is-beautiful-silver-surfer-v6-8-2017

Birds of a Feather Applies to Size

Birds of a feather flock together applies to beings of the same size in Archie’s Madhouse #23 and 124#.

giants-like-giants-archies-madhouse-23-1962 giants-like-giants-archies-madhouse-124-1981

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Orange Werefox versus Justice League

Orange Werefox versus the Justice League Resized

The Orange Werefox reveals his sinister plan to take down the Justice League!

Photo Album at:

http://s883.photobucket.com/user/foxhugh/library/Orange%20Werefox%20versus%20Justice%20League

Hugh Fox III - Alien Glow (2)

 

 

American Comic Books versus Japanese Manga

American Comic Books versus Japanese Manga Table Resized

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Fox Superpower List

Document at:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/240044346/American-Comic-Books-Versus-Japanese-Manga-Worksheet

Hugh Fox III - Army

 

 

A Survey of Psychic Powers Found in Fiction and History

Type of Psychic Table Resized

INTRODUCTION

Psychics have various mental powers including telepathy and clairvoyance.  Psychics are one of the few categories of characters of fiction that also seemingly appear in real life.  For example, people who fly would only appear on a list of fictional characters.  Whether or not historical psychics really had psychic powers is not within the scope of this article.  The focus on this investigation is to compare and contrast the sort of psychic powers one encounters dealing with psychics in history versus fiction.  Almost any power imaginable can be duplicated and given a psionic explanation.  This tendency to call just about any super powered hero a psychic because the term is “cool” is especially overdone in Japanese fiction. There needs to be some sort of system for determining what powers constitute psychic powers.  This article will focus on the five powers traditionally associated with psychics including mediumship, precognition, retrocognitiontelekinesis. and telepathy

ANIME

 

One of the most famous “comic book” psychics does come from Japan and is the anime titled Akira that in turn was based on a Manga series from Katsuhiro Otomo.  Akira is a powerful telekinetic who in turn evolves into a reality warper.  Elfen Lied is another anime telekinetic.  The following anime series deal with psychics with various powers: Psychic Academy, Telepathy Shōjo Ran, and Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha. The following anime characters have various powers: Almayce, Eva-Beatrice, Genocyber, Hiroto Sakurai, Mai Kuju, and Rion SteinerPokemon has several psychic creatures including: Cresselia, Deoxys, Misty’s Psyduck, Misty’s TogeticPorygonMai Taniyama has the power of retrocognition.  The following anime deal with mediumship: Ghost Hound, Ghost Hunt, Mokke, Natsume’s Book of Friends, and XxxHOLIC for a total of five.  Overall, there seem to be more psychics with the power of mediumship than in American comic books.  Arael is one of the few anime psychics that is only a telepath.  Probably the most famous computer game with psychics and an anime style is Psychic Force.  There is a tendency to label various superpowers such as magic and control of electricity as “psychic” in anime and these examples are not listed since I think this is a misuse of the term psychic.

AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS

There is a general perception that there are more psychic characters in comic books than in any other medium.  This investigation focused on comic book heroes in titles published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.  This study did not look at Japanese comic books in depth which are generally referred to as Manga.  I am an avid reader of both American and Japanese comic books and do suspect psychics are more prominent in Japanese than American comic books and perhaps this would be a good subject of a future study.

However, the Manga industry is fragmented into dozens of large and small publishing companies unlike American comic books that are dominated by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.  Some Manga publishers can only be described as cottage industries in which the writer, artist and publisher are one person working out of an office.  Listing all the psychics in Manga would be a task only the most dedicated otaku would attempt.

The following 22 comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics have telepathy: Aqualad (DC), Aquaman (DC), Black Bolt (Marvel), Blindfold (Marvel), Cable (Marvel), Chamber (Marvel), Charles Xavier/Professor X (Marvel), Emma Frost/White Queen (Marvel), Jean Grey/Phoenix (Marvel), M.O.D.O.K. (Marvel), Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz (DC), Miss Martian/M’gann M’orzz (DC), Nate Gray/X-Man (Marvel), Psimon (DC), Psylocke (Marvel), Rachel Summers/Marvel Girl/Phoenix (Marvel), Sage (Marvel), Saturn Girl (DC), Stepford Cuckoos (Marvel), Tempest (DC), The Goblin Queen (Marvel), Tomorrow Woman (DC).  The two most important telepaths in the DC universe are the Martian Manhunter and Saturn Girl.  The two most important telepaths in the Marvel universe are Professor X and Jean Grey.

The following five comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics have precognition: Ben Reilly (Marvel), Blindfold (Marvel), Clock King II (DC), Destiny (Marvel), Dream Girl (DC) and Midnighter (DC).  The most important character with precognition in the DC universe is Dream Girl.  The most important character with precognition in the Marvel universe is Destiny.

The following three DC and Marvel characters with the power of mediumship include Deadpool (Marvel), John Constantine (DC) and Wicked (Marvel).  John Constantine is by far the most important character in comic books with this power.  Mediumship may be more widespread as a super power in Japanese comic books that in general have a greater preoccupation with ghosts.

The following 13 comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics with the power of telekinesis include Cable (Marvel), Debrii (Marvel), Franklin Richards (Marvel), Hellion (Marvel), Jean Grey (Marvel), Justice (Marvel), Maxima (DC Comics), Nate Grey (Marvel), Psylocke (Marvel), Rachel Summers (Marvel), Raven (DC), Superboy, Kon-El version (DC), and Tomorrow Woman (DC).

Superboy is the most important telekinetic in the DC universe.  Jean Grey is the most important telekinetic in the Marvel universe.  The Kon-El version of Superboy is a good example how even the varied powers of Superman can be duplicated via a psionic mechanism and over the time the border between psionic, none psionic and magically based powers becomes meaningless and comic book fiction suffers as believability suffers.  In the opinion of the author, superpowers and their own internal logic is one of the foundations of creating a suspension of belief in the medium of comic books.

I think this is a good a juncture as any to mention my one giant peeve about telekinesis as a superpower.  The following formula describes how kinetic energy works:

kinetic energy formula

In the above formula, “m” equals mass and “v” equals velocity.  The above formula means that a small object traveling a very high speed can do a lot more damage than a large object traveling at a low speed because velocity is squared.  This is one of the principles behind martial arts which I have studied (see Fox Martial Arts Taxonomy).  If you can learn the increase the speed of your kick or punch then you can increase the force of your kick or punch exponentially.  Also if you can put a lot of energy into a small area of your fist, two or three knuckles rather than all your knuckles, then the pounds per inch increase dramatically and you break bone in a small area rather than hitting a large area with insufficient force to break/penetrate bone and tissue.  The basic principles of kinetic energy and martial arts have a special relevance to telekinetic combat!

Invariably comic book characters are shown using great effort to move a single large object while able to throw small objects at great speed without effort.  This suggests that telekinesis, unlike muscle energy, allow the user to take advantage of the loop holes of the laws of kinetic energy more efficiently.  You cannot easily double the speed of your muscle action, this takes years of practice, but in a telekinetic world this is entirely possible with little practice.  Therefore, instead of throwing boulders at your opponent, a telekinetic would be better of throwing small rocks or better yet, super sharp barbed needles made out of adamantium towards vital organs. Needles are hard to block and at sufficient speeds can penetrate deeply into hard to kill super heroes that are partially invulnerable. Barbed needles with poisons on them, Green Kryptonite for Superman for example, would make even more sense.  I am waiting for a supervillain that uses his or her telekinesis in an intelligent manner. I guess the superhero can coat his/her needles with a tranquilizer and aim for none vital organs.

Also, any comic book character with any brains with telekinesis would sign up to study the use of trick arrows with Hawkeye (Marvel) or Green Arrow (DC) immediately since you could make your trick arrows go faster and more accurately with telekinesis and would be a superhero archer on steroids with telekinesis.  Hawkeye has been known to go up against Iron Man.  Green Arrow has been known to go up against Superman albeit with arrows that released Green Kryptonite in the Dark Knight series.

The following nine comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics with the power of retrocognition include Blindfold (Marvel), Captain Comet (DC), Dream Girl (DC), Magik (Marvel), Saturn Girl (DC), Silver Surfer (Marvel), Talisman (Marvel), Tarot (Marvel) and Terror Inc. (Marvel).  Dream Girl and Saturn Girl are important psychics in the DC universe but rarely use retrocognition.  Terror Inc. in the Marvel universe absorbs the memories and skills of other via the grafting of body parts and retrocognition is a central power this character uses in an interesting manner.

The following three American comic book characters that are clearly psychics have various psychic powers: Professor X, Jean Grey and Saturn Girl.  There is a history of psychics in Marvel comic books progressing towards reality warping.  Psychics can at first throw boulders around and then as they evolve can control the very nature of reality.  The following characters, not all clearly psychics, Jean Grey, Onslaught, Proteus and Franklin Richards over at Marvel Comics have all gone through this evolution.  The big exception to the psychic path to reality warping at Marvel would be the Beyonder.  Beings with the power cosmic can also warp reality but generally not to the same extent as a psychic that has evolved to the level of reality warping.  Why does Marvel turn psychics into reality warpers?  Perhaps wavy lines showing telepathy or telekinesis are not very impressive visually.  A five spread page of character warping the very nature of reality is interesting visually and easily done in a comic book.  Psychic powers do not lend themselves to an over the top visual display that is the forte of the comic book as a medium.  Ironically, the best reality warping visual display was done at DC not at Marvel.  The Joker becomes Emperor Joker by stealing the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk and the miniseries based on this premise is a visual delight if not a logical delight.  DC Comics is more likely to use magic and/or mystic origins rather than psychic powers to explain the reality warping superpower (Bat-Mite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and the Spectre).

HISTORICAL

Allison DuBois

Allison DuBois Historical

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Cassandra of Troy

Cassandra of Troy

Psychic Power: Precognition

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce

Psychic Power: Retrocognition

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin

Psychic Power: Precogntion

Jeane Dixon

Jeane Dixon

Psychic Power: Precognition

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Psychic Power: Precognition

Miss Cleo

Miss Cleo

Psychic Power: Precognition

Nostradamus

Nostradamus

Psychic Power: Precognition

Paul the Octopus

Paul the Octopus

Psychic Power: Precognition

Pythia (The Oracle of Delphi)

The Oracle at Delphi

Psychic Power: Precognition

Uri Geller

Uri Geller

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

MOVIES

Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers

Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Carrie White in Carrie

Carrie White in Carrie

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense

Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Cris Johnson in Next

Cris Johnson in Next

Psychic Power: Precognition

Darryl Revok in Scanners

Darryl Revok in Scanners

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class

Emma Frost in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

Fiver in Watership Down

Fiver in Watership Down

Psychic Power: Precognition

Inspector Frederick Abberline in From Hell

Inspector Frederick Abberline in From Hell

Psychic Power: Precognition

Jean Grey in X-Men Film Series

Jean Grey in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Telekinesis

Jeremy “Powder” Reed in Powder

Jeremy Powder Reed in Powder

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Joan of Arc in Several Movies

There have been almost 40 movies about Joan of Arc!  For the purposes of this survey, Joan of Arc has only been counted once.

Psychic Power: Precognition

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Psychic Power: Precognition, Retrocognition, Telepathy

Lyn Cassady in Men Who Stare at Goats

Lyn Cassady in Men Who Stare at Goats

Psychic Power: Telekinesis, Remote Sensing

Nick Marshall in What Women Want

Nick Marshall in What Women Want

Psychic Power: Telepathy (women only)

Oda Mae Brown in Ghost

Oda Mae Brown in Ghost

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Professor X in X-Men

Professor X in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

River Tam in Serenity

River Tam in Serenity

Psychic Power:

Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist

Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist

Psychic Power: Mediumship

The Oracle in The Matrix

The Oracle in The Matrix

Psychic Power: Precognition

Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean

Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Carribean

Psychic Power: Precognition

Zoltar in Big

Zoltar in Big

Psychic Power: Precognition, Reality Warping

TV

Allison DuBois in Medium

Allison DuBois in Medium

Psychic Power: Mediumship, Retrocogntion, Precognition

Carl Jenkins in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles

Psychic Power: Telepathy

The Champions

The Champions

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Precognition

Rose Red

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Telekinesis, Retrocognition, Remote Viewing, Psychometry, Automatic Writing

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Psychic Power: Precognition, Retrocognition, Telepathy

Matt Parkman in Heroes

Matt Parkman in Heroes

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer

Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Professor X in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

River Tam in Firefly

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Precognition

Time Prophet in Lexx

Time Prophet Lexx

Psychic Power: The Time Prophet believes time is cyclical so by seeing the last Big Bang cycle, she can see the “future”.  This means her power is retrocognition but manifests itself as precognition.

CONCLUSION

Fictional psychics are much more likely to display psychometry, telepathy and telekinesis than historical psychics. Historically, most psychics have visions of a clairvoyant nature.  A skeptic might argue that this is true because clairvoyance is an easier power to fake than other psychic powers.  There is something called the Jeane Dixon effect.  People tend to remember a few correct predictions and forget many wrong predictions.

Movies (21 psychics) appear to use psychics as a plot device lot more than TV (9 psychics).  The movies Carrie and Scanner, and X-Men: The Last Stand used telekinesis to create huge extended visual spectacles. Presumably the more limited budgets of TV shows means such spectacles are less likely.

The total number of psychics in American comic books (52) dwarfs the number in the other categories.  One explanation is that the sheer volume of material in comic books is so much larger than movies and TV that more psychics would follow.  The X-Men were a comic book that introduced psychic superheroes in an important ongoing series.  Professor X and Jean Grey were both psychics in the X-Men series and soon psychic superheroes began to become a regular part of the American comic book landscape.  American comic books generally copy Hollywood movies and American TV but this might be one case in which movies and TV took their cues from comic books and the X-Men comic book in particular.  Comic books and anime regularly make use of telekinetic/reality altering fight scenes that would be very costly on film but are relatively easy and cheap to do in the comic book media.  Akira is a Japanese anime adapted from a comic book that is probably the best example of over the top telekinetic scenes that would be too expensive to do using live action film.

Hugh Fox III - Black Hole

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DC vs. Marvel: Sidekicks

This post will compare sidekicks of the DC and Marvel universes. Which universe has the best sidekicks?  First of all, what is a sidekick?  Wikipedia provides the following definition “A sidekick is a close companion who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies”.  Wikipedia in the same article expands on the functions of a sidekick “Sidekicks can provide one or multiple functions, such as a counterpoint to the hero, an alternate point of view, or knowledge, skills, or anything else the hero doesn’t have. They often function as comic relief, and/or the straight man to the hero’s comedic actions. A sidekick can also act as someone more relatable to the audience than the hero, or whom the audience can imagine themselves as being (such as teen sidekicks). And by asking questions of the hero, or giving the hero someone to talk to, the sidekick provides an opportunity for the author to provide exposition, thereby filling the same role as a Greek chorus”.  A sidekick is not a villain’s henchmen or the romantic interest of a hero which is generally referred to as a companion.

The picture above got me thinking about sidekicks.  The picture is from page 199 of the graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001).  Bizzaro Comics is a hilarious collection of indie writers and artist’s parodies of DC comic titles.  This picture is from the story titled Without You I’m Nothing and follows the travails of obscure discarded sidekicks.  I am a comic book historian and do get a kick out of stories that use obscure characters like this story does.  I was not able to identify all the side kicks in the picture but have a partial answer key at the end of this post.  This post also attempts to provide definitive lists of sidekicks in the DC and Marvel universes and the Wikipedia definition was strictly adhered to.  Many obscure characters that have not been included in prior lists of this nature have been included in this post.  Below is a definitive list of DC sidekicks that will be discussed later.

List of DC Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Aquaman Aquagirl 1 (Lisa Morel) Adventure Comics #266 (November, 1959)
Aquaman Aquagirl 2 (Tula) Aquaman (vol. 1) #33 (May-June 1967)
Aquaman Aqualad  (Garth) Adventure Comics #269 (February 1960)
Aquaman Topo (Octopus) Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956)
Aquaman Qwsp Aquaman (vol. 1) #1 (January-February 1962)
Batman Ace the Bat Hound Batman #92, June 1955
Batman Alfred Pennyworth (Butler) Batman #16 (April-May 1943
Batman Bat-Girl (Bette Kane) Batman #139 (April 1961)
Batman Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) Detective Comics #359 (January 1967)
Batman Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) Legends of the Dark Knight # 120 (August 1999)
Batman Robin 1 (Dick Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April 1940)
Batman Robin 2 (Jason Todd) Batman #357 (March 1983)
Batman Robin 3 (Tim Drake) Batman #436 (August 1989)
Batman Robin 4, Spoiler, Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) Detective Comics #647 (August 1992)
Batman Robin 5 (Damian Wayne) Batman #655 (September 2006)
Batman Robin Earth II (Richard Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
Blackhawk Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) Blackhawk # 133 (February 1959)
Blue Devil Kid Devil Blue Devil #14 (July 1985)
Booster Gold Goldstar Lobo #5 (May ’94)
Booster Gold Skeets Booster Gold (vol. 1) #1 (1986)
Captain Marvel Captain Marvel Jr. Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941)
Captain Marvel Lieutenant Marvels Whiz Comics #21 (1941)
Captain Marvel Mr. Tawky Tawny (Anthropomorphic Tiger) Captain Marvel Adventures #79
Captain Marvel Uncle Marvel Wow Comics #18 (October 1943)
Captain Mid-Nite Hooty the Owl All-American Comics #25 (April, 1941)
Chameleon Boy Proty I Adventure Comics #308 (May 1963)
Chameleon Boy Proty II Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963)
Crimson Avenger Wing How Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)
Flash Impulse (Bart Allen) Flash (vol. 2) #92 (June 1994)
Flash Kid Flash I (Wally West) The Flash  (vol. 1) #110 (December 1959)
Flash Kid Flash II (Iris West) Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
Flash Kid Flash III (Bart Allen) Teen Titans (vol. 3) #4 (December 2003)
Flash S’kidd Flash Flash vol 2 #235 (February, 2008)
General Glory Ernie the Battling Boy Justice League America # 46 (January 1991)
Green Arrow Amber Archer (Connor Hawke) Green Arrow vol 2 #0 (October, 1994)
Green Arrow Arrowette World’s Finest Comics #113 (November 1960)
Green Arrow Speedy  I (Roy Harper) More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Green Arrow Speedy II (Mia Dearden) Green Arrow (vol. 3) #44 (January 2005)
Green Lantern Gen’ma Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6
Green Lantern Doiby Dickles All-American Comics #27 (June 1941)
Green Lantern Terry Berg Green Lantern (vol. 3) #129 (October 2000)
Green Lantern Thomas Kalmaku (Pieface) Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #2 (September-October 1960)
Icon Rocket Icon #1 (May 1993)
Johnny Thunder Black Lightning the Horse Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
Joker Harley Quinn The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993)
Justice League of America Snapper Carr The Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March 1960)
Justice League International G’nort (Green Lantern, Humanoid Dog) Justice League International #10 (February, 1988)
Knight Squire (Cyril) Batman #62,(December 1950)
Little Boy Blue Tubby, Toughy Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942)
Martian Manhunter Zook Detective Comics #311 (January, 1963).
Mr. Scarlet Pinky the Whiz Kid Wow Comics #4 (1940)
Owlman Talon Teen Titans vol. 3 #38 (September 2006)
Plastic Man Woozy Winks Police Comics #13 (November 1942)
Robin Flamebird (Mary Elizabeth Kane) Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977)
Tomahawk Dan Hunter Star-Spangled Comics #69 (June 1947)
Sandman Brute The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Glob The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Sandy the Golden Boy (Sandy Hawkins) Adventure Comics # 69 (December 1941)
Space Ranger Cyrll Showcase #15, (July 1958)
Star Hawkins Ilda (Robot) Strange Adventures #114 (March 1960)
Star-Spangled Kid Stripsey (Pat Dugan) Action Comics #40 (September, 1941).
Superboy Pete Ross Superboy #86 (January 1961)
Super-Girl Comet the Super-Horse (Biron) Action Comics #292 (1962)
Super-Girl Streaky the Super-Cat Action Comics #292 (1962)
Superman Bo “Bibbo” Bibbowski Adventures of Superman #428 (May 1987)
Superman Jimmy Olsen Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
Superman Krypto Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955)
Superman Super-Girl Superman #123 (August 1958)
TNT Dan the Dyna-Mite (Daniel Dunbar) World’s Finest Comics #5 (Spring 1942)
Vigilante Stuff the Chinatown Kid Action Comics #45 (February 1942)
Wonder Woman Etta Candy Sensation Comics #2 (Feb. 1942)
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 1 (Wonder Woman as a teenager) All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941),
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 2 (Donna Troy) The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #60 (July 1965)
Wonder Woman Wonder Tot Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959)

Robin wins the best DC sidekick prize easily.  Robin is the first teenage super hero sidekick and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Robin has been flattered to death.  DC went ahead and created an army of teenage sidekicks.  Eventually the teenage sidekicks of the major superheroes founded a teenage sidekick version of the Justice League called the Teen Titans.  The original Teen Titans included Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin and Wondergirl.  Later still, Young Justice is created.  The Teen Titans and Young Justice meet in a giant sidekick crossover between their two groups.

The obvious absurdity of Robin is that crime fighting is dangerous work even for an adult like Batman and introducing a minor to crime fighting makes no sense whatsoever except as a plot device.  Batman’s villains were obviously very aware that Robin was the weak link and Two-Face even referred to Robin as the boy hostage.  The psychologist Fredric Wertham decided there was a homosexual subtext in the Batman and Robin relationship and wrote about this in Seduction of the Innocent.  Batman goes through a whole slew of Robins and eventually one gets killed brutally by the Joker with a crow bar in a Death in the Family.  Jason Todd is the lucky Robin to suffer death and the best part is that readers entered a poll to decide if he lived or died.  Truly a low point in comic book history but a lot of Batman issues were sold so all in all the project was a success.  Later Robin 4 (Stephanie Brown) in the identity of the Spoiler is even more brutally killed by the Black Mask with a power drill.

Of course no one really dies in comic books so Jason Todd return as the Red Hood and wants some payback from Batman for letting him die and secondly, and probably more importantly letting the Joker live.  The five Robins all get starring roles after Batman “dies”.  The ex-Robins have all become heroes in their own right.  I would argue that the Red Hood is an antihero not a villain.  Robin 1, Dick Grayson, has become Nightwing.  Robin 3, Tim Drake, becomes Red Robin.  Stephanie brown is resurrected from her power drill death and becomes Batgirl.  The male Robins are all potential impersonators of the dead Batman. The Red Hood gets in the act and kind of forces Dick Grayson to become the new Batman because if he doesn’t then the Red Hood will assume the role.  The potential heirs to Batman agree that the death of Batman should be hidden and one of them should pretend to be the original Batman.  This is similar to the Phantom, the ghost who walks that has the son of the prior Phantom assume the role of the Phantom so as to give the illusion that the Phantom never dies.  The Robins are basically sons of Batman but unfortunately there is more than one son i.e. more than one Robin and succession is not clear.  This jockeying between the Robins is largely covered in the Batman miniseries Battle for the Cowl but this power struggle affected all Batman related titles of the last year.  Dick Grayson does a good job impersonating Batman but doesn’t fool Commissioner Gordon.  The new Batman of course needs a new Robin and gets a psychopath kid, due to being trained by the League of Assassins since childhood.   This new Robin is the long lost son of Bruce Wayne and called Damian Wayne.  Confused?  Everyone is confused so don’t feel bad.  I am sure the writers of the Batman lines have cheat cards on their desks.  Will the barnacles of Batman history eventually sink the line?  Maybe!

Robin and his teenage copies at DC and even Marvel have so dominated the sidekick market in comic books that readers tend not to look at the broader literary concept of a sidekick when looking at comic books.  Another Batman sidekick is Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred provides an alternate point of view to the audience as well as the ability to aid Batman when he is hurt.  Alfred has surgical skills gained when Alfred was an army medic.  Alfred was also in the theater and can pretend to be Batman when needed.  This is a rarely used skill of Alfred that is nevertheless crucial when someone is too close to discovering Batman’s identity.  Robin is presumably too small to provide a similar function and anyway Robin needs to be by Batman’s side so people don’t think Robin is pretending to be Batman.  Alfred Pennyworth can be extremely critical and sarcastic with Batman unlike the army of Robins.  Alfred provides an “adult” perspective about Batman to the reader.  Alfred has known Batman since he was a child. Alfred is aware of the how the killing of Batman’s parents made Batman a great crime fighter at the expense of a normal life.  The Red Hood has argued with Batman that most of his hard core rogues gallery only fear death and the fact that Batman does not kill and the fact that the villains know this limits the effectiveness of Batman as a crime fighter.  Batman may be able to instill fear in common criminals but provides more challenge than fear to the likes of the Joker.  In Batman #647, Alfred actually agrees with the Red Hood mentally but does not express his views to Batman verbally.

Batman is a serial teenage sidekick mentor and there is something very creepy about this.  Any “normal” person would not expose even one minor to extreme violence and certainly would not continue this behavior after the death of Jason Todd much less the subsequent death of Stephanie Brown.  Alfred has expressed dismay about the use of teenage sidekicks many times to Batman.  However, Alfred in the end is the dutiful butler who does what his master wishes despite any misgivings about such a course of action.  Alfred’s subordination to Batman’s wishes despite sarcastic remarks is what makes Alfred a sidekick rather than an equal partner.  Batman is not the only member of the Batman story line with a sidekick.

The Joker, Batman’s archenemy, has a sidekick!  Villains generally do not have sidekicks but henchmen, minions or lackeys.  Villains are generally egomaniacs and incapable of having long lasting meaningful relationships or so the theory goes. Villains see their henchmen as disposable cannon fodder.  The Joker generally treats those around him in precisely this manner but there is one exception and that is Harley Quinn.  Harley Quinn was a female psychiatrist that treated the Joker at Arkham Asylum and turned to the dark side rather than curing the Joker.  Harley Quinn is in love with the Joker but the relationship has clearly never been consummated.  The Joker obviously sees Harley Quinn as a capable sidekick even if Harley Quinn wants more.  Harley Quinn is a near superhuman gymnast who uses her skill with great combat effectiveness.  Harley Quinn wears a Jester outfit and became friends with Poison Ivy at Arkham were she ironically resided after her break down.  Harley Quinn provides comic relief to Joker stories that despite the name of the Joker were not very funny before Harley Quinn showed up.

The Joker had been jealous of Batman having Robin as a sidekick in the silver age and got his own one-shot sidekick in Batman #186 called Gaggy.  The main function of Gaggy was to provide comic relief to then Joker since such comic relief led to the Joker having great crime ideas.  Gaggy rather simplistically hated Robin and managed to knock Robin out with a head butt to the stomach.  Gaggy was never heard of after that one issue.  I think an issue in which Gaggy, embittered by being discarded by the Joker, targets Harley Quinn for assassination might be interesting.  Harley Quinn turns to Batman to figure out who is trying to kill her and clues are left that the culprit is a dwarf with a penchant for practical joke paraphernalia.  Since not an awful lot of characters fit that description, Batman deduces that the culprit is Gaggy!  Did I mention I like obscure comic book characters?  Batman’s sidekicks on the whole do not provide comic relief.  This is not the case of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel also has an army of sidekicks but largely for comic relief.  Mr. Tawky Tawny is an anthropomorphic tiger i.e. a funny animal that gets into all sorts of silly trouble Captain Marvel can save the tiger from.  Uncle Marvel is an older bumbling version of Captain Marvel.  Captain Marvel was always a sillier line than his doppelganger Superman.

Flash is another serial sidekick character that has gone through three Kid Flash characters.  Kid Flash was clearly inspired by Robin.  Super speed is a major power that is very much underestimated in comic books.  Basically you can hit the bad guy a hundred times and dodge whatever the bad guy tosses at you.  “Realistically” the foes of the Flash should stand no chance against the Flash.  Captain Cold has a freeze gun.  The Flash should be able to dodge anything the cold gun can come up with.  A teenager with super speed is still incredibly powerful despite being a teenager unlike Robin who has no super powers and even the inferior strength of someone who is younger.  Maybe a Kid Flash can only punch with half the power of an adult but a hundred punches later and even the toughest boxer is going down.

Green Arrow has had two teenage sidekicks named Speedy.  The first Speedy grows up to become a heroin addict, but recovers, and there is some suggestion that maybe crime fighting as a teenager might not be all that healthy psychologically and contributed to the heroin addiction.

Superman only has one teenage sidekick and that is Jimmy Olsen.  In the silver age, Jimmy Olsen was officially Superman’s best pal and again very creepy if you think about it.  Superman is perennially in his early thirties and if I saw some thirty year old hanging around a teen rather than a guy his own age then I would wonder exactly what function this teenager serves.  Jimmy even has a watch with an ultrasonic signal that allows him to call Superman when he is in danger.  Lois Lane does not have such a watch!  Teenage guy gets the watch but not the gal?  Maybe the silver age Superman had reasons for not marrying Lois Lane that had more to do with subconscious gender preference than any other reason.

Superman has a dog called Krypto.  In the silver age, Batman got a dog called Ace but there is no comparison with Krypto and Ace in terms of importance.  Superman in the silver age was Superboy and Krypto and Superboy were constant companions.  This is one of the healthier sidekick relationships in comic books.  Krypto cannot talk but can communicate to the reader via thought balloons that show what Krypto is thinking.  Krypto’s attempts to understand Superboy’s behavior using canine logic were pretty cute and comical and one of the few things that made the otherwise lame Superboy title work.

The current Supergirl has no hyphen between “Super” and “Girl” in her name.  The current Supergirl is a hot babe in a half shirt who has fled to the 31st century to avoid being a sidekick!  The silver age Super-Girl, on the other hand, was very much a sidekick.  She was teenager attending high school and was kept as a secret weapon for much of her silver age career.  Super-Girl was Superman’s cousin so no fear of hanky-panky that would make her a companion.  However, Super-Girl does try to match Superman up with an adult version of her on another planet!

Super-Girl has sidekicks in her own right!  Super-Girl has a super cat named Streaky and a super horse named Comet.  Somewhere in the Superman family there is a super monkey named Beppo but I am not really sure who he belongs to.  All the super animals unite with Proty to create the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century.  Years later Marvel will make its own group of superhero animal sidekicks.  Proty is the sidekick of Chameleon Boy who is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes of the 31st century.  Proty I sacrificed himself to revive the dead Lighting Lad but a Proty II soon shows up.  Proty I and II are aliens that look like blobs and can mimic just about any form.

That leaves us with Wonder Women’s sidekicks.  The silver age Woman had several sidekicks.  Etta Candy was a fat rather stupid college student who was supposed to be used for comic relief but was more obnoxious than funny.  The silver age Wonder Woman went through a rather silly phase in which she had adventures with herself as a Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot!  Wonder Woman used Amazonian technology to create films of herself that showed “what if” adventures with her younger versions.  I have to tell you I was maybe seven when a lot of these adventures came out originally and I was totally confused.  I assumed Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot were sisters of Wonder Woman and didn’t find out the “truth” until I was in my thirties.  Wonder Woman is probably one of those silver age titles that is really hard for modern readers to digest but the title had a fantasy quality that was very different from the more sci-fi quality of most silver age stuff and appealed to my young imagination.  Wonder Woman may go down in literary history as the only character that had two versions of herself as her own sidekicks. The graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001) does have a story with Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl racing to sit next to Wonder Woman during lunch and destroying half the Amazon city in the process.  Later, a more Robin like Wonder Girl was created as a sidekick.

Below is a list of Marvel sidekicks that will be discussed at the end of this list:

List of Marvel Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Avengers, Iron Man Edwin Jarvis (Butler) Tales of Suspense #59 (Nov 1964)
Captain America Bucky I Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Captain America Bucky II (Rick Jones)  
Captain America Free Spirit Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Captain America Jack Flag (Jack Harrison) Captain America #434, (December 1994)
Captain Britain Jackdaw The Incredible Hulk Weekly #57 (April 1980)
Captain Marvel Falcon (Sam “Snap” Wilson) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Daredevil Foggy Nelson Daredevil v1 #1 (April 1964)
Deadpool Weasel Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 (August 1993)
Deadpool Blind Al Deadpool #1 (Jan. 1997)
Deadpool Bob, Agent of HYDRA Cable & Deadpool #38 (May 2007)
Doc Samson Geiger Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Doctor Strange Wong Strange Tales #110 (Jul 1963)
Falcon Redwing (Hawk) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Franklin Richards H.E.R.B.I.E. (Robot) Fantastic Four #209 (August 1979)
Hulk Jim Wilson Incredible Hulk  v1 #131 (September, 1970)
Hulk Teen Brigade Incredible Hulk v1 #6 (March 1963)
Hulk, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Avengers Rick Jones Incredible Hulk v1 #1 (May 1962)
Human Torch Toro Human Torch Comics #2 (Fall 1940)
Inhumans Lockjaw (Dog) Fantastic Four #45, (December 1965)
Ka-Zar Zabu (Sabertooth Tiger) X-Men #10 (Mar 1965)
Fantastic Four Franklin Richards (Son of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four Annual #6 (November 1968)
Fantastic Four, Franklin Richards Valeria Richards (Daughter of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four vol. 3 #54 (June 2002)
Fantastic Four Lockjaw Puppy (Dog) Fantastic Four vol.3 #9.
Nick Fury Dum Dum Dugan Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963)
Shadowcat Lockheed (Small Dragon) Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb 1983)
Speedball Niels, Hairball (Cat) Speedball #1
Spider-Man Jackpot Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007)
Spider-Man Ms. Lion (Dog) Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends #1
Spider Girl Scarlet Spider 3 (Felicity Hardy) Spider-Girl # 46
Taskmaster, Agent X Sandi Brandenberg Taskmaster Mini-Series (2002)
Thing, Captain America Demolition Man aka D-Man Captain America #328 (April 1987)
Wolverine Jubilee Uncanny X-Men #244 (May, 1989)
Young Allies Whitewash Jones Young Allies Comics 1941

The first sidekick on the list is Edwin Jarvis who is a butler at Avengers Mansion that in turn is owned and operated by Tony Stark.  Tony Stark is of course Iron Man.  Jarvis is an obvious clone of Alfred, Batman’s butler, but is much more one dimensional and provides comic relief rather than insight into the super heroes he deals with unlike Alfred.  Alfred was a medic during a time of war and may be old but is obviously tough and handles sensitive Batman impersonation missions.  Alfred would beat the crap out of Jarvis in any altercation.

Bucky is probably the most famous sidekick in the Marvel universe.  Bucky is Captain America’s sidekick from the golden age that was killed in the golden age.  In 2010, Bucky was resurrected after more than forty years just to make sure whatever faith readers had in comic book continuity was crushed once and for all so that suspension of disbelief via continuity would be rendered impossible once and for all.  Comic sales are down way down.  The recession and competition with other media are to blame but decisions like the Bucky resurrection don’t help.  Anyway, Captain America is put into suspended animation minutes after Bucky is “blown up” and the guilt Captain America feels upon reawakening in the silver age is a major part of the Captain America story line.  Captain America over the last forty years continually demonstrated how the trauma for the death of Bucky affected him mostly in the form of nightmares.  Batman has never shown this level of trauma about the deaths of his Robins.

In the first silver age appearance of Captain America (Avengers vol. 1, #1) Captain America runs into a teenager he mistakes for Bucky, Rick Jones.  Rick Jones is the side kick of the Hulk but this doesn’t stop him from later becoming Bucky II.  The Hulk is not too pleased with this and this leads to altercations between Captain America and the Hulk.  The Hulk has a point.  Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma ray radiation while saving Rick Jones and became the monster called the Hulk because of Rick Jones.  Yeah, Rick Jones owes his life to the Hulk’s alter ego but heck Captain America has wavy blonde hair and also is not a monster, literally, so Rick Jones decides to become Bucky II.  Rick Jones is not a very loyal sidekick and becomes Captain Marvel’s sidekick later on.  I guess Captain Marvel’s wavy silver hair beat Captain America’s wavy blonde hair.  Rick Jones is currently a Hulk type called A-Bomb and is really digging not being a sidekick anymore despite having Hulk monster type problems.  Captain America has had other sidekicks beside Bucky I and II including Jack Flag and Jackdraw.  Heroes in both the DC and Marvel universe seem to either have slews of sidekicks or no sidekicks. Are sidekicks addictive?  For the records there have been several Captain Americas with their Bucky sidekicks but I am only dealing with the Steve Rogers Captain America.

Foggy Nelson is a sidekick of Daredevil.  Foggy Nelson is the law partner of Matt Murdock the alter ego of Daredevil.  Foggy provided a great deal of comic belief in the beginning but has matured into a more competent brilliant lawyer that is an asset to Matt Murdock.  Foggy has an incredible case law memory and might even superior to Matt Murdock as a lawyer but does not have the confidence of Matt and is therefore generally not the lead lawyer.  Without Foggy, the law practice of Matt Murdock would have gone down the toilet during his many, Daredevil caused, MIA stints.  Foggy Nelson has a paunch and food related jokes are his comic relief contribution.

Deadpool is a hilarious anti-hero that has had several equally hilarious sidekicks including Weasel, Blind Al and Bob, Agent of Hydra.  My favorite is Bob, Agent of Hydra.  Bob is a parody of henchmen and the number one lesson he learned from Hydra was “hiding behind each other”.  Under pressure, Bob tends to shout “Hail Hydra”.

Doctor Strange has and adult Asian manservant from Tibet named Wong.  Wong may not know much magic but he is a master martial artist.  Wong is fairly subservient compared to other comic book sidekicks.  If you do visit Doctor Strange at his Sanctum Santorum in New York then you have to get past Wong first.  His role as a literal gatekeeper gives him some power that a lesser servant would not have.

Marvel decided to transform the son Reed Richards and Susan Storm from a typical omega level angst driven mutant to a Calvin type character, as in Calvin and Hobbes, character with great success.  Franklin is a side kick to the Fantastic Four that provides a child’s perspective of the Fantastic Four as well as comic relief.  Franklin is also a scientific genius who can modify his dad’s super science gadgets but generally his attempts to improve dad’s gadgets lead to disaster.  Franklin has his own sidekick, H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. H.E.R.B.I.E. provides a logical to the point of absurdity perspective to the childish antics of Franklin. H.E.R.B.I.E.  constantly tries to convince Franklin H.E.R.B.I.E. to leave his dad’s lab alone but he is ultimately a subordinate that is then forced to try to clean up the mess created by Franklin.

The Hulk got over the loss of Rick Jones and adopted Jim Wilson.  Jim Wilson was an inner city, Black teenager that very poignantly died of cancer later.  Doctor Strange has an Asian sidekick.  The Hulk has an African-American sidekick.  The Lone Ranger has a Native American sidekick, Tonto.  Does anyone see a pattern here?  My next post will be titled DC vs. Marvel: Multicultural Heroes and I will examine the issue of race in the DC and Marvel universes in detail.

In 2009, Marvel untied all the animal sidekicks into a team called the Pet Avengers.  The Pet Avengers are a rip off of the Legion of Super Animals over at DC.  The Legion of Super Pets was played straight and this was probably a bad decision given the absurdity of the concept.  The Pet Avengers is a silly title with lots of comic relief and one of my favorite current titles.  I am not sure how far you can go with this concept but so far so good.  The members of the Pet Avengers include Redwing a hawk of Falcon, Lockjaw a giant dog that can teleport of the Inhumans,  Zabu a saber tooth tiger of Ka-Zar, Lockheed a small dragon that is a sidekick of Shadowcat, Hairball a cat belonging to Speedball and Ms. Lion a dog belonging to Spider-Man.  The team includes Throg is a frog with lesser versions of Thor’s powers and is not a sidekick of Thor but a hero among his frog tribe in his own right.  The interplay between the animals is what really makes the team work.  Krypto and Streaky were a dog and a cat in the same legion but the fact that dogs and cats don’t get along was never really explored.  Hairball the cat thinks Ms. Lion is an absolute idiot and worse, a dog!  Ms. Lion is the only one on the team that doesn’t have super powers is very much the pampered house dog of Spiderman’s Aunt May.  Ms. Lion claims the right to membership based on her sidekick status alone.

The sidekick status of the members is highlighted in one story of Tails of the Pet Avengers: The Dogs of Summer #1.  In the story titled“Garbage Grief”, Franklin Richards teams up with the Pet Avengers flanked with his own sidekicks H.E.R.B.I.E. and Puppy.  Puppy is a miniature version of Lockjaw complete with his powers of teleportation.   In this story Puppy does manage to teleport the Pet Avengers to deal with a giant humanoid garbage creature that Franklin created more or less accidentally. So this is a sidekick crossover albeit on a much smaller scale than the DC Teen Titans/Young Justice crossover.  Another treat of this particular issue, is that the origin of Puppy is finally dealt with.  Puppy has been a fixture of the Fantastic Four for a while but his origin has not been dealt with until this issue.  Turns out Puppy is the grand pup of Lockjaw and is a present of Franklin’s future self to himself in the past.  In another issue, Tails of the Pet Avengers #1 has an adventure with Redwing the hawk titled “Birds of a Different Feather”.  Redwing the sidekick of Falcon is chased by a pigeon that wants to be a sidekick of Redwing.  Redwing refuses this offer at first but the pigeon pulls a masterful guilt trip to change the mind of Redwing.

I also have to mention the Incredible Hercules that ran from 2008 to 2010.  Hercules is teamed up with Amadeus Cho.  Amadeus Cho is really smart, mutant level smart but Hercules is Hercules!  Normally Amadeus Cho, the brainy, sixteen year old, nerdy teenager, would be the sidekick but an argument can be made that Hercules is the sidekick even if Hercules would smash anyone who suggested as much.  In one issue Hercules is up against his old enemies the Amazons.  Amadeus Cho is captured by the Amazonians.  Amadeus Cho is referred to as the eromenos of Hercules (Incredible Hercules #121, 2008) by the Amazons during his captivity.  Amadeus Cho is not happy with this appellation at all.  This is one of the few issues that points out the obvious, when older men have sixteen year old guys as buddies then there is usually one sort of relationship at work going back to Greek times.  This is an intelligent comic book line that turns the sidekick conventions upside down in an extremely funny manner.

The most famous teenage sidekick of Marvel is Bucky but Bucky is not nearly as important to comic book history as Robin.  Probably getting killed in the golden age for plus forty years didn’t help the career of Bucky at all.  Marvel has other teenage sidekicks like the golden age Toro but all and all Marvel does not have the rooster of well known teenage sidekicks that DC has. DC also wins in terms of teenage sidekick teams.  DC has the aforementioned Teen Titans and Young Justice.  Marvel has teenage teams including the Young Avengers and the Runaways but they are not sidekick teams but teams of teenage heroes.  In many ways Marvel sidestepped the need for teenage sidekicks by making more teenage heroes than DC.  Spiderman began his career in high school.  The X-Men operate out of Xavier’s Academy which trains teenagers.  The New Mutants are teenagers that go to Xavier’s Academy and are not sidekicks.  I think overall Marvel may have been smart to make teenage heroes to fulfill many of the teen identification functions of teenage sidekicks.

DC just has a lot more sidekicks than Marvel period.  DC has 71 sidekicks on their list.  Marvel has 34 sidekicks on their list.  Beyond numbers, DC has a rooster of more famous sidekicks especially in the teenage sidekick category.  DC and Marvel have pursued different strategic approaches to the use of teenage sidekicks in their respective universes.  Marvel, however, is doing great things with animal sidekicks with the Pet Avengers and funny sidekicks like Franklin Richards and H.E.R.B.I.E.  Unfortunately, a two year trend does not negate the fact that DC has historically had the most and best sidekicks.

DC wins the sidekick wars!

Answer to DC Sidekick Quiz

1. Stripsey

2. Proty

3. Doiby Dickles

4. ?

5. Streaky?

6. Brute

7. Qwsp

8. Glob

9. Cyrll

10. Mr. Twaky Tawny

11. Zook

12. Ace the Bat Hound

13. Wing

14. ?

15. ?

16. Ilda

17. Skeets

18. ?

19. ?

20. ?

I do wonder if some of the sidekicks I can’t figure out are actual sidekicks in DC comics.  Number 5 might be Streaky the Super Cat but looks more like a mouse than a cat.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Super pets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

WesternHeroes

Women in Refrigerators

WorkingWomen

DC vs. Marvel Kids

Casper and Fox

Casper and Fox

This is the eighth post in this series. DC versus Marvel superhero posts have been done to death on the internet and I wanted to do something different. This series looks at what happens when you pit the non superheroes of these two companies. This series also gives me an excuse to revisit some of the obscure comic book characters of my past. The dominance of the superhero genre in American comic books has meant that characters of other comic book genres have been ignored for decades and this series to some extent is an attempt to rectify this unfortunate state of affairs.

The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/

The second post looked at war comics and war heroes. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/

The third post looked at women’s comics and working women. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women

The fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/

The fifth post analyzed funny animals.
https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/

The sixth post looked at the teenagers of teenage humor comic books. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/dc-vs-marvel-teenagers/

The seventh post looked at horror comics and horror hosts. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/dc-vs-marvel-horror-hosts/

I am inventing a comic book genre name for this series. Women’s comics are defined as comic books that appeal to women. I would like to propose there is a genre of comic books that appeals to very young children as opposed to children in general and I would like to name this genre kids comic’s. The ultimate example of this genre would be the children’s Harvey Comics line that included such characters as Baby Huey, Casper, Hot Stuff, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Spooky, Richie Rich and Wendy the Good Little Witch. Harvey Comics also published comics with superheroes but is best remembered for its kid’s comics. I see similarities between Harvey Comics and Archie Comics.

Faced with hopeless competition with DC and Marvel in the superhero arena, these two comic book companies found success in non superhero genres, an example of niche marketing in the comic book marketplace. Archie Comics has dominated teenage humor for decades, right up until the present and squashed attempts by DC and Marvel to make titles that compete in this genre. Harvey Comics was also able to survive in a similar manner with kids comic books. Interestingly, both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics tried superheroes but eventually gave up these titles probably because of competition from DC and Marvel. Both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics had to learn hard lessons about their core business which turned out to be genres other than the superhero one.

There is tremendous overlap between the funny animal genre, dealt with in the post about funny animals (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/) and kid’s comics and many comics fit both genres. Still, characters such as Casper are obviously not funny animals. I would propose that funny animals are a subgenre of kid’s comics logically but the funny animal subgenre is so big it must be treated as a genre. In a similar manner, logically superheroes are a subgenre of science fiction but are such a dominant subgenre in terms of the comic book marketplace that superheroes are best dealt with as a separate genre. This post will only deal with kid comics that are not funny animals.

This genre is characterized by a simplified cartoon style, very G rated material, even by comic code approved standards, and very simple plots. The defining characteristic is that the comic book is aimed at a very young readership. I would say the comic books should be able to appeal to preschoolers and they should be able to handle the material without the aid of an adult. Older readers may like the simplicity of the comic books in the same way that even adults can appreciate a children’s book but the reverse is not true. A relatively G-rated comic book like Superman, especially a more recent Superman comic book, will not be appreciated by preschoolers unless their literacy is especially high.

DC kids include the Brat Finks, Stanley and his Monster, as well as, Sugar and Spike. Stanley and his Monster replaced the Fox and Crow in issue #109 but the retitled comic book only lasted until issue #112. Stanley is a six year old with a lisp that mistakes a monster for a dog and lets him secretly live with him. The monster is covered with pink hair, has enormous fangs and is gigantic, maybe nine feet? The parents never catch onto the existence of the monster. In the innocent comic book logic of that era, hiding a nine foot monster in a typical suburban house is considered totally possible. The comic book was printed in the sixties. In the nineties, DC decided to add some back story to the series and include Stanley and his Monster in some DC crossovers. I still prefer the more innocent less sophisticated Stanley and his Monster of the sixties.

Sugar and Spike was created by comic book legend Sheldon Mayer and is one of the best comic books lines ever! Somehow DC forgot to reprint this comic book in their current reprint Showcase series. This is extremely unfortunate and I urge DC to add Sugar and Spike to the Showcase reprint line. Sugar and Spike are two preschoolers that talk to each other in baby talk that adults can’t understand.

Sugar and Spike are constantly trying to figure out adult logic and the adult world and come up with outlandish explanations that nevertheless are totally logical. Mayer was able to capture kid’s logic in a way few cartoonists ever have. The closest any cartoonist has ever come is Calvin and Hobbes but I actually think Mayer does a better job and he is dealing with much younger children that are harder for adults to understand. Sugar is a blonde haired kid. Spike is a red haired kid. Other characters came and went in the strip such as Little Arthur, Uncle Charley and Bernie the Brain and even the secondary characters of this great strip were better than the primary characters of most cartoons. The strip lasted 98 issues, from the seventies into the nineties, and I am sure would have gone on even longer except for his death in 1992.

Marvel Kids, pre-Star imprint, is a much shorter list and I want to mention Homer the Happy Ghost who was brought to my attention by a reader of this post (see comments).  Homer the Happy Ghost was an obvious imitation of Casper that lasted 22 issues, between March, 1955- November 1958, which for a none superheroe is not bad!  Supporting characters included Melvin the Mixed-Up Ghost, Invisible Irwin, Dugan the Dead End Ghost, and Zelda the Zany Witch.  Homer was reprinted for five issues between from November 1969 to May 1970 and I vaguely remember seeing this version of the title.  Anway, thanks for the info Mark!

Marvel Kids include all the characters of their Star imprint that lasted from 1984-88. The characters of the Star imprint included Air Raiders, ALF, Animax, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Care Bears, Chuck Norris and his Karate Kommandos, Defenders of the Earth, The Flinstone Kids, Foofur, Fraggle Rock, The Get-Along Gang, Heathcliff, Heathcliffs Funhouse, Hugga Bunch, Inhumanoids, Madballs, Masters of the Universe, Masters of the Universe Motion Picture, Misty, Muppet Babies, The Muppets take Manhattan, Peter Porker The Spectacular Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Popples, Royal Roy, Silverhawks, Star Wars Digest, Star Wars Droids, Star Wars Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, ThunderCats, Top Dog, and Wally the Wizard. Marvel did publish a couple of Casper comic books in 1997.

Most of the Star comic books are not Marvel properties and will not be looked at given the topic of this post. Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard are the only true Marvel properties of the Star comic’s line. Spider Ham was already dealt with in the funny animals post so we are down to Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard.

Planet Terry, Royal Roy and Top Dog were all written by Lennie Herman. Planet Terry was a space saga. Planet Terry was looking for his parents in space with his sidekicks a robot named Robota and a green-scaled muscular alien named Omnus. I swear that Planet Terry’s facial features are very similar to those of Casper. He flew around in a jet pack and many of his flying poses seem directly lifted from Casper comic books. Top Dog is a talking dog and therefore a funny animal and the subject of another post. Royal Roy is Marvels version of Richie Rich of Harvey Comics. Prince Roy lives in Cashelot (Camelot plus Cash) and only
lasted six issues. Wally the Wizard was an apprentice wizard to Marlin the Wizard, Merlin the Wizards older brother.  Wally the Wizard was created by Bob Bolling who had also created Little Archie.

Sugar and Spike team up with Stanley and his monster for a day at the sandbox and run into these two weird kids in weird costumes. One is dressed like a prince, one is dressed like a spaceman and one is dressed like a wizard. Sugar and Spike know all about Halloween and love that day and know darn well this day isn’t that day. They start laughing at the costumed kids and soon a fight ensues. Stanley’s Monster sits on the Marvel kids until they agree to behave. DC wins this round.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

DC vs. Marvel Horror Hosts

House of Mystery #1

This is the seventh post in this series. The series pits non superhero genre characters from DC and Marvel against each other. The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/), the second post looked at war comics and war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/), the third post looked at women’s comics and working women (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women) and the fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/). The fifth post analyzed funny animals (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/). The sixth post looked at the teenagers of teenage humor comic books (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/dc-vs-marvel-teenagers/). The eighth and next post will look at kid’s comic books.

This post looks at the horror genre. I had problems separating the horror genre from the superhero genre. This would not have been a problem when I was reading comic books in the sixties and seventies when I was younger. However, since at least the eighties, DC and Marvel heroes that belong to the horror genre have been incorporated into their mainstream comic book universes to the point that they are often just another type of superhero.

For example, Blade, who fights vampires, has done so many crossovers with mainstream Marvel characters that he is no longer a hero of the horror genre but a hero with horror roots who inhabits the Marvel superhero universe. The mystery that is essential in horror is lost when the characters of horror are overused in a flashy superhero universe that in many ways is the antithesis of horror. Superheroes wear bright colors and fly off into the sunset versus inhabiting a world beneath the moon, moss and worms. When you juxtapose a creature of horror with a superhero the creature of horror is lessened. The suspension of disbelief is just too much. I can temporarily believe in a world of horror. I can temporarily believe in a world of superheroes. I can only believe in a world with both superheroes and horror with difficulty.
The entire Vertigo line, a DC imprint, can be seen as an excellent attempt to bring the sense of horror back to DC by creating boundaries between creatures of horror and superheroes for the purposes of better story telling. So who represents pure horror in the DC and Marvel universes? I would argue the horror hosts do! Most horror comic books are anthologies with one-shot characters that often die a horrible death at the end and are never seen again. You have the same problem with romance comics. Both genre focus on single shot stories and finding ongoing characters in both genres is hard do. So what sort of character survives in a horror comic book? The host of the stories is who!
A horror host is the host of a horror comic book anthology. The most famous horror host does not belong to either the DC or Marvel line but to EC Comics. The host for the EC comic book Tales of the Crypt was the Crypt Keeper and perhaps the only horror host to make the transition to TV where the same character hosted the very popular and long running TV show of the same name and also two movies and even a Saturday morning cartoon named Secrets of the Cryptkeepers Haunted House. The Crypt Keeper was one of the GhouLunatics and that included fellow EC horror hosts the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch.

The DC horror hosts include Abel, Cain, Charity, Destiny, Eve, Mad Mod Witch, Madame Xanadu, and Macbeth’s witches (Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia). Abel was the host of the House of Secrets. Cain was the host of the House of Mystery. They are the Cain and Abel of Biblical fame and an ongoing gag is that Cain kills Abel over and over again whenever there is a crossover between the two brothers. The two houses sit next to each other so a little neighborly interaction is only to be expected. Charity was the host of Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion and probably wins the title of most obscure and forgotten DC horror host. Destiny hosted Weird Mystery Tales. Eve hosted Secrets of Sinister House from issues # 6-16. Eve later generally replaced Destiny as the host of Weird Mystery Tales. Abel and Cain are officially cousins of Eve. The Mad Mod Witch was the, on again of again, host of Unexpected from issue #108 onwards and with the alias Fashion Thing was rebooted by Neil Gaiman in the Sandman. Madame Xanadu was the host of Doorway to Mystery. Madame Xanadu returned in the first direct sales only comic book in Madame Xanadu. The series is a one-shot. The witches Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia hosted the Witching Hour. Lucian was the host of the short lived Tales of Ghost Castle.  Neil Gaiman made use of all the DC horror hosts, except Charity, in his Sandman series. Heck, even Lucian, perhaps the most obscure of the horror hosts became a librarian of the Sandman.  All the horror hosts have gone onto new fame and prominence in the Vertigo line that probably exceeds the fame and prominence they had during their original title runs in the sixties and seventies.

In the Sandman title, Destiny and is one of the Endless who in turn are mightier than gods. Destiny has been able to resist the influence of Zeus. Zeus is in turn much mightier than for example Superman. Zeus can create a female version of Superman, Wonder Woman. Destiny is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe but is also considered the most boring story teller by Abel, Cain and Eve.

Despite a slew of horror tiles by Marvel/Atlas including Beware, Chamber of Chills, Chamber of Darkness. Creatures on the Loose, Crypt of Shadows, Dead of Night, Fear, Giant Size Chillers, Journey into Mystery (2nd series), Tomb of Darkness, Tower of Shadows, Uncanny Tales (2nd series), Vault of Evil, Weird Wonder Tales, Where Creatures Roam and Where Monsters Dwell only one of these titles had a horror host! Digger and Headstone P. Gravely hosted Tower of Shadows that was designed to go head on against DCs House of Mystery and House of Secrets. I do remember Tower of Shadows and I even remember the story of the first issue and I was like 14 years old at the time! I don’t remember the horror hosts at all. Two unknown hosts versus an interconnected family of DC hosts that are major part of the current DC/Vertigo universe? This contest doesn’t seem fair at all and I am going to change the rules! I am going to bring in a Marvels number one comic book host! The Watcher!

The Watcher acted as a host to futuristic stories in Tales of Suspense starting in issue #39 in the sixties. The Watcher acted as second story to the main Iron Man story. The stories were titled Tales of the Watcher. I actually often preferred the Watcher stories to the Iron Man stories and am totally aghast that Marvel has not made an Essential version of Tales of the Watcher. I mean Werewolf by Night and Spiderwoman get an Essential volume but not those great stories by the Watcher? The tradition was carried on in the first volume of the Silver Surfer. Later still the Watcher became the host of What If stories that were 100% superhero stories but the original Tales of the Watcher were mainstream science fiction complete with a Twilight Zone sort of lesson about the universe and/or humanity told by the Watcher at the end.

Despite their genre difference the Watcher and Destiny actually have an awful lot in common. The Watcher is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a lot more powerful but like the Watcher mostly tells stories, and despite being blind, “observes” and doesn’t really do much. The Watcher is bald and for all we know Destiny might be bald as well. Destiny always wears a cowl and this is probably to hide his baldness. I would see Destiny as being somewhere in the power class of the Living Tribunal over at Marvel. Destiny and the Living Tribunal both wear cowls by the way. The Watcher is at least two hierarchical levels below the Living Tribunal.

The Living Tribunal is even more powerful than Eternity or Death that only represent the totality of one universe. Both Destiny and the Living Tribunal are multiverse type beings that more or less bring balance to the multiverse. There isn’t a different Destiny or Living Tribunal in each universe but one for the whole dang multiverse. A being that performs a balancing multiverse function has to be more powerful than any being limited to one universe no matter how powerful they are in that one universe. Destiny could squash the Watcher but this won’t happen.
Destiny and the Watcher are hyper rational, Mr. Spock is emotional compared to those two, and I do mean the old Mr. Spock, not that new guy French kissing Uhura, and would never engage in aggressive behavior except in self defense and neither would attack the other first since that would be illogical, uncivilized and just bad manners. Destiny and the Watcher both exchange the very best stories from their mutual universes and agree I am not a very good story teller and perhaps should find another hobby. This “DC versus Marvel” story ends in a draw.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women