Check out Our Review [WITH SPOILERS] of Side-Kicked!
Dedicated, dependable, and disrespected. Those are just a few words that describe the sidekicks of Chicago. They do their best to save the day, but what do they get in return? Nothing! They’re walked on and taken for granted by their superhero partners, and the city they’re desperately trying to protect. Well, the sidekicks decided that enough is enough; it’s time to go on strike! How will the city and its “heroes” fair when the sidekicks aren’t there to back them up? And what happens if the villains decide to take advantage of the situation?
I’ll be honest: going into this comic, I was immediately hooked on the premise alone. I thought it was so different from other superhero stories that I really wanted to see how it played out. I’m happy to say, I’m really glad I did because I really enjoyed Darby Pop’s Side-Kicked!
The writing is fantastic; Russell Brettholtz manages to take full advantage of the premise and expand the narrative in ways I wasn’t expecting.
I was actually surprised how well the world was built throughout all four issues. You instantly understand what kind of world the sidekicks live in, how their heroes are like celebrities, and how crime fighting is almost like a regular job. It’s funny, too, because there are details that are left out (like how any of the characters got their powers or how you even hire a sidekick), but it’s very easy to get past it because that’s not where the focus is; the focus is on the sidekicks and their struggles.
Most of us have worked jobs we’ve hated, and Side-Kicked perfectly resuscitates those feelings of soul-sucking worthlessness.
It makes these characters extremely relatable, and you can really feel the disrespect the sidekicks experience just for putting on the costume. You really want to see everyone get through their problems as well as get the respect they deserve. On top of that, you’re really rooting for them because they’re the kinds of characters you could see yourself hanging out with!
The dialogue is also exemplary.
From Mustang’s speech to the other sidekicks, to Walter’s back and forth with his boss, there are a lot of memorable moments between the characters. I felt it was strongest in the moments between two characters, like the many moments between Mustang and Phantasm; they help to give us a good understanding of these characters’ motivations and thoughts, while also shedding some light on just why the strike needed to happen.
We see just how bad things get for the citizens and egotistical superheroes when the sidekicks disappear.
What we get is a compelling story of underdogs who become the heroes they were meant to be, while also getting a cautionary tale regarding taking things (specifically people) for granted. I also really liked how the ending made things come full circle for this world. When the sidekicks became superheroes, the villains’ minions were inspired to become super-villains! They even used a a variation on Mustang’s earlier speech I thought that was a nice touch. It was the perfect way to end this story, while also leaving it open for a sequel.
The art was good, too; Bong Dazo and Miguel Mendonca made the characters very expressive and did wonderful work on the action sequences. In particular, they made great use of small locations.
For example, there’s a scene in the beginning that takes place in Phantasm’s apartment as he considers killing himself. Most of the scene uses the same shot of him on the couch, but it immediately grabs your attention and keeps you on edge. You don’t know whether he’ll do it or not, and that gets the reader invested in the character and his story. There are a few scenes like that and they all make an effective use of small, isolated spaces without becoming stale.
I really can’t think of anything that was handled poorly in any of the four issues. If anything, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a continuation of this story. I think that the world of Side-Kicked has the potential to expand, and it would be interesting to see the minions try to be full-fledged villains. The mark of a good story is becoming effortlessly and completely immersed in its world and the dynamic, indigenous characters. This is something all four issues pulled off extremely well.
These days, superhero sidekicks are a rare breed. Other than Robin, most sidekicks are unnecessary and some have separated themselves completely from the heroes they’re based on.
Side-Kicked reminded me why sidekicks were–and still are–important! Thanks to its relatable characters, great dialogue, and its unique story, I really liked this series! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something different in the superhero genre. It’s a comic that rises to the occasion…just like its sidekicks.