The League of Regrettable Sidekicks: Heroic Helpers from Comic Book History!
A good superhero needs a great storyline to make an impression on his/her readers. So does a good “sidekick.” Without a great backstory a sidekick is nothing more than a whisper on the wind; a nameless, fleeting shadow that fades into the dusty woodwork of comic book history.
Author Jon Morris proves this tragic theory in his new hardback picture book, The League of Regrettable Sidekicks: Heroic Helpers and Malicious Minions from Comic Book History highlights, which is Book #4 in the Comic Book History series.
Morris opens by explaining what every avid comic book reader should already know: that the superhero’s fundamental need for a sidekick dates back past the Green Hornet and Kato, Fu Manchu and his Si-Fan assassins, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and even earlier than that.
Morris then wastes no time launching into a blow-by-blow account of the highs and lows of regrettable, forgotten sidekicks from the Silver, Golden and Modern Ages of comic book hero-dom. Readers are introduced to curious crime fighters like “Bomber” Billy the Bumper, a short-tempered, ornery goat who serves as mascot for The Defense Kids (whoever they were!); and Blargo the Lawless, a pudgy, middle-aged, “scrambled-egg-faced” crime fighter with a fierce fighting style that is perfect for protecting his superhero partner, Futura (whom he pesters to the point of sexual harassment).
Readers also meet the hilariously-named Dandy Doodle, son and sidekick of Yankee Doodle Jones, who has just been injected with almost all of a hypodermic needle-full of “strength-enhancing corpse juice” that gives him super powers. In the ultimate “I-wanna-be-just-like-my-dad” move, Dandy injects himself with the remainder of the putrid juice and becomes his forgettable father’s uber-forgettable sidekick.
There are over 250 pages of weird and wacky sidekicks, like Frosting, the baby polar bear (sidekick to Norge Benson); Papa, the bald and stupid father (and sidekick) of his superhero son, Junior Genius; Klonsbon the Foozle—a bird-like being who HATES being referred to as a bird, sidekick to Cap’n Quick; and Jaxxon, the green-tinged meat-eating rabbit who is sidekick to Hans Solo and the Star Hoppers.
Morris began shining the spotlight on this delightful collection of regrettable sidekicks (and superheroes!) in the 1990s, when he managed a blog called Gone & Forgotten that scrutinized the “lowliest and most unfortunate stories and characters comic books have offered.” Since then, he has offered the comic-loving masses collectors’ volumes that are rich with detail and brimming with humor and sound effects like “OOF,” “KLANG,” and “EYOWWW!”
From a packaging standpoint, it is this reviewer’s opinion that the book has a couple of minor irritants. The font seems a bit small and readers may have to squint to read comfortably. Also, the comic pages included as inserts and the character stats on each sidekick’s profile are small enough to require even more squinting for a comfortable read.
This aside, The League of Regrettable Sidekicks is a clever side-splitter that offers a chronological examination of forgettable sidekicks from the early days of comics until the time their reign came to an end. In terms of research, detail, and revival of long-lost characters, this book holds its own with any comic bible, comic encyclopedia and/or collectors’ series out there, and deserves its own place in the comic book landscape.