BATMAN's Alfred Packing Heat? Other Gun-toting Sidekicks
BEWARE THE BATMAN Announced for 2013
Of all the cool news coming out of Warner Bros. Animation at the MIP conference in France about the upcoming DC Nation block on Cartoon Network (Lauren Faust’s Super BFFs! The premier of the Green Lantern animated series! Doom Patrol and Plastic Man shorts!) it was the new Beware The Batman animated series that caught the most attention from comic fans. In particular, this new imagining’s pistol-packing Alfred Pennyworth set the internet aflame. As known by long time Bat-fans, before he became the loyal manservant to the Wayne family Alfred was, depending on the continuity, an agent of the British Crown or a member of the elite Special Air Service of the British Army.
However that part of his life seemed long since over by the time the elder Waynes were murdered and the notoriously gun-adverse Batman was born, something that will not be the case if the tiny scraps of information revealed about Beware The Batman are true. Can the idea of a master detective and supreme hand-to-hand combatant be reconciled with an ally who can just blow enemies away? Well as it turns out fiction is littered with examples of this dynamic working out, sometimes to great effect.
The Gun-Toting Sidekick To: Sherlock Holmes
In most interpretations Sherlock Holmes' intellect and skill-set could allow him to operate alone, but would he be the icon he is without the aid of Dr. Watson, the friend, part-time biographer and ‘human half’ to the brilliant but mercurial detective. The all but archetypical sidekick for his role as an audience surrogate, Watson not only allows readers to share Sherlock's deductions, but also when the action turns from cerebral to physical, he's there to lend a hand… his gun hand.
As a former combat surgeon in the British Army, Watson is trained in the use of firearms and is a 'crack shot' with his old service revolver, which he carries with him when off on a case. Several cases end not with a villain breaking down under the weight of the guilt that Sherlock has revealed, but at the barrel of the gun of John H. Watson, MD.
The Gun-Toting Sidekick To: The Doctor
While the protagonist of the nearly half-century old British television series Doctor Who is as infamous for his cleverness and his peculiar version of pacifism as much as for his two hearts and time/space traveling phone box, there are times when just running about with a Sonic Screwdriver isn't enough to save the universe. Enter one of the most popular and longest running companions (of the old series), Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.
Starting with the Second Doctor (for reference the current Doctor, portrayed by Matt Smith, is the eleventh) through the Seventh, a lifelong military man, “The Brigadier” (as he was often referred to) clashed with the all-together alien Doctor's philosophies, but was always at his side when then chips where down. Whether calling in the troops of the para-military Earth defense force UNIT or using his service pistol to gun down extra-dimensional overloads, The Brigadier proved his usefulness as both a character and a storytelling tool right up to the death of the actor who portrayed him, Nicholas Courtney, in February of 2011.
The Gun-Toting Sidekick To: Sabertooth
Back in the age when a new mutant could be conceived and placed in an X-Men book to fit a particular storytelling need, there came Birdy. Hired to help Sabertooth solve a mystery involving himself and Mystique, Birdy's telepathy came in handy to help soothe the blood-lust and rage that would occasionally overtake the nearly feral mutant.Birdy also carried a weapon: a classically oversized comic book rifle, a hallmark of the early 90's that would play a key role in her immortality. When Sabertooth was chosen for inclusion in the video game Marvel vs. Capcom 2, the melee focused character was given a ranged attack: calling for an assist (“BIRDY!” “Yes, Boss!”) from the all but forgotten mutant who would dash on screen and fire her huge rifle.
The Gun-Toting Sidekick To: Cloud Strife
If you could ask Barrett Wallace about being a sidekick, he'd laugh and claim that he was hero and Cloud was his sidekick, and he wouldn't be far from wrong. Barrett, though his passion and (arguably terrorist) tactics, sets the plot of Final Fantasy VII in motion. He also had the sense to bring a gun to what is largely a game-long knife fight.
His arm-cannon was as capable and upgradeable as any of the party’s bladed weapons but could be used from the back row with little-to-no drop in effectiveness. Barrett also, despite the rigors of being a revolutionary and a single father, rarely lets that interfere with the job at hand and was often the one who kept the party together while Cloud was constantly losing his marbles.
The Gun-Toting Sidekick To: Captain America
A consistent feature of one of the original comic book sidekicks throughout his many iterations was the fact that Bucky, be he a teenaged unit ‘mascot’ or just a young enlisted man, was carrying a firearm. After all, it was World War II in the European theater and when you don’t have the Super Solder Serum, body armor and an indestructible shield (and sometimes even if you do) you are going to need a machine gun.
From images in his 1940’s comic book origins firing on Nazis while descending in a parachute, to his depiction as capable combat veteran in the recent Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky, not being the flag-draped icon that Steve Rodgers was, could be free to get his hands dirty a little. A necessary trait when the stakes were as high as they were during the war.