Partner Problems1 of 12It's not always easy to be a sidekick. While time will tell how the new version of Wally West or yet another Spidey sidekick Silk will play out in their roles, the history of superhero comics is littered with characters who tried and failed to play the sidekick role, proving that not everybody can be Robin.
In fact, sometimes Robin can't even be Robin, as anyone who knows the long history of the character can attest. With that in mind — we're revisiting our list of the worst sidekicks in comic book history.
Caveat: This list isn't intended as a condemnation of these characters or the stories in which they appear, and in some instances, quite the contrary. Like Alpha, it's an assessment of their ability to perform as a sidekick in their fictional worlds. Some on this list made great heroes in their own right, some have become classic characters exactly because of their shortcomings.
Looking for the best? They're over here.
(Lucas Siegel and Albert Ching contributed to an updated version of this countdown.)
ALPHA2 of 12Gone from Amazing Spider-Man nearly as quickly as he appeared, you may not think Alpha even warrants an entry here — after all, he was barely a blip on the Amazing Spider-Man radar, appearing in just three out of the nearly 700 issues of the title.
However, the amount of hype Marvel gave Alpha, Spidey's short-lived sidekick, combined with just how technically terrible he was at the job, lands him the newest spot on this list. Alpha didn't listen to the direction of his mentor. Alpha didn't train, and didn't show up on time to the appointments to monitor his mysterious Alpha Energy. He was more concerned with fame than the feelings of, well, anyone including his parents, his girlfriend, and again, Spider-Man.
And then came his big debut alongside the Avengers. In a fight with Terminus, Alpha was reckless, flying into battle and slinging energy around everywhere, right above New York City. One of his stray blasts hit Aunt May and her husband, J. Jonah Jameson's father, in their private jet. Spidey managed to save the couple by landing the plane with the bulk of the weight literally on his shoulders, but Aunt May didn't make it unscathed she'll now need a cane to walk for the rest of her life.
So, he doesn't follow orders, doesn't care about his surroundings or the people in them, doesn't care much about the people in his life, and almost killed his mentor's surrogate mother. Yup, Alpha's definitely one of the worst sidekicks of all time. Good thing he was depowered by Spidey in the end...
... up until regaining powers thanks to the then newly Superior Spider-Man in the Alpha miniseries. What's next for him — and if he'll stay solo or return to sidekick status — remains to be seen.
DOIBY DICKLES3 of 12Oh, Doiby.
Although you have more than enough spunk and street-wise attitude, you weren't much of a sidekick when you tagged along with the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott.
Despite his motto of soivice that don't make youse noivice, you didn't add up to much compared to other Justice League members' sidekicks, like Robin or Kid Flash. Maybe sticking to your taxi driver day job isn't the worst idea in the world.
SNAPPER CARR4 of 12Although many members of the Justice League have their own sidekicks, the team tried to keep it to a minimum when it comes to functioning as a group. Snapper Carr was a communal sidekick to all of the Justice Leaguers in the early days, evolving into something of a damsel in distress — even if he wasn't exactly a "damsel."
Carr ingratiated himself with the JLA after his rich uncle financed the team's headquarters; showing up at the Secret Sanctuary as a laid-back beatnik trying to finish his final year of high school. A sidekick is supposed to help their character, but it was the JLA who typically helped Carr — saving his life on numerous occasions, and at one point being enlisted to help him write a research paper for school, which is maybe not the best use of a superhero's time.
WOOZY WINKS5 of 12While most sidekicks brought in by superheroes serve as a second set of eyes — and fists — to help their hero, Plastic Man's sidekick Woozy Winks was there more for comic relief. First introduced as a two-bit criminal who lucked into the power of being protected from danger, Winks was a rotund third wheel that was perpetually in need of rescue.
In the late '90s DC published a story that tried to dull the dimwittedness of Woozy, but it ended up only adding a new level of craziness, explaining that he was a secret agent who only became woozy after huffing fumes from Plastic Man's blood. Call it a cautionary tale.
JACKDAW6 of 12Largely forgotten to Marvel fans as a whole, Jackdaw was a short-lived sidekick for Captain Britain in adventures published by Marvel's UK line in the early '80s. This impish extra-dimensional elf was little more than comic relief for Britain's champion, dying multiple times and being resurrected before finally being put to rest after an attack by the Fury.
Even Alan Moore couldn't make much of this pipsqueak, writing the character's death in what one fan described as a mercy killing.
UNCLE MARVEL7 of 12Give this to Uncle Marvel: how he conned his way into the Captain Marvel family was a thing of beauty. But that doesn't make him a good sidekick, as all he seemingly looks out for is number one.
First introduced in 1943's Wow Comics #18, Uncle Marvel was a career criminal that conned his way into the Marvel family by pretending to be the uncle of Mary Marvel. Despite finding out his secret, Captain Marvel and his crew kept him on board because of his jovial nature. Nothing like leaving a wolf to guard the chicken house, no matter how funny his jokes are.
Shazambago or not, Uncle Marvel definitely wasn't what a hero would traditionally want as a sidekick.
ARTHUR8 of 12People have fond memories of moth suit-wearing Arthur, and for good reason. But when you look at the actual performance of this rotund hero as a sidekick — well, you have to face facts.
With his yard sale-bought supersuit and his general avoidance of anything physical, Arthur is ultimately the last thing any legitimate hero would really need when going into battle. Although offering his apartment to be his and the Tick's headquarters is admirable, sometimes you have to expect more out of a sidekick than generosity.
SILVER SURFER9 of 12Hold on — there's an explanation.
Say you're a wayfaring space traveler like Galactus, cruising the cosmos with a powerful appetite. You're having trouble finding the best place to eat as Yelp is woefully inadequate in this regard, so you hire on a specialist to help find the best meals. In comes this perfectly shorn, perfectly shiny surfer dude, and on the job he proves to be pickier about the dishes he serves up than you are.
As a hero, Silver Surfer is top-notch... but as a sidekick, he was never really a team player. Would Batman tolerate it if Robin went ahead and tried to pick his battles and manipulate him? (He would not.)
EBONY WHITE10 of 12While inside comics Ebony White's job as a sidekick was something special, this character's name and appearance bring out the worst in negative racial stereotypes. Created in the 1940s by Will Eisner for his comic strip series The Spirit, Ebony White was a youthful taxi driver and confidante to the Spirit but the character's depiction and use carried with it dark clouds that are hard to shake.
Although Eisner repeated denied any racist intent in the creation and depiction of Ebony White, the legendary cartoonist admitted knowing it was volatile in a 2003 interview with Time magazine.
"The only excuse I have for [that portrayal] is that at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity," Eisner told reporter Andrew D. Arnold. "Later I attempted to depart from it by having a black character, a detective, who spoke proper English, and I had an airplane pilot that was black."
When Frank Miller filmed a live-action adaptation of The Spirit in 2008, the writer/artist/director wisely avoided the character entirely.
D-MAN11 of 12His name is D-Man, and though "d-list" jokes are probably too easy, they are nonetheless tempting.
Originally debuting as a pro wrestler for Marvel's Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, D-Man became a certifiable fanboy to real superheroes, aping Daredevil and Wolverine's costume and riding the coattails of Captain America. And while Captain America might be one of the most gracious and genial of superheroes, even he couldn't stand D-Man for too long.
This one-time leader of an army of homeless people and frequent sufferer of mental illnesses, he's frequently talked into battles with heroes thanks to smooth-talking super villains. D-Man was last seen brainwashed to become the Scourge and about to kill Captain America with his own shield before he's fatally shot by Sharon Carter — another tale that aspiring sidekicks should probably note.
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