Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Superman: Earth One) openly declares his contempt for sidekicks in the afterword of Sidekick #1, the first of twelve issues from Image comics.
“I’ll be honest with you: as a kid reading comic books, I hated sidekicks,” Straczynski recalls. “Robin, Speedy, Bucky, Kid Flash, Rick Jones…they pissed me off. It’s not just that they were and obvious plot to bring in young readers, it’s also that at the age of thirteen I figured there was still time for me to grow up to be Batman or Green Arrow or something like that. But the sidekicks were my own age and already doing stuff that I knew I never could do. Spandex-clad assassins of hope, every damned one of them.”
The target of his ire is Barry Chase AKA Flyboy, whose origin story parodies that of Captain America’s sidekick Bucky. He’s largely considered a joke except for one moment of self-sacrifice that he survives, though he’ll wish he hadn’t.
Flyboy was literally floating on air as the sidekick to the lauded superhero Red Cowl. He falls that much further when the Cowl is assassinated. The scene is reminiscent of the JFK assassination, relegating Flyboy to the role of Jackie. With his meal ticket gone, Barry resorts to taking donations to sponsor his crime fighting and stopping fake robberies just for some recognition. His love life is also in the dumps. In an instant he goes from ordering a prostitute to cease an desist to getting a blowjob from her behind a dumpster. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, she refers to him as “zipperboy,” emphasis on boy. He pines over his ex-girlfriend and decides to pay her visit by hovering outside her window while she makes love to her new boyfriend. He’s caught in the act and storms off into the arms of the Moonglow Twins, the supervillainesses that reportedly killed the Cowl. But what will this already unstable superhero do when he learns that Cowl faked his own death!?
“Every month for the next twelve issue we are going to drive Flyboy deeper into madness and mayhem, darkness and depravity,” Straczynski says in super villain voice no doubt. “We’re going to do to him all the things mainstream comics writers stuck with sidekicks are told never to do to them.”