Comic book sidekicks have proven popular over the years but with mixed results. Many sidekicks that have popped up to help superheroes in their quest for justice have been awful and unnecessary. For every effective sidekick like Robin The Boy Wonder there’s a Kid Flash that seems to only exist to attract younger readers. Many sidekicks are added for comic relief but only serve to annoy readers. Given the hit and miss nature of comic book sidekicks, we thought it would be instructive to rank the 10 worst superhero sidekicks in comic book history. Enjoy…
10. War Machine (Iron Man)
On paper, War Machine looks pretty decent. The character of James Rhodes is a U.S. marine and he wears a suit very similar to Iron Man. However, the problem with this sidekick is that he is too similar to Iron Man. While a lot of sidekicks have similar abilities to their partners, War Machine is almost identical to Iron Man. And the similarities raise the question of why War Machine is necessary? Furthermore, the character has never succeeded in the solo comics he’s been given, and what did he really do in the Iron Man film series? In fact, the actor who played War Machine in the Iron Man movies changed from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle with no explanation, leaving fans to scratch their heads. There’s just nothing that interesting or relevant about War Machine. If he never existed, it wouldn’t matter. Sad but true.
9. Free Spirit (Captain America)
Free Spirit was a female sidekick to Captain America introduced in 1994. Attractive in her scantily clad outfits, Free Spirit added nothing to the comic book series and was a blatant attempt to attract more male readers. This sidekick was a college graduate student by day named Cathy Webster who was subjected to experiments that enhanced her body but also brainwashed her into hating men. Free Spirit proved unpopular with fans and only lasted about a year before disappearing with seemingly no explanation. Of course, Captain America has had a number of sidekicks over the years including the Star Spangled Avenger and Captain Jack Flag. But none of them were as bad as Free Spirit. It was enough to make people want original sidekick Bucky Barnes back. Say that three times fast…
8. Rick Jones (The Incredible Hulk)
This sidekick appeared in a number of Marvel comic book titles, including Captain America and Captain Marvel. But Rick Jones first appeared in the Marvel universe in The Incredible Hulk issue #1 and is largely responsible for creating the Hulk in the first place. It was Rick Jones who Bruce Banner saved at a nuclear testing site in the first issue of the Hulk. Of course, it was while saving Rick Jones that Bruce Banner received the blast of radiation that turned him into the Hulk. Seeming to not know what to do with Rick Jones after he served his role as a plot device, Marvel Comics then had the character become the Hulk’s sidekick for a number of years. Rick Jones was even an honourary member of the Avengers once the Hulk joined the superhero team. The problem is that Rick Jones has no powers, no talent and no reason to be any hero’s sidekick—let alone the Hulk, who is monosyllabic and seemingly out of control at all times. For being largely useless, Rick Jones makes this list.
7. Alpha (Spider-Man)
Believe it or not, Spider-Man once had a sidekick. Only one and only for about three issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic in 2012 before a fan revolt set in. Real name Andrew Maguire, the character of Alpha was created when a science experiment at a high school where Peter Parker worked went horribly wrong. Feeling guilty about the accident, Peter Parker decides to take Andrew Maguire under his wing and a budding sidekick was born in the character named Alpha. However, fans of the comic were having none of it and loudly voiced their anger over the creation of Alpha. After just three issues, Spider-Man had to take away the young and immature Alpha’s superpowers and return him to a regular person after Alpha put a mission involving the Avengers in jeopardy. Will they never learn?
6. Aquagirl (Aquaman)
The character of Aquaman is a hard enough sell without bringing sidekicks into the equation. But that’s the mistake DC Comics made in 1967 when they introduced Aquagirl as a “wild, wet and wacky” new character in the Aquaman comics. Believe it or not, Aquagirl survived and hung around for about 20 years, and she even became a member of the Teen Titans in the 1980s. Fortunately, the character was killed off in the mini-series Crisis On Infinite Earth. Ironically, although perhaps befitting, Aquagirl actually drowned when she died. Bizarre, right? The water she was in at the time of her death was purportedly poisoned. Still, there are more fitting ways to kill off a character whose only superpower was that she could breathe underwater. Pretty pathetic all around.
5. Krypto the Superdog, Supergirl, Superboy and Jimmy Olsen (Superman)
Has anyone had a worse string of sidekicks than Superman? Why would DC Comics feel that the world’s most indestructible superhero needs any sidekicks in the first place? But sidekicks he has had over the years, and there have been some doozies. Supergirl and Superboy have been annoying for no other reason than they are the same as Superman but designed to appeal to younger readers. Jimmy Olsen seems to do nothing but get into trouble so that Superman can save him time and again. And Krypto the Superdog is, well, just plain wrong. Poor Superman. It’s like his only weakness besides Kryptonite is lame sidekicks. If anyone can handle things on his own, it should be Superman. Sadly, Krypto the Superdog proved popular enough to get his own animated television series in 2005. Fortunately, the show was canceled after two seasons. Sadly, Superdog was one of many super pets featured in Superman over the years. Anyone remember Beppo the Super Monkey?
4. H.E.R.B.I.E. (The Fantastic Four)
Where to start with H.E.R.B.I.E. from The Fantastic Four? First appearing in the 1979 Fantastic Four animated series, H.E.R.B.I.E. was created because producers of the cartoon show were unable to use the Human Torch due to a dispute over the character’s rights. To replace Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, the producers of the TV show came up with a robot sidekick in the vein of R2-D2 and C-3P0 called H.E.R.B.I.E. Sadly, the character of H.E.R.B.I.E. was integrated into the Marvel comic books and served to both help the Fantastic Four fight crime and also look after the team’s headquarters, The Baxter Buildingi—even serving as a nanny of sorts to Reed Richards and Sue Storm’s son Franklin. By the way, the acronym H.E.R.B.I.E. stands for Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics. All the kids know that!
3. Snapper Carr (Justice League of America)
When it comes to useless sidekicks, Snapper Carr pretty much takes the cake. He’s a regular guy with no super powers who never gets into a fight. He’s known as “Snapper” because of his penchant for snapping his fingers when happy. Why he’s been associated with the Justice League of America since their formation in the 1960s is anybody’s guess. Like many sidekicks, Snapper Carr seems to exist to get into trouble so the superheroes associated with him have someone to rescue. The character of Snapper Carr even divorced himself from the Justice League after the Joker tricked him into disclosing the location of the JLA’s headquarters. Silly regular folk. Don’t you know you should never trust a super villain?! This is one sidekick who should never have been invented.
2. Ace the Bat-Hound (Batman)
We had to acknowledge that Batman, too, has had some pretty bad sidekicks over the years, none worse than Ace the Bat-Hound, which first appeared in Batman comics in 1955. Generally speaking, pets are never a good idea for sidekicks. We’ve already mentioned Beppo the Super Monkey, right? And while some of the many Robins over the years have been hit and miss, no sidekick was more of a disgrace to the Dark Knight than Ace the Bat-Hound. Complete with a mask similar to Batman’s, Ace helped Batman and Robin on many cases throughout the late 1950s and through the 1960s. He was like Lassie with superpowers such as agility, stamina and heightened senses. Basically, Ace was a regular dog with a heightened sense of smell. The irony is that Batman has always been most effective as a solo artist. He doesn’t need any sidekicks, let alone a masked dog. Give us a break, already.
1. Uncle Marvel (Captain Marvel)
What were they thinking? In 1943, DC Comics introduced Uncle Marvel in the Captain Marvel comic series. Uncle Marvel was a charlatan who claimed to be related to the super-powered “Marvel family,” and was cast as a deadbeat who was trying to worm his way into the lives of Captain Marvel and his real family. Fortunately, Captain Marvel saw through the ruse, yet he inexplicably decided to keep Uncle Marvel around as his “manager,” despite Uncle Marvel’s lies, deception and untrustworthy motives. And why does a superhero need a manager anyway? Used as comic relief, Uncle Marvel was played for laughs and always seemed to pretend to have super powers in life-threatening situations that required Captain Marvel to rescue him. Unfortunately, nobody really found any of this funny and the plot device got old real quick. Oh, Uncle Marvel!