5 Ways DC Sidekicks Are Outdated (& Why They’re Still Interesting)

AbraxasOctober 8, 2021


The sidekick is a venerable institution in comics and some of the most well known come from DC. Sidekicks have been a part of DC’s respected roster of heroes for a long time, almost since the very beginning. DC has created some of the most powerful sidekicks of all time over a respectable 80 years of history – but not every newcomer can be a Robin.

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DC’s sidekicks have grown and changed with the time, becoming linchpins of the publisher’s line. While sidekicks were all the rage for a long time – especially during Teen Titans‘ heyday – they often come off as a relic of a bygone era.


10 Outdated: There Have Been So Many Failed Sidekicks

Tempest and Red Hood

Sidekicks like Captain Marvel Jr./Shazam Jr., Jason Todd, and the original Aqualad had a lot of problems connecting with audiences, with some struggling for years before rebounding when put into new roles.

DC history is littered with sidekicks who have fallen to the wayside for a variety of reasons. It often feels like the concept only works for certain sidekicks, ones who have been around forever – but often times, even they aren’t safe.

9 Still Interesting: Legacy Characters Bring New Interpretations

Robins Squad Jason Tim Dick Steph and Damian

Legacy is a big part of the DC Universe and sidekicks are a huge part of that.There have been multiple Robins over the years, fans still argue over which Wonder Girl is better, and Green Arrow has had so many sidekicks he has a rewards card at the orphanage. Each new version of a sidekick is a new interpretation, changing the mantle and making it something new. It helps keep the concept fresh even though it’s often one of the more stodgy aspects of the DC Universe.

8 Outdated: Original Heroes Set The Bar Too High

The Flash Wally West

DC’s original class of sidekicks have become some of the greatest heroes of all time. Dick Grayson became Nightwing and over time has turned into one of DC’s most beloved characters. Wally West is so great that his fans like him more than Barry Allen, considering Wally the best Flash ever. Donna Troy is DC’s Jean Grey, loved in a way that her mentor isn’t.

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These original sidekicks have set the bar so high that there’s really no way to match them. Every Kid Flash after Wally fails on the big stage. Dick Grayson is still the quintessential Robin and has grown into one of DC’s greatest heroes. Donna Troy might not have the stories behind her the other two do, but she’s taken center stage more than Cassie. Their success has basically nuked any chance their successors have most of the time.

7 Still Interesting: Legends Have To Start Somewhere

Dick Grayson may have set the bar high, but he’s also the perfect example of why sidekicks are still a great idea. Dick Grayson is Batman’s greatest success, as well as one of DC’s. Dick’s legend began gradually, as he was merely meant as a touchstone character for Batman’s young fans. As the years went by, Robin became so much more.

When Dick was finally allowed to come into his own in the ’80s, the character proved just how great and beloved he was. He started from the simple roots of a sidekick and forged his own identity outside of Batman, making an argument for why sidekicks will always be vital.

6 Outdated: Sidekick Names Leave Something To Be Desired

Aqualad Teen Titans

One of the problems with a lot of sidekick names is that they were created to remind readers of the adult heroes they worked with, but they just aren’t great – especially from a modern standpoint.While ‘Robin’ works pretty well, all of  the”Kid” this, “Girl” that, et cetera sound vaguely ridiculous. They’re definitely of their time and on top of that, it’s unbelievable that any teenager would be okay with being called a kid, as evidenced by Conner Kent when he first appeared during “The Reign of the Supermen.”

5 Still Interesting: Sidekicks Are The Linchpins Of The Teen Titans And Young Justice

DC’s teen teams are some of the best in comics and that wouldn’t be possible without sidekicks. While both teams have their share of original characters, their rosters have been anchored by sidekicks. They are the ones who have gotten readers to pay attention to these books; without names like Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, or Superboy, neither book would exist.

DC tried to do a Teen Titans without sidekicks in the mid-90s and the book has been completely lost to the mists of time, even though some of the book’s teen heroes were pretty great. People love Teen Titans and Young Justice, and their existence is enough to make an argument for sidekicks.

4 Outdated: Sidekicks Don’t Even Work With Their Heroes Anymore

One of the weirdest things about sidekicks in modern DC comics is how little they actually work with their respective mentors. Damian Wayne, for instance, is sometimes in Batman books, but he’s mostly off doing his own thing with Teen Titans or by himself. Kid Flash is rarely in the Flash books. Jon Kent started spending more time away from Superman than with him.

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Calling these characters sidekicks anymore doesn’t really make a lot of sense. They’ve become heroes in their own rights, part of their own legacies that barely intersect with those characters who were meant to be their mentors.

3 Still Interesting: Sidekicks Are A Great Way To Introduce New Characters

New characters are a hard sell in comics. Fans like the characters they know and introducing new characters from whole cloth doesn’t always do very well. Putting new characters into established mantles can be dicey because most people like Bruce Wayne as Batman; replacing him doesn’t always work. Sidekicks are a different story.

Sidekicks have been traded out for a variety of reasons over the years and plenty of beloved characters have been introduced as sidekicks, like Tim Drake, Cassie Sandsmark, Wallace West, and more. People are used to sidekicks getting replaced so there isn’t as much of an uproar.

2 Outdated: Sidekicks Have Long Outgrown Their Purpose

Originally, sidekicks like Robin and Speedy were introduced to give the kids reading comics someone who was just like them to look to. The comic market was more juvenile back then and it was reasoned that kids would want to have a character that was like them next to the heroes they loved. It was basically wish fulfillment. Nowadays, children are not usually fans of superhero comics and when they are, it’s not because there’s a character that reminds them of themselves. The purpose of the sidekick has long ended.

1 Still Interesting: Sidekicks Are One Of The Last Bastions Of Actual Character Growth In Comics

Superhero comics can be remarkably static. Superman is pretty much always going to be Superman, barring some small changes. Batman is always recognizably Batman. These characters have reached a state of equilibrium where there’s minor changes allowed, but they’re still fundamentally the same character no matter what and that’s just the way it goes.

Sidekicks change. Sidekicks grow. By their nature as younger heroes, they’re always maturing and becoming something different, growing up in front of readers’ eyes. Sidekicks can grow as characters in ways that their mentors don’t anymore.

NEXT: DC: 10 Times Heroes & Their Villains Teamed Up


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