Sidekicks are an integral part of comic books, serving alongside superheroes as they save the day time and time again. These characters have become icons in their own right. But they often lack the recognition that their hero counterparts get. So, it’s time to give these characters the credit they deserve.
Bob is a fan favorite character. He appears in the Marvel Universe as Deadpool’s sometimes sidekick. Deadpool’s feelings toward Bob vacillate depending on the specific series. Bob’s contribution to Deadpool’s well-being (well, whatever passes for well-being for Deadpool) can’t be ignored. Bob defected from HYDRA when Deadpool broke into the organization’s headquarters in order to save Agent X. Bob supplied the Merc with valuable insight into HYDRA’s inner workings. Since then, HYDRA Bob has been present for many of the antihero’s greatest antics–getting a nod in the 2016 movie.
Dum Dum Dugan
A member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Howling Commandos, Dum Dum Dugan is best known as Nick Fury’s sidekick. And he has a great deal of page time in his own right. But he got his start helping Fury out after he saved the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader from Nazi’s in World War 2. Fury relies so much on Dugan he had his personality uploaded into an android (a “life model decoy”) to keep him going after the original Dugan was killed in a mission in the 50’s.
Some might argue that Bucky doesn’t really count as a sidekick because he’s now a hero in his own right. But we disagree. Bucky got his start as a member ofCaptain America’s team. He even joined Rogers on his first mission against Red Skull. During World War 2, Bucky was a constant companion of the good Captain. Like many other Marvel sidekicks, Bucky was soon molded into a hero in his own right. He first took a long detour as the villain version of the Winter Soldier. Then eventually took over the Captain America mantel. Currently a hero, the Winter Soldier would never have become the crime fighter he is had it not been for Roger’s tutelage.
We could make a strong argument that all of the X-Men are Charles Xavier’s sidekicks, but we’ll save that for another time. Instead, let’s highlight one of the best hero sidekick relationships in the long history of the X-Men franchise–Wolverine and Jubilee. Jubilee was first inducted into the X-Men after saving Wolverine from Reavers. After that, she joins the man on several missions, illustrating first hand how useful she is by saving Wolverine time and time again. Their relationship immediately takes on a father/daughter dynamic. Jubilee is constantly prodding at the older X-Men member and Wolverine doing everything he can to protect her.
Jim Rhodes has evolved from his sidekick beginning, becoming a superhero in his own right. For decades, Rhodes (Rhodey to Tony Stark) has piloted a version of the Iron Man suit known as War Machine. A former military commander and pilot, he met Tony Stark when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. After they successfully teamed up to escape, Rhodes and Stark forged a lasting friendship that developed into partnership. Stark trusted Rhodes to back him up in any crises. Rhodes even took over the Iron Man mantle when Stark was unable to safely fill the roll, However, the suit hadn’t been properly calibrated to Rhodes’s brain.
The history of black characters in comic books has often been controversial and exploitative, However, the legacy of some has helped to define the public consciousness of race and culture. Black representation is still an uphill fight. But comic books are at the forefront of this fight, bringing characters of color to the forefront of the media.
There is still a great deal of work to be done. But creators and fans alike can unite through the fantastic characters that have come onto the scene in recent decades. These characters of color celebrate black lives in all forms. In honor of Black History month, here’s a countdown of some of our favorite black heroes.
War MachineAlias: James Rupert Rhodes
Rhodes is best known for his inclusion in Iron Man’sarsenal of suited support, However, War Machine is a hero in his own right. He’s taken on such evil-doers as Obediah Stane and Hydra. He’s not just a part of Iron Man’sshadow, but a leader and a hero. Not only does he kick badie-butt, but he’s also a brilliant aviation engineer and a Marine in the US military. Rhodes also served as Iron Man for a stint filling in for Tony Stark when he was too inebriated to fly. War Machine single-handedly saving Stark Tower from the villain Magma. That’s just the beginning of Jimmy Rhodes road to super herodom. He later became the director of Worldwatch and the CEO of Stark Industries. Check War Machine out in Marvel’s War Machine Classic trade paperback by Scott Benson for a taste of what he has to offer.
Blade Alias: Eric Brooks
Maybe you know him best as played by Wesley Snipes in his millennium-spanning movie series about vampire hunting. But this unlikely superhero got his start in Marvel comics as a side character in the lesser-known title Tomb of Dracula. While his story got its start there, he’s had a much longer and more popular run as a leading man. His origin story alone sets him apart from your average comic character.
Born in a brothel, Blade’s mother was killed by a vampire (Deacon Frost) who had disguised himself as a doctor brought in to help assist with his birth. Frost feasted on Blade’s mother, in so doing passing on vampiric enzymes to the newborn Brooks and effectively infecting him with a modified version of the vampirism. He gained super strength, a lengthened lifespan, the ability to sense other supernatural beings and an immunity to other vampiric effects. After training for several years with vampire hunter Jamal Afari, Blade put these powers into action by traveling around the world to kill evil beings wherever he can find them. You can find Blade in the eponymous series, as a member or the Avengers, and in Blade: Black and White.
IronheartAlias: Riri Williams
If you are unfamiliar with Ironheart, you need to get yourself acquainted with her comics as quickly possible. Williams is currently the protege to Tony Stark. She started out as a fifteen year-old super genius attending M.I.T. Haunted by the memory of a violent incident that left both her stepfather and best friend dead, Riri built her own version of the Iron Man Armor suit using materials she stole from her campus. After catching wind of Riri, Stark officially took her under his wing and helped her to become a full blown superhero–Ironheart. After the second superhero civil war, Riri even built an A.I. version of Stark to help guide her heroing when the real billionaire was put into a coma. Ironheart’s story is still unfolding in the Invincible Iron Man comic series.
Spider-ManAlias: Miles Morales
Miles Morales is probably the best known of a new generation of superheroes, having taken up the mantle of Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, Morales was bitten by a mutated Oz Corporation spider. As a result, he has superpowers similar to the original Spider-Man’s, but with a few twists. Morales, like Parker, is also driven by a similar motivation to do good for his city. He is Black Hispanic and grew up in New York,. His experience is a perfect starting point for conversations about race in the realm of comic books. And writers of the series are not afraid to approach that subject. While his story isn’t as expansive as his mentor Peter Parker’s is yet, there are enough comics out there to be a little intimidating. So, a good place to start is the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.
Luke Cage (Power Man) Alias: Carl Lucas
Luke Cage was the very first black hero to have his own title. Debuting in 1972, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire came out at the height of Blaxploitation. Despite this, he’s become a particularly powerful representative for the black experience in the superhero genre. He’s imbued with super-strength, and unbreakable after being forced into involuntary medical experimentation. Cage has had a storied history. He’s gone from working as a mercenary “hero for hire” to partnering up with The Fantastic Four to fight off Doctor Doom. He’s used his powers to defend the people of his Harlem home. Find Luke Cage in his own title trade Luke Cage: Avenger or the ongoing Power Man and Iron Fist series.
Storm Alias: Ororo Monroe
Storm is best known for affiliation with the Marvel comics team X-Men. Before being part of the X-Men, she was tragically orphaned when her parents were killed by an airplane crashing into their Cairo home. Left alone, Orora sought out her mother’s ancestral home in the Serengeti desert. There she was trained to respect and hone her powers, which had been passed through several generations of her family. After meeting with the X-Men, she learned the true nature of her magic (a mutant gene just like the rest of the team) and set about using them to better the world around her. Orora has seen a great deal of action in other titles like Marvel Team-Up and Black Panther. The best Storm story has to go to X-Men: Worlds Apart. Otherwise, you can find her story continuing to unfold in the Uncanny X-Men series.
Green Lantern Alias: John Stewart
John Stewart became DC’s first African American superhero when he took up the mantle of the Green Lantern in 1971. Since then, his story has helped to define a generation of DC comics. Originally selected by the Green Lantern Corps as a backup for Hal Jordan, Stewart has served as a Lantern several times. He eventually became the first Guardian of the Universe- the Master Builder- during the Green Lantern Mosaic arc. Stewart’s incredibly keen intellect and preternatural will power makes him not only one of the most dynamic Green Lanterns, but one of the most remarkable characters in the DC universe. While you can find Stewart throughout most of the Green Lantern arcs after the early seventies, we recommend checking out Blackest Night or Green Lantern Corps: The Lost Army.
Spawn Alias: Al Simmons
Al Simmons was a highly skilled Marine who learned too much about the nature of the CIA. In death, Simmons is Spawn, a demonic assassin with supernatural abilities and a huge agenda. Charged with battling both the forces of heaven and hell in order to hold a balance in the universe, Spawn is the anti-hero to end them all. Spawn’s long crusade has pitted him against street criminals, gods and everything in between. While originally conceived of by Todd MacFarlan, Spawn stories have been written by a number of other comics luminaries such as Alan Moore and Brian Michael Bendis. The best place to pick up the Spawn series is in its very beginning with Spawn Origins.
FalconAlias: Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson was originally a social worker and former soldier. He was kidnapped by Red Skull after his plane crashed. Villain Red Skull used a Cosmic Cube to give Wilson the power to communicate telepathically with birds. While Red Skull was attempting to craft Wilson into a minion of Hydra, he was rescued by Captain America. The two quickly became friends and Steve Rogers helped to hone Wilson into the superhero Falcon.
After rescuing Black Panther, the Wakandan king gifted Wilson with a suit that would enable him to fly. He uses his ability to communicate with birds, his suit, and his will to do right by the world. Sam Wilson is a shaping force behind the Avengers team and the entire Marvel Universe. While best known for his service as Falcon, Sam Wilson was also selected by Steve Rogers as his official replacement as Captain America when he had aged out of the role. Find Sam’s origins in Captain America Epic Collection: Coming of Falcon or follow his current series Captain America Sam Wilson.
Black Panther Alias: T’Challa
King T’Challa Wakanda is without doubt one of the most powerful superheroes both on the page and outside of it. Widely considered the first true black superhero, Black Panther is fan favorite. His power and influence makes him fight against injustice and racism throughout the world. Black Panther is powerful in all senses of the word. He’s got physical strength and political pull as the king of technologically advanced African country Wakanda. He uses his power to unite people across the world. Black Panther’s story has spanned decades. He’s teamed up with just about everyone imaginable in the Marvel Universe from the Avengers to the X-Men. If you’re new to Black Panther, check out the incredible new series by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.
Who else would you include on the list? And, which black heroes do you wish would get more attention in the future? Leave your answers in the comments below.
The newest incarnation of Iron Man (Ironheart, really) is hovering over New York City, surrounded by 20+ versions of Tony Stark’s iconic armor. Stefano Caselli’s artwork paints the grim picture as this new champion begins her hero’s journey.
It’s a test created by Stark, her would-be mentor and the personality of her suit’s artificial intelligence. With Stark presumed dead following Civil War II, his consciousness is haunting Williams like a techno ghost. And it’s helping her to grow from being a genius teenage tinkerer into a full-blown hero.
Driving the narrative is writer Brian Michael Bendis, who transforms the story of a relatively mundane training exercise into a compelling tale through flashbacks. This helps to give us more insight into Williams’ character. Like most heroes, Williams has a tragic past, which comes to light as the story progresses.
Riri’s Training to Take Over
As usual, Stark in Bendis’ hands is always fun to read. But this AI version of Stark is more of a wise Yoda than the cocky Han Solo. So some of the best lines come from the young trainee, who complains as she is being pummeled by Stark’s autonomous armor, “You know, technically this is child abuse.”
It will be fun to see the Stark-Williams dynamic plays out, particularly as Bendis introduces real adversaries. We get a glimpse of the baddies that will haunt Ironheart at the end of the issue. This can only mean one thing–the best is yet to come.
Many people have worn the signature yellow and red suit since Iron Man debuted in March of 1963 in Tales of Suspense #39.
Others taking on the Iron Man mantle (including Tony Stark, Happy Hogan, Eddie March, Michael O’Brien, Carl Walker, Weasel Willis, Clarence Ward, Eddie March, Mary Jane Watson, Norman Osborn, James Rhodes, and Pepper Potts) wore armor built for them by, loaned to them by, or stolen from Tony Stark.
But in Invincible Iron Man #1 is different. And so is Riri Williams. She’s a 15 year-old M.I.T. student, who built her own suit by reverse engineering one of Stark’s suits and repurposing materials she found around campus.
A New, Self-Made Hero
Invincible Iron Man was originally intended to follow the Civil War II miniseries, which hasn’t wrapped up yet. Because of this, writer Brian Michael Bendis tiptoes around the details of Tony Stark’s inability to continue as Iron Man. It’s clear, however, that Stark is no longer in the picture. This is Riri’s show, and it’s a very good one.
Bendis’ script cuts between flashback sequences and a present that sees Riri taking on her first supervillain, Animax. We get to see Riri grow from an awkward grade schooler into an awkward teenager. She also has the added burden of being labeled a super genius before puberty. This heartfelt personal introduction runs the gamut from tender to tenacious.
The clean, realistic art by Stefano Caselli is on point. Facial expressions, action sequences, and light sources are accurate and believable. Marte Gracia brings a vibrant palette that lifts the art off the page. The art team sells the script in a way that makes this a very fun comic to read.
The latest character to don the heroic Iron Man armor is no hero at all.
Victor von Doom, the evil scientist, sorcerer, dictator and all around megalomaniac, has been a changed man since the events of the most recent Secret Wars. He is intent on righting his many, many wrongs.
In Infamous Iron Man #1, Doom sees a golden opportunity to do just that with Tony Stark’s demise. But is Stark dead? Incapacitated? Imprisoned? Spirited off to another dimension? You’ll need to wait until the end of Civil War IIto find out, true believers!
However, Stark does make a welcome appearance, of sorts, in the book, providing a much needed foil to Doom. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is in his element firing off Starkisms that you can practically hear Robert Downey Jr. spewing at a lightning pace. Stark chides his would-be successor who is inspecting Stark’s hall of armor, “There’s nothing you here you couldn’t build yourself…eventually.”
The book builds upon the foundation that Bendis and artist Alex Maleev established in the recent International Iron Man. As a result, Infamous Iron Man #1 feels like a natural evolution for the title as well as the character. That’s not an easy thing to do when dealing with a baddie as nefarious as Doom.
Bendis and team have a lot of questions to answer in the coming months: What happened to Stark? What are Doom’s true intentions? What will happen when Doom meets Stark’s other successor, Ironheart Riri Williams?
It may take some time to learn those answers, but, so far, the journey looks to be well worth the wait.
Can’t get enought of Victor von Doom? Check out more Dr. Doom.
The Avengers erroneously believed that Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, was lost forever, killed by his diabolical creation, Ultron. After Hank returned to Earth, claiming that he and Ultron had merged peacefully, it didn’t take long for the sinister Pymtron to attack the Avengers. The Unity Squad called on the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, and Vision for backup and initiated the mysterious Project Icarus, which begins by summoning a massive HulkbusterIron Man to join the battle.
The Uncanny Avengers#12 opens right where the last chapter left off, with Hulkbuster Iron Man and Pymtron squaring off. After Pymtron loses the scuffle and is contained in the Hulkbuster armor, half the team jumps into a spaceship with their oddly restrained captive.
It doesn’t take long before Pymtron begins busting out of the improvised prison. Whatever Project Icarus is (there’s a huge hint in the name), it doesn’t stand a chance of working if the Avengers can’t keep Pymtron neutralized long enough to reach their destination.
This issue wraps up The Man Who Fell to Earth. While the story hit all the major points, I feel like the arc could have been drawn out over several more issues. It only took until the cover of the second chapter in the story for the nature of Pymtron to be revealed. The only explanation I can think of for the rushed development of high spots in this story is the inclusion of The Uncanny Avengers in the Marvel Summer crossover event. The Uncanny Avengers#13 will see the team take on Captain America Steve Rogers in Civil War II.
Readers are finally starting to see the impact of Civil War II – which pits Tony Stark’s Iron Man faction against Carol Danvers’ Ms. Marvel Brigade – in the pages of the core Iron Man book. Iron Man has been off in Japan dealing with threats to his company, only to come back to the US and find the smoking pit that was once Stark Tower.
Through a series of flashbacks, writer Brian Michael Bendis walks us through the events of the Civil War II, including the loss of Stark’s best friend (and one-time Iron Man) James Rhodes (War Machine). We learn the Stark board of directors has lost faith in Tony and is trying to oust him. Meanwhile, Bendis is setting up the post-Civil War storyline by filling us in on Riri Williams, the wunderkind who is about to take over the title this fall with armor she created herself. It also lays the groundwork for the fall’s related title, Infamous Iron Man, in which Dr. Doom becomes yet another version of the character.
While Invincible Iron Man #12 lacks much in the way of action, it’s a needed transition as we move back from Stark’s Asian adventures and begin to look to the future. To his credit, Bendis never lets the story feel unimportant even though nary a repulsor is fired over the course of the issue. Will we see fireworks in the future? Count on it. Will Stark be the one to fire them? That part is unclear.
Once again, this week was a really good one for comics fans. With so many great comics hitting the stands, it was hard to limit ourselves to just a few titles from this week’s new releases. Check out our other New Comic Book Day blog articles so see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!
SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.
This issue kicks off Marvel’s X-Men Apocalypse Wars with a bang! How will Apocalypse make his presence known, and who will be his new horsemen, carrying out his bidding to free the world for his new era of mutant-kind? In this new issue of the amazing Extraordinary X-Men ongoing series, see what happens when Logan and Storm learn of a new spike in Cerebra’s readings. Is Colossus’s newly formed team of X-Men ready for what they’re about to walk into? What will it mean for the future of mutants, and even the world itself? How will Magik help out her new protégé, Sapna, in controlling and understanding her new power?
There will be plenty of surprises and special guests to round out an exciting addition to this new story in the X-universe. Jeff Lemire brings his unique take to the long and storied history of the X-Men, turning a fresh eye to the classic story of Apocalypse, and he’s accompanied by the amazing art of Humberto Ramos. Now it’s just a matter of time to see if the X-Men are up to the task of fighting back the mutant power known as . . . Apocalypse! [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]
The long awaited issue of Superman #50 has finally come out! We meet Superman as he is head to head with Vandal Savage, a long-time villain he’s tackled before. Savage takes him to an alternate reality as he grows stronger from a comet heading towards Earth. Showing Superman what could be if Vandal came into power. Superman is plopped down to an alternate universe where his parents are still alive and he’s still with them as a boy! His parents keep thanking the “High Chief” that the planet is still together.
Can anyone take a guess on who this high chief is? As Superman fights his way to Vandal, he reminds himself that being strong is not always the most important thing — it’s the commitment to his choices that are his true power. Will Superman ever get out of this alternate Universe? Find out in Superman #50! [Darcey M. at Universal TFAW]
For the uninitiated, this will serve as an entry point to the zany, fun world of Archer and Armstrong. For those back on the ride, you will definitely want to keep your arms inside the vehicle for the duration of this. Either way you slice it, this comedic adventure title is going to be a great time for you!
Archer was raised by the heads of a religious cult in their theme park, and honed as a deadly weapon to assassinate the immortal Armstrong (brother of the “Eternal Warrior” Gilad, and Ivar “The Timewalker”) but on his mission, he discovered that Armstrong was not the great evil that he was led to believe.
They teamed up, became pals, and the rest is history. As for how ‘the Adventures of Archer & Armstrong’ or ‘A+A’ goes, Armstrong has a magical satchel which is essentially a portal to another dimension, where goblins catalog and keep the items he puts in it so that he can retrieve what he needs at a moment’s notice. We finally get a glimpse of what it is like inside, as Armstrong goes in to the bag to retrieve a lost item deep within. Archer goes in after him, and we are off on another zany adventure with a big bad trapped in the bag, and forgotten about for thousands of years. [Casey D. at TFAW.com]
VISUALLY BREATHTAKING…is the first thing that must be said about this comic. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that didn’t share that opinion. Go ahead, try.
This story continues to display the Marjorie Liu’s extraordinary ability to transport you into another world. Maika, Ren and Kippa are still on the run from the Cumaea AND the Federation but they seem to have caught a second to breath. In addition to catching up with the trio, we are blessed with more back story; questions that are extremely important and that have been on our minds since the beginning are answered in Monstress #4!
Marjorie Liu has created a world that terrifies me but also makes me envious. Sana Takeda’s artwork is a dreamscape of wonderful imagery that perfectly complements the story. [Sean W. at Milwaukie TFAW]
Much of this issue is spent on backstory that will serve the rest of this arc, but we do get to see a flashback of a younger Tony Stark back in his school days, working on the timeless art of seduction.
Bendis’ writing is always top notch — nothing new there. He has such a great grasp of the character and it almost seems like Robert Downey Jr. and the Marvel movie screenwriters are paying close attention to Bendis’ every move.
Alex Maleev’s art is always fantastic. True to form, Maleev delivers captivating, fully fleshed-out art that just begs the reader to slow down and drink it all in. Bendis and Maleev are like Cap & Bucky, Wolverine & Collossus, Iron Man & War Machine — a perfect pairing such that every time they are working together, you’re in for one of the best times that comics have to offer.
It’s a great jumping-on point for new readers as well as a great companion to Bendis/Marquez’s Iron Man run as well. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]
What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!
Don’t know where to start when it comes to the Marvel Universe? You’re in luck, friend. The House of Ideas has taken a cue from DC and will be rebooting much of their line with #1 issues in the coming months. They’re calling this reboot Marvel NOW! Featured in the image here is the Marvel NOW Point One issue. It’ll get you up to speed on what’s going on.
Check out our TFAW Newsletter to learn more about other Marvel NOW! titles like Uncanny Avengers, Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men, and many more. We recently added the new series to the website, so search for “marvel now” (without the quotes) or drop by our special Marvel NOW! page at TFAW to see ’em all–seriously, you gotta check it out.
There’s never been a better time to start reading these Marvel books!
Check out our video below. MILD SPOILER ALERT! We’ll avoid any big spoilers, but we will give out a few details as we go. So were these comics and items Box-Worthy, Fence-Worthy, or NOT Worthy? Listen to our opinions and then post your own below.