Thursday, April 19, 2018 • Morning Edition • "The comic book industry's inflamed butthole."

Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake

Written by Arion on Sunday, June 08 2014 and posted in Blog
Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake
When I read the first issue of Sidekick I knew I had found exactly the kind of series I was looking for. It was a much needed incursion into the sidekick culture –an interesting, cruel and bold analysis of the figure of the teenager assistant of an adult hero– and Straczynski combined humor, sexuality and power in one sweeping narrative.

What else can I say? I’ve always felt fascinated with the ambiguous nature of those young heroes that live with mature men. Is it a relationship based purely on admiration? Or is it something else, something akin to the ties between the erastês (ἐραστής) and the erômenos (ἐρώμενος) from Ancient Greece? These are relevant questions, and although Sidekick is an audacious title I’m afraid they will be left unanswered.

Certainly, at the beginning I thought Sidekick would be reminiscent of radical titles such as Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack (a cruel and ironic story about a Robin-like teenager who is traumatized after living with a sexually depraved Batman-like character), it seems to me now that J M Straczynski is shying away from the most controversial subject: “Sidekick is the tale of a declining sidekick on the downward slide into madness”, and not the tale, I might add, of sexual innuendo, perversion and abuse that might have scandalized most –if not all– readers. 
Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake

In issues 4 through 6, we discover more about Julia Moonglow’s dark past and her rather sinister plans regarding Flyboy’s future. She has been responsible for discrediting him and ruining his reputation, but at the same time, by pushing the kid over the edge she has awaken something in him, something disturbing, ferocious and terrifying.

The initial mystery of Red Cowl’s disappearance is explored further. Soon, it becomes obvious for Barry that his beloved mentor was the world’s greatest liar. He isn’t dead, he faked his own demise so he could enjoy an hedonistic lifestyle without worrying for the consequences of his actions. Finding out the truth is a painful blow to Barry. He has been abandoned, he has been humiliated, he has been insulted and rejected by every citizen in Sol City, but only now he is hitting rock bottom.

So in many ways this is a saga about redemption and revenge, all mixed up in one furious journey. Personally, I think it’s interesting to observe how Flyboy starts killing superheroes, completely forgetting his past as one of the good guys. Sure, some of you might say that this ‘good guy turned into bad guy’ premise isn’t terribly original, but I think JMS handles it with literary aplomb.

Of course, Sidekick wouldn’t be so impressive without the art of Tom Mandrake. I’ve been a fan of Mandrake for years. Surely many fans consider him famous for his runs in “Martian Manhunter” and “Night Force”, nevertheless the first time I saw his amazing work was in the pages of “Arion, Lord of Atlantis”, one of my favorite DC titles from the 80s. As you can see, it’s no coincidence that my nom de plume is Arion. Like I told Straczynski, Tom Mandrake was more than enough incentive for me to pick up this new series. By the way, in case you missed my letter –published in issue 3 and answered by Straczynski himself– simply click here to read it.
Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake
Flyboy remembers the past / Flyboy recuerda el pasado

Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake
Julia Moonglow & Flyboy 
Cuando leí el primer número de “Sidekick”, supe que había encontrado exactamente el tipo de colección que estaba buscando. Era una muy necesaria incursión en la cultura de los aliados juveniles –un análisis interesante, cruel y atrevido de la figura del ayudante adolescente y el héroe adulto– y Straczynski combinaba humor, sexualidad y poder en una atrayente narrativa.

¿Qué más puedo decir? Siempre me he sentido fascinado por la naturaleza ambigua de estos jóvenes héroes que viven con hombres maduros. ¿Es una relación basada puramente en la admiración? ¿O es algo más, algo similar a los vínculos entre el erastês (ἐραστής) y el erômenos (ἐρώμενος) de la Antigua Grecia? Estas son preguntas relevantes, y aunque "Sidekick" es una serie audaz me temo que no serán respondidas. 

Ciertamente, al inicio pensé que "Sidekick" me haría recordar títulos radicales como  "Brat Pack" de Rick Veitch (una cruel e irónica historia sobre un adolescente parecido a Robin que termina traumatizado después de vivir con un personaje sexualmente depravado parecido a Batman), ahora me parece que J M Straczynski está huyendo de estos temas controversiales: “Sidekick es el relato de un ayudante juvenil que desciende hacia la locura”, y no el relato, podría añadir, de insinuación sexual, perversión y abuso que podría haber escandalizado a muchos lectores, o a todos ellos.

Sidekick # 4, 5 6 - J M Straczynski Tom Mandrake
The killing begins / la matanza comienza
En los números 4 a 6, descubrimos más sobre el pasado oscuro de Julia Moonglow y sus planes bastantes siniestros en relación al futuro de Flyboy. Ella ha sido la responsable de desacreditarlo y arruinar su reputación, pero al mismo tiempo, al empujar al muchacho hasta el borde del abismo, ha despertado algo en él, algo perturbador, feroz y terrorífico.

El misterio inicial de la desaparición de Red Cowl es explorado aún más. Pronto, para Barry resulta obvio que su dichoso mentor era el mayor mentiroso del mundo. No está muerto, fingió su propia muerte para poder disfrutar de un estilo de vida hedonista sin preocuparse por las consecuencias de sus actos. Descubrir la verdad es un doloroso golpe para Barry. Ha sido abandonado, humillado, insultado y rechazado por todos los ciudadanos de Sol City, pero sólo ahora cae hasta el fondo. 

Así que de muchas maneras esta es una saga sobre redención y venganza, todo mezclado en una furiosa travesía. Personalmente, creo que es interesante observar cómo Flyboy empieza a matar superhéroes, olvidando completamente su pasado como uno de los chicos buenos. Seguro, algunos podrían decir que esta premisa de 'bueno que se convierte en malo' no es terriblemente original, pero creo que JMS la maneja con aplomo literario. 

Por supuesto, “Sidekick” no sería tan impresionante sin el arte de Tom Mandrake. He sido fan de Mandrake por años. Seguramente será famoso para muchos fans por sus etapas en “Martian Manhunter” y “Night Force”, no obstante, la primera vez que vi su asombroso trabajo fue en las páginas de “Arion, Lord of Atlantis”, una de mis colecciones favoritas de DC de los 80s. Como pueden ver, no es ninguna coincidencia que mi nom de plume sea Arion. Como le dije a Straczynski, Tom Mandrake fue un incentivo más que suficiente para hacerme comprar esta miniserie. Por cierto, en caso de que se hayan perdido mi carta –publicada en el número 3 y respondida por el propio Straczynski– simplemente hagan click aquí para leerla.

Originally Published at


Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:

Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook

We get it. You don't feel like signing up for an Outhouse account, even though it's FREE and EASY! That's okay. You can comment with your Facebook account below and we'll take care of adding it to the stream above. But you really should consider getting a full Outhouse account, which will allow you to quote posts, choose an avatar and sig, and comment on our forums too. If that sounds good to you, sign up for an Outhouse account by clicking here.

Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:

About the Author - Arion

Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog - – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.


More articles from Arion
The Outhouse is not responsible for any butthurt incurred by reading this website. All original content copyright the author. Banner by Ali Jaffery - he's available for commission!