Saturday, August 11, 2012
Sidekicks by Jack D. Ferraiolo
• Super powers are a must
• Cool superhero name
• Distinct costume (colored tights are classic)
• Trademark catchphrase
• Corny one-liners and sound-bites
• Decent bad guy, arch nemesis preferred (makes the superhero look even cooler)
• News media on hand
(to capture every heroic moment)
• . . . Last, but not necessarily least, a sidekick (to be the goofball to the superhero’s coolness and to draw in the youth demographic)
Phantom Justice’s sidekick is Bright Boy, who comes with an appropriately bright red and yellow uniform complete with tights. It was cool when Bright Boy was actually a boy, and it pulled in the younger audience, but now Scott Hutchinson, Bright Boy’s alter ego, is a teenager who has outgrown his tights, literally. After an embarrassing incident involving these bright yellow tights, it is no surprise Scott questions the necessity of tights and has other things on his mind, like how he feels about being a sidekick and his lack of a personal life. Things reach crisis point with the re-appearance of Phantom Justice’s arch nemesis, Dr. Chaotic, in tow with Bright Boy’s arch nemesis sidekick, Monkey Wrench. As if Scott needs more drama in his life, it turns out Monkey Wrench is one of the most popular kids at his school. Things are not what they seem, and it's not just secret identities.
Sidekicks is a hilariously fun take on superhero (and sidekick) clichés. Who says you can only find superheroes in the comics? This could be a comic book without illustrations. Readers get a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide for superheroes and villains (and sidekicks), like how holding hostages and demanding ransom works, proper timing for trash talking, behavioral expectations for confrontations with the enemy, and maintaining appropriate images (for ratings and marketing purposes). Readers get a well-rounded read: Fast paced, full of action, lots of laugh-out-loud moments, great characters, funny and engaging dialogue, and plenty of twists, seasoned with a bit of betrayal, conspiracy, and romance. Superheroes usually get the spotlight, so it is a refreshing change to see things from the sidekick’s perspective, and a teenager, with teen worries, is an even better fit to tell this story.
Look for Sidekicks on the VBPL Catalog. Try Ferraiolo’s other teen work, The Big Splash, a funny junior high noir. For a teen take on super villains, read Andy Briggs’ Villain.net series about how an average bully downloads superpowers to become a villain, which starts with Council of Evil. Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge’s Icarus Project adult series have fun with the commercialization of superheroes (see review for Black and White).