Not all sidekicks get to be Harley Quinn. Comic book sidekicks are usually either liabilities who get in the way or a source of comic relief. If the sidekick is actually a capable hero, he or she often parts ways with his partner and stars working solo. Just look at Batman and Dick “Nightwing” Grayson. Or Batman and Jason “Red Hood” Todd. Or, say, Batman and Tim ” Red Robin” Drake. Funny how these things always seem to happen to Batman. It’s almost like he’s some kind of a jerk.
But by far the worst fate for any sidekick is to be altogether dropped from the comic books by its creators. And although old comic book properties get revived all the time nowadays, by Marvel and DC Comics alike, it’s hard to imagine a fan base clamoring for the return of the likes of Pinky the Whiz Kid or Percival Popp, the Super-Cop.
Today, we’re taking a look at some of these obsolete supporting characters with our list of 16 Comic Book Sidekicks That Time Forgot.
16. Bob the Goon – Batman (1989)
As impossible as it may seem, not many people today remember Bob the Goon. Bob, whose very name used to strike fear into the hearts of men! Bob the Goon – aka Robert “Crazy Bob” Capistrano, aka Robert “Bob” Hawkins, aka That One Guy With a Fedora – is an original character created for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie where he makes his first, last, and only appearance.
Bob the Goon was played by Tracey Walter, a veteran character actor with over 150 roles, which include appearances in Conan the Destroyer (1984), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Independence Day (1996). Bob is Jack Napier’s (Jack Nicholson) main henchman, who remains loyal to his boss even after Napier falls into a vat of industrial chemical waste, gets horribly disfigured and goes violently insane, thus becoming the Joker. As a reward, the Joker shoots Bob in a hissy fit after Batman spoils his plans to poison Gotham City. Serves you right, Bob!
15. Zach the Fifth Turtle – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
The Ninja Turtles have come a long way since their humble beginnings. They were created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as a parody of bad TV shows and then-popular comics like Frank Miller’s Ronin and Marvel Comics’ Daredevil. Since then, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown into a brand that includes numerous comic books, at least three animated TV shows and five live-action movies.
Zach the Fifth Turtle was introduced in the third season episode of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV show. He’s a young kid – he claims to be “almost fourteen” – who believes the Ninja Turtles are real and wants to help them fight evil. Although at first he is more of a hindrance then help, he eventually gets accepted by the teenage crime fighters, who name him “The Fifth Turtle”. Zach’s older brother Walt at first makes fun of him, but later becomes accepted himself into the team as well as “The Sixth Turtle”.
14. Pieface – Green Lantern
Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Thomas “Pieface” Kalmaku first made his appearance in 1960 as an airplane mechanic working for Hal Jordan, a test pilot and the second Green Lantern. It’s Jordan who gives Thomas his derogatory nickname, which Thomas readily accepts because, hey, it’s the 1960s. It’s not as if Jordan is travelling all across the universe and meets strange aliens that should make him more tolerant of an Inuit mechanic.
Over time though, Jordan’s – and the writers’ – behavior towards Kalmaku changes. In the 2002 graphic novel Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan, Kalmaku honors the memory of his now dead friend by reconstructing the planet Oa and the Great Battery. The 2008 storyline Green Lantern: Secret Origin retcons the story of Pieface so that it’s some other hotshot pilot who gives the Inuit mechanic this stupid nickname, and it’s actually Hal Jordan who defends Thomas, but longtime comic readers know better.
13. Brute and Glob – Sandman
Originally created in the late 1930s, the Sandman was Wesley Dodds, a gas-masked vigilante wielding a special gas gun that put criminals to sleep. In 1974, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby turned the Sandman into a superhero protecting a young boy named Jed Walker from nightmares. Later retconed into being scientist Dr. Garrett Sanford, this version of the Sandman was helped by the two imprisoned nightmare sidekicks: Brute and Glob.
Over the years, Brute and Glob occasionally re-appeared in the other DC comic books, baffling both the younger readers and those unfamiliar with their origin story. Their most memorable appearance was in Neil Gaiman-penned The Sandman. In his darker and edgier version, Brute and Glob are actually masterminds who take over the dreams of Jed Walker and manipulate Dr. Sanford hoping to create a new king of dreams, at least until he kills himself. As a punishment for their transgressions, Dream – the real Sandman – exiles Brute and Glob into a realm of pleasing childhood dreams, which is a torture for two wannabe dream-rulers.
12. Woozy Winks – Plastic Man
Despite his super-powers, Plastic Man often seems like a comic relief sidekick compared to other DC superheroes like Superman or Wonder Woman. If you happen to subscribe to this way of thinking, this would make Woozy Winks a sidekick’s sidekick. Plastic-Man first appeared in the August 1941 issue of Police Comics. Woozy joined him about a year later and the two have been inseparable since.
Overweight and not-too-bright, Woozy at first had a superpower – earned after he saved a wizard’s life – that allowed him to survive all accidents. In later stories, Woozy’s superpower wears off, leaving him a mere lovable liability with a questionable fashion sense. And yet, Woozy can hold his own in a fight and occasionally even proves himself a surprisingly useful source of information. Woozy appeared in all of his 1940s goofiness in the animated TV show Batman: The Brave and the Bold, to the bafflement of many a comic book fan who had never even heard of him.
11. Pinky the Whiz Kid – Mr. Scarlet
Pinky the Whiz Kid must be one of the more unfortunate names in the comic book history. His mentor, Mr. Scarlet, is a skilled athlete and an acrobat who fights crime dressed in a bright red costume. In his everyday life, Mr. Scarlet is the local district attorney Brian Butler, while Pinky is Butler’s adopted son Pinkerton. So successful is Mr. Scarlet in preventing crime that he ends up out of work as an attorney.
Originally created by France Herron and Jack Kirby in 1940, Mr. Scarlet and Pinky the Whiz Kid pretty much disappeared from the comic books after World War II. They re-surfaced in the 1970s for a brief team-up with the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America, after which they joined Shazam’s Squadron of Justice. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event in the 1980s, it was revealed that Pinky Butler took over his father’s mantle after he died.
10. Sparky – Blue Beetle
Sometimes it seems that silly names used to be a prerequisite for a career in sidekicking. This is probably why Sparkington J. Northrup, an adopted son of the British Lord Wellington of Suppleshire, manages to become Sparky – a sidekick of vigilante/superhero Blue Beetle.
Created by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski, Blue Beetle made his first appearance in 1939 on the pages of Mystery Men Comics #1. The first incarnation of the heroic character is a secret identity of Dan Garret, a rookie cop whose father was killed by criminals. As Blue Beetle, he fights street crime dressed in a lightweight bullet-proof suit and aided by a special vitamin that grants him superhuman strength. Blue Beetle and Sparky – later nicknamed Spunky – were popular enough to get their own radio show. However, in the aftermath of World War II, Blue Beetle shared the fate of many other Golden Age superheroes whose comic books folded due to a drop in sales. He was revived in the 1960s by DC Comics, but without his entirely forgettable sidekick.
9. Golden Girl – Captain America
Long before Peggy Carter, Captain America had another sidekick/love interest – Golden Girl! Not to be confused with a certain 1980s sitcom about four elderly ladies, Golden Girl appears alongside Captain America and Bucky Barnes in the very first issue of Captain America Comics, published in March of 1941.
Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Golden Girl is actually Betsy Ross, a member of the U.S. Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps who dates Private Steve Rogers without knowing his secret identity. Over time though, Betsy changes from a mere supporting character into a heroic agent. At first, she investigates enemy spy rings, but later Jeffrey Mace – the third Captain America – trains her as his sidekick Golden Girl. Decades later, after Mace dies of cancer, Betsy moves to Valhalla Villas, a retirement community for ex-heroes. Golden Girl is among other Golden Age heroes who get briefly rejuvenated during the 2015 Secret Wars crossover event, but you probably still forgot she existed.
8. Proty – Superboy
Over the years, Superboy has accumulated quite a menagerie of sidekicks. There’s an entire organization called the Legion of Super-Pets which includes Krypto the Super-Dog, Streaky the Supercat, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Comet the Super-Horse and, most alien of them all, Protean Beast of Antares or Proty.
There are at least three versions of Proty in DC Comics. What all of them have in common is that they are intelligent globs of protoplasmic goo that can take any shape and change their form at will. The first Proty is rescued from an alien zoo by the Legion of Super-Heroes. Later, Proty I sacrifices itself to save the life of Lightning Lad. Proty II soon takes his place and earns membership in the Legion of Super-Pets. Finally, the mid-1990s crossover event Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! turned Proty into a last surviving member of the Protean invasion force that tried (and failed) to conquer Earth.
7. Ilda – Star Hawkins
Star Hawkins is a down-on-his-luck private detective in the sci-fi future of 2079. He investigates futuristic crimes, often involving alien races and other planets. Star is usually accompanied by his robotic secretary Ilda, aka Robot F2324. Even though Star occasionally pawns Ilda to get some temporary cash, she stays by his side. Created by John Broome and Mike Sekowsky, Star Hawkins made his first appearance in the March 1960 issue of DC Comics’ sci-fi anthology title Strange Adventures. He appeared in only 21 issues.
Star Hawkins and Ilda made a brief comeback in the 2014 comic book series Threshold, in which Keith Giffen and Tom Raney explored various old sci-fi characters owned by DC Comics. In it, a decidedly more human-looking Ilda is presented as Star Hawkins’ ex-wife whose robotic body gets destroyed in a struggle against the Brainiac. However, since Star keeps her memory chip, he later orders a new body for her.
6. Cryll – Space Ranger
Space Ranger is yet another DC Comics sci-fi superhero, albeit one you’re unlikely to know a ton about. Rick Starr lives in the 22nd century as a heir to his father’s business empire. However, Rick is far more interested in fighting mad scientists, space pirates and sinister space invaders as Space Ranger, Guardian of the Solar System!
Space Ranger also has his sidekick/mascot: a goofy space creature called Cryll. Cryll is a pink, rotund, trunk-snouted shape-changer found frozen by Space Ranger in an orbit behind planet Pluto. Space Ranger and Cryll mostly adventured on the pages of Tales of the Unexpected from 1959 until 1964, and since then, they only sporadically appeared in various comic books. Most memorably, they are characters in a short story Without You I’m Nothing by Evan Dorkin and Steven Weissman. In it, Cryll is one of many forgotten DC sidekicks who, after failing to organize themselves as their own superhero team, start a AA-type organization to help others of their kind.
5. Sir Butch – Shining Knight
Despite being a genuine Knight of the Round Table, Shining Knight was never really a superhero A-lister. This explains how he ends up with a sidekick like Sir Butch of Beeler’s Alley, aka Butch Boyle of Brooklyn. With a metal pot on his head and a wooden sword in his hand, Sir Butch of Beeler’s Alley accompanies Shining Knight in his numerous adventures.
Created by Creig Flessel in 1941, Shining Knight used to be Sir Justin, the youngest of King Arthur’s knights. After the evil ogre Blunderbore buries him underneath an avalanche, Sir Justin and his steed Winged Victory spend 1000 years frozen in ice. Awakened in the 20th century, Shining Knight assumes the alias Justin Arthur and continues fighting evil as Shining Knight. Naturally, Shining Knight is in a need of a decent squire. He finds one in Butch Boyle, a tough streetwise kid speaking with a heavy Brooklyn accent. At one point, Shining Knight even becomes a personal bodyguard to Winston Churchill!
4. Percival Popp, the Super-Cop – The Spectre
As created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily in 1940, the superhero The Spectre was hardcore. After policeman Jim Corrigan is murdered in an ambush, he’s brought back to life and given a array of powers to wreak vengeance among the criminals. As The Spectre, he can fly, pass through walls, turn evildoers to ice and then leave them to melt or fly them to space just to scare them.
Unfortunately, even The Spectre couldn’t fight declining sales, so a comic relief sidekick was introduced in December of 1941: Percival Popp, the Super Cop. A wannabe detective, Percival is such a big fan of the recently resurrected Corrigan that he hides in his car trunk, just for a chance to meet him. Since Corrigan has already faced death, he’s unfazed by the little creep’s behavior. Over time, Popp’s misadventures took over the comic book until the Spectre was relegated to an occasional Deus Ex Machina of the comic world. Thankfully, the end of the Golden Age also meant the end of Percival Popp, the Super Cop.
3. Stuff the Chinatown Kid – Vigilante
Golden Age comic books of the 1930s and 1940s have their share of racially-offensive sidekicks. One of the rare exceptions is Stuff the Chinatown Kid, a sidekick of a country singer Greg Sanders who operates as a western-themed vigilante known as, well, Vigilante. Too bad Stuff falls in love with a mobster’s porn actress.
Stuff’s real name is Jimmy Leong. Raised in New York’s Chinatown by his grandfather Lin Chou, Jimmy is presented as a brave all-American sidekick who just happens to be Asian. Unfortunately, Jimmy got killed by the Vigilante’s arch-nemesis The Dummy in a 1977 issue of World’s Finest. However, in the 1995 miniseries City Lights, Prairie Justice comes up with a much crazier story in which adult Jimmy Leong gets murdered by none other than real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel after falling in love with one of the actresses working in famous mobster’s adult movies. That’s a story you don’t see often in superhero comic books!
2. Jim Wilson – The Incredible Hulk
Poor Jim Wilson. Introduced as the Hulk’s sidekick in the 1970s, he virtually disappeared from the comics throughout the 1980s and returned in 1991 only to immediately get diagnosed as HIV-positive. Jim first appeared in the September 1970 issue of The Incredible Hulk as a homeless kid in Los Angeles who meets the Hulk by accident.
Somehow, the angry young man and the angry green giant become friends. Throughout the 1970s, Jim helps the Hulk and other heroes fight numerous foes. He also learns that Falcon is in fact his uncle, Sam Wilson. Jim was dropped from the comic books around 1980, but returned in the late 1980s when the readers learned he’s been diagnosed with AIDS. In a controversial storyline written by Peter David. Hulk refuses to give Jim a blood transfusion that might cure him, afraid that it might instead turn Jim into a monster. Jim Wilson has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk, where he’s played by P. J. Kerr.
1. Gaggy – The Joker
Did you know that the Joker used to have a sidekick before Bob the Goon and Harley Quinn? Long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and comic books cost a nickel and a dime, the Joker had a sidekick called Gaggy. First introduced in the November 1966 issue of Batman, Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy is a former circus acrobat and a dwarf dressed in a harlequin costume. Gaggy also has a suitably creepy super power to shatter glass using ear-piercing shrieks. He was truly a sidekick worthy of the Clown Prince of Crime!
Apparently, the editors at DC Comics concluded that Gaggy was a bit too much, so they quietly retired him after his single appearance. It took four decades for Gaggy to re-emerge in all of his Tim Burton-esque glory. In the comic book series Gotham City Sirens, Gaggy appears as a villain jealous of his far sexier successor, Harley Quinn. Luckily for Harley, Catwoman and Poison Ivy save her from the miniscule menace.
So, what are your favorite forgotten sidekicks? Which of them should make a comeback? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!