Let’s face it, Superman doesn’t really need a sidekick. When you can bench press the weight of the Earth five days straight and look like Henry Cavill, having others around will probably just hold you back and get in the way of all that handsome. But there’s more to being a right-hand hero than just picking up the super-slack and making your partner look good. Which is why, like many of his fellow alpha heroes, the Man of Tomorrow has found reason to have the occasional consort by his side.
After all, superheroing can be a lonely business, and even the steeliest of do-gooders could use a friend or two now and again. What’s more, the Big Blue Boy Scout is no stranger to being in a bind or needing a helping hand to get him out of a fight and back to bathtubbing with Lois faster. Considering that, it should come as a no surprise that he’s teamed up with a number of people (and animals) over the years who have shown a spirit for upholding truth, justice, and the subordinate way.
Here are Every One of Superman’s Sidekicks, Ranked Worst to Best.
10. Superboy (Jon Kent)
There’s a new Superboy in town. The original Boy of Steel was, as you might have guessed, Superman himself. Way back in the 1940s, the first run of Superboy stories featured the adventures of a young Clark Kent saving the day in Smallville. Since then the character has gone through a confusing slew of revamps and iterations. But it’s only fitting now, in the world of Rebirth, that the mantle be passed to Superman’s son.
Jonathan Samuel Kent grew up idolizing the now-deceased New 52 Superman, never knowing that his father was actually an older and all-around more awesome version of the hero. Once he found out, and realized that he too had superhuman powers, it wasn’t long before Jon was tagging along on world-saving adventures. After already having survived a run in with Doomsday and coming into his own against the Eradicator, the new Superboy is poised to help protect the planet alongside his father. Time will tell where Jon will rank amongst Superman’s past partners, but for the first time in forever it looks like the Man of Steel has a true sidekick (who isn’t a dog).
9. Chloe Sullivan
Chloe Sullivan was a sidekick to Smallville’s Clark Kent in everything but name, especially during the show’s early seasons. After all, her portrayer Allison Mack was nominated seven consecutive times for the Teen Choice Sidekick Award, winning twice. Other than Clark, Chloe is the only character to appear throughout the entire duration of the show’s 11 seasons. And for good reason. Be it getting into small-town Kansas-related hijinks or stopping a creepy EMT Doomsday from ruining her Metropolis wedding, Chloe is always by Clark’s side to watch as he saves the day.
Allison Mack’s character started off as a school paper editor harboring unrequited feelings for the young Man of Steel but would go on to work at the Daily Planet, possess extraterrestrial superpowers, and, under the codename Watchtower, assume the role of Justice League mission coordinator (read: superhero secretary). She would also marry (and divorce) Jimmy Olsen and have a kid with second husband Oliver Queen, AKA the Green Arrow. Throughout all that though, her most important role in the show was as teenage Superman’s best friend and sidekick.
8. Krypto Mouse
The amazing adventures of Krypto Mouse began in Smallville around the same time a young Clark Kent was coming into his own as the first Superboy. A local kid throws away his pet mouse only for it to stumble into the lab of the mad scientistProfessor Egglehead, who’s experimenting on kryptonite. One thing leads to another and the mouse is bequeathed with super-strength and invulnerability. Also, he grows five-feet tall and puts on a Superboy Halloween costume. Behold, Fuzzy the Super Mouse was born.
In his first and only canon appearance, Krypto Mouse didn’t do much but attack some cat-related businesses in Smallville and get involved with a “Pied Piper” parade. He did however mange to help protect Superboy’s secret identity when Lana Lang was about to stumble upon Clark Kent changing– by being a huge cape-wearing mouse and causing Lana to run away screaming. Soon after that the effects of the experiment wore off and Fuzzy turned back into a normal mouse. Unfortunately, Fuzzy was never inducted into the Legion of Super Pets. This is either due to his being erased from existence following Crisis on Infinite Earths or because he’s scared of being eaten by Supergirl’s pet and longtime LSP member, Streaky the Supercat. Either way, Krypto Mouse would get his turn to shine when he later appeared in a recurring role helping the Man of Steel in Superman Family Adventures, only now mouse-sized and able to talk.
Calling Steel a sidekick might be a bit of a stretch, and if he ever heard us refer to him as one, he’d probably slam us with his massive sledgehammer. But he did model his entire superhero persona after Superman, help his mentor fight cosmic crime, and have his greatest powers listed as heart and determination. That sounds an awful like side-kicking to us.
After John Henry Irons was rescued from a falling skyscraper by Superman and challenged to make something of his life, the former weapons engineer did what any of us would do and built a bullet proof suit of armor whose pneumatic joints gave him superhuman strength. Then when Superman died in his fight against Doomsday, Irons tried to fill his red boots by continuing to keep Metropolis safe under the moniker “the Man of Steel.” When Supes returned, and following a brief stint with the Justice League, Steel became his proud partner, helping rebuild the Fortress of Solitude and even forming “Team Superman” (which included Supergirl and Superboy). Oh, and don’t forget to [insert requisite Shaquille O’Neal joke here].
6. Beppo the Super-Monkey
Any superhero worth their salt has a pet monkey. For Superman, it’s Beppo. This overpowered primate combines all the abilities of the Man of Steel with all the mischievousness of a tiny monkey. Originally a test animal used by Superman’s father to develop the spaceship that would save his son, when the time came to launch baby Kal-El into space, the monkey stowed aboard the craft and hitched a one-way ticket to Earth. Since he is a Kryptonian monkey, upon arriving on Earth, Beppo naturally gained all the same powers under the yellow sun.
Over the years the Simian of Steel would make several appearances, usually in ape-related matters or as a member of the Legion of Super Pets. He also has the rare distinction of having fought alongside Clark Kent as Superbaby, Superboy, and Superman. Most of the time, Beppo stays in the jungle doing pretty much whatever he wants– because he can shoot fire out of his eyes– but when called upon, or if there’s a banana around, Super-Monkey swings into action by Big Blue’s side.
5. Superboy (Kon-El)
In between Superman’s younger days as Superboy and Jon Kent’s new tenure, there was Kon-El. This Teen of Steel was engineered as a clone to replace Superman following the hero’s death against Doomsday, combining genetic material from Supes and Lex Luthor. Artificially aged into his mid-teens, Kon was implanted with all the proper ’90s knowledge befitting someone his age (hence the leather jacket).
Originally annoyed at anyone calling him Superboy, the Metropolis Kid accepted the role after Superman returned. During a heart-to-heart in the Fortress of Solitude, Big Blue welcomed his clone hybrid into the family, bestowing him with a Kryptonian name and providing him a home in Smallville as Connor Kent. Eventually Kon became a part of Steel’s “Team Superman” and a founding member of Young Justice with fellow sidekicks Robin and Wonder Girl. Later on like all good superheroes, he would die, come back, get retconned, and hit on Supergirl, though not before taking off that stupid leather jacket and putting on a much cooler black T-shirt with an ‘S’ on the chest.
We know a lot about the Boy Wonder. For example, he was inspired by Robin Hood and almost looked like Marlon Wayans. And of course, most famously, we know he has been Batman’s faithful ward for over seventy years. But many people don’t know that Robin has also worked as Superman’s sidekick from time to time. While the Boy Wonder may consider the Dark Knight his mentor, he absolutely idolizes the Man of Steel and jumps at any chance to ride on his back. So influential has Superman been on Robin’s career that he even inspired Dick Grayson to become Nightwing.
Most of their team-ups came during the Silver Age. The first of these happened in 1955’s World’s Finest Comics #75 when Batman cons his friends into believing he has a broken leg but is in fact dying from a terminal disease. This results in Superman taking his place and responding to the Bat-signal for a little while with Robin. In a later issue, they re-team when Clark Kent is reporting on an antiwar demonstration at Robin’s college, only for Superman to get abducted by some aliens seeking to drain him of his powers. Luckily, Robin frees Supes long enough for him to destroy the villains using mental bolts. (Superman has a lot of crazy powers.)
This new Dynamic Duo have had several more pairings that involved everything from fighting vampires to battling an evil circus, from Superman doing Robin’s geometry homework to getting their own toy line. Overall, throughout Robin’s fifty-plus years of occasional Superman side-kicking, he’s taught the Man of Steel the value of having a partner and provided us with this memorable fist bump.
3. Supergirl (Kara El-Zor)
Superman and Supergirl have had a weird relationship over the years, especially during the Silver Age. And it pretty much started right after Kara El-Zor landed on Earth. Despite being older than Kal-El (and possibly even stronger), the older-looking Superman assumed parental authority over his female cousin, putting her in an orphanage and forbidding her to show any signs of her true identity. Then, whenever he would get in trouble or need assistance, the Creep of Steel would call upon Kara to help save the day, dubbing her his secret weapon. Or as we like to call it – slave sidekick.
Supergirl has had some pretty horrible moments over the years, but her time spent as Superman’s “secret weapon” might rank as her most demeaning. Though that’s not say their partnership wasn’t incredibly successful, both on and off the page, quickly turning her into a fan favorite. Thanks in part to this growing popularity, Kara would eventually leave the orphanage and go off to college. From there, the Girl of Steel forged a prosperous superheroic career of her own and a more healthy relationship with her cousin, even sacrificing herself to save him along with the rest of the universe during Crisis on Infinite Earths. But for a time, this pre-Crisis affiliation between Superman and Supergirl was one of the most disturbing superhero pairings in comics. Besides Batman and Robin.
2. Jimmy Olsen
James Bartholomew Olsen is the epitome of a good, loyal sidekick. After all, even Robin branched out on his own. But not Jimmy. Everyone’s favorite Daily Planet office boy, this budding photojournalist has always been destined to take a backseat to the likes of Lois and Clark, and act as a one-man cheerleading squad for the Man of Steel. Even his comical Silver Age solo effort was called, “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.”
Nonetheless, Jimmy is one of the most iconic comic characters ever created. Though he may not possess any abilities of gallant worth or actively get involved in meaningful lifesaving pursuits other than, uh, needing to be rescued, Jimmy has burrowed a unique niche as an iconic sidekick on the premise of merely being a good friend. While nearly every other comic character has gone through a range of identity changes and retcons, Jimmy has miraculously managed to remain the same (other than his brief stint as Superman’s crime fighting sidekick, Flamebird). Over the past century, few things have been more reliable than good old red-headed Jimmy Olsen being by Superman’s side wearing a bow tie. So perhaps this young budding journalist does have a notable sidekick superpower after all – the power of reliability.
1. Krypto the Superdog
You know what they say: Kryptonian dogs are a Superman’s best friend. Possessing all the same sun-borne abilities as his master combined with the hyper-senses of a loyal canine, Krypto the Superdog is as good a sidekick as anyone could hope for. Krypto has so many wonderful things going on that he is more than deserving of his own post. Which all adds up to one undeniable fact: There are few things more enjoyable than the image of a little white dog faithfully flying beside Superman in a fluttering red cape.
Krypto, as you might have guessed, came from Krypton. Before risking the life of his son (and Beppo), Zor-El tested his interstellar spacecraft by sending the El family dog into space. Along the way, Krypto got knocked off course for a while before finally landing on Earth, where he was reunited with a young Kal-El and kept as the Kent family farm dog. Over the years, Krypto has had quite the career of aiding Superman in fighting the worst the universe has to offer, while also serving as a valued member of both the Legion of Super-Pets and Space Canine Patrol Agents. Krypto has so much sidekicking to offer that he’s even helped out Superboy, Supergirl and Batman, and even gotten his own totally awesome Canadian-American TV show.
Most recently the Hound of Steel has made a triumphant return in Rebirth, where he sacrifices himself to save Superman’s son, Jon, from being eaten by the Eradicator. To honor the fallen dog, Jon fastens Krypto’s cape around his own neck to complete his transformation into Superboy. Not long after, Krypto revives to join his new friend in reclaiming his rightful spot by his supermaster’s side.
Honorable Mention: The Justice League
Like we said earlier, Superman doesn’t really need sidekicks. Thanks to some impressively inflated writing, no one can keep up with him or add anything that he doesn’t already bring to the overpowered table. Which is why anyone who works with the Man of Tomorrow is essentially playing second fiddle. Hence, the entire Justice League are his sidekicks.
Remember that first time Doomsday attacked the planet, and pretty much everyone in the JLA was scrambling to distract him long enough for Superman to take control and single-handedly bring down the Kryptonian beast. That’s what you call sidekicking. It might usually take the entire Justice League, and then some, to save the day when the universe is threatened with some mass-extinction event, but more often than not it’s Superman that delivers the final victorious blow.
Our Worlds at War? Superman punch-murders both Imperiex and Brainiac back to the Big Bang. Crisis on Infinite Earths? Earth-Two geezer Superman punch-murders Anti-Monitor into the sun. Infinite Crisis? Superman punch-murders bratty Superboy Prime all over Mogo. Final Crisis? Superman sing-murders Bon Jovi to obliterate Darkseid. Sure, there are way too many crises in the DCU, but no matter how many come our way, guaranteed Superman will be there to punch things right as the Justice League stands confidently behind him.
Honorable Mention: Batman
Hold on. What? Who could say that Batman is Superman’s sidekick with a straight face? Well, Webster that’s who. According to our trusty pocket dictionaries a “sidekick” is defined as, “a person closely associated with another as a partner or subordinate.” There’s little argument over who’s the subordinate here, superpower-wise. That’s not to say Bats can’t beat Supes, but it does make a strong case for him being a sidekick.
Though, based on the above definition, Superman could just as easily be misconstrued as Batman’s sidekick, too. Or perhaps they are just equal partners in protecting the planet. But when push comes to shove, Superman is a natural leader representing the moral glue that holds the likes of the Justice League together, with a matching charisma to bring the best out of his fellow teammates. Batman on the other hand, gets mooned by them.
Of course Batman could care less about dictionaries and their definitions, and we wouldn’t dare call him a sidekick to his face for fear he’d beat us, and Krypto too.
Did we miss any of Superman’s pseudo-sidekicks? Tell us in the comments.