Not all superheroes are created equal, and the same rule applies for their sidekicks. For every Robin, Batgirl and Harley Quinn, there are about a dozen or so sidekicks nobody really cares about. And sometimes… sometimes you get sidekicks that comic book fans actively hate.
Throughout its 80 plus years of history, American comic books have accumulated their fair share of bad sidekicks – from merely goofy and annoying to the downright reprehensible. Screen Rant’s list of Worst Superhero Sidekicks Of All Time digs into some of the worst comic cohorts that the superheroes of Marvel and DC have been cursed with.
11. Alpha – Spider-Man
Andy Maguire is just an ordinary high-school kid until the day a lab accident gives him super powers. Wait, that sounds oddly similar to Spider-Man‘s origin story! Except this time it is Peter Parker‘s experiment that gives someone superpowers, turning Andy into Spider-Man’s sidekick Alpha.
Unfortunately, poor Andy just doesn’t have what it takes. Unpopular, unsuccessful and unloved, Alpha proves himself a hapless superhero despite Spider-Man’s mentoring. Instead, Alpha gets lured by the fame and money into becoming a corporate shill for the very firm responsible for his accident. This is somewhat understandable since Alpha is just a kid, but Spider-Man fans wouldn’t have it. Created by Humberto Ramos and Dan Slott, Alpha first appeared in the August 2012 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Three issues later, he’d already lost most of his powers, and he’s rarely been seen since.
10. H.E.R.B.I.E. – Fantastic Four
H.E.R.B.I.E. – or Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics – was co-created in the late 1970s by Stan Lee and artist Dave Cockrum, the latter of which reportedly hated the character so much that he was soon replaced with Jack Kirby. H.E.R.B.I.E. was specifically made for the 1978 Fantastic Four TV cartoon as a replacement for Human Torch, whom creators couldn’t use due to copyright issues. As might have been expected, a robot combining the most annoying features of R2-D2 and C-3P0 proved itself a poor replacement for Johnny Storm.
H.E.R.B.I.E. was then imported into the comic book storyline, first appearing in an August 1979 issue of Fantastic Four. His origin story is definitely on the meta side of things, as the real-life Fantastic Four cartoon seems to exist in the comic book universe as well. Dr. Reed Richards uses the robot character featured in this cartoon as an inspiration to build H.E.R.B.I.E. who then mostly serves as a housekeeper for the team’s home base inside the Baxter Building.
9. Snapper Carr – Justice League
It’s always funny when corporations try and fail to get in tune with the teenagers. Snapper Carr, the hippest cat to ever walk among the squares, is one such failure. Introduced in the February 1960 issue of The Brave and the Bold, Lucas “Snapper” Carr is a bland pretty boy whose only distinguishing feature seems to be his constant need to snap his fingers, just like those beatniks do! Hence the nickname, daddy-o!
Overwhelmed by Snapper’s extreme hipness, Justice League of America adopts him like a puppy and turns him into their unofficial mascot. Throughout the decades, Snapper Carr occasionally helps the League despite having no discernible skills whatsoever. In the late 1980s, Snapper finally became a superhero himself, gaining the ability to teleport. Snapper also appeared in the animated TV shows Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, but only as a TV reporter.
8. Doiby Dickles – Green Lantern
In summer of 1940, artist Martin Nodell created Green Lantern – a superhero armed with a magic ring that gives him the ability to create hard light constructs through sheer willpower. Who could possibly be a perfect sidekick for such an incredible hero? Why, a chubby, middle-aged cab driver, of course!
Created by Bill Finger and Irwin Hasen, Charles “Doiby” Dickles first appeared in a June 1941 issue of All-American Comics, helping Green Lantern defeat some street thugs with his trusty pipe-wrench and thick Brooklyn accent. Under the slogan “Soivice that don’t make youse noivice,” this tough, streetwise New Yorker helped Green Lantern over the next seven years. Eventually Doiby Dickles marries a space princess and retires as a king of his own planet, proving that being a sidekick is a pretty great gig if you can get it.
7. Uncle Marvel – Captain Marvel
In a world of superheroes, pretending to be one totally makes sense, especially if you’re a balding, overweight con-man trying to worm his way into the hearts of an entire family of superheroes. What could possibly go wrong with this plan? As Dudley H. Dudley — aka Uncle Marvel — demonstrates, pretty much everything.
Created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze, Uncle Marvel made his bumbling debut in 1943 in Wow Comics #18. After accidentally learning about Mary Marvel’s super powers, Dudley comes up with the bright idea of needlessly endangering himself by dressing in a spandex costume and acting like a superhero, despite having no superpowers. For some reason, Captain Marvel (now known as Shazam) let the old cook join their ranks, where he very successfully gets in the way of their heroic deeds. By the end of the Golden Age of comics, writers decided to retire Uncle Marvin to a farm upstate where he could play with all the other embarrassing sidekicks.
6. Beppo the Super-Monkey – Superboy
The logic behind Beppo the Super-Monkey sounds pretty straightforward: if kids like monkeys and superheroes, they’ll go bananas over a superhero monkey! Actually, that does sound pretty cool, but Beppo was nothing more than super-powered comic relief dressed in Superman’s costume. Created by Otto Binder and George Papp, he first appeared in an October 1959 issue of Superboy.
But this Simian of Steel wasn’t the only super-powered animal around. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Superman got a whole menagerie of super pets, such as Krypto the Superdog, Streaky the Supercat and Comet the Super-Horse (more on him later). In fact, there were so many super-powered pets that they formed an all-animal version of the Justice League of America, called the Legion of Super-Pets. Can you imagine all of these super animals zipping around in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? They would have made that movie glorious to behold.
5. Etta Candy – Wonder Woman
At first glance, Wonder Woman‘s sidekick Etta Candy seems to be the ultimate overweight friend whose main purpose is to make the Amazonian princess appear even more awesome in comparison. Etta can be seen either as a positive female role-model who openly accepts her looks or as a bumbling Texan who can’t stop babbling about candy while exclaiming her signature phrase “Woo! Woo!” Or maybe she’s both. Etta is large; she contains multitudes.
Etta Candy was created in 1942 by Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston, and made her debut in the second issue of the Sensation Comics. But as the times changed, so did Etta. Throughout the 1940s she was mostly presented as a chubby, yet spirited sidekick. She pretty much disappeared from the comics through the next couple of decades, but made something of a comeback in the 1990s, when Etta was re-introduced as a capable officer in the Air Force who was insecure about her looks. Eventually, Etta does gain some self-confidence and even marries Wonder Woman’s former crush Steve Trevor. “Woo! Woo!” indeed.
Side Note: While the character has seemingly been confirmed for the WWI-era portion of the upcoming Wonder Woman solo movie, her role as Diana Prince’s trusted cohort is rumored to have been snatched up by a tiger, oddly enough.
4. Wing – Crimson Avenger
And now we go from merely ridiculous sidekicks to the downright embarrassing, like the openly racist comic relief Wing. Wing first appeared in a October 1938 issue of Detective Comics. A Chinese refugee who escapes to the U.S. from his war-torn homeland, Wing quickly learns just enough English to land a job as a driver for the newspaper publisher Lee Walter Travis. As Travis becomes the vigilante hero Crimson Avenger, Wang helps him in his missions. So far, so good.
However, as superhero comics became more popular, the Crimson Avenger got revamped into a superhero. Wing was re-costumed as well — into a buck-toothed, slant-eyed goblin sporting a bright yellow uniform and speaking in broken English, which was all just hilarious by 1940s standards. In one of the newer reboots of the DC Comics universe, Wing was recast as a young news cameraman filming a rampage of the supervillain Solomon Grundy.
3. Steamboat – Captain Marvel
It wasn’t only the Asian-Americans who got racially stereotyped in early comic books. Case in point: Steamboat, one of Captain Marvel’s early comical comrades. Drawn as a grotesque parody of an African-American, Steamboat really stood out — in a bad way — in a comic book where most of the other characters were drawn at least semi-realistically.
The worst thing about Steamboat wasn’t that he was loud, stupid, and practically illiterate, but that he was intended to be a positive representation of the African-Americans. As a trusty valet to Captain Marvel’s alter-ego Billy Batson, Steamboat was there to be obedient and subservient to a much younger kid. Luckily for everyone, writers realized that Steamboat was even more embarrassing than Uncle Marvin, so he was quietly dropped and forgotten by the end of the second World War.
2. Ebony White – The Spirit
By far the most famous creation by the celebrated comic book artist Will Eisner, The Spirit is a masked vigilante fighting street crime in an unspecified 1940s metropolis (no, not that Metropolis). While Eisner’s comic book is rightfully celebrated for its art and its clever use of film noir tropes, the same cannot be said about Spirit’s sidekick, a cab driver named Ebony White.
In Eisner’s comic, Ebony appears as a caricature of an African-American straight out of a minstrel show. Even poor Ebony’s name is a pun, one about as clever as getting punched in the eye. On the other hand, The Spirit and Ebony have been consistently portrayed by Eisner as having a friendly relationship, even becoming roommates at one point. Over time, the character of Ebony White drew considerable criticism, but Eisner himself saw no problem with his creation. Nevertheless, in the rebooted 2007 big screen adaptation of The Spirit, Ebony White was revamped into a capable street-wise kid.
1. Comet the Super-Horse – Supergirl
Love doesn’t come more forbidden – and icky – than a romance between Supergirl and Comet the Super-Horse. Comet is an intelligent, magical horse who used to be a centaur in ancient Greece. After the Sorceress Circe accidentally turns him into a full horse, she gives him a whole bunch of magical superpowers. Millennia later, Comet meets Supergirl and, as it so often happens between girls and horses, falls in love with her.
After he gains an ability to temporarily to turn into human, Comet assumes an identity of “Bronco” Bill Starr, a rodeo trick-rider. As Bronco Bill, he not only gets to date Supergirl, but Lois Lane as well. Man, that Comet sure gets around!
Introduced in a February 1962 issue of Adventure Comics, Comet retained his creepy crush throughout the 1960s. In 1997, the character was revived as a shape-shifting superhero capable of changing both its gender and species.
Bonus: Jason Todd – Batman
Jason Todd may be the only comic book sidekick ever to get killed by a phone call. Well, several thousand phone calls.
Jason was the second person to take on the mantle of Batman‘s sidekick Robin, after Dick Grayson struck out on his own and became the leader of his own team of superheroes, the Teen Titans. Debuting in a March 1983 issue of Batman, Jason Todd was at first a mere clone of Dick Grayson with an nigh-identical origin story. This all changed in the mid-1980s — the height of the Iron Age — when DC revamped Jason into an angry street orphan whose mother dies of a drug overdose. Batman tries and fails to control Jason’s rage, and one storyline strongly hints that he throws a serial rapist from a skyscraper.
In a telephone poll held in 1988, Batman fans got to vote on whether or not the hot-headed Boy Wonder would survive the current storyline. By a slim margin, the masses decided that Jason Todd should die (though rumors persist that one diligent fan rigged the vote by repeatedly calling in, in favor of death). But even that didn’t stop Jason, as he was successfully revived in 2005 as the vigilante Red Hood. Getting his own comic book (and potential movie) pretty much disqualifies Jason Todd from this list, but his is an interesting story about how can fans have mixed feelings about a sidekick.
Who are your most hated comic book sidekicks? Share them with others in the comments section!