It should come as no surprise to learn that within the superhero “community,” egos run rampant. But how does all that free-flowing narcissism impact those just outside the spotlight? Chicago finds out when five of the city’s most loyal Sidekicks finally grow tired of being disrespected by both the prima donnas they work with and the citizenry they strive to protect. And it’s not like the Windy City needs yet another labor upheaval…..
“But You’re Replaceable”
Russell Brettholtz takes the classic superhero story and turns it on its head. While these superheroes in Chicago are given great praise for all that they do for the city, the sidekicks are often over looked. They have many of the same responsibilities, sometimes more, but they receive no recognition.
The sidekicks had been told a number of times, ” . . . but you’re replaceable,” leaving them wondering what would the superheroes (and the city they love) do without them. So, they go on strike. And it’s the best thing ever! They catch up on books, go to ballgames, hang out with friends, and serve at the local soup kitchen. And they ignore the phone when it rings.
They live normal lives.
It is likely that the average comic book reader may be able to relate to these sidekicks and their feelings of being replaceable. At least, being told that they can be replaced. It leaves individuals feeling like nobody notices the gifts and skills they not only have but are using. At the same time, like the sidekicks in this graphic novel, they don’t do what they do for the praise, they do it because it is the right thing to do.
But it the pain is real when you aren’t respected for doing what is the right thing to do.
More Than One Way
One of the sidekicks, George, in the graphic novel raises the question, “But, what happens when the villains exploit our absence?” The concern is that the sidekicks are being selfish in their decision to go on strike. The conversation continues are more and more superheroes in the city fall at the hands of the villains.
George tells the other sidekicks, “There is more than one way to help this city.” He chooses to continue volunteering at the church’s soup kitchen. While there, the Father tells him:
“What you do for these people, for this church, whatever they may call those masked men flying around the city. . . . you are the true hero.”
A reminder that we don’t have to be mask-wearing superheroes or sidekicks to be a hero. A message that is relevant and meaningful to our time and culture now. Sometimes our greatest power is our sense of compassion and justice.
Finally . . . .
The graphic novel ends with the sense that there will be more. I hope so. This was a refreshing graphic novel to read.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a digital review copy.