Writer: Straczynski, J. Michael
Artist: Mandrake, Tom
Cover Artist: Miller, Brian
Published by Image Comics
This is a superhero satire focused on sidekicks. Anyone who misses The Boys penchant for over the top gratuity that is a caricature of well worn archetypes and tropes will find this an enjoyable read. Essentially at its core, this tells the tale of a sidekick who loses his way after being elevated to Event Level Status. It is not an easy transition, and one this “hero” is likely to fail. Like a moth to the flame, you cannot take your eyes off the inevitable disaster as it unfolds. I am waiting for a Kid Miracleman like explosion by Flyboy before the tale is finished.
Sidekicks is a series to watch going forward. There is a lot of action, twists, and turns in its scant pages. Of course a working knowledge of super heroes is essential. The flashback pages/time jumps are a somewhat lazy writing mechanic, but it works as well as it can here. There is a nice allusion to Bucky Barnes in the first few pages. I had no idea what to expect going in, but the most analogous series to it is The Boys. J. Michael Straczynski channels his inner Garth Ennis, and goes for shock and awe. I really did not expect him to be this dark, but it made for an entertaining and unexpected read.
The main complaints I have are minor and sure to be elaborated on in future issues. We have no idea what the powers are of the protagonist. He appears to be able to fly and possess superhuman durability. Flyboy also has a penchant for voyeurism, which was the most disturbing part of the issue, met by the former lover’s reaction. This isn’t the first time and that is troubling. At the end of the day I still do not know whether to pity or hate Flyboy, especially with the last panel reveal, but I will absolutely keep reading.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #20
Writer: Barber, John
Artist: Griffith, Andrew
Cover Artist: Coller, Casey
Published by IDW Publishing
Poor, Metalhawk! I knew him… Starscream channels his inner Shakespeare when he delivers a monologue to Metalhawk’s corpse. The key difference is that Metalhawk was no one’s jester, but he served as a stepping stone for Starscream to ascend to the throne. It is especially tragic as Starscream notes that Metalhawk was one of the few friends Starscream ever had, but, in the end, he was little more than collateral damage.
There are some very entertaining interactions between Starscream, Dirge, and Blurr. Old prejudices do not die easily and with Starscream assuming leadership of Cybertron, not everyone is thrilled. The bulk of the issue deals with a power outage and the subsequent work of Scoop to repair it. Scoop is lauded over his quick response, which is an indignity that will not stand. Scoop, a little known and seldom used Targetmaster, reaps the rewards of his “good work”.
The issue also introduces Rattrap, who is vastly different than his previous incarnations in demeanor and action. He forms an alliance with Starscream which will indubitably bear rotten fruit. Starscream is in charge of Cybertron and I would not have it any other way.
Barber has a real sense of Starscream’s voice, and that isn’t easy to convey. I wish some of the other characterizations were more consistent, but since this issue is a spotlight of Starscream, it was done well. The artwork is a mixed bag for me. No particular complaints, but it did not look as sharp as some of the other Transformers series. However, as an exposition heavy issue, Griffith wasn’t given a real chance to flex his muscles, so I’ll reserve judgment on his merits for another time.
3 out of 5 Nerdskulls.