Teenage Kicks

Scott and Allison attend the same prep school during the day. By all accounts they’re pretty average kids. But when school ends and the sun sets over the Manhattan skyline, the two classmates shimmy into their brightly colored costumes and become sidekicks.

Scott is Bright Boy, the teenage ward of Phantom Justice, a dark and brooding superhero whose catch phrase is, “Through the darkness and the light, we’ll defeat the wrongs and make them right.” Allison is Monkeywrench, the daughter of Dr. Chaotic, a supervillain who is “quite possibly the most intelligent human on the planet.” He’s so smart he was able to escape from prison by building a laser gun out of a plank of wood, a battery pack, and an old television set.

Despite the long-running feud between Phantom Justice and Dr. Chaotic, the two sidekicks forge an unexpected friendship that quickly blossoms into romance. After they share their first kiss, Allison exclaims: “My God, we’re like Romeo and Juliet! With superpowers!” Thankfully the two star-crossed superkids avoid the same fate as their Shakespearian proxies.

Superhero sidekicks are a fascinating bunch, but not many writers have been interested in exploring the boy wonder sub-culture. Dennis O’Neil gave it a shot back in the ’70s when he turned Speedy into a heroin addict (“Speedy,” get it?), and Rick Veitch produced a brutal comic book series called Brat Pack twenty years later exploring the perverse nature of teenage sidekicks.

Here, the author keeps things light (mostly). No one is shooting up heroin or experimenting with bondage. Instead, Scott and Allison are two likeable young kids who are growing up faster than a speeding bullet. Like all teenagers, they’re struggling with parental issues, identity issues, and hormones. But unlike their friends, they’re experiencing adolescence in ill-fitting superhero costumes. “I can’t keep running around the city in embarrassing neon yellow tights,” says Scott.

Thankfully the two sidekicks have each other to lean on. When things get crazy between Phantom Justice and Dr. Chaotic (and believe us, things get super-intense-crazy), Scott and Allison are able to team up and prove their courage and fortitude. Like Dick Grayson, they discover that they can’t be sidekicks forever. At some point the apprentice must replace the mentor.

[Sidekicks / By Jack D. Ferraiolo / First Printing: May 2011 / ISBN: 9780810998032]

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