Next week will see the release of SIDEKICK: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight by cartoonist and web comic creator Pab Sungenis. The young adult novel about a superhero’s sidekick who has to step up to the big leagues and take over his mentor’s mantle. If that wasn’t enough, he also has to deal with high school, trying to get into college, dealing with the other sidekicks, and figuring out who’s killing off all the heroes. Sungenis’ book is published by Month9Books. A sequel is already in the works with SIDEKICK: Brothers in Arms slated for this time next year. So is this a good read, or should this book be Sidekicked to the curb?
Our story opens at the funeral of Jack Horner, the man who is the first Scarlet Knight. Jack Horner, yes they mention his rather comical name, died in battle with an unknown villain. All of the other heroes that form the Justice Federation are there in their civilian disguises to mourn their friend’s death. Also there is Horner’s ward and sidekick Bobby Baines is there as well. Bobby has been out of the super hero game for a while, focusing more on his personal life and school work. Little does Bobby know, the death of the man he calls his uncle will result in him being pulled back into that world. Not long after the funeral, the members of the Justice Federation (Mr. Zip, Paragon, Clytemnestra, Mister Myster, Prism, and Morgaine) come to Bobby with a proposal. The world can’t go without seeing the Scarlet Knight. If the hero disappears not long after billionaire inventor Jack Horner dies, people are going to start putting the pieces together. Bobby has to take up his mentor’s identity and become the new Scarlet Knight. This sets off a series of events that will shake Bobby to his core. Besides being a fulltime hero, he has to juggle school work, his journey to get accepted into college, and his relationship with the other sidekicks. There’s also some newfound feelings for one of his gal sidekick pals that Bobby would like to act on. If that wasn’t trouble enough, a new villain is killing off the heroes one by one and Bobby may be the only one that can figure it out.
Sugenis does a brilliant job of creating a fully formed world of superheroes and our main area, Harbor City. Each character is fully formed with their own history and relationships. We don’t get everyone’s powers spelled out, but as you go along you start to see who is capable of what. Sugenis does an impressive job of creating new heroes that are unique enough you don’t feel they’re bad copies of the heroes they’re inspired by. For example Jack Horner reads like Iron Man, Mister Mystery like Batman, and Mr. Zip like the Flash. Sugenis’ world feels like a love letter to and step away from the DC universe. You have plenty of super heroes and action, but Sugenis explores more what happens to the heroes when they’re not fighting giant squads or exploding pastry throwing villains. The book is said to be for ages 12 and up, but I’d suggest reading over it with the younger readers. There’s some not so nice language, teen drinking and some adult situations that aren’t too graphic, but read more Watchmen than Young Justice. Comic book fans will really dig this book, it draws inspiration from some very iconic comic book stories that I’ll leave you to figure out.
Bottom Line: SIDEKICKS: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight is a great read with great characters and an impressive story. As stated, it does some have some slightly mature themes, but it is a great book for teenage male readers. I’ll be excited to see what Sungenis does with Sidekicks next.
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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