Sunday, January 31, 2010

Golden Age Idol--Sidekicks Most In Need Of A Better PR Guy

Really, sidekicks get the short end of the stick. Especially when you're the sidekick of a hero who is, by a total rip-off coincidence, a carbon copy of another, earlier hero. It's like you're a fourth generation photocopy.

Let's start with the Black Terror, who debuted in Nedor's Exciting Comics #9 (1941). Meek pharmacist Bob Benton invents a secret formula which makes him ultra strong. His adolescent pal, Tim Roland, bogarts some of the formula for himself, and becomes the Terror's sidekick.

But poor Tim get short shrift, as his costume is an exact duplicate of Benton's:

At least there's a good excuse why they have the exact same costume:

Man, it's too bad Hair hadn't been playing at that theater...

Meanwhile, a mere 3 months later, in Fox's Fantastic Comics #17 (1941), another hero debuts: The Black Fury! (There were several Black Furies in the Golden Age...this is #3)

Created by Dennis Menville and Mark Howell, dandy big-city gossip columnist John Perry was the Black Fury, who used his newspaper sources to track down and fight crime with his fists...he had no powers.

He even had a sidekick--Chuck Marley was the son of a slain cop.

And by pure sartorial coincidence, they also had identical costumes...

That's so sad. Most sidekicks, at least, had costumes that made them distinct from their mentors. Bucky, Robin, Speedy, Aqualad...they all got to dress differently than the boss. Even Toro's swimming trunks made him distinct from the Human Torch. No such luck for Tim and Chuck, who had to dress up like Mini-Me versions of the grown-up heroes. No respect, I tell ya.

Should we take note that their costumes are pretty damned close to his predecessor, the Black Terror? Except distinctly worse, obviously. At least Tim got the hand-me-down of a good costume. Chuck got the copy of a swipe.

Hmm, Black Terror, Black Fury, both had black costumes with skull motifs...probably just a coincidence, right?

But the coincidences keep on coming. Because poor Tim never got a sidekick name. Not Kid Terror or Terror Jr. or Little Terror, or even Timmy Terror. Nope, he was just "Black Terror's sidekick." That's how the crooks referred to him...that's how the press referred to him. Hell, that's how he referred to himself!!

Poor kid...but at least he was luckier than Chuck. Because Chuck did get a real super-hero name, sort of, in a watered down, fourth generation sort of way:


Yup. His super-hero name was Chuck. Junior partner in "Black Fury and Chuck." Even Black Fury called him Chuck in public:

Pity the poor plight of Golden Age sidekicks who happened to be created by writers and artists with limited imaginations. Apparently spent by the creative effort needed to invent the hero, they said "Oh, my brain is tired. Let's just give them the exact same origins, exact same powers, and exact same costumes as the grown-up. Easier to draw that way, too! And oh, I'm too tired to think up another hero name..." Come on, guys, even a lameoid like Stampy got his own name, at least!

Timmy (a.k.a. The Black Terror's Sidekick) did win in one other fashion: he got his own catch phrase:

Oh, Golden Age, how I love let's give the sidekicks some love, too. Golden Age Idol is now accepting nominations for real super-hero names for Tim and Chuck. Leave 'em in the comments section...

Black Terror and Tim shots are from Exciting Comics #9 and #10 (1941). Black Fury and Chuck panels are from V-Comics #1 (1942).


notintheface said...

Timmy could be The Black Trepidation (not quite as strong as Terror)??

tomg said...

Let's see.. Timmy has a black costume with a blue and blue..How about Bruiser?

The Fury's kid sidekick.. what do they call it when kids are furious..oh, yeah..a tantrum. He can be Kid Tantrum!