Marvel superheros and sidekicks

You can’t swing a dead cat around a DC superhero without hitting a sidekick. Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Plastic Man - they all had sidekicks. The DC universe has so many sidekicks running around they’re able to form their own superhero groups.

But look at the sidekick situation in the Marvel universe. You’ve got Captain America and Bucky. And that’s it.

So why don’t Marvel characters have sidekicks?

The original Human Torch had Toro. So that’s at least two sidekicks in the history of Marvel Comics. I think Bucky is more famous mainly because Captain America is still around, and every few issues he thinks back and remembers good old Bucky.

Perhaps a better question might be “Why does D.C. Comics have so many sidekicks?” I mean, the idea of every hero having a kid version of himself who hangs around with him isn’t exactly the most obvious thing in the world.

Simple answer: Stan Lee hated kid sidekicks.

Lee worked for Marvel during the Golden Age (WWII), when Marvel and every other comic book company had sidekicks for their heroes. When Lee was in charge and writing nearly the entire Marvel line in the Silver Age (1960s), his heroes didn’t have them. Spider-Man was revolutionary in that he was a teenager who was a superhero in his own right instead of playing Spider Boy to an adult Spider Man.

The Hulk had Rick Jones.

Kitty Pryde and later Jubilee were Wolverine’s sidekicks.

And then there’s the fact that characters like the X-Men were teenagers themselves when they debuted. Who would they have a sidekicks? Marvel seemed to run more towards teams anyway (the aforementioned X-Men and their spinoffs, the FF, the Avengers, Alpha Flight, the Champions, the Defenders). If a Marvel hero needed a partner, he or she could just call up a teammate instead of shanghai-ing the nearest teenager for company on a mission.

Kitty Pryde isn’t correctly desribed as having been Wolverine’s sidekick. She was a full-on member of the team from the start and initially didn’t even like Wolverine (or at least was scared of him).

Well, there’s Gary and Adam – no, wait, they aren’t Marvel characters, are they?

Nitpick, IIRC Marvel was Timely Comics during the WWII-era.

I always figured that the difference was that the Marvel heroes were supposed to be the representation of the audience: everyone was Spider-Man who had trouble getting his homework in on time because he stayed out late; everyone was like Captain America because they didn’t fit in in the modern world and wanted to go back to a simpler time; everyone was like Tony Stark because their alcoholism kept them from their fate…

And DC was all about hero worship.

Yeah, Kittty and Jubilee weren’t wolvie’s sidekicks, he just saw himself as a makeshift father figure to the two of them, for some reason. I think that since, when they joiced, they were at the time the youngest members, they had enough childhood innocense in them to make wolverine forget about his tortured past…and present, as it were.

IIRC, Rick Jones was not only the Hulk’s sidekick, he was briefly a sidekick for Captain America, he was the alter-ego of Captain Marvel (the Mar-Vell version) and was the mascot/sidekick for the entire Avengers team.

Not bad for a juvenile delinquent.

Nitpick squared:

Most of the 1940s Marvel comics bore no company logo. Some of them during the decade bore a “Timely Comics” logo, but some of them also had a “Marvel Comic” logo as early as the late 40s. “Timely Comics” is pretty much just useful shorthand to refer to “The comic books published by Martin Goodman in the 1940s, from the company that would eventually officially become Marvel Comics.”

And consider who they were selling their comix to: Boys. (Mostly – I don’t think girls read comix much back then.) So a superhero’s boy sidekick was a character with whom the readers could identify! I mean, easier for a boy to fantasize about being Robin than Batman, seems just a bit more possible.

Curious how cultures change. Robin, a circus acrobat trained by his circus-acrobat parents, was no more than 12 when he was orphaned and joined Batman. He was Bruce Wayne’s “ward,” and Wayne was Dick Grayson’s “guardian” – meaning, whether or not there was any formal adoption or foster-child relationship, Bruce was responsible for taking care of Dick like a father. And what he did was take the boy along on crimefighting adventures where people would be trying hard to kill him. And back in the '30s and '40s, nobody seemed to have a problem with that. Nobody wrote the editors and demanded the authorities come in and pull this kid out of this incredibly dangerous home environment. Why not? It wasn’t so many decades earlier that, in real life, drummer boys would march into battle beside the grownup soldiers, and 12-year-olds would serve as midshipmen on naval vessels. (Remember Master and Commander?) And to the boy, this was adventure! It was excitement! It was the chance of a (possibly very brief) lifetime!

How did we get so squeamish about putting small boys in harm’s way? What’s happened to us? :frowning:

It’s worth noting that Captain America had several other sidekicks as well, apart from Bucky Barnes and Rick Jones. There was the Falcon, Demolition Man, Nomad II, Diamondback, Free Spirit and Jack Flag.

They were sidekicks. They just weren’t kid sidekicks.

The Fantastic Four have Franklin Richards and Herbie (Humanoid Experimental Robot- B Type).

She Hulk had Wyatt Wingfoot.

Kitty Pryde had Lockheed.

No sidekicks here, just a dragon, a robot, and a sex toy.

Not necessarily in that order.

Why does a sidekick have to be a young man or woman? The sidekick of the Flaming Carrot (currently with Dark Horse comics) is a cloned nerve cell, which has grown to about three feet tall, and behaves in an odd manner.

Dr Strange has Wong, and later Rintrah.

The Darkhold Redeemers had Jinx.

The more I learn about Stan Lee, the more I love him. It was only a few weeks ago that I discovered he shared my hatred of naming superheroes ____(wo)man and here I learn that he has my disdain for sidekicks too.

All that in addition to being responsible for the Silver Age lineup… the man was a genius.

I think you mean Ace and Gary.

Incidentally, if you look back on the old Captain America covers, about half of them show Bucky in some kind of bondage and Cap rushing in to rescue him. Even Robin wasn’t that lame.

The original Robotman had Robbie, the talking robot dog.

I had forgotten about Rick Jones. Never heard of Toro though. But still, I think we’d all agree that a Marvel version of the Teen Titans would be critically understaffed.

I’ll admit my theory was that Marvel comics were aiming for a slightly older demographic than DC comics were. 10-12 year olds would idolize the stereotypical 15-16 year old sidekick. But actual 15-16 year olds would rather idolize a 18-20 superhero.

But having read Gamaliel’s post, I like that idea better: Marvel comics didn’t have sidekicks because Stan Lee wanted it that way.

If you mean a team made up of sidekicks of adult heroes, yes. But if you mean teenage (or younger) heroes, no. Off the top of my head (which is filled with outdated knowledge) there’s Power Pack, Tattletale/Franklin Richards, The New Champions (I think that’s the name; it included Nova and Namorita - hey, Namorita, there’s another sidekick!), and others.

For the uninitiated, it’s worth mentioning that Franklin “Tattletale” Richards was a member of Power Pack for a while, so it’s not as if the whole “Marvel underage hero team” idea hasn’t been done already.

And I suppose you can toss Speedball into the mix, if you must. Slapstick would certainly qualify, but he’d spend too much time (rightly) mocking the other members to be effective. :wink: