The idiom “always the bridesmaid never the bride” is akin to the perception of sidekicks,
; never reaching their full potential like their counterparts. Sidekicks are seen as overlooked under-appreciated helpers. Forgotten Sidekicks features ten short stories from various authors that break this notion and provides them with the recognition they deserve. Each author shines a unique perspective on the roles sidekicks play and their deeds that go unsung.
When I think of a sidekick, I immediately think of characters like Robin, Batman’s iconic sidekick. Robin, in his own right, is an accomplished crime-fighter but is often overshadowed by his extraordinary partner. The lion’s share of praise always falls on the larger than life heroes even though the sidekick contributed more than they are given credit for. Forgotten Sidekicks provides stories from the sidekicks’ point-of-view. How they feel about their roles in their partnerships. Some humbly accept the adumbration, knowing that they are the real talent behind the duo, while others struggle with real emotional baggage and feel they are nothing without their partners. The range of sidekick characterizations is wide.
I’m partial to short stories and found Forgotten Sidekicks an enjoyable read. Out of the ten stories, three imparticular grabbed my attention the most. The first one is titled “The Bardic Guide to Disobedience” by Courtney M Privett. This sidekick story highlights the tale of a paladin’s bard. In the story, Verity, the bard to Wilfred the Pristine, Paladin of the Everlasting Light, narrates her connection to her hero by comparing her servitude to him through the rules every bard must follow and adhere to in “The Bardic Instruction Manual and Campfire Cookbook, 47th Edition“. Verity compares her relationship as Wilfred’s bard to the rules in which she must follow, rationalizing the decisions and actions she’s made when straying from the text as she and Wilfred accomplish their lastest quest. Her comparisons are witty and entertaining to read. She often speaks as if she’s talking to the reader as her story unfolds. The story is humorous, exciting, engaging, and on task with highlighting the struggles of being a sidekick.
Another story that I found interesting is titled “The Dilettante & Leonard” by Desmond Warzel. This story is set in the home of a Leonard Borowski, retired sidekick to Cameron Brennan, the superhero know as the Dilettante. In the waiting years after the tragic passing of the Dilettante, Leonard Boroewski, his longtime sidekick, agrees to sit down with a reporter from Playboy Magazine for an exclusive interview. The story focused on the symbiotic relationship between the hero and their sidekick. I found the writing style, a conversation between interviewer and interviewee refreshing, and an engaging way to tell a story. The author provides some great banter between the two and a surprise ending to the story. Out of all the stories in the collection, this is, by far, my favorite. The author creates a compelling story that shows the equality between sidekick and hero, even if not recognized by the public.
The last story I’d like to highlight is titled “Sidekicks Anonymous” by Jim Horlock. In the basement of an inn, sitting in a circle of chairs, sidekicks come together to participate in a former sidekick support group. Each one dealing with their own demons from their past associations with their heroes. The story uses well known fictional sidekicks like Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, who complains about how he carried the ring to Mordor even though he never was in possession of it. There are more character references, but I lacked their source of reference to acknowledge them. The story incorporated humor tropes like how sidekicks are always kidnapped, tied up, and must wait for their heroes to rescue them because their heroes would be sore if they got away by themselves. Or how some heroes only employ young sidekicks and discard their current ones when they grow too old. It’s a humorous tale encompassing the emotional scars former sidekicks face once their talents are no longer needed by heroes.
The other stories found in this collection are equally as entertaining as the ones I’ve called out. Each is masterfully written, telling their forgotten sidekicks stories. Some are action-packed like a John Woo film, while others illustrated the deep bonds between hero and sidekick. Each one carrying the underlining theme that sidekicks, presumed as minor players, take on a greater role in their partnerships with their heroes than they are credited for.
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