COMIC-BOOKS

Side-Kicked #1: Gauntlet/Pick (Up) A Card

I thoroughly enjoyed the 4-issue miniseries SIDE-KICKED from Darby Pop Press, which debuted in 2015. This one-shot issue was published in 2017, and serves as a bit of a prequel to that miniseries.  This features two 11-page stories, each of which focus on a couple of the sidekicks from the miniseries and shows us how they met their superhero mentors.

In PICK (UP) A CARD, which is written by Richard Casey, and drawn by Gary Deslauriers, we see the first night that Jolt served as sidekick to The Flying Fox, both characters who were introduced in the first issue of the original miniseries. Together they face a costumed villain called Trick Deck, he’s a man in a classic magician’s outfit. He’s faced Flying Fox before and isn’t considered a serious threat as he’s just a failed stage magician who used illusions to commit crimes. But he proves to be more dangerous this night as he’s received a mysterious upgrade. The heroes do manage to subdue the villain, but it’s clear from the start that Flying Fox has little regard for his new sidekick, despite the fact that Jolt idealizes him.

In Side-Kicked #3, we learned that Walter was the hero Frostbite, and was the sidekick and secret lover of the female superhero Atalanta. In GAUNTLET, which is written by Adam Breen and drawn by Steven Defendini, we see how they first met and get some background on Atalanta. She was a member of a League of powerful superheroes in New York, who disbanded after a battle against a supervillain ended in disaster. She moved to Chicago to start over and has been secretly observing Frostbite in action for weeks. She confronts him after he successfully catches a pair of petty thieves, and leads him to an abandoned warehouse to see if he’s got what it takes to rescue some hostages from a giant monster. The adventure ends with a hint of their future as partners both as superheroes and civilians.

These are two good stories that fit into the “universe” that was established in the miniseries. Both writers seemed to have a good feel for the characters, and while the artists had room to improve (the cover mentions everyone being winners of some new talent contest that Darby Pop held, so I presume they were all amateurs at the time), they still did a fine job. What’s best is that the stories are written so that even if you haven’t read the original miniseries, you can still enjoy them on their own merits. But for fans of the original miniseries, you’ll like seeing these more of these characters.

The issue also includes some pinups from other new artists. Brent Hibbard, Malik Rozier, and Shane Douberly all provide images of Flying Fox and Jolt together, while Lee Bokma and Seth Adams each provide images of Frostbite and Atalanta.

Chacebook rating: FOUR STARS

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

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