In recent weeks, Batman has discovered that his son Damian (also the 23rd or so kid to take up the mantle of Robin) has been resurrected from the dead, a development that makes me at least a little bit happy, since I kind of like the kid.  Of course, fans of Donna Troy, Stephanie Brown and Dick Grayson will tell you, DC’s historical treatment of its secondary and teen characters has more than a few black marks on it, which leaves me cautious at best.  Probably the best case in point for me is the story of Kon-El, the clone known as Superboy, who started strong (if a bit 90s) but started downhill when Geoff Johns had the great idea to make half his clone DNA come from Lex Luthor, leading to the New 52 Superboy being pretty much an amoral jerk in a unitard.  It’s a shame, especially given that his cool leather jacket was one of the few 90s jackets that really worked, making the Metropolis Kid my fave-rave teen hero of recent years, and leading to today’s junior varsity query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) would have voted Wally West, but for me, he’ll always be The third Flash, having successfully shed his partner/sidekick mantle for good, no matter how many reboots the universe goes through, asking: Who’s the coolest younger partner/ sidekick/ teen hero of all?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I like the teen character who over time grow to be more than sidekick like Dick and Wally did. My favorite character growth story however is Kitty Pryde, first little girl scared of Nightcrawler, mentored by Storm and Wolverine, trained by ninja master and then headmistress of Xavier’s school.

  2. I’m going to say Tim Drake although I hate what they did to him in The New 52 and really dislike that they replaced him with Damian. I also do not say Dick Grayson because I feel he is a better character as Nightwing.

  3. While they weren’t really sidekicks or even really superheroes, I always had a spot in my heart for the Mosaic kids that GL John Stewart gave semi-functional GL rings to allow them to safely explore the patchwork collection of cities from different worlds.

    I also still think Green Ranger Tommy Oliver was an awesome teen hero (and I think he was technically the only one of the original Power Rangers actually played by a teenager since the others were 20+).

  4. Carrie Kelley. She was the best of all the Robins – a neglected daughter of aging potheads with no training other than a few gymnastic classes and computer classes at school, she saves Bats after he’s taken down by the Mutant Leader and makes herself into a useful partner. The problem with Dick Grayson, Kid Flash and all the others is that they are just miniature versions of the main hero even with the same powers and abilities. No kid could beat up a hulking bad guy, even if they grew up in a circus, nor would some grade school science wiz like Tim Drake have the knowledge and life experience to be a good detective right off the Bat, nor could a kid match an adult who been using archery equipment every day for decades even if he had an eagle eye and his Archery merit badge. Even the Clone Wars folks got it wrong, having Asoka having skills and abilities equal to Jedi Masters even though she was supposedly only a padawan learner. In Carrie Kelley, Frank Miller got the Kid Sidekick right for the first time ever.

    • Although I really disliked the character of Ahsoka Tano, I have to disagree somewhat, at least in how I saw her. It didn’t seem to me that she was on par of the skills of Jedi masters, but rather that similar to (or better than) Anakin she thought a little outside the box of approved Jedi actions. It seemed like the only way she got out of some of the situations was solely because she either disobeyed orders or did things in a very un-Jedi way.

  5. In the early 90’s I would have said Tim Drake, but I was more of a team reader enjoying both the New Teen Titans and The original New Warriors.

  6. Daniel Langsdale on

    Rocket, the true heart and soul of the Icon book. Dude with Superman-level powers sat around for over a century until she came along and kicked him into gear.

    -Dan’L, also thinks Rick Jones should win at least an honorable mention.

  7. One of my favorites is Speedball in the original New Warriors run. In terms of character growth, there was a ton of good stuff there. The first two years on Invincible come to mind. How about the original group of Teen Titans?

  8. I gotta give it to Superboy (pre New 52), I also will include the rest of the Young Justice holy trinity Robin (Tim Drake) and Impulse ( Bart Allen), and some shout outs to the side kicks that moved on to bigger and better things Nightwing and Flash (Wally West).

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