Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sidekicks and Superheroes!

Robin. Speedy. Kid Flash. Aqua Lad. Bucky. Jan, Jayce and their pet money, Blip. What do all these comic and cartoon characters have in common? They’re all sidekicks! For some reason sidekicks don’t get the same level of recognition and respect as other heroes.

In an episode of Young Justice, four superheroes—Batman, Aquaman, Green Arrow and the Flash—invite their sidekicks on a tour of the famed Hall of Justice as the first step in becoming full-fledged members of the Justice League. When Roy Harper, better known as Speedy, complains that their initiation seems more like a glorified back-stage pass, Green Arrow responds, “Roy, you just need to be patient.”

“What I need,” Speedy snaps back, “is respect.” Turning to his youthful colleagues, Speedy complains, “They’re treating us like kids. Worse, like sidekicks!”[1]

Despite Speedy’s strong sentiments to the contrary, being a sidekick isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, the concept is quite biblical. Jesus himself mentored not one, but twelve sidekicks! He called them disciples. These twelve sidekicks lived with Jesus for three years. They traveled with him from town to town, watched him perform breath-taking miracles and absorbed his life-changing teachings. They often performed menial tasks as part of their training, like distributing food to thousands of people when Jesus multiplied the five loaves and two fish… not to mention cleaning up the leftovers. But the disciples’ most important job was simply to learn from the Master—to follow in his footsteps. The more they listened to Jesus and learned from him, the more like him they became. When Jesus ascended into heaven, their training ended and these twelve sidekicks became full-fledged heroes. They continued Christ’s mission and ministry, and trained others to do the same. From one generation to the next, this process continues.

Superhero sidekicks often experience a similar cycle. Kid Flash eventually assumed the mantle of the Flash and trained his own sidekick named Impulse. Thanks to Batman’s tutelage, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, became the leader of the Teen Titans, adopted the superhero persona Nightwing, and even filled in as Batman for prolonged periods, during which time he mentored two other Robins—Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. Even Speedy eventually graduates from sidekick to superhero.

In an issue of Justice League, Green Lantern and Black Canary show up Roy Harper’s home with an invitation to join the Justice League. At first, Roy can’t believe it. “This is a joke, isn’t it?”

“It’s not a joke,” Black Canary replies. “We don’t joke about this. Now would you like to join the League?”

When Roy hesitates, Green Lantern hands him a package, saying, “Maybe this will convince you.” Inside, Roy find a red replica of Green Arrow’s costume, complete with a “R” insignia on the belt. As Roy dons his new costume, Green Lantern smiles, “Ollie will never say it, kid, but this is what he was training you for… Welcome to the League, Red Arrow!”[2]

The mentor/sidekick relationship is essential not only for superheroes, but also for Christians. If you’re relatively new to the Christian faith, seek out a spiritual mentor who can help you grow in you walk with Christ. If you’re a veteran Christian, be on the look out for new and young believers who could benefit from your wisdom and experience. In either case, our work isn’t done until our sidekicks have sidekicks of their own.

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
(2 Timothy 2:2 NLT)

[1] Young Justice. Season 1. Episode 1: “Independence Day”
[2] DC Comics. Justice League of America (2006) #7.


  1. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”