"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."
For many of us out there that are past the age of 20 and creeping quickly, not slowly towards 30, hobbies like collecting action figures or other toys and comic books is frowned and looked down upon. "It's time to grow up" or "Why are you still playing with toys? You're an adult now", are all too commonly told to us by our wives, girlfriends, and society in general. To all them I say Nay! I myself am turning 30 this year, and I'm not ashamed to admit I still collect action figures and enjoy reading comics(not as much as I used to though since you can read the spoliers online) and I plan to continue doing this for as long as I'm able. Society wants us to hurry up and grow up into adults; to play the neccessary but but life-draining practices that all adults have to do. We have to get jobs and be serious most of the time. We have bills, mortgages, kids to raise, and all the monotinany that comes with being a responsible and contributing member of society. We're forced to squeeze whatever fun we can into our busy lives and even busier work scheduhles, all so we can hurry up and do it again the next day until we die. It doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't always be this way. Life's too short and too precious not enjoy the little things we have to ourselves. Afterall the government's working steadily to strip us of our rights and freedoms, while giving little or nothing back in return. So for those out there that call us "childish" or "pathetic" I say as long our hobbies don't get in the way of paying bills and buying food, let us indulge in whatever fun and pleasure we get from doing these things. If I want to buy a comic(and yes I know they can get pricey real fast) or an action figure(they can get real pricey too!) let us. All things in moderation right?
All right enough on that soapbox and on to this one.....
There was a point brought up a while back by a person who's name I can't remember, about how Commissioner Gordan should have locked up Batman along time ago for child endangerment. This topic's come up a few times, even in one episode of the animated Batman show from the late 90's. The one where Batgirl's exposed to the Scarecrow's fear gas, and imagines a world where she dies and Commissioner Gordan goes after Batman because of it. Anyways, this is a valid point that was made, and I don't know if that's an issue that's ever been directly addressed in the comics. Sure Batman felt horrible when Jason Todd was killed, but it didn't stop him from using kids or teenagers as sidekicks/soliders in his war on crime. Now I know since this is the comics, that you have to suspend disbelief and go with the idea of kids being viable sidekicks for grown men. It's wish fulfillment at it's best, for little boys and girls to imagine what it'd be like to hang out with their favorite superheroes, and this idea has been going on ever since the golden age of comics. It started, I believe, with Robin being adopted by Bruce Wayne and trained to fight, and went on from there, as soon every comic publisher in exsistance jumped on the sidekick bandwagon. Of course the very idea is cool, but ultimately flawed. Seriously think about realistically for a minute on how irresponsible and reckless it is to throw a kid into an adult situation like fighting crime.
Now think about how all or most of the major superheroes of the time adopted this practice. Batman did, and he's supposed to be a friggin' genius, and personally witnessed the death of his parents. Why willingly expose a child to the same potential horror. And he was surprised Jason Todd got killed? Really? I'm surprised this didn't happen earlier to Dick Grayson, and it didn't due to the innocence of the times, but still. After all back then, the worst thing that could happen to a sidekick was being gagged and tied up. And even later on into the Silver Age, the only thing to really worry about was being shrunk by some mad scientist's ray or have your body turned into some disfigured animal creature or whatnot. And even then, that was easily reversed by the end of the story. This is something that happened alot to Robin. Hey wasn't his unofficial nickname even back then "Robin the boy hostage"? And rich playboy Green Arrow, he was playing cowboys and indians with a young Roy Harper. I don't offhand know how old he was at the time, but the very idea of a kid shooting real arrows at people, even if they are criminals should've shocked and appalled parents everywhere. Hell, the Flash did it too and he was a cop! You know he should've know better.
The list goes on and on, but at least Superman didn't have a sidekick right? I mean he unofficially had one in Jimmy Olson, but that guy was following Superman everywhere no matter the danger. Check out the stories where he's turned into Turtle Boy or some other chemically-altered freak.
Mr. wholesome himself, Captain America had one himself in Bucky. That's right folks, the military let a kid join a super-solider into combat missions during WW2. War is hell indeed! Just check out those early Captain America issues or even the covers, and you'll see Bucky blowing away Japs and Nazis with his military-issued machine gun. It's true go look!
Now I know it was later retconned that Bucky was no ordinary 16 year-old. How he was really a well-armed scout for Cap, who could more than hold his own, but that wasn't how he was always portrayed.
How's this to make you think: one of the worst offenders is the wizard Shazam. Why him you ask? He gave a 10 year-old boy super-powers. And not just that, but the ability to transform himself into a super-powered adult. Yeah that seems cool and all, and what kid didn't wish that all they had to say was "Shazam", and they too could become an adult super-hero? Think the movie BIG but with super-powers. I know he was supposed to have been given wisdom from the gods to counteract being a kid, but still how messed up is that? Sending a kid to fight your very adult battles. Writer Geoff Johns even created a storyline where an older but still not an adult Billy Batson falls for an age appropriate Stargirl; but as Captain Marvel. The JSA didn't care for that, and at least they had their heads on straight that day.
So why the hate? I don't have hate towards the idea of sidekicks, not at all. This is comic books; the realm of fantasy and wish-fulfillment personified. I'm just saying when you look at something like that through realistic eyes, it starts to look really messed up.
No wonder Dr. Frederick Wertham had such a mad on for comic books. That, and he was obivously had an unhappy childhood.
See ya Monday...Here's your moment of zen: