Avengers Assemble – Sidekicks?!?

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Here we go again.  This time, I am asking about the Young Avengers.  I have no problem with a team of teenagers styled (more or less) after the Avengers.  Kate Bishop and Patriot are very intriguing characters – though by now Patriot is a full-fledged Avenger and Kate is still too young for that.  Having Cassie Lang become a super heroine was a nice touch, and I hope that she comes back at some point.  (I am well aware that hardly anyone in Marvel comics is permanently killed.)

No, my problem this time is the temptation some may have to turn the Young Avengers into sidekicks for the Avengers.  This seems to be the direction things are headed, with Hawkeye pushing the rest of the team to mentor the youths. 

Don’t misunderstand; giving the Young Avengers lessons in the dos and don’ts of super hero life is fine.  But having them tag along behind a particular Avenger on a mission (as Kate Bishop recently did with Hawkeye) is walking into the territory of DC comics. 

 With all due respect, why not make it official that the Young Avengers, while still under the umbrella of the actual Avengers, are not sidekicks?  After all, that’s what others did with Professor Xavier’s New Mutants.  They were taught at the X-Mansion, by X-Men, but one New Mutant was never attached to one X-Man as a combat partner unless the two teams were in the same fight and battle required it.  The same set up could work out this way for the Avengers.

The reason I bring this up is sidekicks are to superheroes what adverbs are to verbs: crutches.  Adverbs are used to prop up a weak verb.  So sidekicks, from time to time, are used to prop up superheroes.

This, to me, seems to be another reason why Stan Lee ‘killed’ off Bucky Barnes in the early comics.  Captain America was already a strong character by the time Lee made Bucky’s demise official.  So if he was always checking on Bucky’s condition or was looking to him for advice every second panel, it would have diminished Cap’s ability to stand on his own.  And so, just as Batman frequently has to take care of Robin, Cap would have been in similar situations fairly often with Bucky.

 Understandably, this would not have worked for Cap.  Steve Rogers had to be, and still must remain, a leader in his own right.  He couldn’t and can’t keep second guessing himself every few panels, especially not to a fifteen year old boy.  It would have been ridiculous and demeaning to the character if Lee had left Bucky in the story.  So Stan Lee tossed Bucky out; and Bucky has subsequently returned to the comics as the Winter Soldier, a rather strong character in his own right.  Cap and Bucky remain on good enough terms with each other, but one no longer acts as a crutch to the other.

The Young Avengers, to my mind, should be given a similar durability test.  The Avengers are strong enough that saddling them with a sidekick would be both silly and humiliating.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

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