Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Tom Mandrake
This is the story of FLYBOY, a young man with the power to fly. He was the sidekick to a masked vigilante called THE RED COWL, and they operated in a place called Sol City. We learn that, throughout their career, Flyboy was mostly seen a joke, while Red Cowl got all the glory. Except one particular adventure where Flyboy saved the day, and everyone celebrated him during a press conference. But that was fleeting. Sometime after that incident, Red Cowl was shot and killed by a sniper during a parade in his honor while Flyboy was sitting right next to him. The killer was never found, and during the reading of Red Cowl’s Will it is discovered that his entire fortune was gone, having spent his millions on crime-fighting equipment, so now Flyboy was left with nothing. Today, Flyboy is a broken shell of a man, living in a crappy apartment. We see him coercing a street hooker into giving him a blowjob, and even tries to stage a fake burglary of some jewels, just so he can return the jewels and pretend he’s the hero who found them (but the detective on the scene figures out the scam, and so Flyboy doesn’t get any credit). He also tried to raise funds on a Kickstarter-like website, to afford to buy new equipment to continue operating as a solo superhero, but gets only $1247.00 of the $100,000.00 he was hoping to raise. After attending a superhero convention, ala San Diego Comicon, where he tries to offer himself as a partner to any other superheroes who need one, he’s just ridiculed by other wannabe superhero sidekicks for being past his prime, and Flyboy flies to some abandoned demolition area and starts smashing things, when a mysterious woman flies down from the sky.
Then we just cut to a luxurious room on a sunny beach somewhere, where we see that the Red Cowl still alive, living the high life. TO BE CONTINUED…
It’s a decent first issue, which gives us the set-up of the series. But there were still some noticeable gaps. We don’t get much background on Flyboy, who he is (his first name is Barry, that’s all that’s revealed), how he got his powers, or how he got together with Red Cowl in the first place. Likewise, there’s not much info about Red Cowl, beyond him being a millionaire named Thomas Winchester. In fact, the big reveal on the final page is somewhat muted by the fact that it’s the first time we see Thomas’ face without the cowl, so we, the readers, wouldn’t know who he was supposed to be, if it weren’t for the dialog. There’s also a woman named Melody, who is described as Thomas’ former personal assistant, who knew of his and Flyboy’s double-lives. She was @ the reading of the Will, and we later see her in bed with some man, as Flyboy flies by to see her. She talks to him about moving on, and he leaves. It’s unclear if there was something more going on between her and Thomas, or maybe even her and Flyboy, but there’s a definite sadness to their meeting. It’s likely that more will be revealed about these characters in subsequent issues, but I still feel that for a debut comic we should have gotten a little bit more. I also acknowledge that the point of this series is that it revolved around the story of Flyboy’s fall from grace and attempt to regain his former stature, and therefor the characters are really just basic superhero archetypes meant to advance to ground the story in a somewhat traditional superhero world, so those little details aren’t really germane. But one thing I’ll give credit to JMS’ writing is that he manages to avoid making this feel like a parody of superheroes, which it could have easily fallen into to. So with that, and Mandrake’s serviceable artwork, I’m intrigued enough to want to at least read the 2nd issue, before I decide if it’s worth sticking with this series.
Sidekick #1 is available on Comixology.