We’ve already talked about the best and brightest of DC’s sidekicks, but what about the other half of the industry’s big two? While DC’s teenage sidekicks were largely created as a way for younger readers to connect with older superheroes, Marvel opted to circumvent this by making teenage superheroes like Spider-Man and X-Men the leading characters in their own books.
However, just because Marvel wasn’t as all-in on the trope as their competition over at DC, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own stable of lovable supporting players. The key difference being that instead of pairing their heroes with a “young ward,” Marvel was far more likely to team their heroes with someone closer in age to watch their back. Today, we’re taking a look at the 15 best sidekicks in Marvel Comics.
Self-proclaimed mall rat and the youngest member of the X-Men in the early ’90s, Jubilation Lee, a.k.a. Jubilee, first appeared in “Uncanny X-Men” #244 by Chris Claremont and artists Marc Silvestri and Glynis Oliver. After witnessing Wolverine get captured and tortured by a gang of criminal cyborgs known as the Reavers, Jubilee frees Wolverine and helps him escape. After this, Jubilee became Wolverine’s unofficial sidekick, traveling with Wolverine around the world for a time and fighting villains like The Mandarin and members of The Hand.
The two develop a father-daughter relationship, with Jubilee bringing out the softer side of Wolverine. Even after officially becoming an X-Man, Jubilee would regularly accompany Wolverine on missions, with him eventually helping her seek revenge on the hitmen who murdered her parents. Though Jubilee had faded into the background for a while (even losing her mutant abilities in the “House of M” event and later becoming a vampire), she remains closely tied to her mutant identity and the X-Men, especially Wolverine. She’ll also be returning in the upcoming “Generation X” title.
14. FREE SPIRIT
Though Captain America’s most notable number two will always be Bucky Barnes, much like Batman, Cap has had a ton of partners over the years. Since her first appearance in “Captain America” #431 by writer Mark Gruenwald and artists Dave Hoover and George Roussos, Cathy Webster, a.k.a. Free Spirit, has been one of those allies. As a graduate student, Cathy participates in what turns out to be an illegal psychology experiment on subliminal recordings by the villain Superia. Cathy is brainwashed to hate men and after being exposed to mutagenic radiation, her body is enhanced to peak physical condition.
After breaking free of her mind control, Free Spirit teamed up with Cap and Diamondback to take on Baron Zeemo and his wife, the Baroness, before Cap officially asked her to join Captain America’s Hotline, a network of civilian operatives that aid Cap in helping people all around the country. Later, when Cap temporarily lost his powers due to the breakdown of the Super Soldier Serum, Free Spirit was one of the heroes Cap left in charge of the hotline. Most recently, Free Spirit and regular partner Jack Flag have played a major role in the ongoing “Steve Rogers: Captain America.”
13. JACK FLAG
Debuting a few issues later in “Captain America” #434 by the same creative team of Gruenwald, Hoover and Roussos, Jack Flag is another younger patriotic hero Cap took under his wing as a member of Captain America’s Hotline. As kids, Jack and his brother Drake were civilian members of Cap’s hotline, and created a local citizen’s patrol in their hometown of Sandhaven, Arizona. After a group of criminals paralyze Drake, the two learn that the Serpent Society has infiltrated Sandhaven and paid off the police.
Infuriated, Jack begins weight lifting and training in martial arts, intending to take on the Serpent Society himself, and choosing the alias Jack Flag, a name he thought would make Cap proud. Jack manages to infiltrate the Serpent Society and, after a fight with Mr. Hyde where he is doused with Hyde’s chemicals, Jack gains superpowers. Before returning to defeat King Cobra, Jack contacts Cap, who along with Free Spirit, arrive to help Jack defeat the Serpent Society. From then on, Jack was a frequent partner of both Cap and Free Spirit (as well as a brief stint with the Guardians of the Galaxy) before his apparent death on the pages of “Steve Rogers: Captain America.”
Originally introduced in “Amazing Spider-Man” #692, by writer Dan Slott and artists Humerto Ramos and Edgar Delgado, Andy Maguire was briefly Peter Parker’s protégé and sidekick. Before becoming Alpha, Andy was just another average student attending Midtown High with few friends and a poor relationship with his parents. While on a field trip to Horizon Labs, a demonstration on Parker Particles by Peter causes an accident, leaving Andy with the ability to create hyper-kinetic energy using the forces of the universe.
After having his powers examined by some of the finest super-minds in the Marvel Universe, Mister Fantastic suggests Andy become the new spokesperson for Horizon Labs while undertaking superhero training with Spider-Man. Though Andy’s intentions as Alpha are good, his reckless behavior leads to a number of incidents — including nearly killing Peter, Aunt May and her then-husband Jay Jameson while trying to help the Avengers battle Terminus — forcing Peter to build a machine zapping Andy of much of his power. Thanks to Doc Ock’s actions during “Superior Spider-Man,” Andy saw 10% of his powers return and has since attempted to make a name for himself as the protector of Pittsburgh, where he moved to after his parent’s divorce.
11. BOB, AGENT OF HYDRA
Bob, Agent of Hydra, was a spineless young man coerced into joining the criminal organization by his wife, Allison, who accused him of being unable to hold a job. He worked as a member of Hydra until he first met the Merc With a Mouth in “Cable & Deadpool” #38 by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Reilly Brown, when Deadpool stormed the Hydra base he was stationed at to save the captured Agent X.
After failing to coerce Bob into helping him of his own accord, Deadpool (who had been shrunken down to only four inches tall at the time) tortured Bob with a security card until he agreed to help fly Deadpool and Agent X to safety. After returning to the states, Bob aided Deadpool on another search and rescue mission before becoming an honorary member of Agency X and a steadfast ally and friend to Deadpool (despite his erratic behavior and semi-frequent abuse).
In the early ’80s, the United Kingdom’s premiere superhero Captain Britain had an Elven sidekick known as Jackdaw who hailed from the parallel universe of Otherworld. Originally appearing in issue #57 of the UK-only comic “Hulk Comic” (a.k.a. “The Incredible Hulk Weekly”) by writer Steve Parkhouse and artist John Stokes, Jackdaw was an Elven archer with psychic abilities who aided Captain Britain and Black Knight on their quest to find Camelot and resurrect King Arthur.
After King Arthur’s revival, Jackdaw officially became Captain Britain’s sidekick and traveled with him to Earth-238, an alternate Earth where all Superheroes have been outlawed and killed. After jumping in front of a shot intended for Captain Britain, Jackdaw dies before being revived by Merlyn (who also gave him his own superhero costume). Sometime later in Earth-238, Jackdaw would die again permanently at the hands of the Fury, the semi-organic cyborg that killed all of Earth-238’s heroes. After being shot by the Fury, Jackdaw died in Britain’s arms, believing Merlyn would resurrect him. But after Britain died too, Merlyn was only able to save one of them and so Jackdaw was never seen again.
The only other non-human entry on this list, Lockheed is the purple, cat-sized, alien dragon companion of Kitty Pryde. First introduced during Chris Claremont’s legendary “Uncanny X-Men” run in issue #166 by Claremont and artists Paul Smith and Glynis Wein, Kitty and Lockheed first meet after the X-Men are captured and taken hostage on an alien planet by a race known as the Brood. After Lockheed saves Kitty from the Brood, he returns with her to Earth.
Kitty tried hiding him from Professor X and the rest of the X-Men, but his existence was revealed after he again saved Kitty’s life from another band of aliens. Ever since, he’s been a member of the X-Men (as well as satellite groups like Kitty’s European based “Excalibur” team) and Kitty’s near constant companion. Though he was long thought of as merely Kitty’s pet, he was later revealed to belong to a race of highly intelligent creatures with an insect-like hive mind, where he was a celebrated hero. As a result, Lockheed is actually able to speak several languages and think on an advanced level despite his choice to largely remain silent.
8. FOGGY NELSON
Though the two have had many ups and downs over the years, few relationships have been as enduring or endearing as the partnership between Matt Murdock a.k.a Daredevil and his best friend and law partner, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. First introduced in “Daredevil” #1 by writer Stan Lee and artists Bill Everett, Steve Ditko, and Sol Brodsky, the good-natured law student was Matt’s roommate at Columbia Law School before eventually transferring to Harvard Law School together.
After graduation, the two started their own law firm, “Nelson and Murdock,” and Matt began acting as Daredevil (unbeknownst to Foggy). This, along with their rivalry for the affections of their secretary, Karen Paige, and Matt’s penchant for taking on cases involving supercrime (while Foggy preferred corporate law), led to a lot of conflict between the two. Fortunately, mutual respect, love and loyalty would always see the two reconcile before long. After Matt’s identity was revealed to Foggy (and later the world), he was often more directly involved with Matt’s double life and, despite understanding his need to be Daredevil, regularly expressed his concern for his friend.
7. DUM DUM DUGAN
Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan has stood by Nick Fury’s side since the pair debuted on the pages of “Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos” #1 by writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. Originally written as a British citizen, Dugan was introduced as a circus strongman who helped Fury and his captain, Sam “Happy” Sawyer, escape the Nazis during a mission. As a result, Dugan enlisted in the British army and, when Sawyer put together the Commandos, he invited Dugan to transfer to the American army to become Fury’s second in command.
After WWII, Dugan left the military, but rejoined the Commandos during the Korean War as Second Lieutenant under Fury. When Fury transitioned into espionage after Vietnam, Dugan remained by his side through his work for the C.I.A. and the eventual formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. During the events of the “Original Sin” storyline, it’s revealed that in 1966, a year after the in-universe creation of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dugan was mortally wounded on a mission and Fury secretly kept his body in suspended animation, using advanced Life Model Decoys retrofitted with alien tech to allow Dugan, without his knowledge, to broadcast his consciousness to them.
6. WAR MACHINE
Debuting in “Iron Man” #118 by writer David Michelinie and artists John Byrne and Glynis Wein, James “Rhodey” Rhodes met Tony Stark after his helicopter was shot down over Asia, where he ran into Tony after his escape from Wong-Chu’s prison. They travel through the jungle, eventually finding an enemy base which they destroy before escaping to the nearest American camp where Tony offered Rhodey a job as his pilot. Following a succession of post-war jobs, Rhodey accepted Tony’s offer and became his pilot, chief aviation engineer at Stark Industries and Tony’s closest friend.
Rhodey regularly assisted Tony in battles against Stark’s rogues gallery and, when a series of devastating personal blows drive Tony to relapse into alcoholism, it was Rhodey who replaced him as Iron Man. When Tony returned as Iron Man, Rhodey remained at his side (despite a few notable conflicts between the two). When Tony seemingly died later on, he left Rhodey in charge of his company and gave him what would become the War Machine armor. Though their relationship took a serious hit when it was revealed Tony was in fact still alive, the friends would later reconcile and continue to work together.
Debuting (albeit unnamed) alongside Doctor Strange in “Strange Tales” #110 by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Wong is a descendant of the Chinese monk Kan, who long ago vowed that he and all of his family’s first-born sons would serve the Sorcerer Supreme. His father, Hamir the Hermit, presented him to the Ancient One at the age of four, and from that point on, Wong’s life was dedicated to the Ancient One and the study of both mystical and martial arts.
Once Wong reached adulthood, The Ancient One sent him to serve his apprentice, Doctor Strange, and he has been Strange’s companion (almost) ever since. The one time in the duo’s history they were truly at odds was after Wong blamed the death of his wife Imei (at the hands of the demon Xaos) on Strange, and subsequently took up arms against him. The two eventually made peace and Wong returned to Strange’s side as his equal instead of as a servant.
Thomas “Toro” Raymond, the sidekick of the android original Human Torch from Marvel’s beginnings as Timely Comics, made his first appearance in the second issue of “Human Torch Comics” in a story called “Introducing Toro, the Flaming Torch Kid” by writer/artist Carl Burgos. The son of Fred Raymond, a scientist who specialized in asbestos and a lab assistant to Phineas Horton, the scientist who created the Human Torch, and Nora Jones, a scientist who worked with Radium, Toro was born with an immunity to fire.
He found himself an orphan after the villain Asbestos Lady placed a tree in the path of a train Toro and his family were on, and his parents died in the ensuing fire. Toro was left unharmed and a couple of fire-eating circus performers who saw the crash (and Toro’s abilities) took him under their wing. After hearing about “Toro the Fire Eating Boy,” the Human Torch went looking for Toro and, upon finding him, caused an activation of dormant powers exactly like the Torch’s. Torch became Toro’s legal guardian and the two became an accomplished crime fighting team.
Next to Bucky, Sam Wilson, a.k.a. The Falcon (and the current Captain America), has been Captain America’s most notable crime fighting partner (even earning the addition of “and the Falcon” to the covers for issues #134–192 and 194–222 of “Captain America”). Making his debut in “Captain America” #117 by writer Stan Lee and artists Gene Colan and Joe Sinnott, Sam is also notable for being the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics (though the second overall after Black Panther).
When Sam found himself orphaned after the death of his father and later his mother, he abandoned his life as a community volunteer and turned to a life of crime, moving to Los Angeles and adopting the persona “Snap” Wilson. On his way to Rio de Janeiro for a job, his plane crashed on Exile Island where, after having his history altered by The Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube, he met his Falcon companion Redwing, as well as Captain America. It was there that they developed his Falcon persona and teamed up for the first time to free the island’s natives from the Exiles and Red Skull.
2. RICK JONES
Though he might not be the most recognizable name on this list, Rick Jones is arguably the ultimate sidekick in Marvel’s history. Though the character is best known for his role as a supporting player to the Hulk, Rick has also been a member of the Avengers and a sidekick to Captain America, Mar-Vell, Rom the Spaceknight and Genis-Vell. Debuting in “The Incredible Hulk” #1 by writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman, Rick was a vagrant teenager who, after accepting a dare, found himself on the test site of Bruce Banner’s Gamma Bomb. Bruce managed to push Rick out of the way, instead taking the gamma radiation himself and becoming the Hulk.
Feeling responsible for Bruce’s predicament, Rick became Bruce/Hulk’s sidekick and founded the Teen Brigade, a group of ham radio enthusiasts who helped him track the Hulk, and later acted as the catalyst for uniting the Avengers for the first time. When Hulk later left the team, Rick was made an honorary Avenger, training with Cap and even acting as his new Bucky for some time, which gave him the training needed to become a major player in the Marvel Universe ever since.
Easily the most iconic sidekick in comics aside from Robin, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes debuted alongside Cap in “Captain America” #1 by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, and was by Steve Rogers’ side for nearly every appearance for the first eight years of his publication history. The waning popularity of superheroes caused “Captain America” to be cancelled after issue #75, so Bucky would only sporadically appear alongside Cap over the next 14 years until Cap’s Silver Age Revival in “The Avengers” #14 by writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Stan Goldberg.
Bucky would still be seen in the rare flashback, but remained dead until 2005, when it was revealed that instead of dying, Bucky’s body was retrieved by a Russian submarine and, with no memory of his past, he was reprogrammed as the assassin known as The Winter Soldier. Steve managed to restore Bucky’s memories using the Cosmic Cube, and after the events of Civil War saw Steve assassinated, Bucky famously took up the mantle of Captain America until Steve’s return.
Who was your favorite entry? Any sidekicks you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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