Sidekicks are a venerable institution in superhero comics. For nearly as long as there have been superheroes, those heroes have been finding orphans or people with similar superpowers to train. Some of these sidekicks have went to make their own names and get out from under their mentor's shadow, becoming important members of the superhero community.
Then, of course there are the ones who have never been able to do that. Some have fallen from heroic status. Others just have never been able to distinguish themselves on their own. This list is going to highlight the best and worst of the sidekicks.
10 Better: Tim Drake (Robin III)
Tim Drake was the third Robin, but he's easily one of the best. He was able to deduce Batman's secret identity all on his own, no easy feat for, well, anyone. Among the teenage superhero community of the DC Universe, Tim was always one of the leaders, leading Young Justice and the Teen Titans. What makes him better than Batman is that while he has been through a lot of the same things as Bruce, he has never let it darken him to the same extent.
The only downside to Tim has is that he's mostly been known just as Robin. While other Robins have gone on to take on new mantles, Tim has been stuck as Robin (or Red Robin) his entire superhero career.
9 Worse: Damian Wayne (Robin V)
Damian Wayne is the offspring of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al'Ghul and will never let anyone forget it. A formidable fighter and strategist, Damian's abrasive nature has rubbed many the wrong way. He's the classic example of a spoiled rich kid, except that he has the skills to back up boasts. That said, it's doubtful that he'll ever become a paragon of the superhero community in the same way his father has.
Damian does show some restraint around certain people. His relationship with Dick Grayson was one of mutual respect and Dick was able to get Damian to come out of his shell. His friendship with Jon Kent, Superboy, also has humbled Damian, but just a bit.
8 Better: Falcon
Captain America is one of those heroes who picks up sidekicks like other heroes change their costumes, but his best one is Sam Wilson, the Falcon. Joining him in battle against the Hate-Monger, Falcon would go on to join the Avengers and eventually, take up the mantle of Captain America himself. Falcon didn't have the same enhancements as Steve Rogers, but always put himself in the forefront of every fight, surpassing his mentor in a lot of ways.
His time as Captain America was a great success, as he led teams of Avengers and was in the forefront in the fight against Hydra Cap. He would eventually go back to being Falcon, but he will always be a true hero.
7 Worse: Bucky/Winter Soldier
A lot of what happened to James "Bucky" Barnes wasn't his fault. He never asked to be captured and experimented on by the Russians to become the Soviet Union's top assassin, the Winter Soldier. However, even before that, Bucky had fallen below the superheroic standard set by Captain America. During WWII, Bucky would do all the wetwork that Cap wouldn't, killing many Germans while putting on the facade of a happy go lucky teenager.
He would eventually be redeemed and become Captain America while Steve was "dead", but will never be as great as his mentor.
6 Better: Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
Saying Batgirl is better than Batman is a controversial thing to say, but when one looks at her career, it makes more sense. Batman may be one of the biggest heroes in the DC Universe, but his personal relations with other heroes have been strained, at best. Batgirl, on the other hand, is a different story.
After being paralyzed by the Joker, she became the Oracle, a source of information and support for any hero who needed it. Her relationships with the heroes of the DC Universe are great across the board, unlike those of her mentor.
5 Worse: Red Hood (Jason Todd)
Jason Todd is another hero who didn't have a chance. He became Robin after stealing the Batmobile's tires and then was killed by the Joker. He would be resurrected and then turn to a life of crime as the Red Hood. He would eventually redeem himself, but his methods would stay extreme.
Batman never kills, but Red Hood doesn't have a problem with that sort of thing. He's also even more rude and taciturn than the Caped Crusader, if such a thing is possible. He won't be winning any popularity contests among his fellow superheroes and his own heroics have always fallen short of his mentor's.
4 Better: Wally West (Post-Crisis)
Barry Allen died fighting the Anti-Monitor in Crisis On Infinite Earths and Wally West would take up the mantle of the Flash, in honor of his uncle. He would go on to redefine the mantle for a new generation, discovering the Speed Force, getting married, and starting a family.
Wally was the first sidekick made good. He took on the mantle of his predecessor and surpassed him as a hero, no easy feat when the boots he was filling were those of Barry Allen. He would become the fastest Flash of them all, before temporarily disappearing post-Flashpoint.
3 Worse: Impulse (Bart Allen)
Bart Allen is Barry Allen's grandson from his time in the 30th century. Raised in a VR simulation, he would come back in time and take on the superheroic identity of Impulse, being mentored by Max Mercury, Wally West, and the original Flash, Jay Garrick. With a pedigree of mentors this great he should have went on to big things.
After Wally West disappeared following Infinite Crisis, he would take on the mantle of Flash. His time in the big leagues would be lackluster at best and would end in his death. He would be resurrected, but never again progress into the big leagues of superheroism.
2 Better: Dick Grayson (Nightwing)
Dick Grayson was the first Robin. He would spend years as Robin, become a founding member of the Teen Titans, and become one of the most beloved heroes of them all. Eventually, he would drop the Robin mantle and become Nightwing, the first sidekick to completely step out of his mentor's shadow. He would take up the mantle of Batman twice, the second time with Damian Wayne as his own sidekick.
Dick Grayson is a better hero than Batman for a lot of reasons, but the big one is simply that he is a linchpin of the DC Universe. Every hero likes him and know they can go to him for advice or whatever they need. On top of that, Dick's fighting and tactical skills put him in the same rarefied air as his mentor.
1 Worse: Wally West (Post DC Rebirth)
After having been missing during the entirety of the New 52, Wally West returned to much fanfare in DC Rebirth #1. Fans had been clamoring for his return for a long time and said return was supposed to symbolize a return to a more hopeful time for the DC Universe. He would join his old Teen Titan friends in the Titans and have thrilling adventures with them.
Unfortunately for him, he could remember the old world and his family, and no one else could. This would drive him crazy and he would seek refuge in Sanctuary after the Flash War. While there, he would snap and accidentally kill a bunch of heroes (including his friend Roy Harper, Arsenal), framing Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, before trying to commit suicide. He would be stopped and imprisoned and while he was sorry for what he had done, his sorrow would never erase the stain of that day.