The Human in Superhuman: The Power of the Sidekick in Popular Culture spotlights the often overlooked but very crucial sidekick in superhero narratives. From the classic companion Alfred Pennyworth to the supportive best friend Foggy Nelson, this collection examines a variety of sidekick characters and their importance to the hero’s journey in each story. Ultimately, rather than viewing the lack of superpowers as a flaw, the essays show that it is precisely human qualities like compassion, empathy, and encourage that enable the sidekicks to help their heroes grow. Chapters include discussions of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, and more.
Sandra Eckard is professor of English and director of the Writing Studio at East Stroudsburg University.
Alex Romagnoli is the Chair of Special Education and associate professor of English Education at Monmouth University.
Chapter 1 Learning to Spin the Hero Web: Adult Mentorship That Inspires and Empowers in Spider-Man Stories
Mary T. Christel
Chapter 2 Foggy Nelson: A Journey from Best Friend to Hero in Daredevil
Gian S. Pagnucci
Chapter 3 From Typical Teen to Sidekick: The Transformation of Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Chapter 4 The Wakanda Design Group
Walter D. Greason
Chapter 5 Overcoming Great Fear: Jessica Cruz, Mental Illness, and the Green Lantern Corps
Chapter 6 What it Means to be Noble: An Examination of Donna Noble’s Importance within the Doctor Who Universe
Chapter 7 Mission Control: Barbara Gordon’s Oracle Breaks the Mold
Stephen M. Zimmerly
Chapter 8 Iris’s Impact and Inspiration: The Importance of Iris West in The Flash
Jennifer L. Toney
Chapter 9 Hermione as the Hero: Using Empathy and Connection to Save the Wizarding Community and Educate the Wizard’s Ego
Melissa Caliendo & Kerry Carley Rizzuto
Chapter 10 What I Need Is You: The Partnership of Bruno Carrelli and Kamala Khan in the Ms. Marvel Comics
Margaret A. Robbins
Chapter 11 You Be the Hero, I Remain the Sidekick?: Rick Jones’ Quest to Save Humanity
Anke Marie Bock
Chapter 12 Agent Margaret ‘Peggy’ Carter: Captain America’s Moral Compass
Chapter 13 Alfred Pennyworth, a Superhero’s Mentor: Understanding Effective Mentorship Through Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy
William O. George III, Wendy Gray Morales, & Jacob George
Chapter 14 Humans and Gods: Steve Trevor and Etta Candy Navigating Wonder Woman’s Universe
Maryanne A. Rhett
In a political climate dominated by calls for individualism and personal responsibility and where we are always one election away from demagoguery, we could use reminding of how much we need and depend on each other. This collection of wonderfully thoughtful essays shows us that even the most “super” heroes need to be in community with others to be successful. Reading these essays is not only at times hilariously entertaining, but deeply thought-provoking as it sheds light on the ordinary heroism of standing together, side by side, as we face the challenges of living in the 21st century.