The worst superhero sidekicks of all time

Superhero sidekicks are kind of awful. In the best possible scenario, they're just a weaker version of the superhero they accompany … and at their worst, they make for a pretty great moving target. Comics have mostly stopped embracing the ridiculous phenomenon of the sidekick, but history has brought us some glowing examples of absolutely pointless and ridiculous tagalongs. Here are a few of the dumbest.

Toro - The Human Torch

When your number one archenemy is named "Asbestos Lady," you're probably not destined for greatness. Marvel Comics can't seem to decide if Toro is the product of radiation exposure in the womb, if he's a mutant, part robot, or if he's an Inhuman. Either way, his powers are almost exactly the same as his mentor, the original android Human Torch, plus some Wolverine-y healing factor stuff. No amount of retcons really seem to be able to find him a place in a world with a much more popular, visually identical hero: Johnny Storm, the modern Human Torch.

H.E.R.B.I.E. - The Fantastic Four

H.E.R.B.I.E. is everything wrong with sidekicks, wrapped into one horrible robot. Because Marvel Comics couldn't keep the rights to its properties straight even back in 1977, they'd prematurely sold off Human Torch to Universal. So, when a Fantastic Four animated series was proposed, Stan Lee had to create a replacement for the missing Torch, and thus H.E.R.B.I.E. became the ridiculous fourth member of the team. The obnoxious, whiny robot somehow transitioned from cartoon canon into actual comic canon, where he was retconned into something slightly less awful. But how hard was it to make a capable robot with a voice that didn't make you want to punch it in the CPU?

D-Man - Captain America

Cap had more than a few sidekicks while Bucky was dead, missing, or just a little evil. Demolition Man, or D-Man for short, certainly was one of them. He's a knockoff of far better characters in virtually every sense, all the way down to his Daredevil-ripoff costume and bootleg Wolverine mask. His only power is superhuman strength, equating him to anyone on the very bottom rung of superheroism. He hung out with Captain America for a bit while investigating the corrupt corporation from which D-Man got his powers. His exploits include attacking Cap at least twice, stealing jewelry in a confused quest for the Infinity Gems, being killed twice and, for a time, smelling exceptionally bad. You almost feel bad for the guy … until you remember that he calls himself D-Man.

Free Spirit - Captain America

Yep, another not-Bucky. By virtue of being created in 1994, Free Spirit is almost automatically a complete waste of paper. Nevertheless, Captain America made her part of his "Captain America Hotline," and later, S.H.I.E.L.D. That second one, however, presumably had something to do with Cap's false memories of being a HYDRA agent. After all, what better way to destroy SHIELD from the inside than to invite one of your most garbage sidekicks of all-time to the party? Like most sidekicks, Free Spirit was just a bad backup of Cap in a terrible costume for fanboys to ogle.

Doiby Dickles - Green Lantern

Well before Green Lantern was an intergalactic superhero, he was just a guy with puffy sleeves and a lantern made from a meteorite, who fought street-level crime. When Green Lantern Alan Scott was presumed dead, Doiby temporarily took up the identity, and impressed Scott so much that he invited Doiby to join him. Even though his powers were limited to beating people with a wrench, driving a cab, and having a speech impediment, that's all it really took in the 1940s. The pudgy brain-basher eventually became king of a distant planet, leaving Green Lantern with a dog named Streak … who would eventually take over Green Lantern's own comic. Bad dog!

Abner Little - Black Panther

Is Black Panther the regal king of a technologically advanced, impossibly wealthy country … or a treasure-seeking adventurer? For a time in the late '70s, Panther helped a little person, appropriately (or offensively) named Abner Little, in his quest for some magical artifacts. The story arc is so off-key from Black Panther's established personality and history, Marvel retconned it by saying that Panther had a brain tumor during the entire adventure. Abner's only superpower was having a whole lot of money and somehow convincing a bozo Black Panther to help him hunt for magic frog statues. It's a rare Jack Kirby miss. Well, rare, except for the next sidekick, too.

Moon Boy - Devil Dinosaur

If you're a massive, intelligent tyrannosaur like Devil Dinosaur, the only thing you really need a tiny companion for is scratching your back or picking your nose. That's about all Moon Boy can do — his literal only superpower appears to be "good at surviving." And since he's a comic book character and thus won't ever die, it's a pretty redundant power. However, because the furry little ape-man once saved the dino's life, the two are bound by a Chewie-Han style life debt. If it's possible for a sidekick to be an actual parasite, Moon Boy is just that. He's latched onto Devil like a lamprey, won't go away, and contributes nothing to the relationship. Kill it with fire.

Sandy the Golden Boy - Sandman

And the award for the Worst Sidekick Name goes to … this creep. Since teenaged sidekicks were pretty popular post-Robin, just about every hero managed to snag one of their own, whether they really wanted to or not. Sandy fought crime alongside the Golden Age Sandman for a time, using the same weaponry as his mentor, until a sand-based gun exploded and turned Sandy into a sand monster. Sandman put Sandy into hibernation to prevent him from going on a murderous rampage, but when Sandy came to, he renamed himself … Sand, because he never really was a creative boy. Now with real superpowers, he also suffers from night terrors and nightmares that can see the future. There's not enough Ambien in the world.