Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Forgotten Heroes of the Golden Age

This isn't about any specific heroes, nor is it in regards to any creators. This post is about a trend that has pretty much withered and died- the fat guy sidekick, the bumbling man-child, the goofy Snarf to a superhero's Lion-O.

It used to be that a hero wasn't a hero without some doofus hanging around. Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Mr. America, the Flash, Green Lantern and others were saddled with tubby, old, clumsy, and/or stupid sidekicks. Even Batman's venerable butler Alfred used to be short and pudgy. It was a different time. No doubt this practice hearkened back to the era of Vaudeville, where the thin straight man would be partnered with a chubby guy who was, ostensibly, the "funny" one.

But no more. Nowadays, thanks to Robin and others, sidekicks have to be young, hip, and relevant. And comics isn't the only field that this trend is affecting. When I was a youngster, Final Fantasy games would include at least one character who was a cantakerous old coot. You don't see that anymore. Heck, the oldest character in Final Fantasy XII was 34! That's not nearly old enough to imagine him uttering lines like "You spoony bard!"

Let us not forget these selfless tubs of goo, these human shields whose sole purpose was to make already brave and handsome men seem braver and... uh, handsomer. With the recent announcement of the new Young Justice cartoon, there's too great a risk of these stalwart fat guys being forgotten. Can you live with that? Can you honestly wake up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror, and be proud that you live in a world without Doiby Dickles? I know I can't. I can't do that at all! Think about it, won't you? Because this country is built upon the fat and stupid, and if they are phased out in the fictional world, what will happen to us slobs in the real world? At the very least, green turtlenecks, bowties, and outdated haberdashery will only be worn by outlaws.

Because comics don't have enough Andy Rooney look-a-likes.

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