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Webcomic / Sidekick Girl

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"Who hasn't wanted to be a superhero? Everyone's fantasized about donning a costume and using their powers to uphold justice (or make mischief). In Metro City, superheroing isn't a daydream, it's a career path. The hard part isn't acquiring powers, it's getting through all of the red tape in the superhero industry. And it all looks so easy in the movies..."

Sidekick Girl is a webcomic by Lore Cascos & Erica Wagner. The main character is Valerie Upton, a fledgling professional sidekick, assigned to the heroine Illumina. The comic deals mainly with Val and her fellow sidekicks as they fight together and commiserate about their assigned heroes together.

Not to be confused with the Korean webtoon Sidekicks, despite the similar name and premise.

Sidekick Girl provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing: In one of the later arcs, after Val has spent years working within the Hero System to prove herself capable of being moved up to a hero position to the point the Agency considered her one of their most competent sidekicks and agents, this sadly ends up biting her in the ass as The Agency's heads have now deemed her TOO GOOD of a Sidekick to lose, and with their last letter have flat out told her she will forever be a sidekick no matter what appeals she or Illumina make. Val reacts as you'd imagine to this news.
  • Alternate Universe: In another universe Val and Mack are both legendary heroes (as in, Val is not Mack's sidekick) with religions based around them, and are far more powerful than their respective counterparts. Alternate Val is also far ruder and more blunt than normal Val, and does not hesitate to state how much more inferior she is to her.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Chris. As it turns out, this is part of his power: He causes confusion in others.
  • Awesome by Analysis: while it's not an actual superpower, Val is obsessed with finding ways to turn relatively minor or secondary powers into massive tactical advantages just by overthinking them. This starts with parlaying her D-list healing factor into a career as a bruiser by knowing exactly how all-out she can go and still recover, and scales up from there as other heroes start to trust her judgement of what they can do above their own.
  • Badass Boast: The Dark's response to the Dollmaker's statement that she isn't powerful enough to defeat all of his dolls.
    The Dark: Actually... I really kinda am.
  • Badass Preacher: Not only is Mark pretty well built for a priest, but he also takes out a goon offscreen.
  • Bastard Understudy: Isauro/Coldfire, technically.
  • Batter Up!: Val's weapon of choice, "Mr. Bat".
  • BFG: Val's other weapon of choice. Doesn't have a name, doesn't need one.
  • Blessed with Suck: Val cannot die, but can be horrifically wounded. Thankfully, she heals at an accelerated rate.
    • It seems she used to heal at a normal rate, though, making it exponentially more sucky back then.
    • Illumina believes this about her own powers, saying they are nothing more than a distraction, especially when comparing herself to her parents or brother.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The Villain Agency supervisor is named Agent Black. The Hero Agency, which falls short of making effective crimefighting its top priority and comes down hard on crimefighters who don't play by its artificial rules has an Agent named not White, but Grey.
  • Book Dumb: Illumina did poorly in school, but once she went through superhero retraining to get a better grip on her growing abilities, she picks up physics pretty easily because her teachers framed the lessons by explaining how they applied to her powers.
  • Calling Card: The Vigilante leaves messages on post-it notes on villains he beats.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Illumina, of all people. When she meets Sparkle, the sidekick who betrayed her, the first thing she does? Punch Sparkle really hard in the face. She even learned the rules in regard to this sort of thing, to put her in the legal clear.
  • Dating Catwoman: Val's budding relationship with villain sidekick, Isauro.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Chris's super ability is Confusion. Apparently that includes gender confusion.
  • Dumb Blonde: Illumina. Her boyfriend, Maelstrom, is supposedly even dumber.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Sparkle, as a result of her being fed up with Illumina.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Many characters don't have powers useful in melee (or simply don't have useful powers, period), and so they do this. Val is the most notable example, but Chris fights with tonfa and Sparkle tries to pepper-spray the Vigilante (not that it works).
  • For Science!: The Coroner's MO. He's dissecting anyone with powers to see how they work.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Illumina and Sidekick Girl end up with one of these. Sidekick Girl turns out to be able to accomplish more with Illumina's powers than Illumina ever did with maybe a week of practice.
  • Gender-Blender Name: The stunningly androgynous Chris.
  • Genius Bruiser: Val. Skipped on a full-ride scholarship to MIT to go to superhero school, and "Bruiser" is pretty much her job. Especially, when compared to Illumina.
  • Glasses Pull: Val does this with her Domino Mask in the last frame of Interim XXXI along with a One-Liner that amounts to a Shout-Out to Rorschach.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Val is injured far more than any other character, with her superpower stopping her dying and slowly healing her after.
  • Gravity Master: Illumina has slight anti-gravity powers, allowing her to float. Her brother Declan has much more powerful abilities, and is able to increase gravity, pinning enemies to the floor.
    • Illumina appears to have an even stronger version of her brothers gravity powers. Once Delcan pisses her off enough to break through her mental block, she wipes the floor with him in one blow.
  • Groin Attack: Isauro deals one to a goon for no particular reason, lampshaded by Mark.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: Val reveals this side of herself when Jasper recounts his awkward discovery that Chris is male.
  • Heroic Build: Not just a cliché, but one deciding factor of whether a person is a hero or a sidekick is whether or not she looks good in spandex and fills a D-cup bra (for women), or are tall, thin, and well-built (for men). Skill, power and/or intellectual superiority is not a determining trait, though an interesting origin story helps.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Shield asks that Val hit him hard so that his powers kick in and make him smarter so he can figure out how a bunch of Hibernation pods work to get the kidnapped heroes out of them.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The basic theme of the comic. Val is a much more competent fighter than Illumina.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Poison, verbatim, after murdering The Coroner.
  • I Call Her "Vera": Mr Bat, and its successor, Mr Bat II.
  • I Hate Past Me / Future Me Scares Me: Val and her alternate future counterpart don't really like each other, as the result of Future Val having taken a level in jerkass
  • Informed Attribute: Val is supposed to be a genius mechanical engineer, good enough to have been offered a full scholarship to MIT. She has yet to do anything with that talent.
    • This is an invoked trope - Val consciously decided that she had no real desire to pursue the profession, training or not. Most of her character is based around _forcing_ herself into the role of bruiser superhero by willpower, effort, and practice even though her actual powers aren't particularly useful for it. She is intentionally neglecting her engineering expertise for the same reason that she willfully ignores the fact that she has the proportional strength and speed of a 5-foot woman.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Isauro's response to discovering Val is about to be trapped by his villain is: "IGottaGoToTheBathroomTakeMyLunchBreakPickUpMyMotherUpAtTheAirportTheUnionRulesAreABitchSeeYouLaterBye!"
  • Jerkass: Alternate reality Val. She's deadpan, sarcastic, rude and outright tells Val she's not important in any way. This is implied to be partly due to seeing centuries of friends and family die while she is immortal, making her a Jerkass Woobie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: What happens to Dr. Wright (A Mad Scientist obsessed with purging left-handedness from the world). The surgeons had to amputate his right arm, causing him to snap and end up in an insane asylum.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Illumina is normally a Super Zero, but when she's motivated enough she's got quite a powerful punch.
  • Long Runner: Turned 10 on 5/15/2017
  • Mentor Archetype: Dr. Grandpa.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Isauro is a pretty nice guy who is a wanted man for unintentionally allowing a villain to kill a lot of people, and has to be a villain to keep from getting deported to his home country.
  • Most Common Superpower: Enforced. All superheroines are supposed to be incredibly busty. If you don't fit this mold, then you're relegated to sidekick.
  • Mundane Utility: Illumina has been subconsciously using her Gravity Master powers to hold up her hairdo and breasts for years.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Shield's powers. He can take any hit and not only avoid damage but also use that energy to make himself stronger, faster, tougher and smarter. He still doesn't know how that last one happens.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Forever Boy, another of Illumina's former sidekicks. The strain of being a 40-something (with an active sexual appetite) stuck in the body of a 12-year old eventually drove him insane.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Illumina has a rep for getting her sidekicks killed. Only one — Val's predecessor — actually died. And that death was due to a voluntary Heroic Sacrifice on Marina's part, not anything Illumina did.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Dark, and presumably the Vigilante, since they seem to have the same powerset. Declan, as a Gravity Master, is also one.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Shield just plays the Nintendo DS while Sword does all the work. This is because Sword just got a power upgrade and is doing all the work himself.
  • Punch-Clock Hero/Punch-Clock Villain: Most of the main cast. Granted, the heroes and sidekicks are in it for more than just the paycheck.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Poison carving his way through the criminal underworld, searching for The Coroner, who murdered his sister.
    • Illumina/Mackenzie's brother Declan goes through Metro City destroying all the Hero and Villain agency buildings because he feels his heavily scarred appearance is unmarketable and prevents him from working as a hero saying that his face doesn't "inspire the public. Or sell t-shirts."
  • Rule 63: A gender-reversed alternate universe is shown. Clockwork Joe's head is sent there, and later returned.
  • Sidekick Glass Ceiling: If you don't look the superhero part, you're a sidekick. You can sometimes compensate for it with an interesting origin story, but that's it. Apparently, sidekicks can go through a process to become full heroes if their mentors vouch for them.
    • One minor character signed up as sidekick to an aging hero with the understanding that the hero would sponsor the sidekick to become a hero when he retired (And the expectation that that Thunder would retire in 5 years or so). Twenty years later, Thunder is still on active duty, meaning that Lightning Lad is stuck working for him as a sidekick (Thunder won't even let him choose a more mature alias).
  • Selective Obliviousness: Illumina and Maelstrom are lovers in their civilian IDs. Neither knows the other's superhero ID - despite Val dropping hint after hint to them (and outright telling Illumina). Val eventually gets through.
  • Shower of Love: With bonus Godiva Hair.
  • Stripperiffic: Most superheroine uniforms.
    • Val is an exception, as her normal outfit consists of a red tank top and green pants. The costumes her heroes chose for her do tend to fit the bill- Illumina's first choice was a strappy thing that barely covered Val's privates and Shiver's costume bares her arms and midriff.
    • Illumina's latest outfit as of Containment has gotten a lot more sensible than when the comic started — though it's still showy, and has a low-cut top, it otherwise covers most of her flesh.
  • Superhero Origin: One of two deciding factors for whether you're a superhero or a sidekick. Val is a sidekick because she looks like a fighter instead of a porn star and her origin story amounts to "I was hit by a car as a child and realized I could survive anything and eventually heal from it", despite being competent, being a great fighter and having a power that's incredibly useful despite its Blessed with Suck elements.
  • Superhero School: Essentially college. (Val went to the equivalent of a community college, as she was paying her own way.)
  • Super Zeroes: Brains aren't required to look good in spandex.
    • However, Illumina's first sidekick, Sparkle, was a girl who met the rather shallow requirements for being a hero but did so badly in Superhero School that she was demoted to sidekick. Given some of the people who made hero, that's quite an accomplishment.
      • Granted from we know of her, it might has been less because of her brains and more because of her ethics. (She up and ditched Illumina in a fight, joined the Villian Agency as a cat burgar, and the only change she made to her costume (which seems like a requirement from the villians) was adding a corset).
  • Take That!: To Liefeld-esque costumes during the Measure of A Hero mini-arc.
  • Taking the Bullet: The fate of Illumina's late sidekick Marina.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Illumina started out as a decorative but not functional superheroine who had her sidekick do the work while her powers were mostly used to let her boobs and hair defy gravity. That changed after she found herself fighting Declan.
  • The Un-Favourite: Mack/Illumina is the unfavourite compared to her dead brother Declan, who had the actually useful powers out of the two. Her parents are two highly successful and prominent heroes who wanted a grand legacy of super heroics, and when Declan died so did their dream since that just left Mack who can't float higher than she can stand. Whenever they are in town all they seem to do is tell her to do better and mope that Declan isn't alive making her feel like they would have preferred she had died instead of him.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Illumina is the only person who can stand against Declan- because her floating power counters his usual trick of pinning his enemies to the floor with his Gravity Master powers.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Isauro. Wanted Dead in his home country and only working for as a henchman lets him keep his visa.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Val and Illumina, for a certain interpretation of "girly".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Clockwork gets killed because he stared down the barrel of his malfunctioning ray gun.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: When poor Jasper consummated his date with Chris.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Dr. Wright's plan to create the perfect world by eliminating left-handedness.
    • The stupidity gets better. He himself is left handed.
  • Weird Trade Union: The Superhero Agency and its unnamed Evil Counterpart.
  • Well Done Daughter Girl: Illumina wants to make her parents proud of her, and feels like they are disappointed that she can't replace their dead son as their legacy since he had 'real' powers while all she can do is glow and float slightly.
  • Wham Episode: Val finally unmasking her personal nemesis, The Vigilante... Only to discover it's Isauro.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?/Heart Is an Awesome Power: Illumina's only powers are hovering and creating light — not even lasers or anything, just regular light. However — as Val demonstrates when they switch bodies — in the hands of someone competent, this allows her to fall from any height safely and act as a living flashbang grenade.
    • Illumina is the only one able to stand up to her brother Declan, as he's a Gravity Master, and Illumina's floating power means that she's literally the only one able to stand up.
    • Also, Sparkle's sparkles. The one time we actually see her use her power, it just annoys her opponent, and she immediately resorts to pepper spray in an actual fight.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Dark. Watching generations of friends and family die is pretty hard on her emotional stability. After seeing what that did to her, Val is honestly glad that while her own regenerative powers slow her aging, her expected lifespan (Barring illness or spectacular injury) is unlikely to be more than a decade or so longer than a normal human's.