Babies are many things. They can be cute, gooey, smelly, and the apple of their parents’ eyes. They also tend to be fragile. Babies are the things that we may want to protect the most in any given situation.
So, what if the baby in question actually somehow becomes a superhero? To answer that question, we come to Baby Wildebeest.
Creating a credible kid sidekick isn’t an easy task. The basic concept is always to give the younger readers a character they can personally identify with. The problems there are legion. For starters, readers want to be Batman, not Robin. Furthermore, the sidekick has to have the correct amount of competence. Too much and the character can outshine the hero and readers don’t like that. Not enough and the sidekick will need too much constant rescuing. And then there’s the issue of older writers trying to write “hip” dialogue for a character much younger than themselves, as was the disastrous case of Snapper Carr when he first arrived on the scene as the Justice League’s sidekick.
Good sidekicks and younger characters can be done. But for every successful Robin, there’s probably three or four (at least) Danny Chases.
There was a time when Marvel’s X-Force was one of its hottest properties. As drawn by Rob Liefeld, the book chronicled a group of hard-hitting mutants who believed in preemptive strikes against the bad mutants of the world, and likewise for not being so gentle and leaving them to walk away. The original line-up has gotten a lot of mileage at Marvel, with many of the characters appearing in various X-books since the team first premiered in 1991.
Over the years, DC’s Teen Titans group has been one of those perennial books that’s always around. At one time, The New Teen Titans, as written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, was one of it not the hottest comic around, rivaling The Uncanny X-Men for popularity. The classic line-up that included Nightwing, Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling, Wonder Girl, and some others was all the rage. Other Titans came and went, such as Kid Flash, Speedy, Aqualad, Red Star, Pantha, and Wildebeest, but the core group was what the fan remembered.
Then, after the Zero Hour storyline, a new line-up appeared. Gone were most of the classic Titans, possibly due to no longer technically being “teens”. In its place was a line-up that at least looked interesting. There was former Speedy Roy Harper, now going by Arsenal. Donna Troy went by her real name and was, at the time, a member of the spacefaring police force, the Darkstars. Former Team Titans from a collapsed future timeline Mirage and Terra were there. So was the at-the-time only Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, as were two teen heroes from the period, Impulse and Damage.
The comic book version of Green Arrow is best known as being one of the few heroes with a distinctive political point of view. Who does Superman vote for? Who knows? Green Arrow is an out-and-out bleeding heart liberal, and that’s probably one of his defining characteristics.
Except he wasn’t always that way. The character existed for a good twenty years before his political perspective came up at all. Prior to that, he was the standard white bread DC hero who did good because it was good and if he ever had a thought deeper than which arrow to use at any given moment, he sure didn’t share it. In point of fact, the guy was a Batman rip-off, living as a millionaire playboy with his sidekick and ward in a big mansion with a cave and a car and a plane underneath his home. It’s not much of a memorable era for the Emerald Archer.
Gabbing Geek Jenny has, in the past, stated her belief in Madam Xanadu as an iconic character. I tried one before to to suggest that maybe Phantom Lady had a better claim to that title under her criteria (does not have a male version, has not cameoed in a movie or TV show, has an origin story older than the mid-90s, and has been read by Jenny). Jenny said Phantom Lady’s costume sucked (which, to be fair, it does), but maybe for my weekly “This one died!” column we can try a different character with a better claim than Madam Xanadu.
Let’s talk about Elasti-Girl. And I do not mean the one in The Incredibles. Pixar actually asked DC for permission to use the name, and it was granted so long as the name was never used in the marketing. If you get that action figure from The Incredibles line, her name will be listed as “Mrs. Incredible”.
Many longtime DC Comics fans probably know Donna Troy as the original Wonder Girl, teenage sidekick to Wonder Woman, longtime member of the Teen Titans. They also probably know Donna’s backstory is a convoluted mess.
There’s a really good reason for that. Donna was added to the Titans by mistake and creators have been trying to fix that screw-up ever since.