CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 39. . . .June 8, 2018
Nick the Sidekick.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2018.
48 pp., hardcover, $15.99.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Mallory Dawson
At first, Nick questioned all the superhero traditions.
“Why do superheroes wear their shorts outside their suits? Why do they all have belts with no loops?” – Nick.
He disliked all clichés, so he didn’t want to be a typical superhero.
“Is it written somewhere that if you’re a superhero, you have to wear spandex?” – Nick.
“Hey, that’s one of the reasons I got into the biz. I get to wear a spandex onesie all day!” – Super Fantastic Guy.
“Okaa-aa-aay… And why the cape? It’s just cumbersome.” – Nick.
“But look how it flows!” – Super Fantastic Guy.
“Sigh. All right. I give up. Just give me the standard red, blue, and yellow outfit.” – Nick.
“The only suit we have in your size is this purple-and-lime number. And here’s a fanny pack. We’re all out of utility belts.” –Woman at a desk.
In the opening panel of this graphic novel, we meet our hero, Nick, standing proudly on top of a building overlooking the big city as his cape billows in the night sky. Just kidding, he’s not an actual superhero, just a superhero assistant, but, whatever you do, don’t call him a sidekick! What is his superpower? He was born with extra big ears, so big that his classmates teased Dumbo would be jealous. But, with super big ears comes super hearing, and Nick could hear an ice cream truck across town, his teachers whispering in the staff room, and, most importantly, he could hear kids in peril! His hearing was so impressive he was recruited by Super Fantastic Guy right out of school to be, not a superhero per se, but a superhero assistant!
While Nick is excited, he never really liked all the superhero clichés. He can’t see himself wearing a cape and flying around with shorts over his pants, and he certainly doesn’t like the inevitable superhero training montage. But they were small sacrifices for the promise of putting his super hearing to good by solving crimes, stopping bad guys, and most importantly, helping people in need. The only thing standing in his way is his mentor, Super Fantastic Guy, who refuses to share the limelight and always manages to take full credit. Can they learn to truly work together so that Nick finally gets the recognition he deserves?
Dave Whamond, the author and illustrator of Oddrey and the New Kid, has made his graphic novel debut with Nick the Sidekick. The combination of very colourful illustrations, witty commentary, and a relatable underdog story makes for a very entertaining read! The illustrations add to the action story in the panels, creating a fast-paced and exciting plot.
The fun, bright graphics, paired with clean, cheeky humour make Nick the Sidekick a great read to recommend to reluctant readers. However, there is an unfortunate lack of diversity, which is especially disappointing since it self-describes as hating all superhero clichés, and yet the characters live up to a typical all white male cast. While Nick’s best friend is a girl, she only appears briefly in three scenes, making her character feel more like an afterthought as she contributes nothing to the plot.
Mallory Dawson is the Community Engagement Librarian at Whitby Public Library in Whitby, ON.
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University of Manitoba
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