Sidekicks: Raven and Wolf

Death with the Four and Raven and Wolf.

Death with the Four and Raven and Wolf.

Ben’s Grim CornerSIDEKICKS: PART 2

There are a lot of heroes in the comic world where, once you’ve read an issue or two, you can see the sidekick in the works. You know the ones I’m talking about, blathering on to themselves about justice and the righteous path and yadda yadda. After the fourth monologue that should have clearly been internal, it’s apparent that Chatty McGee needs a sympathetic ear – preferably in matching colours and able to deliver one-liners that are just lame enough that it makes their fearless leader look cool.

The list is exhaustive, and the names to go with them are … well, frankly, terrible.

Batman and Robin: While arguably the coolest – and most dynamic, in case you didn’t hear – duo out there, being named after a bird whose only claim to fame is waking early to eat worms isn’t exactly striking fear into my heart.

Aquaman and Aqualad: No comment necessary. Proceed directly to boisterous laughter.

Archie and Jughead: Sadly, I think in this case the sidekick is cooler than the hero – and I use that term more loosely than Archie’s commitments to either of the skanks he spends his time with.

Alright, that’s enough digging into the classics. My point is that some heroes are just made for a sidekick. They go together like peanut butter and jam, mutants and Sentinels, evil scientists and death rays.

But sometimes, a hero comes along that is plainly made for the solitary life. It’s the kind of character that never gets caught with their pants down, always gets the job done with grace and seeming ease and, most importantly, keeps their damn trap shut. Let’s face it – it’s hard to have a sidekick if you have nothing to say. It kind of defeats the purpose for having all that company en route to smiting evil. Nightwing (ironically), Spawn, Hawkeye, and Captain Marvel are perfect examples of this; while they might not have much in common – and some have been members of various superteams – even when working with others, they each walk the path of the solo superpower.

That’s what makes our current feature so interesting. Hailing from the year-old bestseller East Of West, this protagonist is notorious for working alone. After all, when have you ever heard of someone working together with Death?

Yeah. The Death. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

And yet, in the dystopian world of Apocalyptic America, Death doesn’t ride alone. No, I’m not talking about his three friends from that famous book at the back of the Bible – in East Of West, those guys are at odds with our pale friend. This time, I’m talking about his two new friends: Raven and Wolf.

Not much is known about the two monochromatic lovers; they follow Death for their own purposes; perhaps that purpose is shared, perhaps not. One thing, however, is certain: the only thing more terrifying than facing Death atop his lethal steed is to face him with a pack of wolves at his feet and a flock of ravens screaming for blood.

It’s not just their ability to assist Death in his primary function that sets them apart, however. While their story is largely unknown – both are members of the cryptic Endless Nation, each is individually a force of great magic with the ability to manifest themselves into the forms of their namesakes, and both seem to have a lot of history together, even before becoming Death’s entourage – they maintain a gravitas all their own. Their shadowy, silent entrance at the beginning of the series engenders a sort of servitude to Death, like this is not a relationship of convenience as much as a debt to be paid. Then, as the story progresses, they begin to fill in the silence – which, for the brooding Horseman they follow, is long and rarely interrupted. Now, on issue 11, you can see that this is not just a tale being told about the world at the end of days, nor is it the epic of a being who, born for the purpose of destruction, has a change of heart. This story is also about Death’s companions, two mystical enigmas with as much at stake as their leader.

To me, that’s the essence of a sidekick. It’s not someone who laughs at your jokes, takes your beatings or listens to your boring tirades about the latest supervillain; it’s someone with their own life and their own motivations who has chosen to share the road with you for a time.

Even if that road leads to Armageddon.

More sidekickery abounds, Extremites.



Raven and Wolf can be found in all eleven issues of Image Comics‘ ongoing series East Of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta.

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About zahrahthustrah

I am all that I am and could be nothing else. Trust me, I've tried.

Posted on May 4, 2014, in East of West, Image Comics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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