Strange Sunday – Sidekicks & sponsored heroes

Lately, I’ve been watching a show I should have started watching some time ago: Young Justice. It’s all about those sidekicks of well-known DC heroes, working together as a team to prove their own heroic worth. It’s a cool concept, putting the spotlight on the number twos. It also got me thinking: why always play the big ones in games, when so much can be told from the point-of-view of the up-and-coming? That’s why I dedicate this week’s Strange Sunday to the sidekicks & sponsored heroes, showing you some cool themes that can be explored from their perspective!

While referring to superheroes in the following themes and settings, the ideas can be applied to any kind of game. In a way, a bunch of retired adventurers in Pathfinder who train their protegés are just as much superheroes as Superman or Batman, so feel free to put these ideas in whatever world or setting you’re playing in!

Growing power
The main characters of Young Justice are pretty heroic and powerful at the start of the show. Kid Flash runs really, really fast, and Superboy has almost all the awesomeness his genetic father has. However, compared to their mentors, the members of the young Justice League have a lot to learn. Focusing a game on this growing aspect of the characters seems logical, and it’s one of the easiest themes to explore. Show how much the characters grow in the course of the adventure, by having them fend off encounters with ease that had them struggling to survive earlier on in the campaign.

I am not Superman!
When it’s as strong as Superman, has heat vision like Superman and wears a symbol like Superman, it must be Superman…right? Wrong! Well, at least if you ask Superboy. Similarities between a sidekick and his “master” can be a point of conflict, and you might want to use them in your game. What happens when one of the younger heroes goes out of his way to deny his mentor’s heritage, or to be no longer identified with his deeds? How will that influence the other characters?

Passing down the cape
Another cartoon that focuses on the young hero is Batman Beyond, a show playing in a futuristic Gotham City, where Bruce Wayne decides to pass on the cowl to a teenage boy. While this show focuses more on the one-on-one interaction between an old, stubborn man and a wild, dynamic kid, it also highlights the trouble a former superhero goes through when passing on his former identity. This is another cool way to highlight the special relationship between mentor and student. Put both characters into the same scene, and have them meet each other in social conflicts. See how they both try to give their own spin to a well-known identity!

Well, that’s it for this week’s Strange Sunday. Any stories you have to share, regarding young superheroes? Hit me up in the comments. I’m sure I’ll find time to reply to you in between episodes of Young Justice!

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