Donald Draper wrote:
It also seems to have become a form of commentary in some recent cases. Since Jason Todd's death that the very idea of Robin, Batman having a child sidekick, is outdated.
What of the death of Bucky?
This is really interesting. Are all sidekicks outdated now? What really is the purpose of the sidekick?
Some sidekicks give us entre into the world of the hero. Watson was not only a normal guy with whom the reader could identify, he was the narrator and chronicler of Holmes's adventures. Robin, and the spate of young sidekicks at the time (Speedy, Bucky, Butch, Boy, Jimmy Olson, and later Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl) also were intended to give the young comic reader someone to relate to in these stories - to feel that they were in on the adventure. And, despite the bullets flying and wartime context, the tone was generally light (indeed, the advent of Robin lightened up the tone of Batman considerably, his origin notwithstanding) and the danger a fanciful abstraction.
Sidekicks also served the function of providing contrast for the hero's extraordinary skills. Holmes famously remarked to Watson, "It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it...When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth."
Sidekicks are always inferior to the hero -- either they are a comic figure like Doiby Dickles or Cisco Kid's Pancho, a youth like Robin, a racial minority like Kato or Tonto - basically someone who, even when competent, could in no way compete with the hero for the limelight. Of course, the advent of racial justice and the rise of the anti-hero did a lot to change that dynamic.
So, between the "darkening" of comics and the erosion of the classic worship of the hero, are all sidekicks outdated at this point?