(20th Century Fox Television)
The latest Batman issue from DC Comics enacts a plot twist that's nearly unthinkable — they kill of Robin, the crime-fighter who's been around since 1940. What does this mean for all the other sidekicks out there?
I cannot believe that I just had the newest issue of my favorite comic book spoiled by a show on NPR, just to have an excuse for a pointless and uninteresting segment about sidekicks. The "Robin" who was evidently killed off today (literally, today...do you guys make a point to spoil movies the day they come out too?) is actually the fourth character to play the role of Batman's sidekick and not even the first Robin to be killed off. The first dead robin, Jason Todd, was brought back to life after the shock value of his death had worn off, and this one will probably be revived eventually too. It tends to happen to comic book characters who gain popularity, sidekicks or otherwise.
Sidekicks have a central role in the dynamics of leadership. Where would Barack be without Michelle, or Joe? Where would Capt. Robert FitzRoy, of the HMS Beagle, have been without Charles Darwin -- speaking of sidekicks who have become better known than the ostensible leader? What of Capt. Picard and Cmdr. Riker in StarTrek: TNG? Their fictional relationship over many TV seasons was a case study in how a sidekick has a crucial role to play in the complex human (and alien?) relationships around successful leadership. In my own life and career, I was part of a very successful business partnership where, though we were equal owners, my partner assumed the leading role by mutual agreement. Perhaps because of our different personalities, we were perceived in very different ways by our employees, which helped create a sense of diversity and accommodation within the firm -- even though as owners my partner's and my goals and ambitions for the company were identical. I celebrate the role of sidekick whenever I can -- knowing that leadership is meaningless if no one chooses to follow.
For twenty-five years, I had a business and always had a side-kick. Some helped, some ruined business. It didn't matter. I needed someone around to "bat" ideas around with... The funny part of the situation is, I always called my side-kicks... Henchmen.
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