I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of The League of Regrettable Sidekicks by Jon Morris, a gorgeous technicolor reference tome that documents some of the worst comic book characters to grace the racks of local grocery stores and dusty comics shops. It occurred to me—these would make superb Halloween costumes, especially if you’re the sort who loves to explain yourself all night to strangers (you know who you are). So here are a few suggestions, if your usual go-tos have failed you.
Note before we begin: Some Halloween costumes can come off offensive if carried off without sensitivity. This list is not meant to condone those practices. Do not use fun and/or odd characters as an excuse to ridicule others, please.
The Raven (Feature Comics and Police Comics — Quality)
The best part of this costume is that you would be the sidekick of Spider Widow. Scratch that, the best part of this costume will be your green tights. Scratch that, the best part of this costume will be your ten foot wing span and unnerving open-mouthed bird head that your real face will peer out from. And you’re Spider Widow’s significant other! That’s kinda cool, right? You’re like Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor… but weirder! Honestly, if you’re going to fight crime and make the world a better place, why wouldn’t you want to do it in a giant bird costume. Michael Keaton’s performance in that weirdo movie has got nothing on you.
Gaggy (Batman — DC Comics)
Harley Quinn has become one of the most popular Halloween costumes these past few years, and it’s easy to see why; the costume can be reinterpreted any number of ways, she’s a fun character who doesn’t suffer (most) fools, and people are strangely enamored of her abusive relationship with Batman’s arch nemesis, the Joker. Wanna one-up every Harley this year? Consider going as Gaggy, another Joker sidekick introduced in the 1966 comics. Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy was notable for being an inspiration to the Joker—he was capable of making the Clown Prince of Crime laugh, and when the Joker laughed, he came up with criminal schemes. He was revived decades later in a far more grisly form, but before that, Gaggy was a crucial part of the Joker’s crew.
Dandy (Yankee Comics — Chesler / Dynamic)
If Captain America doesn’t scream “U.S.A.!” enough for you, this is a couples costume you’re sure to love; Dandy, the other half of Yankee Doodle Jones’s fighting duo. Yankee was created from a lab experiment to make a super-soldiery type deal, but the scientist in charge of the project had a teenage son who was also really keen on getting those powers. He ended up getting his hands on the special juice and injecting himself with it, making himself Yankee’s partner. This is a good thing because he’s the brains of the operation—Yankee doesn’t have much direction without him. So Dandy must sustain himself with cake and sarcasm. Mostly cake, it would seem.
1A (Magnus, Robot Fighter — Valiant Comics)
Lots of robots seem to say “Kill all humans.” What about one that says “Kill all robots” for a change? 1A is the partner of Magnus, Robot Fighter, from the eponymous comic series. Actually, that’s not precisely true—1A raised Magnus from childhood, training him to protect citizens against the more unscrupulous of his kin. So the robot is pretty complex, all things told, though there’s a parental vibe toward Magnus. The point is, 1A is cool and has a name that can be easily confused with steak sauce, which is a great way to puzzle people on Halloween.
Jaxxon (Star Wars — Marvel)
Look, everyone is trying to have that real deep cut Star Wars costume, the one that proves you know way too much. You’ve seen things; Boba Fett underoos; the Star Wars Holiday Special; Jar Jar tongue lollipops. Whether it’s one of Padmé’s more obscure wardrobe choices, or a crew of jawas, it’s a tough game out there for fans to pick something truly hidden. So your best bet is Jaxxon, a giant green rabbit who hung out with Han Solo in some of the very first Star Wars comics. He’s admittedly not the weirdest member of Han Solo’s “Star-Hoppers,” but he leaves the most obvious impression. A bunny with blasters. You’ve got your opportunity, now is your moment.
Papa (Stuntman — Family Comics, Inc.)
What if you’re super lazy and you forgot Halloween this year, you don’t have the energy, and your kid prefers family matching sets? This short comic in the pages of Stuntman (a Kirby/Simon creation!) feels your pain, and it’s ready to catch you when you fall. Papa is sidekick to his son, Junior Genius (not a gender-specific name, so it doesn’t matter if your kid is a girl, or non-binary, or anywhere in-between). All the kid needs in some nerdy clothes and science-y instruments, and all you need is a pair of jeans and a red sweater that says “PAPA” on it. Literally, that’s it. Then you follow your kid around while they do generally brilliant stuff. And when people stare and insist that you’re not really wearing a costume, you get to drop a trough of Golden Age knowledge on them.
Super-Ann (Amazing Man — Centaur Comics)
Super-Ann is the world’s strongest girl! She’s partners with Mighty Man, but, eh. Ignore him; he basically cons her into being his sidekick and lets her do most of his dirty work. You don’t need him to pull this one off. All you need is a little retro glam and a cardboard “safe” strapped to your arm. You might need to give yourself a name tag, since she’s not one for flashy spandex or logos. It’s more a fun excuse to wear matte lipstick and find a great green vintage dress while striking power poses.
Frobisher (Doctor Who — IDW Comics)
Have you got a penguin onesie that you’ve been dying to break out in public, but annoyed that most people are unimpressed by a simple Kigurumi as a Halloween costume? You’re about to level up, my friend: in the Doctor Who comics, the Sixth Doctor (the one with the rainbow coat) had a companion who was a talking penguin. Well, not technically. Frobisher was actually a shape-shifting alien who chose to take the form of a penguin for some time. He’s met other Doctors on his adventures, too, so you should feel safe running up to any Doctor on Halloween and shouting “It’s me! Frobisher!” You’ll be in good company.
Elf With a Gun, AKA Melf (The Defenders — Marvel Comics)
Wait, what??? How… how is this is thing that exists? Who would take a stock Christmas store elf costume and do this to us? The Defenders, that’s who. While the title was going through a fascinatingly disjointed era, this elf showed up across twenty odd issues to off people, seemingly for no reason—and without ever actually crossing paths with the titular heroes. The character died before anything could be revealed about his motivations; a later retcon seemingly explained his presence in part an elaborate conspiracy involving other gun-toting elves, but that was then revealed to be a “cosmic hoax”. Fans have debated the reason for the appearance of this figure for ages, to no avail. The sudden proliferation of Elf On a Shelf only makes this more creepy. If you found a friend willing to don that costume, and maybe the Will Ferrell version, you could wind up with a whole cadre of Disturbing Elves for Halloween.
Super-Hip (The Adventures of Bob Hope — National Periodical Publications/DC Comics)
Have you ever wanted to be a literal embodiment of what “the kids” like these days? If you do—and you also wanted to be sidekick to comedian Bob Hope, for whatever reason—you are gonna love Super-Hip. The best part of this this costume isn’t the mod haircut or the cravat or the guitar, though. It’s the fact that this character literally results from another person “hulking out” into him. Super-Hip is actually Tadwaller Jutefruce, the son of Hope’s old college buddy, and he’s way more interested in his studies than he is in partying like other kids his age. But you will like him when he’s angry, as whenever he gets upset, he transforms into Super-Hip and stops being such a stick in the mud. Party down, youths.
D-Man (Captain America — Marvel Comics)
Be honest. All you really want to do this Halloween is confuse people with a costume that looks like it should be a ridiculous superhero off-brand knockoff that somehow isn’t. Well you’re in luck, because Captain America once had a sidekick named D-Man whose costume was… puzzling. Half-Wolverine, half-Daredevil, Demolition Man’s costume is more funny for the fact that it’s intentionally derivative. Super strong wrestler Dennis Dunphy actually enjoyed the combo look and never bothered going for his own thing. Cap wasn’t bothered either—well, it’s not his look that’s being borrowed—so he never raised much concern over the strange cribbing. This costume is perfect. Wear it. Baffle friends. Enrage know-it-alls who are convinced that you’ve made an error. Demolish.
You can find many more of these gems in The League of Regrettable Sidekicks, out on October 23rd from Quirk Books.