This week on The Other Identity, Robbie and Ben pay tribute to the young and bold of the comic world. Teenage Heroes from the universe of both Marvel and DC Comics have taken front and center in the modern age. The young hero concept found major popularity in the Silver Age of comics as all the headlining heroes were given sidekicks. From Robin the Boy Wonder to Aqualad and Ironlad, most teenage heroes started in the shadow of a hero. Through the ages that’s changed as these sidekicks became heroes all their own. In the best cases, like Spider-Man or Ms. Marvel they skipped the sidekick status entirely and debuted as full-fledged heroes of their own. Here are 10 of the best teen heroes in Marvel and DC Comics.
Peter Parker, Spider-Man
Peter Parker is the prime example of a hero skipping the sidekick phase and proving he has what it takes for the big leagues. Stan Lee’s original incarnation of the wall-crawler was 17 when he was introduced. Despite being a young hero, Spider-Man wasn’t defined by his age. He handled the situations he was put in with the same poise and grace as heroes like Captain America or Iron Man. The backdrop of being a high school student thrown into the middle of the hero life is what sets him apart from the other heroes. -Robbie
Dick Grayson, Robin
Here on The Other Identity, we proudly proclaim our preference for independent teenage heroes over the sidekick variety. The exception proving the rule has to be the OG of the younger set, Dick Grayson, aka the original Robin. While many junior assistants seemingly existed only to follow orders and get captured, the Boy Wonder contrasted Batman. Dick Grayson brought a swashbuckling sense of fun to the Dark Knight’s vengeance-driven world. He allowed the Gotham landscape to display at least a little light. -Ben
Barbra Gordan, Batgirl
The Bat Family has grown very large in the past decade with a supporting cast of teens and young adults. Barbara Gordon is unlike any of the others. Batman tends to gravitate towards wards with trauma similar to his own. They use these losses as a way to motivate themselves and push forward. Barbara is the exception to this rule, as she refuses to be defined or haunted by her past traumas. Even after being paralyzed by the Joker, she refused to be sidelined and became The Oracle. That chapter of her life is no just as important as any other moment to her character. She stays positive, cheery, and carriers on a life outside of Batgirl. Something no other Bat-Family member does. -Robbie
Miles Morales, Spider-Man
The web-shooters of Peter Parker can’t be filled easily. However, when the Ultimate version perished heroically, Miles Morales stepped up in a major way. Relatable, hardworking and earnest, the second guy to prove worthy of the name “Spider-Man” has won over fans in his first decade of existence by being a versatile champion for good that everybody can look up to. More than just Peter with different skin color, Miles brings a fresh perspective to web-slinging, -Ben
Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan is on this list because I’ve never seen myself more in a superhero. She bears a lot of similarities to Peter Parker and Miles Morales because she was never a sidekick, she went straight to hero. She did, however, idolize Captain Marvel before and after her powers. As a long fan of superheroes I’ve often wondered what I’d do with powers, how I would cope with that world. Kamala gives an all too real look at what that might look like, from a young person obtaining powers, learning to use them, and how that affects family life. -Robbie
Conner Kent, Superboy
Introduced in the ’90s with a leather jacket and fade cut that screamed “kewl” in an era of excess. This incarnation of Superboy has aged well thanks to the efforts of writers from Karl Kesel to Geoff Johns to Brian Michael Bendis. He’s the high school quarterback of the teen hero set. He’s the jock who may not be the brightest, but he’s got a heart of gold, stands by his friends, and does the right thing—usually. -Ben
Damian Wayne, Robin & Jonathan Kent, Superboy
This entry is a bit different as it consists of two young heroes, who technically barely qualify for the teenage hero. Damian is 13 years old and Jonathan is 12, but both serve very important roles especially to one another. Damian is prodigy, high-level intellect, trained as a master assassin from a young age. He comes with all the Bat-Family tent pole social issues. Refusal to rely on others, trust issues, and deep-seeded trauma. Jonathon is the completely opposite, he’s young and naive, too trusting and still learning how his powers work and where he fits in the world.
Separately, they work best as foils to their fathers Batman and Superman. However, when the two are united in Super Sons they allow each to grow exponentially along with one another. Their very natures provide the perfect juxtaposition between each other and their fathers. They’re literally the future of what Batman and Superman will look like and what the heroes could’ve been under different circumstances. -Robbie
Kitty Pryde, X-Men
By the early 80s, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and the company had solidified the X-Men as the coolest supergroup around. The introduction of Kitty, a genius with an optimistic attitude, gave readers the perfect POV to help join the fun. Over the years, the erstwhile Shadowcat has made a huge impact on X-fans. Joss Whedon, has openly admitted to basing his popular interpretation of Buffy Summers largely on Kitty. With brains and personality to spare, it’s no wonder everybody loves Kitty Pryde. -Ben
Richard Rider, Nova
All due respect to Sam Alexander, the Other Identity’s officially endorsed Human Rocket has to be Richard Rider. Rich came into his own in the 70s as a solo hero with a killer costume. He fit perfectly into the New Warriors during the 90s. 20 years later he returned, reinvented as a war hero for the Annihilation story. Situated between a brainiac and a dummy, Rider represents the normal kid in over his head and doing his best. -Ben
Vic Stone, Cyborg
A standout from the Marv Wolfman/George Perez New Teen Titans run. Victor Stone graduated to the Justice League a few years back. He has evolved into one of the most well-rounded members of the DC Comics pantheon. The idea of a half-human, part-robot amalgam may sound a little creepy. However, Vic’s stalwart commitment to doing the right thing and personable way make him among his peers’ most trusted allies. -Ben
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