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Sidekick Angst!
On Today's Oprah!

Transcript by Louise Freeman Davis
Images by Eric Burnham

[The set of the Oprah Winfrey Show, lights cued, sound readied and audience assembled. Oprah stands center stage, microphone in hand and speaks to camera.]

Oprah: We've known them since they were children, bobbin' around in short pants and ponytails. We watched them grow up, fighting crime and seeking justice alongside their famous adult mentors. Now they've got new names, new costumes, new powers, and new attitudes, but deep down, they'll always be our Teen Titans. "Kid Sidekicks, all grown up!" is the focus of today's Oprah Winfrey Show.

[Cue theme music, enthusiastic applause from audience.]

Oprah: Thank you… thank you… our guests today have one thing in common: they were all child crimefighters. They're here today to share their stories, and help us understand what some of the advantages, and pitfalls of that type of lifestyle are.

First up, he patrolled the oceans and talked to fish for a lot of years as Aqualad; now he's got cool new powers, andan awesome new tattoo! Please welcome… Tempest!

[Tempest enters from stage right with a wave to the audience and a shy smile and crosses the stage to his seat]

Oprah: Next, he was an expert with the boxing glove arrow as Speedy; but now he's expanded his repertoire to include a host of other weapons. He's a lean, mean, one-man… Arsenal!

[Arsenal also enters, greeting the crowd with a bit more confidence. He shakes Tempest's hand as he takes his seat.]

Kid Flash Oprah: (more soberly) He zipped around, righting wrongs as a boy. Then, after the tragic death of his mentor, Barry Allen, he took up the adult role, and built himself into a hero in his own right, proving himself far more than just a "Kid Flash." Please welcome the Fastest Man Alive… Wally West!

[Oprah turns, expecting him to enter from stage right as well, but a red streak and a whoosh of air zip by her. She turns to find the Flash already in his chair, legs crossed and grinning. He winks at her; she glares at him in mock sternness. Laughter from audience]

Oprah: (turning back to audience) Our next guest currently has no codename, as she is currently undergoing a name and costume change, and not for the first time. To protect her privacy, we have concealed her behind this screen and are electronically altering her voice. I'm not sure why we're bothering, since she's never worn a mask as part of any of her previous costumed identities, but for today, she's asked that we simply refer to her as "Donna T."

[Spotlight falls on a grey screen that is placed on the stage near the other chairs. A silhouette of a long-haired woman is visible through it, nodding a greeting. Polite applause]

Oprah: And finally… As Robin the Boy Wonder, he was the first kid sidekick of the modern age. As a young adult, he led one of the most powerful superteams in the world. Now he's striking terror into the hearts of the bad guys of Blüdhaven, even as he captures the heart of almost every woman he meets… let's hear it for… Nightwing!!!

[Nightwing enters and takes the chair at the end of the row. The applause rises dramatically, and is accompanied by desperate screams from most of the women in the audience. Nightwing stiffly but politely acknowledges them with a nod, while gesturing for them to tone it down. Eventually, the audience quiets. Oprah goes up to stage as takes a chair at the opposite end of the row, next to the four male Titans. Donna's screened alcove is on Oprah's other side, slightly behind.]

Oprah: Well! I can't believe it! I've got the Teen Titans on my show!

[Renewed applause]

Nightwing: Actually, Oprah, we're all well past our teens now--

Oprah: (Turns to camera) You hear that, you crazy Texas beef ranchers?
You just try and come get me today, you hear? These dudes will kick your rump roasts for you, and I'd love to see them grind you into Whoppers with cheese!

Arsenal: Please, Oprah, be careful what you wish for! In our business, you learn never to invite villain attacks.

Oprah: All right! Let's get down to business. [Leans forward, resting chin on hands] You guys had some really wild childhoods! Tell me, what was it like?

Nightwing: Well, I'll start. For the most part, it was really great. I mean, most kids dream of being a superhero. I got to do it! It was a lot of hard work, and yes, there were a lot of difficult times, but ultimately I can't imagine my life any other way.

Oprah: We'll get back to some of those hard times later. Flash, how about you?

Flash: Before I became Kid Flash, I was a mess. I was miserable at home, my parents didn't understand me… The luckiest day of my life was when I got hit by lightening in my Uncle Barry's lab. Once I had superspeed, everything changed, and I had the life my parents would never have let me have.

Arsenal: For me it was a bit different. I grew up on the Navajo reservation; Green Arrow took me in when my guardian died. I thought he was a pretty cool guy. The crimefighting thing took a little getting used to, but it worked out, in the end.

Tempest: I never really thought about it that much. I was abandoned as a baby. Aquaman found me, so it seemed pretty natural that I'd follow him around and try to do what he did. Him being the king and all..

Oprah: And how about you, Donna? What are the fondest memories of your childhood?

Donna T: Memories of my childhood? Memories of my childhood? HA!

Oprah: Whoa, sister, I detect a hint of bitterness there…

Donna T: I'm sorry, Oprah. That's a rather sore subject with me right now. I've been burned once too often, when it comes to my origin.

Oprah: I see…. Maybe we'll return to that later. Now, none of you current operate under the same codename that you had as kids. Why?

Tempest: Well, if you were a criminal, who would intimidate you more? Someone named "Aqualad" or someone named "Tempest?"

Oprah: Good point. "Tempest!" That sounds fierce. Has your new name been well received?

Tempest: Pretty much. If people would just stop sending me teapots. Really, that got old after the first couple of thousand. And I have very limited use for them in Atlantis.

Oprah: Arsenal, what about you?

Arsenal:The only problems I have are when people try to shorten it. You know, yelling "Hey, Arse!" from across the street. Kinda awkward, especially when I'm in England.


Nightwing: In all seriousness, Oprah, one of the problems with being a kid superhero is that the image of you, as a kid, tends to stick with people. The thing is, kids grow up. When "Robin" decided to leave the nest, so to speak, I found out no one really took me seriously, on my own. "Robin" always seemed to have a "Batman and-" attached to it. For me, the name and costume change was a symbol of becoming an adult.

Oprah: Well, it must have worked pretty well, because all your colleagues eventually followed your example.

Arsenal: In retrospect, I probably should have changed mine sooner than I did. I took a lot of flack from people who thought "Speedy" was inappropriate for an ex-drug addict.

Oprah: Hmmmm, yeah, that would be a problem. Wally, do you think you would have eventually picked a different name for yourself, if unfortunate circumstances hadn't allowed you to take over the name of the Flash?

Flash: Yeah, I like to think I wouldn't have kept it much past thirty. It'd have been a bit embarrassing at that age.

Oprah: Child, nothing personal, but "Kid Flash" would have embarrassed me as soon as I hit puberty!

Flash: Kid Flash was never my idea… the newspapers named me. I always thought "Speedy" would have been better, but by the time I thought about changing my name, someone had stolen it already. (glares at Arsenal)

Arsenal: Hey, don't blame me. I wanted Robin… I was the miniature Robin Hood, after all… (Glances pointedly at Nightwing.)

Nightwing: Tough break, pal, I was there first!

Oprah:Whew, that must have been confusing, with Green Arrow's partner sounding like he belonged to the Flash, and Batman's sounding like he ought to be Green Arrow's…

Tempest: I guess I was lucky not to get stuck with "Wonder Girl."


Oprah: Speaking of Wonder Girl… Donna? (turning towards silhouette). What is your deal, girlfriend? I mean, how many of these codenames are you going to go through before you finally settle on one?

Donna T.: That's really hard to say at this time, Oprah.

Oprah: There's been a lot of confusion about your background in recent years, and there are a number of different stories floating around. Can you set the record straight for us today?

Donna T.: No, Oprah, I can't. I wish I could.

Oprah: Ah. So this is one of those secret identity issues, to protect your loved ones?

Donna T: No, protecting my loved ones is a moot point now. It's just that I don't know which one's true either.

Oprah: You don't know your own history? We all think of Wonder Girl as
Wonder Woman's junior partner.

Nightwing: If I may interject, Oprah, there's a real danger in arbitrary assumptions like that. Just because they had similar names, and similar costumes, and similar powers…

Arsenal: …and the fact that several of us have recently recovered memories of Wonder Woman in the JLA back when we were thirteen or so, acting as Donna's mentor…

Nightwing: no reason for you to jump to such a hasty conclusion!

Oprah: You're right. I don't know what I was thinking. I apologize.

Nightwing: These so-called flashbacks of ours are clearly false. Hallucinations planted in our minds by Haze…

Arsenal: Yeah, well that doesn't explain why I was having them back when you talked me into teaming up with Batman to catch Cheshire…

Nightwing:…but the record conclusively shows that Wonder Girl became a Teen Titan several years before Wonder Woman made her debut Man's World!

Arsenal: All I know is what I saw, man.

Donna T: You see, Oprah? This is the sort of thing I have to put up with! Every day!

Oprah:I understand. You've got to admit, though, the fact that you both had golden lassoes seems like an awfully big coincidence. Donna, I understand you've written a song about your ordeal. Are you ready to let us hear it?

[Audience applauds. Donna nods, and stands. Tempest and Arsenal also stand, and each picks up one side of her privacy screen, moving it along with her as she walks to the center of the stage where she takes up a microphone. Lights dim. Musical cue: "Who Am I?" from Jean Valjeans's trial, in Les Miserables.]

Donna T.: (Singing)
She thought that I was her, the daughter of the Queen
She hungered for revenge, or maybe she's just mean
Dark Angel kidnapped me, sent me through lives of hell.
She just looked on and laughed, while to despair I fell.
And when I thought I'd reached the end
She'd stop the clock and start again.

I got new origins each time they altered my codename or suit.
More inconsistencies kept cropping up though, with every reboot.
They had a chance to set things right.
Instead they went with something trite.

Who am I?
I was once a Titan known as Wonder Girl
I had this nifty golden lasso that I hurled.
Wonder Woman plucked me from the flame,
That's why our costumes looked the same

Who am I?
The burning question plagued my soul for years
It caused me lots of anguish, lots of tears
Till Robin solved the mystery
And found out my true history

'Twas not to be…
Crisis came; though I emerged unhurt
Wonder Woman got turned back to dirt
Her League years then were all undone
And now I was no Amazon
A different background I did need
I became a Titan of Myth Seed!

Who am I?
Who am I?
I'm Donna Troy!

Then John Byrne took me out on loan
And made me just a stupid clone!

Who am I?
Who am I?
Who will I be next?

[Polite, if confused applause as Donna T. bows and returns to her seat, with Tempest and Arsenal toting her screen as before.]

Oprah: Donna, that was lovely, just lovely. Probably would have been even lovelier if we had turned off the voice-scrambling gizmo first, but bravo! Now, can you clarify this Dark Angel business for us?

Donna T: I'll try, Oprah. You see, for years I had no memory of who I was and no knowledge of who my real parents were. When I was 19, Nightwing, well, he was Robin then, located my birthmother for me. It turned out she was dead, which is typical for a Titan parent, but at least I had a name now. And I found my foster mom, the family who had adopted me as an infant. But some black market baby-brokers got me away from them, intending to sell me, but the house where they were holding me burned down. I found out years later, that I was rescued by Rhea, a Titan of Myth…

Oprah: Rhea, a Titan of Myth? But wait a minute, back there you were singing about Wonder Woman saving you from the fire!

Donna T:Please, Oprah, don't you start with me, too! Let me make this clear to everyone, I was taken to New Chronus, and raised there before being sent back to Earth to learn to be human. That's where I got my original powers. After I learned all this, I became Troia, and the Titans of Myth gave me new ones!

Oprah: And they were…?

Donna T.:Amazing Plot Device Powers.

Oprah:Ah. So there was no connection to you and Wonder Woman, beyond the whole Greek god thingie?

Arsenal: Yes there was… I remember…

Donna T.:Oprah, I didn't think so, but it's a lot more complicated than I realized! I recently learned that the life I remember is only one of hundreds I've actually lived! You see, I'm actually the result of a magic spell, a duplicate of Wonder Woman conjured up to be her playmate. Dark Angel kidnapped me as revenge against Queen Hippolyta, because she thought I was her daughter, Diana! She tortured me, by making me live hundreds and hundreds of different lives, then wiping me out of history each time, once I'd been reduced to utter misery.

Oprah: Utter misery? But you seemed to have a great life, a good career, lots of friends, you look great! I mean, girlfriend, a lot of people out there would be happy with a few years of "torture" like that!

Donna: I had a wonderful life for a lot of years, Oprah. I even had a storybook wedding to a husband who adored me…and a beautiful child. But then I lost my powers, which was fine for a while, but then I decided I wanted them back. When the gods said no, I ran off to become a Darkstar, and, to my great surprise, my beloved husband divorced me. While I was grieving over that loss, I began dating Green Lantern…

Oprah: Green Lantern? You mean that kid who looks like he has a crab sitting on his face?

Donna T.: Yes, Oprah, that's the one.

Oprah: Ewwwww… Lord, child, now I understand what you mean about misery! I can't imagine a more wretched existence! Yeeeeech!

Donna T. (testily) Actually, Oprah, the utter misery part, I believe, was supposed to be having my son, ex-husband and stepdaughter vaporized into nothingness when their car went off a cliff.

Oprah: Oh. Yeah, I can see how that would be a little distressing too. So, this brought you to the end of Rotten Life Number Whatever-it-was?

Donna: Yes. Fortunately, Wally here was in another dimension when history got altered, so he remembered me when I was retroactively erased, and helped break the cycle and restore my memories.

Oprah:Breaking the cycle of abuse! Recovering lost memories! Well, that's the sort of thing we love to hear about here on the Oprah show! Isn't that right, everybody?

[Wild applause, which takes a few minutes to die down]

Oprah:So, Donna, now you're back, with essentially the same history as you had before. What kind of powers do you have today? The plot device powers, clone of Wonder Woman powers, or something else completely different?

Donna T. No freaking clue, Oprah.

Oprah:I see… could this bit about being Wonder Woman's clone have been why there were so many "separated at birth" type coincidences between the two of you?

Donna: Oprah, you might think so, but it still doesn't make much sense. I mean, I didn't remember being Diana's clone in that life, any more then I did in any of my other ones, so why would I decide to dress like her? I still chose my costume several years before she chose hers! It doesn't explain why my Titans friends occasionally remember me as Wonder Woman's partner in the years before she left Themiscyra…

Arsenal: Yeah, I remember it and I haven't been off in any other dimensions that I know of!

Donna T:And I still don't know who my biological father was! Not that it really matters anymore if this is only one arbitrary little life out of hundreds I've led! It's just all (sniff) so confusing…

[The silhouetted figure breaks down and buries her face in her hands, sobbing. Oprah hands her a tissue, sitting down beside her and patting her knee.]

Oprah: Why don't we take a break now? We'll be right back.

[Cue theme music, slow. Fade out.]

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[Cue returning theme music. An ash-blonde woman with glasses, sharply dressed in civilian clothes, is now sitting at the far end of the row, next to Nightwing.]

Oprah: We're back, with our special guests, the Not-teen-anymore Titans. Joining our discussion is Dr. Cecilly Jacobs, a psychologist who has studied crimefighting in children for years and author of the book Healing Your Inner Sidekick. Dr. Jacobs, you say that problems like Donna's are actually quite common among kid crimefighters?

Dr. Jacobs:Donna suffers from what is termed Multiple Origin Disorder. Hers is rather an extreme case, but the condition is more widespread than many would like to admit. Child sidekicks are particularly prone to it, because, as we have heard today, changing one's uniform and/or sobriquet is for most a necessary part of the growth process. Some will actually undergo these "revamps" two or three times. M.O.D. also crops up in aging heroes, and those who are, for whatever reason, de-aging.

Oprah: So what can be done about it?

Dr. Jacobs: We need, as a society, to rethink what it is we actually expect from our child crimefighters. The sad truth is, Oprah, that virtually all of them meet the clinical definition of "angst-ridden" at some point in their lives. Usually before age 20.

Oprah:Um, that is a shame.

Dr. Jacobs:I've found that there is a specific pattern to the child sidekick phenomenon. For instance, the vast majority were orphaned early in childhood.

Oprah: (turning to Titans) That's true for all of you, isn't it? Except the Flash?

Flash:Yeah, though frankly, I always thought these guys were the lucky ones on that front.


Dr. Jacobs:In the rare cases where the parents are alive, you usually find a significant degree of dysfunction in the home, which is what ultimately motivates the child to seek solace in the company of their mentor. Or, as I prefer to call them with my patients, an adult co-hero. Regardless, the child crimefighter winds up in a de facto single parent foster care situation, which, combined with the everyday pressures they face trying to capture criminals after school, all too frequently leads to high angst levels within the home or headquarters. This, in turn can manifest itself in other dysfunctional behaviors, such as rebellion, drug abuse or interheroic violence. I've actually seen sidekicks who've tried to kill their adult co-hero, and vice versa.

Oprah: Really? Has that happened to any of you guys?

Flash: No, it hasn't! That's the craziest thing I've ever heard! Uncle Barry never mistreated me! He was a saint, I tell you! My mentor was a saint!

Dr. Jacobs: Once an adult co-hero is deceased, particularly if the death occurs in the line of duty, the sidekick typically idealizes their tenure together. Many, like Wally here, attempt to revive their co-hero by adopting their uniform and sobriquet. Unfortunately, they often fail to live up to the ideal they have set for themselves, resulting in yet more angst.

Flash: I am not angst-ridden!

Dr.Jacobs:So you're in denial, then?

Flash: No, I'm not! Lady, you wouldn't know a dysfunctional home if it bit you on the…

Oprah:How about the rest of you? Do you get along with your adult co-heroes?

Tempest:Sure, I do! OK, I stole his girlfriend, and we've punched each other out a few times, over the years…

Nightwing:But that can happen to anyone, sidekick or not! Except for that one time when we didn't speak for a year and a half, Batman and I have always gotten along!

Dr. Jacobs: Always?

Nightwing: (shifting in his chair) Well, almost always. Usually. Mostly. Frequently. Pretty often, I guess.

Dr. Jacobs: You don't feel threatened by the new Robin?

Nightwing: The new Robin has my full approval.

Dr. Jacobs:Because it would be quite normal for you to have a subconscious fear that Batman ultimately may choose a different heir to his sobriquet. That you might be passed over in favor of some else, perhaps even someone less qualified than you…

Nightwing:(tightening grip on chair arms) Doctor, I assure you, I have no subconscious concern about that!

Oprah:Donna, how do you feel about the new Wonder Girl?

Donna T: Why should I care? Let her have my old costume, if she wants it! Even odds I'll wind up with no connection to her, either, then she can spend a lifetime wondering where the stupid suit came from!

Oprah: Arsenal? Your co-hero's dead, too. How do you feel about him?

Arsenal: Like the others, yeah, we've punched each other out, on occasions. It's no secret I had a drug problem for a while as a kid. But I don't blame Green Arrow for that! Just because he lost all his money and abandoned me for a trip across the country doesn't mean he wasn't a good guardian! And I never tried to kill him except once, and that was when I was brainwashed!

Dr. Jacobs: Ah, but how do you know you were brainwashed? Maybe you only thought you were brainwashed. Could you have made yourself believe you were brainwashed, because deep down you wanted to kill your co-hero, without being brainwashed?

Arsenal: No way! For that to happen, someone would have had to brainwash me into thinking I was brainwashed, because unless I thought I was brainwashed I would never…

Oprah: Is the caller there? Jack, from Gotham City? What do you have to say?

Caller: Yes, my question is for Kid Flash…

Oprah: It's just "Flash," now, but what is it, sir?

Caller: Just how is it that your father let you become a kid sidekick in the first place? I've got a son myself, and I would never let Tim do something that dangerous!

Flash: Well, my dad probably wouldn't have, either. That's why I didn't tell him.

Caller: His own son was running all over the world in tights fighting crime and he didn't know about it? That's insane! I'm a single parent, and heaven knows it's hard at times, but I know I would never allow such a thing to occur under my roof! As far as I'm concerned, your father wasn't fit to raise geraniums! [*Click* and dial tone.]

Flash:Jack, I couldn't agree more!

Dr. Jacobs:If we may return to the subject at hand, I feel that the Sidekick Phenomenon is quite strongly rooted in Darwinism. Costumed vigilantes sire, on average, as many offspring as people of other professions, yet they rarely choose their biological children as Sidekicks. Adopted children, in contrast, even those they have raised from very young ages and claim to care for, are an acceptable form of cannon fodder, as it were. By setting these unrelated children up for danger, I believe they are subconsciously seeking to safeguard their genetic offspring, and thereby perpetuate their own bloodlines.

Arsenal: That's nuts! If that were true, what is Connor Hawke, the biological son of Oliver Queen, doing out there acting as Green Arrow now?

Dr. Jacobs: I sincerely doubt that would be the case if your co-hero weren't dead. Think back to your childhood… You out there on the frontlines, being catapulted from the Arrowcar every other day into mortal danger, while he grows up in a nice, safe monastery. Very convenient for him, is it not? And for Green Arrow, if he wants to pass on his genes.

Arsenal: He didn't know about Connor! Nobody knew!

Dr. Jacobs: Or so he told you. But he's dead now, so if he was lying, you have no way of discerning that. And for all you know, he could have other children out there. Costumed crimefighters often find the women they meet irresistible, and even the most dedicated to duty are often careless when it comes to reproductive matters.

Arsenal: Look, some of us are only human! If Oliver kept his biological kids out of the action when he was dragging me into it, it was because… because… Well, he's bound to have had some reason! He must have. He wouldn't set me up to die, after all those years we worked together! He could never-

Dr. Jacobs: Let me assure all of you young people, the resentments you are feeling are quite normal, and in many cases, justifiable.

Donna T.You know, this last miserable life, I met Wonder Woman! We were friends! I gave her my Wonder Girl earrings, for Zeus's sake! You'd have thought she might have noticed I was her identical twin, but no!

Tempest: Doctor, you say our mentors do these things in order to pass on their own genes? I hadn't thought about this before, but now that you mention it… Aquaman did try to kill me once!

Dr. Jacobs: And why did he try to kill you?

Tempest: Because they were threatening to kill his son! But, that's impossible, he said… Aquaman claimed the whole thing was forced… he didn't want to fight me…

Dr. Jacobs: But do you really know that, for sure?

Tempest: Well, no…. but surely he wouldn't… would he? (Chin begins to quiver)

Arsenal: (chokes up) I was so alone. I was hooked on drugs and I'd hit rock bottom and I didn't know where to turn! And what did he do? He hit me! Here I was was paying rent on that rat-hole apartment while he was off gallivanting around who-knows-where, and he just…

Donna T.: (wiping eyes) How do you just conveniently forget your own magical playmate? She didn't even think to look for me when I vanished!

Tempest (teary-eyed) Then just before Arthur's hand got eaten off, I found him in the Aquacave, brooding. I only wanted to help! I tried my best to help him and he-he… kicked me in the stomach!!

Arsenal: (weeping openly) Who cares about your stupid stomach? Ollie kicked me out of the house! And he never even let me try any of his famous mouth-searing chili!

[Tempest and Arsenal burst into tears and embrace, sobbing on each others' shoulders. Donna T. buries her face in her hands again, weeping.]

Dr. Jacobs: Oprah, this is how the healing process begins!

Nightwing: I don't believe you guys are falling for this! Can't you see what she's doing? She's trying to mess with our minds! Make us question the intentions of our former partners! That's the first step in making us doubt ourselves!! I bet you're on the Brotherhood of Evil's payroll, aren't you, "Doctor!"

Dr. Jacobs: Who funds my research isn't really relevant! So Nightwing, tell me about these costumes of yours.

Nightwing: What about my costumes?

Dr. Jacobs: Oprah, if I may show the pictures I brought… Here is your original Robin suit… And here are the series of costumes you have chosen as Nightwing. Notice how, with each one, you move closer and closer to the image of your co-hero. This obsessive pursuit reflects an underlying insecurity, I'm afraid.

Nightwing: It has nothing to do with me trying to make myself into another Batman! I just realized that a dark suit is more practical for my line of work than the bright "shoot-me-now" colors!

Dr. Jacobs: And who was it who suggested you put on this "shoot-me-now" costume in the first place?

Nightwing: Batman wasn't trying to kill me! You're twisting this all around!

Dr. Jacobs:Am I? Are have you, like so many other sidekicks, suffering from a spandex-based Oedipal complex?

Nightwing:I don't want to kill Batman, either!

Dr. Jacobs: The Oedipal complex involves a need to kill the father and marry the mother. In a single parent household, the roles can be confused.

Nightwing: Are you saying… Oh, come on! You're in cahoots with those "Seduction of the Innocent" idiots, aren't you?

Dr. Jacobs: Not at all, Nightwing, not at all. I don't believe you have any repressed sexual feelings for your co-hero, at least, none that you're aware of. (Patting his shoulder soothingly) What I'm saying is, suppose you met a female version of Batman. One who dresses somewhat like him, perhaps even engages in a similar vigilante lifestyle. You might find yourself inexplicably drawn to her, unable to resist her charms, even though such liaisons are totally out of character for you.

Nightwing: (pulling away as his face turns red) You're making this up! I wouldn't! I would never…

[Nightwing's lips begin to tremble and beads of sweat are visible on his forehead.]

Dr. Jacobs: Yes, you must have her! Even though she's totally wrong for you!

Nightwing: Oh, and how would you know about what kind of woman is right for me?

Dr. Jacobs: Funny you should ask that!

[She begins stroking Nightwing's shoulder again]

Dr. Jacobs: I took the liberty of running a detailed personality analysis on you, to profile your ideal mate.

[She pulls a computer printout from her jacket pocket, holding it in one hand as her other moves to caress Nightwing's cheek]

Dr. Jacobs: According to this, you are uniquely suited for:a middle-aged, brilliant but underappreciated psychologist, trapped in a loveless marriage with three despicable stepchildren and a house with sweating pipes and mildew in the basement!

[Dr. Jacobs drops the paper, leaps onto Nightwing's lap and throws her arms around his neck to grab the back of his head. She forcibly presses her lips to his, then releases.]

Dr. Jacobs: Take me, Nightwing, I'm yours! I'm yours!

[She locks her lips to his again, as Oprah and Flash look on, stunned. Arsenal and Tempest are still holding each other and crying uncontrollably. Behind her screen, Donna T. appears to be assembling a noose for herself.]

Nightwing: Mmmmnnnnphff!

Oprah: Uh, perhaps this would be a good time to take another break.

[Oprah starts to make the slit-across-throat gesture to her camera crew, then thinks the better of it as she glances over her shoulder to see what Donna is doing. Flash stands and picks up the fallen computer printout.]

Flash: Hey, Nightwing, this doesn't say, "Middle-aged psychologist." It says, "Alien warrior princess"…

Dr. Jacobs: Lies! Lies! All of it lies!!

Nightwing: Mmmmmnnnnphfff!

Oprah: We'll be right back.

[Picture goes abruptly black.]

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Vernon Q: My drunken employer's Mento helmet sent a psionic blast through the kitchen, knocking me unconscious, rupturing my spleen and causing my souffle to fall. Then his green stepson came charging through in the form of a buffalo and trampled me into a pulp. I woke up in intensive care. But Gowger & Sleeze got me fair compensation, and now I can retire to the Island of Kooeykooeykooey! Thank you, Gowger & Sleeze!

Alfred P.: My master's insistence on maintaining an underground crimefighting lair beneath the manor resulted in horrendous devastation during the Gotham City Earth quake. I was buried in the rubble and could quite easily have perished. Thanks to Gowger & Sleeze, I received a sizable settlement for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, and, most importantly, full custody of Robin.

Col. W.: I dedicated virtually my entire life to my mercenary employer, following him around the globe on perilous missions. I even offered to adopt his daughter, but he refused. Then, after he was de-aged and developed amnesia, he abruptly terminated my employment. Now he's making millions capturing monsters for cheesy infomercial television, and I'm left without even a pension fund. But with Gowger & Sleeze representing me, I'm confident I'll collect what's rightfully mine.

Don't let a vigilante employer get away with exploiting you!
At Gowger & Sleeze, there's no fee unless you collect!
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[Cue music. Situation is resolved, and all the Titans are calm, collected and back in their seats. Oprah is now seated firmly in the chair between Nightwing and Dr. Jacobs. The doctor's arms are folded and she looks disgruntled, but everyone else seems relieved that things are back to normal.]

Oprah: We're back, with the original Teen Titans, and our topic is Sidekick Angst. Our guest is Dr. Cecilly Jacobs, author of Healing Your Inner Sidekick. But since she's agreed to sit there nice and quiet until I tell her she can talk, why don't we take another call? Jill, from New York?

Caller: Hi Oprah. I have question for the guy who used to be Speedy. How come you took the name Arsenal when that was the name of a notorious supervillain?

Arsenal: What notorious supervillain?

Caller: The one named Arsenal. He fought the Doom Patrol, then later he tried to kidnap this millionaire's daughter. He was defeated only by the brilliant actions of one of your most distinguished Titans, the Changeling!

Arsenal: Oh, him. I guess I forgot.

Caller: How could you forget Changeling? He was one of your long-time members and was just as good as any of you. You pathetic whiners, sitting there complaining about how you had it so rough because your parents and the Flash,and Green Arrow and people like that died! Garfield Logan was a sidekick, too, and his whole team died! Plus, he lost two sets of parents, not just one! He's had more sidekick angst than the five of you put together, but you don't hear him moaning to the whole world about it on the Oprah Winfrey Show!

Oprah: Jill, hon, we had to cancel him after he appeared on Jenny Jones last week; it was a violation of his contract. Anyway, I don't think Arsenal meant he had forgotten about Changeling, just that he had forgotten there was another Arsenal. Isn't that right?

Arsenal: That's right, Oprah. Sorry, Jill, but Garfield told everybody about that on a camping trip years ago, and I wasn't there.

Caller: Well, it was still stupid! You should have checked with him first!

Nightwing: Oprah, if I may? Jillian?

Caller: Yeah? No, I mean, that's not my name! I'm just Jill! Jill!

Nightwing: OK, "Jill." I just wanted to warn you, if Gar paid you to make this call, be sure you got cash. All of Steve Dayton's bank accounts are still frozen.

Caller: Eeeep!    [Sound of scuffling, then a *click* followed by a dial tone.]

Oprah: Okaaaay…. I have a question I've been wondering, with all this talk of kids and crimefighting. Would any of you let your children operate as costumed vigilantes?

Nightwing: It's not something I'd specifically encourage, but if they wanted to, and I was convinced they had the right temperament for the job, yes, I would let them.

Tempest: That pretty much goes for me, too, Oprah.

Flash: I certainly would let them. Barry Allen taught me that my powers were a special gift, and that I should try to be worthy of them. If my kids inherit them, I'll do everything I can to see that they use them responsibly.

Donna: What I've learned, Oprah, is that it doesn't really matter what you do as a child. What matters is that you have a childhood. One childhood. Just one. No more, no less. One. Single. Solitary. Uno. Ein…

Oprah: Arsenal, you have a daughter. What if she wakes up tomorrow and tells you she wants to follow in her old man's footsteps?

Arsenal: Well, that beats telling me she wants to follow in her old lady's footsteps!

Oprah: Now, you and her mom were never married, right? Your daughter's mother is the woman who nuked Qurac.

Arsenal: Right. That's when I realized things weren't going to work out between the two of us. Seriously, as far as Lian becoming a crimefighter, I'm all for it. The poor kid's already been kidnapped two or three times, and she's still not potty-trained. But I'm teaching her martial arts now, and I look forward to the day when she can pick up a bow and defend herself!

Oprah: Well said!

[Cue closing theme music.]

Oprah:We're almost out of time.Dr. Jacobs, you can say one more thing, if you make it quick! What one piece of advice would you give to all the kid sidekicks out there?

Dr. Jacobs: Changing your costume is the easy part. The challenge lies in changing your inner spandex.

Oprah: Thank you, Dr. Cecilly Jacobs! We'll see you tomorrow, everyone!

[Theme music builds as Oprah waves good-bye, then rises to shake hands with each guest. Fade out.]

Coming up…

On the next RICKI LAKE!

Illegitimate sons of the JLA confront their fathers!

Hey DAD!! If you're such a great HERO
Why'd you DUMP my MOM??

Scheduled guests: Connor Hawke, Koryak of Atlantis and Ibn al Xu'ffasch.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1998 by Louise Freeman Davis
All artwork is © 1998 by their respective artists

All scanned artwork is ™ and © DC Comics