Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Discuss: Mentors


 

20 comments:

Humanbelly said...

Y'know, even though the whole Mentor schtick seems like a cliche' it's hard to think of that many beyond what you've indicated here. I wonder if we maybe associate them more w/ the Gold & Silver Ages? And there may be kind of a blurring of the boundary between "Mentor" and "Patron God/Spirit/Eternal Being". Strictly speaking, would a mentor be more like a formerly-serving individual who is now training up a new champion? Or can it indeed be a directly intervening Superior Being? The common convention, of course, was the ability to appear to the hero as a giant floating head.

I'm thinking about the Hindu god (whose name escapes me) that kept Deadman sprinting around the world. And Moon Knight had a similar relationship at times w/ Khonshu. Quasar had a unique twist on the convention in that, w/ baby supreme being Epoch, he was both the protector and the pupil at times. Oh! Stick in Miller's Daredevil fits the bill, doesn't he?

Over in the British kid-series from the 70's, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, the gang was gently and lovingly guided by a sentient computer named Tim-- who I believe was even refered to as their Mentor.

HB

Doug said...

HB --

If we want to expand this a bit, I think we can have conversation on Professor X, Batman, Captain America, and others who've taken people under their wing or provided sage advice. You came up with quite a list of your own.

And there's no reason to restrict this to the Bronze Age -- our better conversations may happen when we throw the doors open.

Doug

david_b said...

Actually Doug, was just going to bring up the same 'male mentor' idea, but have been tallying up exactly who's NOT working starting today (both hospital and military..).

My thoughts on Captain America and Rick Jones..? Just a wacky, self-absorbed Cap trying to teach poor Rick Jones combat acrobatics was doomed to fail from the start.

How about WW..? Either her mentoring Donna Troy or being mentored by Queen Hippolyta and her 'magic girdle' (no lie..). I found female mentors fairing much better than male mentors.

Certainly Ollie got slammed when he and Hal Jordan found out his ward Roy was drugging his way through life.

Just food for thought.

I always thought Supes was well served by Jor-El's sage advice from time to time. Weird that he was played by Brando of all choices, but Brando did do a rather distinctive portrayal.

Edo Bosnar said...

By far my favorite mentor character is the Ancient One from Dr. Strange. He's was an intriguing character from the start, when introduced in the initial Lee/Ditko run of stories.

I would have loved a mini-series (or even 12-issue maxi) that explored the life and times of the Ancient One - in fact, I would still welcome something like this, if the right creative team was put in place (ideally, Roger Stern would be the writer).

Karen said...

The first mentor that popped into my head was a non-comics one: Master Po from Kung Fu. I loved the way he interacted with 'Grasshopper,' from his childhood into his young adulthood. He was wise, but very human. The actor, Keye Luke, showed the viewers a wide range of emotions. He made Master Po seem as if he really had experienced a long and amazing life.

Garett said...

I liked Yoda interacting with Luke in Empire Strikes Back. I'm also reading Thor lately, and I think it's interesting to have a mentor who isn't always wise, like Odin. It's tougher to deal with that sort of mentor who has passions and shortcomings of his own.

As an aside, I just attended the Edmonton Expo, and Bob Layton was there. I picked up his Hercules comics from the '80s, that have recently come out in hardcover. Really enjoyed them! Great combo of adventure, humour, action, and I forgot how much I enjoyed his drawing style. There are the 2 miniseries, plus a graphic novel and other miscellaneous stuff.

humanbelly said...

With Cap-as-mentor, what was so appealing was that, other than w/ Rick, you never had a sense that Cap thought of anyone as anything less than his "partner"-- and helpin' his partner learn the ropes was just part of the job. Bucky was his partner, Sam was his partner, Hawkeye was his teammate, Diamondback was. . . sheesh, his girlfriend/gal Friday/co-hort? Mentor-by-example was always Cap at his best.

Hey, about Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) reluctantly taking on rookie Jim Reed (Kent McCord)
in Adam-12? He called Reed "Junior" throughout the first season. . . don't know how long I would have gracefully endured that!

I'm gonna go w/ Karen's nomination of Master Po, though. Pretty much the best sustained use of a character that was actually dead, ever. If he'd ever been depicted in comic book form, I have no doubt he would have achieved Floating Head status.

HB

Rip Jagger said...

Neat topic.

One of the reasons I so appreciated the Justice Society of America, especially during the Bronze Age was the mix of older and younger heroes, with the inherent suggestion that the oldsters were training up the new guys to take over when the time arrived.

That concept became a bit overwrought with the introduction of Infinity Inc. but nonetheless a universe in which old and young mingle was attractive on its face. Sadly it was a concept DC seemed intent on harpooning time and again and the with the Crisis they pretty much did it in.

Rip Off

Doug said...

Garett --

Good suggestion of Yoda. I'd add Ben Kenobi from the first Star Wars film.

Depending on how he's played, and certainly well past the Bronze Age, Alfred served this purpose for Bruce Wayne from his childhood forward.

Doug

MattComix said...

Ben Kenobi and the movie version of Jor-El both left an impression on me as a kid. Also Jaga from ThunderCats and Herne The Hunter from the Robin Of Sherwood tv series.

Matt Celis said...

Don't forget the mentor named Mentor from the Shazam! TV show.

david_b said...

Also, despite the lousy idea all around, Mr. Jupiter for the Silver Age Teen Titans.., pretty much null and voiding the entire 'teen power' concept the comic was built on.

Fred W. Hill said...

Captain America's role as a mentor during the Kookie Quartet era was rather interesting. Previously, in the original continuity at least, Cap played mentor to a kid who never gave him any backtalk or questioned his orders. Then, after his initial ret-conned 20 year sleep, he's teamed up with 3 big shot, powerful superheroes, and the girlfriend of one of those and although they respect him for his skill, bravery and accomplishments during WWII, they all have strong personalities and Cap is not unquestionably in charge. Of course, there was Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade, but aside from Rick they didn't take active part in the adventures and Cap was notably apprehensive about takin on Rick as a protege or sidekick. Then everyone else takes off, even Rick, and Cap is left in charge of 3 young, former villains, 2 of whom are very headstrong and think they could do a better job of leading the group than old "Methusela". At the same time, Cap is restless and contemplating making it on his own outside of the Avengers. Cap seemed a very reluctant mentor, even quitting when he got too aggravated, but eventually his sense of responsibility brought him back and he gradually won the respect of his new teammates. Whatever questions there are about who really wrote the stories Kirby & Ditko worked on, Lee certainly played a larger role in plotting the stories Heck drew as in this era of the Avengers. It's easy to forget that back then, Steve Rogers had some doubts about his ability as a leader and was occasionally short-tempered -- all too human, in other words. But Cap would learn from his mistakes and strive to be better, which I think made him a better mentor than someone who seemed perfection incarnate and made for better stories. Over in the X-Men, Professor X often came across as too all-knowing, not to mention conniving.
Then over in Dr. Strange there was the very wise and powerful but physically frail Ancient One. Ditko portrayed Dr. Strange himself as very skilled but still learning, rather like a graduate student up until his first encounter with Dormammu, and having by wit overcome the Lord of the Dark Dimension while still maintaining a high degree of ethics, Dr. Strange earned his doctorate as a true master of the mystic arts, newly bestowed with a powerful new cape and amulet. Of course, the Ancient One would maintain his mentor status until he took off for a "higher realm", courtesy of Shuma Gorath, whereupon Dr. Strange became the new Sorceror Supreme and truly took on the role of mentor himself for Clea.

William said...

How about Stick, who mentored a young Matt Murdock, and taught him how to best utilize his unique abilities. Oh, and he also trained him to be a ninja.

And speaking of ninjas,TMNTs Splinter was the quentisential martial arts master and mentor.

david_b said...

HB, nice write-up on Cap, can't recall why I wouldn't have added Sam Wilson and others. You're absolutely correct on Cap's internal need for 'partners' not sidekicks....

With this in mind, I draw obvious comparisions with DC's Batman. All his 'trainees' were still sidekicks (most of which named 'Robin'...). No 'partners' per se for ol' Bats, at least none I can recall in either Silver or Bronze Age. I never thought of the Outsiders as 'equal partners', nor do I recall Batman providing any mentorship to fellow JLAers like Cap did with his kooky quartet.

MattComix said...

I do like Cap as a mentor in the sense that if DC is kind of the Mount Olympus of superheroes, Marvel is kind of the lovable misfits but one of the exceptions to this on the Marvel side is Cap.

He is the guy that embodies what a superhero should be to guys like Spidey and even a god like Thor admires him.

Matt Celis said...

Ugh...I wish those issues never happened.

Matt Celis said...

I prefer to pretend Frank Miller never got his hands on Daredevil. Ninjas...

Matt Celis said...

I liked Cap best when he was that way...he later became too perfect when written by lesser writers.

Matt Celis said...

How about the Superman-Batman partnership/friendship for decades in World's Finest?

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