|Publisher||Wonderful Tales Magazine (initially)|
|Home City||Millennium City, NAL|
|Death Place||Not applicable|
|Group Membership(s)||Legion of Light|
Mentor, the Synthetic Man is one of the "Big Five" of Millennium Comics' Superheroes. His first appearance was in Wonderful Tales magazine in 1938. In the 1960s, when Millennium's new editorial staff decided to resurrect various characters from the past and create as consistent Superhero universe, Mentor was one of those they decided to use. He proved extremely popular and ultimately got his own book.
Ganzar Prime is an alien world that orbits a distant star. On the verge of a terrible war, a colony ship was dispatched by one of the sides in hopes that someone could survive what they feared would be a planet-killing disaster. But unfortunately, the ship was sabotaged. As it approached the target planet--Earth--its systems failed. Most of crew were killed. A robot managed to get one baby into a life support pod before the ship broke up in the atmosphere. By a one-in-a-million chance, the robot partially survived the crash. Its head and some debris were found by a ex-cop engineer name Harry Dale who managed to get the head working again. The head was able to tell him how to repair the rest of him, earning from Harry the nickname "Mentor."
Thus Mentor awoke on a strange alien world, his home forever lost. His friend Harry suggested he use his abilities to fight evil, which struck him as a very worthwhile idea. So that is what he did.
Powers and Nature
As a robot, Mentor has superhuman strength and endurance. He is nearly industructible, needs neither food nor air, cannot be poisoned and if broken can be fixed. More, he has an intelligence that is far beyond that of any mere human.
Yet that is in some ways his greatest weakness. He has very little intuition, and finds anything outside the realm of the logical difficult to comprehend. Insanity, passion, magic and the like are mysteries to him. He does, however, have rudimentary emotions such as sympathy and something like anger. Mentor can also be lonely, which makes him value his friends all that much more.
Unlike the typical Superhero, Mentor has no secret identity. He is openly what he is--an intelligent machine who makes himself available to law enforcement and private individuals. At first he did not understand human laws, which got him into a fair amount of trouble at first. This also interfered with another weakness--at least once a weak (more, if he exerts himself) Mentor needs to recharge his power cells. This requires fairly hefty amounts of electical power. In fact, this was a continuing problem until his friend Stingray began to provide him access to batteries from the latter's submarine.
Another weakness is that his vast scientific knowledge from Ganzar Prime is complete. Simply put, his memories were damaged by the crash.
Since his introduction, Mentor has had a series of helpers to aid him in understanding the intricacies of human society:
- Harry Dale, (introduced from the 1960s) the former police officer rendered crippled by a bank robber's bullet who discovered Mentor and repaired him, then in effect gave him a sense of purpose by comparing him to Vixen, Captain Silver and Stingray. Harry was murdered by Doc Satan.
- Suzanne Dale, his (at first) teenaged neice (introduced in 1966). A science student, she became fascinated by Mentor, coming to call him "Big Brother." When her uncle was murdered, she helped Mentor in any way she could.
- Brother Theodore (introduced in 1975), a monk whose monastery agrees to provide secret sanctuary for the synthetic man. Theodore, a chatty man in his twenties tries to teach Mentor how to play poker. He also is an excellent listener who serves as something of a therapist/sidekick to Mentor.
- Joculatrix (introduced in 1973), a flirtatious orphan who's made a home for herself in an old pirate's cave in the harbor of Millennium City. She's a teenager with a wild streak who befriends Montor, looking on him as something of a father figure. She's also a would-be superhero (Vixen is her idol), and is actually a help to the Synthetic Man because she has an intuitive understanding of madness and cruelty.
But of course to be Superhero is also to confront Supervillains. Mentor actually confronts a somewhat more narrow range of such than others:
- Doc Satan was the baby saved by Mentor when the Ganzarian ship crashed. Because it was years before Mentor's robotic head was found and still more for Harry Dale to repair him, that child was found and reared by a poor Irish couple who later moved to Millennium City. Mentor eventually tracked down the baby to tell him his origin, discovering a brilliant student who was about to get a doctorate (on both academic and athletic scholarships) at age eighteen! But Carl Kennedy (as he was called) was also a disturbed youth, convinced of his own superiority while harboring deep resentments of those in better social strata than himself. He also had a terrible temper. Upon learning he wasn't even human, and that he could expect to live several more centuries (Ganzarians live to be 300 thereabouts), Carl reacted with glee and paranoia. Certain he was in fact better than mere humans, he was also certain they would never accept him. His only choice if he wanted to survive, was to conquer the planet. So "Doc Satan" was born, one of the most dangerous supervillains ever known--and one with a particular fear/hatred of Mentor.
- Artemis Wilde is a woman from the island of Lemuria in the Pacific, a place where dinosaurs still walk. Somehow among the peoples living there she became immortal, spending centuries learning how to successfull stalk pterasaurs, tyrannasaurs, etc. When an exploratory ship discovered her in 1788, she insisted on coming back with them. Since then, she has perfected her skills in the Hunt. This is her whole raison d'etre and to her the greatest prey are human beings, the more dangerous the better. This is not always a bad thing, because she regards supervillains as worthy game, but she views Mentor as perhaps the best game of all. This makes her respect him, and there have been times when she even aided his efforts. But all the same, she is a murdering fanatic who has trained herself to the very limit of human perfection. In many ways, she is pure instinct, which is precisely what Mentor himself lacks.
- Praetor claims to be Mentor himself, but from a thousand years in the future, grown weary of humanity and its petty squabbles. Having to flee, he claimed, from enemies via a time machine, Praetor has a love/hate relationship with Mentor--who seriously doubts the other robot's claims of identity. Either way, they are physically very similar, save that Praetor is more advanced, making him an extremely dangerous foe indeed. What constrains Praetor most is his terror that some action of his might erase his very existence. Under no circumstances will he allow any threat to Mentor come to fruition, but at the same time very much desires to alter the Synthetic Man's point-of-view, in effect turning him into Praetor.
- Mum-Hotep looks like a walking corpse, because in many ways that is what he is. An evil sorceror from ancient Egypt, he was entombed alive well over 3,000 years ago but survived via dark sorceries. Like a Vompire he needs the life energies of others to thrive, which he ruthlessly steals. And his magical powers are exactly the kind of thing Mentor has the most difficulty comprehending. Released from his tomb/prison by an innocent archeologist, Mum-Hotep feels nothing but contempt for all life, worshipping chaos and destruction. Fortunately, he has never regained his full strength, although his plans to do so are ongoing. He regards all other life as tolerable only as useful commodities, i.e. either fuel to sustain him or as potential slaves.
- Lady Luck is a career criminal who plans her strategies and tactics based on games of chance. As a result, she is nearly unpredictable. So although she has no particular powers, she is also one of the most baffling of Mentor's foes. For that reason he tries to personally stop her, and she has realized that to her delight. Over time her randomness has increased, and it has become clear she is a sociopath.
- The Brotherhood is a secret society of criminal masterminds who remain nothing more than a legend to most of the underworld. Unfortunately for them, Mentor deduced their existence and began to secretly undermine them. For a long time, the Brotherhood didn't realize Mentor knew of them, but when they figured it out they began operations in earnest to destroy the Synthetic Man.
To combat some of the more extreme villains he encounters, Mentor has invented a Null-Space Projector which transports people (or objects) to a "space between space" where they can do no harm. Unfortunately, both Praetor and Mum-Hotep have found ways to escape from Null-Space, although not easily.
In the 1990s Millennium decided to make their stable of superheroes--who had become increasingly friendly and more acceptable for children--in a new direction. This was motivated largely from dwindling sales compared to their competitor Chicago Press, but also a genuine artistic belief that their stories had readched a dead-end.
Mentor's appearance in the re-invention became noticably more attractive, although he retain the black eyes and teal-skin as well as external sensors. He became increasingly torn by the dichotomy of the meagre feelings he was capable of knowing versus the danger emotions posed to everyone, himself included, when contained in such a powerful machine. More, he found the idea of guilt and shame particularly disturbing (especially regarding Doc Satan). He even had bouts of what could be called insanity.
Joculatrix became much more of a sidekick, as well as (emotionally, at least) something of a girlfriend. Her bizarre appearance, up until now explained by a love of the circus, was further enhanced by making her an albino. She was a more erratic and dangerous person, still trying to cope with years of abuse. She and Lady Luck turned out to be former friends, which is one reason the insane criminal sometimes was able to get away.
Increasingly, there has been a hint that some women find Mentor attractive and he himself is willing to explore that aspect of existence.