Discuss the differences and similarities between sidekicks and henchmen. What are their jobs and how do they do them? What kind of loyalty is expected of them? Also, consider the differences between henchmen, lackeys, and minions. Are there different kinds of sidekicks? What might they be called?
Post by Adamant Ace on Jul 6, 2014 19:24:32 GMT -5
Both act as assistants/support for their respective hero/villain. They may be more competent then their partner/employer(Sidekick examples of this include Sidekick Girl herself and Kato of the Green Hornet, while a henchman example is Coldfire) However, henchmen are typically considered disposable while sidekicks are not. Sidekicks in fiction typically finish off the minions while the hero goes after the villain, provide emotional support and act as a distraction for the hero. They're also kidnapped a lot to create dramatic tension. Henchmen almost always have a much more temporary arrangement with their villain (an aversion to this is the Brain and Monsieur Mallah) than sidekicks and are typically considered expendable (though less expendable than the minions). Henchmen typically act as hired muscle, technical support, spies and eye candy for their respective villains. Sidekicks are considerably more loyal than henchmen (with good reason: their boss isn't likely to kill them over their mistakes). Lackeys and minions are considered much more expendable than henchman and are typically a LOT less effective (having gone to Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy and become an army of Red Shirts). In your comic, you do a great job differentiating in the types of sidekicks. There's the partners, such as Static Shock's partner Gear, who could be considered heroes in their own right. There's the plain old sidekicks such as the various Robins (but not their grown up versions such as Nightwing or Red Hood). Then there's Youthful Wards and the heroes' Mentors (exemplified by Robin and Alfred).
While both Sidekicks and Henchman are always attached or affiliated with their superior in some way, the function they serve is entirely different. For example a Hero is almost always hands-on, so the Sidekick acts as active support in the field, while a Henchman's Villain might not even be on the same continent. For this reason, Henchman are often expected to perform schemes and missions that Villains plan and supply, so they must be nearly self-sufficient. Another difference is that Sidekicks are often friends with their Hero, and may even spend time out-of-character with them. Conversely, Henchmen are more often merely professionally associated with their Villain, and are much less likely to be personally invested in the scheme at hand as a result. They may even dislike or disagree with their Villain, but work is work, and it is a rare Villain that can earn the respect and loyalty of Henchmen. For most Villains, competently completing the task at hand is enough.
The differences between Henchmen, Lackeys, and Minions are many and subtle. In broad strokes, it is a sliding scale of effectiveness, but Henchmen are far from perfect for being on top of the scale. An easy way to express the different levels of effectiveness is this: Loyal, Evil, Competent, choose two for your Henchmen. For Lackeys, choose one. For Minions, choose three, but replace Evil and Competent with Cowardice and Derp.
In a more specific sense, Henchmen are often independent contractors, and must therefore be the most competent. Since they don't hold any strong affiliation with any particular Villain, they must sell their skillset as valuable in order to have work. Lackeys on the other hand are much more likely to be closely affiliated with a particular Villain (think Igor), but since there is no quality control and most Villains will take what they can get, you get a lot more incompetent Lackeys than Henchmen. Minions, for lack of a better description, are the shmucks drinking the Kool-aid. Whether brainwashed masses, slavish cultists, faceless mooks, or mass-produced clones, minions are the go-to source for lots of quick, dumb muscle. Whether it be through charm, compulsion, or attractive ideology, most minions are the sort of people/automatons/genetic abominations that decide it's easier to follow than think for themselves (if they have the capacity to). They act as a largely expendable workforce that likely don't have powers or codenames of their own. These are your Hydra foot-soldiers, Stormtroopers, and generic gangsters.
Sidekick categories are extraordinarily different than Henchman types. For example a Sidekick fills a support role for their Hero, acting as a fighting partner, an extra pair of eyes and ears, and a companion and friend. A Trainee on the other hand, is there to benefit from the Hero's experience, and while they likely perform many of the same duties as a Sidekick, they are not expected to throw themselves in harm's way as often, since they are still in training. Partners are often the result of a successful Hero/Sidekick relationship. While each is theoretically a Hero in their own right, there is usually a social dynamic that makes the original Hero still something of a mentor to their less experienced partner.
Introducing the plot devices, and potential meat shields, the Sidekick and and Henchman. In many cases this can be boiled down to the quality Vs. Quantity argument. A successful Hero is likely to never have more than one Sidekick at a time. A sidekick represents planning and investing of time and energy by a Hero. The average Sidekick is going to receive training from his or her Hero so that they can do a better job of providing support. The Henchman, in contrast, is an resource to be recruited and used as seen fit by a Villain. The more successful a Villain is in making or taking money, the more Henchmen he can afford to hire, and if money is tight, the ability of the henchman to perform any given task is going to be less.
A Hero takes on a Sidekick knowing that he or she is going to be responsible for the fate of another person's life. Training and duties are going to reflect the fact that the Hero is taking the Sidekick seriously. When the moment for action comes, the Hero wants to have confidence that the Sidekick will be able to perform to the necessary standard, and will obey orders given in the heat of battle. Quality training for Quality support.
A Villain will recruit henchmen as needed. A successful applicant will come with skills already developed, in order to enhance his or her attractiveness to potential employer, if this is an option. More often then not, the hero is looking for random helpers can be discarded if the stop being useful. When the moment of conflict arises, the Villain wants cannon fodder he can throw at the Hero, and will leave to face the police if things do not go well.
To put a finer point on it, a Hero will hesitate to take a Sidekick into a certain death situation, and likely order them to get to safety. The villain, on the other hand, Will order henchmen into actions of certain death if he thinks he has anything he can gain from the death of the underlings.
The different between sidekick and henchman is the level of loyalty expected. The rest of the support categories: lackeys, and minions depend on how the 'employer' treats them. However, the three negative terms, henchman, lackey and minion, are used interchangeable, so it is hard to set separate definitions.
The job and work of a supporter truly depend on the temperament of the employer. Sidekicks work as a sub-partner, a henchmen or lackey handles distasteful chores (cleaning out the acid tank, finding twenty virgin sacrifices,) minions are just over glorified help/canon-fodder.
There are different kinds of sidekicks. Someone's probably used example before- but the Batman comics have the fully range of sidekicks. Alfred, Robin, Oracle. All give a different type of support. Robin/Nightwing are is patrol and combat support, Alfred maintains the illusion of Bruce Wayne and is the moral compass, Oracle is information/networking. all three are sidekicks but their jobs are very different.
The main difference between henchmen and sidekicks is the number of them and the side they support. Henchmen are the masses of nameless, oft-masked mooks that are employed by villains. These usually have the marksmanship of stormtroopers and the same impact on the plot as well. Now, sidekicks are well-defined, singular helpers on the side of good there to either a) make the hero look good or b) do all the work. For the first example, we can look to Robin of Batman fame for an example of how sidekicks can be nothing but kidnapping bait. On the other hand, we have the hyper-competent sidekick (like our own Sidekick Girl) who manages to do everything and more for heroes who probably don't deserve it. The levels of loyalty seem to differ as well. Sidekicks are usually very loyal, while henchmen seems to be just mercenaries (portrayed badly for taking the side of the villain), lackeys are usually akin to beleaguered servants and minions akin to slaves or creatures controlled by the mastermind. Henchmen are known for leaving something useful to the hero's escape within reach accidentally, lackeys for betraying their 'masters' and helping the heroes, and minions for turning on abusive masters.