Friday, July 10, 2015

Review - Henchgirl #1


"These mean, mean streets. They chew you up and they spit you out."

For all the optic blasts, accelerated healing and psychokinetic powers, there's paperwork, health insurance and daily errands. Even having superpowers doesn't prevent one from having to live in today's world and deal with all the expected ups and downs. For some like Mary Posa in Henchgirl #1 from Scout Comics, finding a way in life as a supervillain is clearly more daunting than even she's willing to concede. The issue is written and illustrated by Kristen Gudsnuk.

Mary Posa hates her job. She works long hours for little pay, no insurance, and, worst of all, no respect. Her coworkers are jerks and her boss doesn't appreciate her. He's also happens to be a supervillain. Cursed with a conscience, Mary would give anything to be something other than a Henchgirl!

Henchgirl #1 is an interesting spin on the familiar "superhero as a normal" story that's become very pervasive in comics. Gudsnuk makes her lead a supervillain and forces her to contend with the bureaucracies of a typical job as opposed to balancing elements of a dual life. Sure, there are elements of that in there, but Gudsnuk makes the story more about Mary just wanting to be happy with her work than anything else. Gudsnuk balances Mary's acknowledgement that her job is evil with the necessity that comes with doing a job to live. Once you get that Mary is a supervillain's henchman, the work takes on something of an Office Space quality in that the reader can commiserate with Mary's employment plight.

Visually, Henchgirl #1 has a look that's extremely simplistic. Gudsnuk draws her characters in a way that reminds the reader that the book isn't supposed to be taken too seriously, relying on light detail for characters and settings. Despite the seemingly simple renderings, faces are crammed with eyes and mouths that are appropriately expressive. Gudsnuk alters the color scheme from darks to lights to convey time of day to great effect, further underscoring the monotony that comes with a job such as being a modern criminal. The panel layouts gives the book a webcomic/newspaper strip feel that's not too serious.

Henchgirl #1 tackles the tedium that even superheroes and supervillains face as part of a broader workplace mentality. Mary Posa wants to live and go to a job she enjoys going to, but finding the one job that makes you happiest is clearly no easy feat. Gudsnuk blends the mundane with flashes of humorous moments for contrast and effect, presenting a character in Mary Posa who desperately wants more out of life. The generally light approach taken in the artwork by Gudsnuk keeps the book grounded in humor more than anything else. Henchgirl #1 is a pretty fun book with a new take on an old formula.

Henchgirl #1 is available now.

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