Exploring how super-villain henchmen find their way into, and why they stay in, a life of crime where getting punched in the face and thrown in jail is a daily risk, HENCH is a tale told with dark humor, thought-provoking questions, serious consequences and loving superhero comic book homages.
You’ll never look at superhero comics the same way again.
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The acclaimed graphic novel was first published in 2004 by AiT/PlanetLar, written by Adam Beechen and illustrated by Manny Bello. In 2012, an expanded edition of HENCH, including an all-new second full-length story illustrated by Ethen Beavers, was published by Sonnova, LLC.
“Using ingenuity and a nice sense of humanity, Beechen and Bello provide an original take on the notion of superheroes and super villains by focusing not on the stars but on the bit players: the villains’ henchmen. Readers don’t pay much attention to such characters; they’re just the awkward thugs in drab outfits who get thrown out of the way as the attractively costumed hero lunges at the equally stylish boss evildoer. Nobody really notices them as people or wonders how they ever could imagine that they’d be more than anonymous losers. Beechen’s script gives one henchman, Mike, a convincing history, and Bello’s simple but clear art gives him a stoic yet vulnerable face. Mike’s just an average guy with more brawn than brains. He wants to provide for his family and thinks the pay a super villain offers for henching is worth the risk. Even knowing he’s probably going to fail, Mike doesn’t know how to stop. In-joke references fill the writing and art, but the overall effect is serious as Mike discovers things about himself and the other characters, in particular the fact that dangerously obsessive, monomaniacal heroes are much closer to the villains than they’d like to admit. At that point, Mike can stop being a henchman, and readers can put down the comic feeling satisfied that they’ve watched someone grow up.”
“For once, the henchman gets to tell his origin story in this beautifully rendered graphic novel…Touches of humor and a well-informed understanding of the genre (several panels are hat tips to comic-book greats) help bolster the story…The artwork is strong, bold and dynamic while still providing fine details that help set the scene…Gets beneath the mask and tights to humanize the henching life.”
“Funny, knowing and rather poignant.”
“Moments of black and comic strangeness and even kindness…that you expect to find in an HBO series.”
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Listed in the book 1000 Comics You Must Read, by Tony Isabella!