Henchgirl (Issues #1—11)
Writer/Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk
Publisher: Dark Horse
A review by Samantha Pearson
I’m just going to say it: Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl is absolutely delightful. DELIGHTFUL. I had so much fun reading this book!
Henchgirl follows the life and crimes of Mary Posa, a “lazy but well-intentioned small time criminal” who really hates her job. As a member of the horrible Butterfly Gang, she has to do her supervillain boss’ bidding with little to no payoff — she works long hours and doesn’t even get respect, let alone important job perks like decent wages or health insurance. Everyone (especially her roommates) thinks she needs a better job, but being an adult is hard, even if being a criminal with a conscience seems ten times harder.
Henchgirl takes something to which we can probably all relate — hating our day jobs — and transforms it into a genuinely funny, quirky, surprisingly plot-heavy adventure wherein Mary’s conscience puts her into a lot of weird situations. Small-time criminals shouldn’t worried about the wellbeing of others, right? That’s definitely not a thing.
Gudsnuk began Henchgirl as a web comic, which is evident in the somewhat rocky start to the first issue. The story stars in media res, which is awesome, but also initially confusing. Once the story starts moving, however, Gudsnuk hits her stride and everything flows really smoothly.
I love the art in this comic as much as I love the concept, which is great. It sets the tone and remains consistent throughout, even as the plot crescendos. So often, I end up turned off from a cool story because the art or lettering is too hard to get behind. The color and layout of Henchgirl makes everything easy to read, identify and understand, making the reading experience a total breeze.
Although the plot follows some of the same basic structures as traditional hero/villain plots, the situational comedy is refreshing and hilarious. It offers a whole new look at these narratives and really looks at the humanity of villains without getting too bogged down in angst.
Comedy is by far the strongest element of this book, though there are themes of body positivity, parental disapproval, jealousy, and anxiety. All of these themes are handled with aplomb. There’s no emotional weight that feels disproportionate or inappropriate, and the story moves through it all without ever losing its fun tone and quirky feel.
Buy it! The trade paperback was released March 31, which means you can have it in your hands right now! You can buy and read digitally or find a local retailer that carries the book on IndieBound (which I highly recommend). I loved this book and think it’s definitely worth a read, especially for those of us who sometimes struggle with the demands of our day jobs.