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Friday, June 26, 2020

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots review


Pre-order Hench over HERE(USA) or HERE (UK)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Freelance writer, promiscuous wordsmith, relapsing academic, poet, journalist, editor, reviewer, music critic, geek, gamer, metal head, feminist, gastropornographer, sadomasochist, cheese pervert, rogue wizard, lady hobbit, shit disturber, groce count, fireplug. Supervillain. I have often been in the newspaper for swearing. 

FORMAT/INFO: Hench is out on September 22, 2020, in all formats. 


Hench expertly deconstructs superhero stories and offers a fresh perspective on the subgenre. Instead of following heroes, it focuses on Henches, expendable employees of supervillains. 



Anna Tromedlov works temp jobs for minor baddies. Her newest job ends in a disaster - Anna ends injured, out of work, and disillusioned with reckless superheroes who pay no attention to casualties of their superhuman feats. Her data-based research confirms superheroes, for all their good PR, are terrible for the world. They're a pest. Or worse.



When Leviathan, an A-List Supervillain, hires her as a Hench, she can use her anger, data analysis skills, and excel sheets to wreak havoc in heroes' lives. Trust me when I say data analysis proves more lethal than laser beams or psychic powers. 

Make them late; make things go wrong around them; ruin their dry cleaning and dinners and marriages. Fuck with their social media profiles and public perception. 



Anna's work has one goal - to publicly humiliate heroes and make their private and public lives as miserable as possible. Thanks to modern technology, rumors, social-engineering, social media, and viral videos, she controls how the public perceives them and how they interact with others.



While Hench doesn't have a lot to say about superheroes that hasn't been said before, it offers a unique perspective. I wouldn't call Anna relatable, but I appreciate her agency. Despite the success of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel many superhero stories lack strong female leads. It's good to finally see a competent female character with an understandable backstory, her own agenda, and loads of screen-time. Her doubts make her more believable and human. The way she ruins her private life shows everything comes at a cost.


Interestingly, Anna bores most superheroes no ill will. She destroys them to get to a Supercollider, her, and her employer's Nemesis. Walschots' take on emotional detachment impressed me. Thanks to snarky (and slightly cynical) humor, the story never gets depressing or too dark. Even when things do get dark and depressive.

The plot follows her jobs, and it's not linear. Instead, we witness the turning points of her professional life leading to a brutal climax and excellent ending that I find fitting, even if it's more bitter than sweet.

In all, a worthwhile read for fans of the subgenre.


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