A review by Amelia Wellman
Since June 2013, Kristen Gudsnuk has been making an online comic titled Henchgirl. It’s a comic that screams original, creator owned, and success story! Her wonderful weekly web comic has become a monthly, in-store, physical comic release! Congrats Kristen, it’s super worthy!
Henchgirl has a simple premise: a villain with a heart of gold. A stable base to build upon. And as it goes on, some pretty complex themes get built up indeed. Mary Posa is said villain. Cursed with a conscience and a total lack of health insurance, Mary would give anything to be anything other than a henchgirl. There are 223 published pages on Gudsnuk’s website and six physical issues, number six coming out last Wednesday.
Up to this point in the narrative, we’ve seen Mary’s position within the Butterfly Gang: the muscle, forced to wear a girdle because she’s not what Monsieur Butterfly considers an ideal henchgirl weight. What an ass-hat, am I right? Her relationship with her parents: pretty disastrous in comparison to her sister. Her roommates: totally, mostly okay with her life of crime, and her possible love interest: an up-and-coming superhero that can turn into a mannequin… I’m eager to see where that leads him.
Henchgirl’s shining light is its humour. The humour works so well because Gudsnuk is well acquainted with how ridiculous the superhero genre is. Costumed adults fighting other costumed adults by a strict code? Who came up with this? Gudsnuk pokes fun so naturally at the absurd hierarchy we so often see surrounding superheroes. Like how everything needs to stay ‘in-brand’ with Monsieur Butterfly or the development of an illogical scientific formulae designed for nefarious purposes.
Though with the humour though comes a good dose of heaviness. There are some complex topics that are touched upon like Mary’s relationship with her parents and how disappointed in her they are, and that’s before even learning she’s a villain. Parental neglect hits home especially hard with me but there’s quite a bit more to get feels from, none that I’ll spoil here though.
The art in Henchgirl definitely not the cleanest web comic you could stumble upon but it’s more than charming in its eccentricity. Gudsnuk seems to go off model whenever pleases but that’s actually quite nice. It grounds the comic I think; makes it clear that this is hers and hers alone. Emotions are always clear on the character’s faces and the little details are awesome. Like, is that a Dean and Castiel poster on Mary’s wall near the end of the issue? Are you kidding me with this–it’s so clever to put little things like that around!
Buy it! Even if you read them online, buy the physical copies and support an amazing online creator! Sometimes tracking down a decent web comic isn’t worth the hassle and that’s when gems like Henchgirl fall through the cracks of our comic book consciousness! But Henchgirl should not be missed! Gudsnuk and Scout Comics are selling each issue online, or (if you’re in Canada or the United States) you can request Henchgirl at your local comic shop!