I loved Hench, LOVED IT! It’s funny, thoughtful, violent, compassionate and full of rage.
Anna Truelove, pronounced troh-MED-lov, is trying to get a stable job working for a supervillain. The gig economy though, means mostly she temps and tries to stave off scurvy while she rises and grinds and waits for her invoices to get paid. As she’s starting to get a foothold in the Electric Eel’s organization, Supercolider and his sidekick, Accelerator, intervene in the Eel’s dastardly deeds and Anna ends up in the hospital. She’s facing a 6 month recovery, permanent disability, she’s unemployed, and no-one wants to hear about Supercollider’s culpability.
Just a couple more questions ma’am. How did the villain injure you? ”
“Well, he sent me this fucking fruit basket for one.”
“Sorry I was confused. He didn’t. It wasn’t the Eel. It was Supercollider.”
The taller cop immediately stopped taking notes and again looked at me – hard.
As Anna recuperates at her friend June’s house, she starts to do the math. How much damage do super heroes do? She starts to publish her findings, The Injury Report. June is not happy about the attention it brings to Anna, or to herself. Anna, though wants the world to know her rage.
Hench is unambiguously morally grey. In it’s moral greyness, it gave me room to think about how we assign moral values to people, things, and work. Walschots makes Anna engaging and sympathetic while she takes actions that are a mixed bag of what I would consider “good” and “bad.” Part of my dialogue with myself is, “Anna is helping the Eel do a bad thing to a child so it’s good that Supercolider saves the day, but was his response proportionate to the situation.” and then I start thinking about some of the jobs we actually do in the world, many of which are helping corporations do bad things to individuals, people, and the world. Should I end up permanently disabled because I worked for a nickel mining company that definitely made places where children live unhealthy?
I don’t think Hench is a morality play asserting that bad is good and good is bad. I think Hench is asking us to consider how we assign moral value. I frequently say that there is no ethical consumption in late stage capitalism, but is there ethical work? Are we all just propping up harmful systems?
Big thank you to LittlePlat for this delightful Book Exchange read.