If you were to ask me, “Hey Dustin, what’s your most favorite comic that you didn’t review yet?” I would say that it’s Henchgirl #2 because I’m in love with this comic. That’s right, I’m going to gush because I seriously love this issue in particular the most out of anything I’ve read recently. I love it the way I love Huck and Tomboy which are my two current top books. You can add Henchgirl in there as they’re all fighting for the top position. But yeah… this issue, stole my heart and I’m never asking for it back. I’m going to start with the art. Something I rarely do because then I find myself talking about the story usually, but that’s okay. I’m here to gush and you should just read this issue. First off, that cover. How can you not just absolutely love that cover? I wish I had a poster of it right now hanging over my bed or my front door, hell over my face. I would kill for that as a poster.
The interior art is probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to American inspired manga without the “manga look.” What I mean by this is that if you read enough manga you’ll see a story that has shifting art styles. The art will change for a joke or to make a point in the story. Henchgirl does that and it’s just so damn good. It’s not constant, it’s just at the perfect time every time. The example I’ll give is when Mary is crying and Fred wipes her tears. Not only is this a great scene, but the detail and style for Mary shifts and it’s just fantastic. I don’t have words to describe it properly because it’s just one panel on the page, but that’s just how damn amazing creator Kristen Gudsnuk is. One panel on the page and she nails it yet I can’t even recall how many other comics can push me a way in just one panel. Every panel is important and that’s evident with Gudsnuk’s comics.
I don’t know what came first the chicken or the egg or Henchgirl or Bee and Puppycat, but I have to give it to Henchgirl. They’re similar, slightly so, but Henchgirl as I said has this dark side, this raw emotion that’s always ready to present itself when you’re not paying attention. Like the Eyes Wide Shut panel… it barely gets mentioned and you can really miss it if you don’t pay attention.
As for the story, well the Butterfly gang infiltrates a fancy party hosted by the guy who is obviously Mr. Great Guy. Mr. Great Guy is an amalgam of Batman and Superman’s origins which makes him particularly funny throughout the series. Mary doesn’t make it through the front door, she’s mistaken for the hired help and told to use the back door. Once there she actually starts helping in the kitchen where she bumps into Fred aka banker aka Mannequin from the first issue. He recognizes her, but neither is willing to give up the ghost about each other just yet. The plan doesn’t go over as… well planned. Mary does make a grab for some jewels, but Fred stops her. It’s a great scene. The rest of the issue is spent with Mary working a real job and figuring out how to stop the orphanage job from happening.
The writing is really good. There are too many scenes that I would like to talk about, but if you haven’t read the issue, I couldn’t bear to spoil them. I wish I had read this last year when it released because it would have been my issue of the year. No joke. All gushing aside. This issue is a wonderful bit of storytelling. Not just the story, but obviously the art as well which is why I started there. If maybe you missed this issue like I did, then do yourself a favor and tell your comic shop to get you the damn issue. They can do that trust me and if they won’t then you have every reason to find a new shop or try one online.
I’m not done talking about the writing though. The jokes, oh the jokes. The pacing and timing is perfect for the jokes. Each gag has time to breath and when jokes are stacked on each other they only serve to make the entire joke funnier. For instance, when the Butterfly gang is getting into the party and Mr. Great Guy mistakes Mary for the help and sends her to the back, but then CoCo chimes in and zings her as well. It made an otherwise soft joke really funny because they worked together. Overall the characters are amazing. No two are alike and Mary is so consistent, no matter the situation. When Fred recognizes her, Mary’s response is killer. It’s cute, but also obvious at the same time.
You can have a good comic that has a weak character or even a weak narrative; it can have weak art or even awkward pacing and still manage to be good. But when you have a comic that does all of that and more perfectly, that’s just so in sync with itself that everything about it works wonderfully… well that’s Henchgirl #2, my do-over book of the year for 2015.
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Henchgirl #2 Creator: Kristen Gudsnuk Publisher: Scout Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print