With “Henchmen” in the title it’s hard not to assume what this story is going to be about. I think anyone that buys the issue will have some preconceived notation about the issue and more than likely they’ll be wrong. I know that I was. Henchmen, Inc was nothing of what I thought as it presents itself very seriously, but with a lighthearted atmosphere. That is to say that the world is serious, but there are goofy moments or things that could only happen because it’s a comic book. And you know what? It’s fantastic because of it.
The story beings with a flashback accompanied by a solid narration from our main character as he talks about his childhood; he wanted to be a superhero in a neighborhood that traditionally saw their sons grow up to do the same work as their fathers. We watch as a “cape” swings in to stop a robber and leave a note saying “arrest me.” The question as we flip the page becomes are we following the hero… or the crook? If you guessed crook then you full grasped the title of the comic.
Seven months later we find our small time robber getting out of the joint having served his second stint. His friend Dex is there to pick him up, but he’s looking for his lady-love… who is definitely not coming. Dex has a sweet ride and offers to buy drinks for the two as they catch up. Michael, our main character, wonders who he’s boosted it from which reveals that the duo have a history of crime together. Dex assures him that the car is on the up and up. Dex then of course tries to get him set up on the same gig, but Michael wants to have an honest go at it.
Against his better judgement he goes to his now former girlfriend’s place and discovers she’s pregnant with his kid. Well as she puts it, her kid because she wants to save the world from another Michael who grew up blaming his situation on his dad being in and out of jail. This lights the fire under Michael, but as he applies for jobs he begins hitting walls due to his criminal background. It’s a great montage as we see Michael dress more and more casual for the different jobs he applies for. Finally after being rejected by a fast food place he goes to Dex.
There’s a bit more to the story as this first issue is longer than a normal MonkeyBrain issue and it basically sets up the rest of the premise for the series. What’s the premise? Henchmen for hire of course.
This is a very interesting take on the henchman and it even goes through the history of the role. Michael is a character that you can sympathize with and sadly there are probably a lot of people in his position out in the real world. Writer Tim Simmons manages to create an interesting twist on an aspect of the superhero world. Where it goes from here we’ll see, but for now I’m just enjoying Michael’s journey.
The big curve for me was that even though there was lighthearted moments and even spoof styled commentary on superhero comics, this was story set in a serious world. I didn’t expect that. I really thought it was going to try to capitalize on the charm of Venture Bros. and make it goofy that way, but Simmons went a different way that paid off because it gave the story heart.
Something that feeds into the lighthearted nature of the story is Jim McMunn’s artwork. The story just looks light because of it and it’s better for it. This could be a very depressing comic if it was heavily shadowed like a lot of superhero titles. McMunn has a steady balance of details, never drifting into too much, but adding just enough to keep it from looking to simplistic. In particular I liked that McMunn didn’t try to go to heavy into the superhero side, but instead kept his own style that probably wouldn’t be traditional considered for a superhero title.
There isn’t much that MonkeyBrain puts out that I don’t enjoy, but this book is the first to surprise me in a while and I think it has to do with my preconceived notations about it. Granted what I thought it would be and what it is are in the same ballpark, but it’s a big park. Henchmen, Inc was the surprise of the week for me and I’ll definitely be back for more. The best part? You can get it now for a buck so if you already bought your comics for the week… well you’ve got one more to get.
Writer: Tim Simmons Artist: Jim McMunn Publisher: MonkeyBrain Comics Price: $0.99 Release Date: 6/18/14 Format: Digital