Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?
Hench is an engrossing take on the superheroic. It's smart and imaginative; an exemplary rise-of-darkness story, one I won't soon forget ... Hench is funny, full of a matter-of-fact, affectionate despair at everyday economic hardship ... the story turns, and Walschots first reveals how very well she writes devastation and trauma ... Gosh, it's fascinating. Anna is the rage of collateral damage and its revenge; she's sympathetic and horrible. I love a superhero story that shows us common character tropes through a lens of mundanity just as much as I love a superhero story that is high concept, larger-than-life, with thoroughly shining or blighted ideals. Natalie Zina Walschots gives us both of these in Hench, and I lift my metaphorical glass to her.
... witty and inventive ... Walschots is penetrating ... The novel works well as a piece of office satire but loses its way in the last third as it refocuses on the undoing of Supercollider. Dragged down by long action sequences, and without a glimpse of the outer world — no panorama of civilian desperation, no Gotham on the verge — it becomes less a subversive take on power and more a straightforward comic book story ... Still, the pleasure of the novel is the slow rollout of the rules. Creating a universe involves inventing lots of little problems, and the solutions here don’t disappoint.
Part origin story, part revenge drama, part workplace comedy, Hench is a hilarious and frequently bloody deconstruction of the superhero mythos from the point of view of its collateral damage. Anna is a sharply drawn, utterly realistic character, so steeped in the vagaries of 'contemporary existence' as to be almost emblematic of our cultural fragmentation. The novel is also incisively smart, clear-eyed in its examination not only of familiar superhero tropes but of the way those tropes shape and are shaped by society at large ... As smart as it is, though, Hench is also pure reading delight. Walschots clearly knows her comics, and her storytelling is sheer pleasure, from Anna’s defensive snarkiness to the novel’s dynamic handling of scene ... an instant classic, the sort of book you’ll want to protect in a mylar sleeve while you wait – and hope – for the arrival of the second issue.