Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I Bought 12/30/2015 - Part 1

Reviews! I found most of what I was looking for from the last two weeks. Except Deadpool #4, but perhaps I'll find that in the next few days. Work with what we have in the meantime.

Henchgirl #2 and 3, by Kristen Gudsnuk - Some day, I will end up at a high-class masked ball, and be sorely disappointed there's no robbery by a gang of crooks who share a theme. I'll also be glad I didn't get robbed or killed, but the disappointment will linger, like the smell when a dog pees on the carpet and you don't get the scent remover on there.

Mary's attempt to distract the Butterfly Gang from robbing the fund for the construction of a new orphanage, by having them rob a masquerade ball for the city "elite", fails miserably when she is forced to work with the catering staff, while her boss and his pet henchmen get drunk and participate in some disturbing rites, judging by what was going on in the background of some of the panels. Mary does, however, get a real job working as staff at various catering gigs. Now she can pay taxes! She knows that will help to repair the lousy roads in her hometown (she probably doesn't know that). Since her conscience is bugging her, she agrees to hand over all the e-mails detailing her gang's plan to help rob that fund to Fred, who got her the catering job (and works at the bank she helped rob, and is a superhero with a power well-suited to uncovering secrets, but not great at stopping criminal acts in progress). The fact Fred is the whistleblower is almost immediately discovered, so Mary hides him at her apartment.

Then there's an alien invasion, which most of the cast just watches on TV, and the "ace reporter" character accidentally gets decapitated by the Superman stand-in who isn't watching where he's swinging a sign post? That was kind of out of left field. I get it's a send-up of superhero stuff, and so sure, play on either the idea of fridging female characters for angst, or how some of these non-powered characters can be so close to this stuff but always emerge unscathed, or whatever. But that was a little darker than most of the humor up to that point. We went from jokes about heroes doing endorsement spots while fighting evil, and visions of comically sad and judgmental orphans haunting Mary, to dead reporter lady and her beau trying to heat vision suture her head back onto her body while sobbing. Bit of a sharp turn there.

That abrupt tone shift aside, it's still enjoyable. I don't laugh out loud at it, but I smile quite a bit. Gudsnuk is very good at twisting expectations and with timing. The page where everyone in the apartment is discussing what to do if the invasion continues, leading to Mary clinching her fist and declaring everyone is freaking her out, with shade over her eyes, only to follow that up by announcing she's going out for snacks. Also the reactions to Tina's super-power, which is really disgusting and raises certain questions that are almost certainly better left unanswered.

Gudsnuk's art has a simplified style to it that works pretty well with the tone of things, but she occasionally goes more detailed, usually when the scene needs a little more emotional impact. It's like a shift from the sort of silly, cartoonish world the characters normally inhabit, to some a bit more realistic, I guess. Because even if the specific source of the turmoil is not the sort of thing most people might encounter, the end result is. Being conflicted because her job is awful, but she's still trying to do it properly, and someone sees that and offers comfort, that's something most people would be familiar with.

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