For once, the henchman gets to tell his origin story in this beautifully rendered graphic novel.
In comic books, every costumed villain bent on elaborate schemes, whether a jewelry heist or world domination, needs a few henchmen. It’s these bit players who drive the getaway cars and provide the muscle. Mike Fulton is an ordinary guy whose college football career was shattered along with his knee after a rough game. Trying to buckle down to a normal life, he marries, has a child and works a low-paying job, but he never stops missing the excitement of competition, cheering crowds and team spirit. Football was the only thing he was ever good at. As a linebacker whose mentality is “Just tell me what to do, and turn me loose,” Mike doesn’t know how to make things better. Then he meets Randy, another ex-athlete whose career was ended by injury, who asks him: “Have you ever considered henching?” Former football players are in demand: They have size, speed and can follow orders. And despite the huge risks, Mike has no better offers. After a successful heist, Mike is nabbed on another job and sent to prison. He promises his wife he’ll go straight, but when their son, Cory, needs expensive medical treatment, he gets back into the life. This choice will have tragic consequences that Mike eventually must face. Beechen (Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond, 2014, etc.), Bello (Dugout, 2008) and Beavers (Bad Weather!, 2014, etc.) have created an entertaining, thoughtful spin on the superhero comic, cleverly focusing on the kind of character always left in the background: “This is me,” read several helpful arrows pointing Mike out among a crowd. (This technique is used to excellent, increasingly poignant effect throughout.) Mike’s character is interestingly, realistically developed. Touches of humor and a well-informed understanding of the genre (several panels are hat tips to comic-book greats) help bolster the story. The artwork is strong, bold and dynamic while still providing fine details that help set the scene.
Gets beneath the mask and tights to humanize the henching life.