Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (Books 2021, 26)

    The title comes from ‘henchman’ — or -woman. We are in a world where superheroes exist, and thereby, also super villains. Anna Tromedlov works as a ‘hench’ — or tries to. As the novel starts she’s using a temp agency, trying to pick up work.

    At first it seems to be a comedy, but then she’s at a press conference given by the villain she’s working for, when the heroes arrive. Things get a lot darker.

    Are superheroes, with their disregard for public safety, the real danger in a world like this? This novel takes a good look at that question, with accompanying adventure, threat, and romance.

    It’s good. Cory Doctorow recommended it.

    If she didn’t start out planning to call herself ‘The Palindrome’, would you ever think to read her surname backwards?

    Stormwatch by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney and Bryan Hitch (Books 2018, 30)

    I don’t always include all comic-type things here. No particular reason why, except maybe that they sometimes feel too short and not substantial enough. I probably wouldn’t have included this, except that it conveniently gets my total for the year to thirty.

    It’s a post-Watchmen story of superheroes handled in a vaguely realist fashion. At least in the sense that there’s some consideration of politics. Stormwatch is a UN body, an emergency response team. It has its base in a satellite, and superhuman beings who are tasked with dealing with incursions from other worlds, or other, nefarious, super-powered beings. The US is usually antagonistic to it, because of its UN status.

    It’s not bad, but honestly not much to write home about.