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  • kjoannerixon


I adore HENCH. I abandoned superhero movies years ago due to my impatience with a combination of broken physics, lazy/inconsistent character development, and the grinding moral exhaustion of capitalist jingoism, and so I felt like this book was written directly to and for me, from all my structural complaints right down to the painfully realistic depiction of injury and (partial) recovery. Anna's got a busted hip/leg! She walks with a cane! Reading HENCH felt exactly like actually walking with an actual cane!

Things I liked: moral gray areas, the crushing grind of late-stage capitalism as the Real Villain, the compromises we all make with villainy portrayed in the primary colors of the genre, Anna's friendships, Anna's failures as a friend, the rampant bisexuality, the way things have consequences, the way there is no end-of-episode reset and instead life continues accumulating, the corners Anna is pushed into and the bold action she takes to get out of them, the indictment of violence, the violence, the spreadsheets, the indictment of the coldly calculating master of spreadsheets who balances choices based on numbers, the sure knowledge that there is no other way to try to be good. I have far more praise for this book than criticism. I sat down and finished it all in one day, the first book I've casually read for fun, and enjoyed, in literal months. I am so grateful.

I've thought for a while about embarking on a superhero novel. Or rather, an anti-superhero, anti-white hat story about why superheroes are terrible both on a practical level and as the objects of admiration we make of them. I've read such things in fanfiction, of course (there's some amazing Smallville fic out there that rivals this book), but, you know, I have some Disability Discourse Thoughts About Superpowers and etc. Walschots take on the genre, though, covers a lot of the territory I would have tried to, although not all the disability stuff. But she covers a lot of it, and much of the story (especially the bits about gig capitalism, which I've personally only ever experienced secondhand) she does better than I ever could. So just read this book--and I'll be over here writing something with zero superheroes in it. Which I am also grateful for.


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