Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra #1 Review (David Mandel, Michael Walsh)


Nick Fury breaks into a Hydra facility, knocking out two guards before continuing his mission. But we linger on one of the guards and then cut to him out of uniform sat at his kitchen table nursing his bruised noggin and looking miserable. This is Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra! 

I haven’t read many of them but I’m calling it: this one-shot comic is the best Secret Wars tie-in! Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm writer David Mandel gives us a funny look into the everyday life of an ordinary Marvel supervillain goon. Besides the usual stuff every married familyman deals with like juggling kids and worrying about money, Hank’s also got to deal with getting beaten up by the Avengers and fend off Madame Hydra’s inappropriate workplace advances! 

It’s essentially a Marvelised extension of that scene in Austin Powers about the Dr Evil henchman (but not as tragic) drawn in a style similar to David Aja’s Hawkeye by Michael Walsh. And it works really well – I loved it! Those scenes where all the Hydra guards line up and yell “HAIL HYDRA!” were the funniest as it’s like their version of school assembly, and there's Hank and his buddy talking about their boring weekend plans in between chants! Full marks to Michael Walsh for realising Mandel’s hilarious script so perfectly with his wonderful artwork. 

I loved the fleshed-out supervillain community Hank lives in. The high school is called Wolfgang Von Strucker Elementary, the different factions have rivalries (“AIM-holes!”) whose kids play against each other in little league, and Baron Zemo hosts a school fundraiser! MODOK steals all the scenes he’s in – such a natural comedic character. I even loved the wonderful Hydra wreath at the funeral! 

I’d ask for more as I really liked Hank and was rooting for him the whole time, but I wonder if this issue’s one-shot self-inclusive format didn’t make this work all the better. Either way it’s an outstanding comic that takes a wry yet refreshing and highly enjoyable look at the less glamorous side of the Marvel Universe. 

Hail Hank!

Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra #1

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