This week I want to talk about a Marvel book. This book takes place outside of Secret Wars, as far as I know, and follows the life of a Hydra agent. It’s Marvel’s Hank Johnson, Agent of HYDRA #1, by David Mandel with art by Michael Walsh.
This book was great. It starts out with a Hydra gent getting knocked out by Nick Fury, his partner getting shot, and Nick fury running down a hallway. Turn the page and it’s the knocked out Hydra agent sitting at his kitchen counter with a steak on his blackened eye.
The rest of the issue follows basically the mundane, day to day, lives of Hydra agent Hank Johnson and his family. From worrying about who looks after the kids, to attending coworkers funerals, this book is heartfelt, comedic and serious all at once. You feel for Hank, a man trying to provide for his family the best way he can, as he faces awkward social situations with noticeable figures — the best one being the sexual assault charges he files against his new boss, Lady Viper; also him trick-or-treating with his kids, all dressed as Avengers, is ironically hilarious.
The writing is great. David Mandel takes a villain, a generic henchman no less, and humanizes him to a great level. This man is just providing for his family, trying to lead a happy life with his wife, and trying to create a better life for his kids. It’s great that he just happens to be a henchman for an evil organization. This book hits every note and explains pretty much everything you have ever wondered about when thinking, what does a henchman do on his day off? Does he have health insurance? What about a family? The entire cast is relatable and each voice feels like a real, middle-class, person.
The art is also not spectacular, but in the best ways. It perfectly fits what I would call a “slice of life” book. It’s not flashy colors and super realistic abs, rather it’s more Outcast (from Image) in style over say a person like Jim Lee. A bit of a flatter color palette, softer lines, and realistic looking people over super-jacked, muscle-bound heroes. It’s fantastic.
This book is a definite 5/5 and should be bought, read, and loved immediately.