Henchgirl is a comic drawn by Kristen Gudsnuk.
Crepe City, a city once vaunted for its pancakes, now a warground between heroes and villains. One such group of the latter is the Butterfly Gang, a small band of criminals led by Monsieur Butterfly who seek to make a name for themselves. Among his group is the titular henchgirl, Mary Posa, who joined thinking it was a landscaping job but came to settle into the criminal life. However, she also wishes for a better life— but the question is, can she do so or is the life of a henchgirl truly her calling?
Started in 2013 as a self published book, Kristen decided to put it up online after the release of the fourth issue. The comic eventually came to an end in Dec 2016. Near the end of its run, Kristen revealed that Dark Horse picked up the comic and will be publishing the collected edition (which will have extra material). However in respect of that, she removed that latter half of the comic beyond the fourth issue in the webcomic version (ironically) and announced the site will soon die off on its own which it eventually did. So please support the book where available.
If you're following along with the webcomic, the final page is posted here.
In June 2019, Kristen revealed on Twitter that the series will be adapted into a TV Series. The show is in development for Freeform (the former ABC Family), with Alex Ebel adapting, Lindsey Shockley (an executive producer of blackish) as showrunner, and The District (the production company behind Stumptown) and Scout Comics producing.
Dark Horse re-released the trade paperback on September 16, 2020, with new cover art and 16 pages of new comics seeing what's happening with Mary and the other denizens of Crepe City.
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- Alien Invasion: One happens in the middle of the story by worm like creatures. Though Mary isn't affected by it since her apartment is on the outskirts of the city while the heroes are fighting them.
- And the Adventure Continues: The comic ends a year after the time travel events. Tina's power run amuck due to some of the evil serum splashing on her and the carrot army that was under her command take over the city while she herself is held prisoner by them (presumably to keep her from using her powers against them). Mary, Sue, Fred (now a spirit), Amelia (and later shown Palawan, Consuelo, Raj and Paige) form a La Résistance in the hopes of either stopping the army or changing the past. The comic ends with the group heading out to find Tina and about to confront some of her minions.
- The second printing of the trade paperback skips several years into the future, with 16 pages of new comics showing what happened to the characters.
- Anti-Climax: The Extended Edition shows what happened after the initial ending to the story which had the heroes about to confront the Carrot Army to rescue Tina from her evil clone. Tina sees her friends in trouble, attacks her evil clone, manages to literally bite her head off and takes back control of the carrot army. Yep, that easy.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After Monsieur Butterfly has Dr. Maniac inject Mary with evil serum, Mary and Coco go on a crime spree, including holding up everyone in a subway station, attacking a rival gang, doing a home invasion, and stealing kids' lunch money with Mary drinking one kid's juice box For The Evulz.
- Bittersweet Ending: As stated above, the comic ends with Coco dead, Tina's carrot army turned evil due to the serum with her kept prisoner by them and lead by an evil carrot version of her, Crepe City under the control of the carrots (with apparently the president having given up on it if the writing on Sue's computer is to be believed), and Fred permanently losing his body after a building caved in on it. But Mary has been freed from the serum and apparently given up henching for good, Fred is at least still around as a spirit, most of their friends are now their allies in their La Résistance and vowing to make things right with Mary seemingly finally becoming a hero in her own right.
- And played utterly straight in the Extended Edition. On one hand, Tina's evil clone is stopped by Tina herself and she likewise saved Crepe City. Years down the line, Tina later goes on to become a superhero in the Fairness Federation (this world's version of the Justice League). But Mary gives up the superhero life to become a security guard to a museum. She does manage to beat Monsieur Butterfly and his new gang when they try to take revenge, getting them thrown in jail and, even better, Fred gets a new body from Amelia thanks to a magical golem she acquires which now grants him invulnerability, giving him a shot at being a superhero. But as Mary watches, she figures shes gotten too old for him (as he never aged as a spirit while she did before possessing the new body) and just... waddles off back to work to get drunk. End story.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The henchgirls in the Butterfly Gang Coco (blonde), Mary (brunette, but with blue eyes), and Katie (redhead).
- Book Ends: Issue 1 starts with Mary barely escaping after Mr. Great Guy interrupts the Butterfly Gang's heist. She outruns the police and collapses, exhausted and injured, onto some garbage bags in an alley. Near the end of Issue 11, Mary barely escapes Amelia killing Coco, and deeming Mary least worthy of all. The building collapses on her, and with the help of Photo Girl/Paige, escapes the building, but collapses, seriously injured, onto more garbage bags in an alley.
- Boring, but Practical: We find out that Mary has some partial super strength but she doesn't see it as a very interesting superpower compared to her younger sister, Paige's, time stopping power. Her parents seem to have the same sentiments as she was growing up.
- Blessed with Suck: Fred Stumbley a.k.a Mannequin's power. It allows him to astral project but turns his body into a very easily breakable mannequin when he does so. While it can be put back together, if he tries to go back into it before it's repaired, that damage will show up when he re-inhabits his body.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: The crux of Mary's character, she has some amount of smarts as well as partial super strength (which she doesn't see as very useful). However she wastes her time doing jobs for a low-rank gang rather then getting a real job.
- Chekhov's Gun: The monarch scepter introduce waaaay at the start of the series. Turns out it's Amelia's true magical wand.
- Crapsack World: Mary and Palawan are taking a walk after mugging someone, and they pass by kids on a playground. Crepe City is so inured to crime that the kids treat these mid-level criminals like they're local sports stars.
- Designated Girl Fight: Played straight, but with different characters fighting each other. Coco and Mary vs. Consuelo in Issue 4, Mary vs. Consuelo in Issue 6, Amelia vs. Mary in Issue 8, and an off-panel fight in Issue 10 between Coco and Consuelo - Coco is later shown with a bloody nose and tissues/toilet paper in her nostrils. Defied in Issue 7, when Mr. Great Guy tries to capture Coco by grabbing her, and Mary takes him out with a crowbar to the face. Ignored whenever Mary, Coco, or other Butterfly Gang members use the Butterfly Zap or the Monarch Scepter.
- Didn't Think This Through: Mary uses a magic wand to stop a supervillain hoping to get some glory. Instead she's arrested for killing a man on live television. What's more since she wasn't in disguise when she did it, it's outs her identity to the Butterfly Gang who promptly have her fired.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Both Mary and Palawan Birdwing find the idea of robbing orphans deplorable, especially since the latter was raised as an orphan. So much so Mary tips off Mannequin so that they can foil the Butterfly Gang.
- Foreshadowing: In the 11th issue, after Sue, Tina and Consuelo manage to get the evil serum so that Sue can make an antidote to cure Mary. The carrot army, that were initially just attacking the guards, suddenly start running amuck through the building and fighting them which baffles Tina since she claims it has never happened before. We find out later that Tina was splashed with some of the evil serum during the fight and this was a sign that the effect was starting to kick in.
- Mary and another member of the Butterfly Gang jokingly discuss how Coco "used to be normal", with Mary seeming incredulous. We later find out that Monsieur Butterfly brainwashes gang members with an "Evil Serum" if they aren't up to his standards. Coco later mentions that she suspects this is what happened to her.
- For Want of a Nail: Mary uses Amelia's time amulet to go back into the past in the hopes of leading a better childhood. She uses knowledge from her diary and her parent's autobiography to claim she's a psychic. It seems to work until she's pulled back into the present while her younger self on national TV with her mom. Since her present mind wasn't there to keep the charade going, it ends up damaging her family's credibility when she's revealed as a fraud.
- Gone Horribly Right: Later in series, Mary is injected with a serum meant to make her evil. Indeed it causes her to act more recklessly and cruelly...a little too well.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors:
- With three exceptions, every time Mary commits a crime, she's wearing her black catsuit. One is when she kills Gunpowder and fights the police, when she honestly thinks she is doing good by saving her parents. The other two are when she kidnaps, and later tries to kill Amelia (and the last instance is because Mary stole Coco's clothes.)
- Amelia, like any good Magical Girl, wears pink after she transforms.
- In the Epilogue, Mary mixes colors wearing black and purple on the outside (jacket, pants, boots), but pink on the inside (blouse and gloves) a Lovable Rogue willing to break the law or social mores to defeat Tina's Evil Carrot Army.
- Heroic BSoD: Mr. Great Guy falls into depression after his girlfriend, Lana Street, is beheaded during an alien invasion.
- Hurricane of Puns: Mary and Amelia's fight in the park in Issue 8 is a fertile field of plant-based puns, rooted in that evergreen style of humor.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After some acid splashes on Tina during a fight with a guard. Her carrot powers manifest itself as a carrot root and impales him.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Between the time Fred loses his body in Issue 11 and Amelia gets him a golem body in the Extended Edition, Mary and Fred carry on their relationship by having Fred's spirit enter Mary's mind and having their souls interact.
- Kudzu Plot: The comic does have a bad tendency to bring up plot points only to never get around to resolving them and moving onto the next part as quickly as possible, ultimately leaving a lot of unanswered questions.
- Loss of Inhibitions: Near the end of the first act of the series, Mary is outed as the one who tipped off the heroes about a orphanage robbery. So her boss, Monsieur Butterfly, has her taken to a immoral doctor to be given an "evil serum" which takes away her inhibitions, intending to make her a more effective henchman. It does work... a little too well in fact. To the point she starts acting much more reckless in her endeavors. Eventually it gets to the point she outright kills a villain on live TV, tries to concoct a time travel scheme to change her life and almost kills a superhero out of jealousy which inadvertently gets a fellow co-worker and friend killed. Eventually the serum is purged from her system but has to live with the results of her a actions.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Mary kills Gunpowder by covering him in gunpower then using a magic wand to make him blow up.
- Magical Girl: Issue 8 introduces Amelia who wield magical girl powers. She even has a non-human sidekick.
- Meet Cute: Multiple instances of this between Mary and Fred in the first two issues. Fred (as Mannequin) carries Mary home after finding her passed out in trash bags in an alley after Mr. Great Guy foiled the Butterfly Gang's bank heist. They meet again the next day Fred is a teller at the bank Mary's gang hit the night before, and Mary was depositing the money she stole back into the bank! Fred is not pleased. They meet again when Fred is working catering at Greg Gains' ball in Issue 2, and Mary tries to go in the service entrance after being turned away at the door (and insulted by Coco) and Fred interrupts Mary's stealing some jewels. He doesn't turn this charming young thief in then...
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Coco goes through a subdued one when she realizes that the evil serum may have made Mary a little too evil as they bond over doing some independent robberies. Especially when she consider that Butterfly may have injected her with it as well. When Mary ends up screwing up her timeline via time travel, Coco goes to Sue and Tina to tell them what happened and hopefully find an antidote for the serum.
- Mary when her time travel ploy fails, her attempts for revenge on Amelia end up causing the deaths of Coco and Fred and, that while the evil serum is finally purged from her body, she knows she has to live with her actions.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mary tips off Mannequin which somewhat foils the Butterfly Gang's mission to rob an orphanage. But Monsieur Butterfly puts a hit on his head when he finds out it was him and they ultimately find him in Issue 5.
- No Honor Among Thieves - The very first heist we see has Mary stuffing $3,000 from a bank robbery into her jumpsuit. Her thievery from the Butterfly Gang nets her something, as she survives Mr. Great Guy blowing up the car she was in and stopping the heist.
- Coco turns the tables on Mary. When Mary turns evil, they execute a subway robbery in Issue 7. Even though Mary saves Coco from being captured by Mr. Great Guy by knocking him out with a crowbar, Coco eventually takes all the loot after Mannequin appears during their getaway and tells the Fly Girls we need to talk.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Consuelo keeps trying to pass herself off as hero named La Mucama (lit: The Maid). But since she doesn't wear a mask, those that have met her before can tell that it's her.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Mary just henches to pay the rent.
- Running Gag:
- Coco trying to reveal her "tragic backstory". Whenever she gets the chance, the reader never hears it.
- Consuelo trying to go by her second superhero persona, La Viuda. But no one takes her seriously or calls her by her hero name.
- To Gravity Falls - Bill Cipher is on the $100 bill Mary gives to Larry in Issue 1.
- To The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
- When Mary goes back in time in Issue 9, she goes to Townsville Elementary School - probably one of the other schools in the PPG universe.
- Chemical X is on a shelf in Dr. Maniac's office in Issue 11, when a guard pushes Tina back into it - Tina got splashed with acid and L-47 during the fight, so does she become a Powerpuff Girl as well?
- To The Simpsons:
- Malk is a beverage on the menu at Cthulu Burger.
- Tina's comment on "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" in Issue 8 - Mary interprets this as Tina thinking of her as a cow, just like in "Lisa the Beauty Queen" - Lisa hearing Marge singing about an "ugly duckling" makes Lisa think Marge thinks she's ugly.
- Teenage Mary in the bonus material is wearing a "Can't Sleep - Clown Will Eat Me" t-shirt.
- Stable Time Loop: Around Issue 9, Mary and Fred mess with a device that allows time travel and sends them messages from the future warning them of upcoming event, if rather vaguely. Issue 11 revealed that it was Mary and Amelia sending the messages in the hope of changing the future. However due to the limitation of the device they were using, they couldn't be more specific.
- Surprise Creepy: The way Tina introduces her powers. Especially considering Mary, Fred and Sue were eating carrot cake before then.
- Token Good Teammate: Mary and Palawn in the Butterfly Gang. They don't mind doing heists and robbing from museums, banks and rich people. But draw the line at actively killing people and stealing from kids.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Coco gives Mary a short, but harsh, one to try to keep Mary from killing Amelia. She (Amelia) isn't the one who's ruined your life. Think about it logically. You ruined your *own* life. Ouch.
- The Reveal: Chapter 4 reveals that Mary's family are famed superheroes.
- The Rival: Coco to Mary when it concerns being Butterfly's right hand henchgirl.
- The Unfavorite: Mary in her family it seems. In the autobiography detailing her parents lives, she is left out apparently at the suggestions of the editors. Tina calls Mary's parents out for not at least putting her name in the acknowledgements.
- Time Skip: A year passes after the fallout of the time travel events which we find Tina took over the city after some of the evil serum splash on her during the fight with the guards.
- Time Stands Still: Photo Girl's main power. Whenever she says "Say Cheese", it stops time for a few minutes.
- Villain Over for Dinner: At the end of Issue 4, El Romancero and Flame Girl (Mary's parents) invite Paige, Mary, Tina, Sue, and Fred to dinner after their book signing. Things do not go well. After a Fawlty Towers-esque sequence of characters saying and doing the exact worst things, Tina lets it slip that Mary is in the Butterfly Gang. Mary's mom is so enraged that she loses control of her powers and burns the restaurant down.
- Webcomic Print Collection: Not long before the webomic reached its finale, it was announced that the comic was picked up by Dark Horse comic for trade format. Thus the webcomic was stripped of it's later chapters beyond the 4th issue in order for people to buy the book and the website is set to be erased once the site's license expires.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Tina reveals she has the power to make carrots come out of her wrists. It seems useless at first, until we find out that she can animate them and use them as her army.
- Wham Episode:
- Issue 6: Mary and the Butterfly Gang go on a museum caper to steal the Jewel of Aletheia. It's a trap for the suspects for leaking the orphanage scam to the media. Palawan takes the jewel, and Monsieur Butterfly asks Palawan if he leaked the orphanage scam, and Palawan denies it. Coco gives the jewel to Mary and asks Mary if she leaked it, and she admits it - the Jewel of Aletheia forces its bearer to tell the truth. Coco wants to kill Mary, but Monsieur Butterfly has a better idea - having Dr. Maniac inject Mary with Evil Serum. After this, Mary is more aggressive, reckless, and cruel, but still has a conscience buried somewhere beneath. The remainder of the series has Mary alternately doing more villainous deeds and both her and her friends (and later, even Coco) trying to stop Mary from permanently becoming evil.
- Issue 9: Mary uses Amelia's wand in a attempt to stop one of her parents old enemies, Gunpowder. However, since the event was live on TV, she wasn't in disguise, she let a hostage die and was shown fighting law enforcement. She's arrested for murder on top of being an associate to a well known criminal. While she escapes thanks to a mysterious person, she has to go on the run and knows she can't show her face again...and then she remembers Amelia's time device and tries to come up with a plan to fix everything..
- Issue 11: Mary's attempts to fix the past fail and in fact make things worst. She ends up blaming Amelia for her trouble, but in her effort to get revenge end up awakening a hidden power within Amelia that judges whose worthy and who isn't. Coco is killed when she tries to confront her and Fred is caught in the building collapse with seemingly no way to find his pieces to put him back together. The mysterious person saves Mary, revealing her to be Paige, Mary's sister. Meanwhile Sue, Tina and Consuelo tries to get the serum to make an antidote for Mary but Tina ends up losing an arm in the process though gains a new one from her carrot power. A year passes after the events where we learn that Tina was splashed with some of the evil serum in the struggle and took over the city with her carrot army. Mary, Sue, Amelia and Fred (now a disembodied spirit) are trying to find a way to fix the damage.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Heavily hinted at with Mary's parents long before she turned to a life of crime due to the fact she didn't seem to develop superpowers (least beyond super strength which they don't consider very flashy).
- Widget Series: The comic is more a set of random misadventures then any overarching plot.