This one popped into my head tonight, and I just can't quite place where I read it. The protagonist is an adult female in a world with superheroes and supervillains, with the primary superhero being a Superman-like character and the primary villain a male schemer who is never seen without his insectile power armor, but largely operates via minions.

The protagonist winds up being part of a hostage situation for a relatively minor villain, I think more or less just standing in the background, thinking it will be easy money for not doing much. Things go south when it turns out the hostage is the child of a prominent politician, who loses a few fingers to a sharp knife before the aforementioned Supermanalogue shows up, bursting through the walls and pulping several of the goons (who I now recall were called Meat, as their role, with other characters having similar roles, including one of the protagonist's roommates, who I think is a getaway driver) through sheer kinetic force, and almost accidentally shattering the protagonist's arm when he grabs her as she's trying to surrender.

In the aftermath, and subsequent medical recovery, she's left in even more dire financial straits due to the injury (which I think isn't covered by insurance either because superpower situations are considered "act of God" or because it happened while she was engaged in a criminal act), but gets offered a job working for another villain, the primary one mentioned before. And, in the process of her work there, she finds that she's extremely good at organization, specifically collecting all of the data via spreadsheets and correlating it, highly increasing the efficiency of the organization, and gaining the favor of the lead villain.

Eventually, the villain winds up in a fight against the main superhero, and loses, with him being flown off to be held in prison. The protagonist gathers together the ragged remnants of the organization with the idea of rescuing the villain, who she views with something in between romantic love and worship at this point. I think they'd found evidence that the government planned on lobotomizing the villain and then attempting to dissect him to get more information about his powers.

I don't remember exactly how they prevail, but I remember that part of it involved them convincing a heroine with psychic powers to help them by providing evidence that the US military was actively using superheroes to create a more tyrannical state, and that part of the climax involved said psychic heroine causing the hero to be partially embedded in solid material, I think resulting in a lost limb for him. They rescue the villain successfully, which I think results in the revelation that the insectile appearance of his armor was because it wasn't actually armor, but rather his carapace, him being more insectile in body than human.

I read this somewhere in the last five years, I think as an eBook, in English, probably on my Kindle.


1 Answer 1


This is Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. Every detail of your very detailed question matches. Just to quote a few aspects of the link

Anna Tromedlov works in the gig economy, providing clerical services to low-level supervillains in need of "henches"—until she becomes the collateral damage of one of the world's most powerful superheroes, SuperCollider. Anna is injured and disabled; during her long recovery, she begins to research the negative effects of superheroes and concludes that superheroes often cause massive collateral damage and do more harm than good to the world. She starts a blog to share her findings, which brings her to the attention of the world's greatest supervillain, Leviathan, who recruits her to assist him.

  • 1
    ^_^ I was just coming back to say that I found it after all, but thank you!
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 2 at 1:08
  • 2
    For the record it is an excellent book. Jul 2 at 4:51
  • Absolutely! Loved it
    – Andrew
    Jul 2 at 10:44
  • 1
    Interesting. Reminds me of Miss Information from Sentinels of the Multiverse, but she henched for the good guys before becoming a supervillain. Jul 3 at 7:19
  • According to this review, there is a sequel in the works.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 3 at 16:21

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