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“Dependable and Expendable”
“Dr. Crusho! Tear our guest apart with your titanium arms!”
Henchmen are the missing link between the super evil and the rest of us. No task is too menial or monotonous for them. They don't talk much but they think fast. Henchmen are the vital cogs in the massive gearwork that is the wristwatch of the villain. Without them, his wristwatch would only be right twice a day. And villains need to be able to accurately identify the time all day. They are the villain's last and greatest line of defense - well, after the laser cannon that they built on the moon, the nuclear warhead and the escape pod, of course. The life of a henchman is sweet indeed- danger, beautiful women, a really good dental plan... who wouldn't want to be a henchman?
Putting the Hench in Henchmen
"Henching", as it is known in the business, involves a wide range of tasks, which can include:
- routine maintenance of doomsday machines
- torture and interrogation
- disposing of bodies
- collecting dues for the secret, shadowy organization that is trying to take over the world
- looking scary
- wearing jumpsuits
- mindlessly obeying orders
- doing the evil villain's shopping
- laughing maniacally along with the evil villain
Not everyone is cut out to be a henchman (although some people are cut out by them). It takes a taste for gruesome, dangerous work, along with those ho-hum, boring tasks that allow a secret cult, shadowy conspiracy, or a secret army to function. The henchman is therefore a combination of assassin, menial laborer, and personal assistant. Needless to say, it's a rare individual who can interrogate a prisoner, strangle a spy with his bare hands, mop the halls of the underground lair, and then still find time to go and do the shopping. But what exactly does it take?
- Brute strength always helps- the ability to crush a man's head like an egg looks good on your resumé. If you can't, then superhuman reflexes may suffice. Ninjas make good henchmen.
- Intelligence, surprisingly, is NOT really an asset. Basically, you just stand around and look menacing until your Fearless Leader orders you in action. Theoretically, smarts and a take-charge attitude would be assets to his organization, but the leader will just view any displays of intelligence as a potential threat and have you liquidated by one of your dumber companions the next time you turn your back.
- Patience is another vital quality. Whether you're waiting for your master to take over the world, or hiding in the trunk of the hero's car/horse for days on end waiting for an opportunity to pounce, it takes nerves of steel. Literally too- bionic enhancements (especially nerves of steel) are highly recommended.
- Style. Much of a henchman's duty is just to look fearsome and badass - the whole idea is that looking like you could kill someone is often a lot more effective than actually killing people.
- Plus, cool henchmen are a major status symbol, and evil villains like to show off their henchmen to each other. So perhaps you're a former Navy SEAL with 143 confirmed kills, but if you look and talk like Harold B. Stokowski from Accounting, you're not getting that sweet henchman job. You need style. Eyepatches are always in fashion. And nothing says "henchman" like a huge, poorly healed scar disfiguring your face. Had your eye on a metal arm? Now's the time to get it. Years down the road when you try to pet a baby kitten and accidentally crush its skull this may turn out to be a bad idea, but this is exactly the kind of thinking that's going to hold you back. But what to wear? Well, one thing that is always in style is...
- A Jumpsuit. Since much of your job consists of looking threatening, proper attire is vital. Your evil overlord will usually provide the proper clothing. Sick of looking in your closet on a Friday night only to sigh that you "never have nothing" to wear? You'll be leaving those double negatives in the past with a set of fancy new jumpsuits. Usually a dark color, a jumpsuit works for absolutely any occasion you can think of. Working on the boss's new "weapon of ultimate death"? Wear a jumpsuit. Hunting down a princess in the steamy African jungle? Wear a jumpsuit. Trying to kill a secret agent with your mechanical arm? Jumpsuit. Going to a new club that just opened up with a few friends after work? Yep, you guessed it. Along with always being stylish for any generation, uniforms create a great sense of camaraderie. Did I mention kids love 'em too? But image only gets you so far. You've got to...
- Kill like a pro. Bumping people off isn't just a job, it's an art. The only difference between you and Michaelangelo is that the "paintbrush" is your weapon, and the "canvas" is your target's cranium. Well, that, and they won't send a painter to the electric chair for painting nudes, but the point is, being an ace henchman takes craftsmanship and artistry. Any schmoe can kill a guy by putting a bullet in the back of the head, and sure, that's good enough if you just want to be one of those random guys who stands around in a uniform and guards things. But to make it to the top of the henching profession, you want to be a craftsman of killing, a connoisseur of corpses. When send that guy off to get his answer to the age old question, "Is there an afterlife?", it has to done with a flair and elegance that conveys your talent, your years of training, and your utter disregard for human life. So get yourself some exotic weapons (a concealed sword, throwing knives, poison gas, or remote-controlled bombs are always good) and then spend several hours a day at the firing range and practicing your martial arts.
What Kind of Job Opportunities are there to be Had?
Now now, beggars can't be choosers (beggars can't be anything actually, because beggars are just hobos with more initiative, and nobody cares about hobos). That doesn't mean you can't be automatically assigned to a certain task regardless of the skills you possess.
Only the abnormally normal can fill this gruelling position. Qualities include being able to stand or sit in the same spot for weeks on end, looking good in a helmet, and being a stern individual, yet with a kinder, gentler side that you're afraid no one ever gets to see.
Random Guy with a Gun
Getting a gun is probably the biggest advancement in Henchmen rights since the dawn of super-villains. Say goodbye to melee combat and hello to shooting wildly in the general vicinity of your target (actually hitting the target is recommended, but not necessary). Henchman weaponry comes with an infinite supply of ammunition, whether bullets or lasers (except for that poor bastard who always runs out of ammo when the Hero is cornered; his gun only comes with 3 bullets).
Computer Button Pusher
If your Villainous Master happens to be stuck in a technologically advanced star of death, they're going to have lots of computers and screens to diligently watch. And all computers and screens have pesky little buttons that need constant pushing. These wallflowers may look unimportant, but their task of button-press-and-release is perhaps the most vital; if these buttons remained unpressed, the giant mechanical creation will surely asplode. These atrophied lumps of muscle also make light and convenient body shields in a pinch.
Elite Squad Member
The Elite Squad is a henchman detachment given especially challenging jobs, such as assassinations, stealing vital parts for the Ultimate Weapon, and making sure that the Evil Overlord has enough snacks for everyone on Overlord Poker Night. Jobs as an elite squad member are hard to come by- an Antarctic fortress requires thousands of guys with jumpsuits, guys with guns, and button-pushers, but just one Elite Squad (after all, if everyone were in it, it wouldn't be Elite). The Elite Squad has only a handful of members- anywhere from three (the minimum to make it a squad, rather than just a duo) to a dozen. To join an elite squad you must have excellent marksmanship, martial arts skills, and a high score on the HAT (Henchman Aptitude Test). Elite squads may be formed entirely of women. Elite squads are usually led by a military figure of shady background tending to be about 40 years older than the prettyboy villain.
The Henchwoman combines the beautiful and the deadly; usually she romances gullible men into slipping her some secret documents, or else she slips cyanide into their coffee. Job requirements include ninja skills, the physique of a Playboy centerfold, and a sexually suggestive name. A job risk of being a henchwoman includes a broken heart: Henchwomen have been known to fall for the very men they are supposed to be terminating. But even when she betrays her employer and risks her life to help him, he never sticks around and is romancing a different girl in his next adventure. This happens all the time, which is bad if you're a henchwoman. But it's great if you're a henchman, because there's always a lot of seriously hot chicks to pick up on the rebound after they've been dumped by Mr. Double-Oh-Let's-Just-Be-Friends.
Henchwork is always sweet, but this is the sweetest of all. You report directly to the leader, and are responsible for lair security, defense, and interior decoration, and you get to boss around lots of other henchmen. But to be this kind of henchman, you need a gimmick. This could be a theme- like, maybe you're a former whaling captain, so you've got an eyepatch, a pipe, and a thing for thick wool fisherman's sweaters. It could be some kind of prosthetic, like artificial hands or a tongue made out of titanium. Or it could be a cool-but-highly-impractical weapon, like a cane sword or solid gold nunchucks. Ideally, your gimmick should make a pro wrestler's costume look subtle by comparison. Don't even get me started on how many chicks this job will get you. You chat up a girl at a bar and tell her you're second in command for an organization that is intent on toppling civilization as we know it, and she'll be all like, "your place or mine"?
Facts and Myths About Henchmen
- Disposability. Henchmen are not (quite) as easily disposed of as is the general consensus. The hero knows when he sees you coming at him with two fists and a lot of heart that there is about to take place the fight of a century. He may look unfazed with his gun and his five feet of distance between you, but he's really fazed to hell and back, and then one more time back to hell because he left his wallet there. So what if the previous thirty guys who went against him all met their maker? You're different ...dare I say, special. You've got what it takes. You're better than him. You've got a degree in modern arts from a respected college. What? Of course that factors in to this. A hero knows any person willing to spend four years of their life only to graduate with a degree that will not get you any certifiably real job is a confident man, and confident men are the most dangerous kind of men, right up there with strong men, and men wielding rhinoceri. Also, never attack in numbers — although it may seem like a good idea, you want all the glory for yourself.
- Sexual orientation. Henchmen hang out in tight leather uniforms all day, often in close quarters with lots of accidental physical contact. Because of this, a lot of rumors get started. Let the record show that Henchmen are NOT gay. Quite the contrary, the babes go crazy for the henchmen. This is because (1) chicks dig buff guys, and the jump suit really helps show off the abs, and (2) women really go for men who are just no good, on the theory they can change them (and nothing says "fixer upper" like being part of a global conspiracy bent on world domination). So naturally, henchmen get more ass than a middle-eastern donkey farmer. Well, they would, if their opportunities for meeting chicks weren't severely limited by hanging out 24/7 in isolated island fortresses and underground compounds.
- Individuality. Each henchman is every bit as important as the next. This is not to say you should each think individually or be creative. No, the henchman's power lies in his mindless, uninhibited behavior. Do only as you're told, never more. Think it's a good idea to simply kill the hero? Maybe you believe you should lock more doors around your secret facility, especially ones with important documents behind them? You just better stow that talk, sailor. You can be sure your supervisor has thought out every detail of every plan and left nothing to chance. Remember, the nail that sticks out gets hammered, and being smashed in the face by a hammer is something only the very few (and sick) enjoy.
Causes of a Prematurely Ended Lifetime
Adventure can sometimes also mean certain death. But what's excitement without a little danger? Boring excitement, that's what. There are a few key identifiers that, if noticed, will save your life.
- Watch out for cockiness with no identifiable origin. You've just cornered the hero, only to find him smiling and dancing in delight. This is, most assuredly, a trap. Or he's crazy. No, it's definitely a trap. He's got an exploding ball point pen that shoots laser beams, or something. Drop your weapon, and flee like the little girl that you are; the alive little girl that you are. Remember, the Villain wouldn't risk his life to save yours, why should you?
- Never volunteer for experiments. Gene-altering experiments may grant you super-human strength and abilities, but inevitably turn you into some kind of horrible monster. Your girlfriend probably won't understand. You will also more than likely die an extra horrific death, usually by some sort of crushing or grinding machine. On very unfortunate occasions, the machine both crushes AND grinds. Likewise, never volunteer to help test any sort of weapon. A successful test of these weapons always involves getting a lot of red stuff on the floor, like your blood-covered internal organs.
- Never try to sleep with the Overlord's daughter. She's bad to the bone. Beautiful as she is wicked, this will only end in a broken heart...usually related to stabbing. Of course, she might not be totally evil if she's falling for the good guy, but in this case, remember...
- Never try to sleep with the good guy's love interest. She's good to the bone. She may pretend to be impressed by your high-tech weapons, martial arts moves, and spiffy jumpsuit, but she'll smack you upside the head with a lug wrench as soon as you turn your head and run off with the hero.
- Always wear gender appropriate underwear when swordplay is a possibility. You WILL have your uniform cut off in a seemingly impossible fashion, and although not fatal, you will die of embarrassment.
- Have an identity. In normal life, you minimize the risk of someone shooting you by keeping a low profile and blending in with the crowd. This does NOT work as a henchmen. Heroes mow through anonymous henchmen like a lawnmower goes through a litter of kittens. It is therefore vital to stand out. Have an unusual weapon, a noteworthy physical appearance, dress oddly. Get robotic eyes, a really cool scar, be a giant, be a midget- hell, put on M.C. Hammer pants if that's what it takes- anything to stand out. You still may get killed in a climactic showdown with a super-spy, but you'll still live a lot longer than a crowd of anonymous henchmen.
- If the plot's foiled, it's foiled If you get away, good for you. Settle down, find religion, get a girlfriend. NEVER attempt revenge on the hero, especially by sneaking up on him when he's in bed with his love interest. Besides, that's just really creepy.
Life After Henching
What if, even after all the wonderful help you gave him, the evil-not-so-much-emperor was defeated? You first need to accept that this is not your fault. You did the best you could, and there is no use beating yourself up about it. There is no need to drown your pity away with cheap liquor and cheaper women; constantly wondering if there was something more that could of been done or someone that could of been killed, or if there is anywhere appropriate to wear your jumpsuit. If you really need help, there are various self-help groups such as Henchers Anonymous where you can get your frustrations out in the open.
Excerpt from Henchers Anon Meeting
Henchman: I started out doing part time consultant work for villains, you know, just to relieve stress. But soon I needed more...I guess that's when I became a full time Henchman. At my low point, I was burning through maybe 5 or 6 supervillains a week just to get my fix. Robbing banks, destroying galaxies, or taking candy from babies...it didn't matter. I just needed to hench. I'd hench for anybody, anytime, anywhere. I couldn't stop myself...I became a henchslut! (breaks down into hysterical sobbing)
Henchwork As of Late
With the invention of security cameras and a "competent Police force," villainy has become a harder field to break into. Fewer children are making vows to take over the universe one day, and fewer still actually have the follow through to accomplish that dream; instead deciding to go to "college" to become "financial analysts" (as if that's even a real job title). As a result, Henchmen have become less and less in demand. Sometimes the villain may even rely on a single Henchman. The Henchmen industry has also seen the effects of outsourcing. Villains are moving their customer service departments to India where there are neither customers nor service. Whole groups of henchmen are being laid off and Mexicans, who will work for tequila and Taco Bell, are being hired in their places. Secret lairs are being moved to Utah because nobody knows where the hell is Utah anyway? Eventually, as technology advances, Henchmen will be replaced by hordes of robots, and Henching will become a thing of the past.
- Baron Samedi
- Dick Cheney