I think about comic book style villainy, especially cartoony comic book style villainy (which is why this is a cross-media entry). I think a lot about these things, which probably says a lot about me, although I’m not sure it’s all good… So awhile back my feverish writer’s brain was wondering how in the world evil organizations manage to recruit any new members. After re-watching the G.I. Joe episode “The Revenge of Cobra” I wondered who is responsible for training these new members? Well, here’s my theory…
Big Bad: Okay, who are you and what can do you for me?
Consultant: I represent Henchman Training Systems, Inc., and I’m going to give you my best pitch as to why you should hire HTS to train your henchman.
Big Bad: I’m listening.
Consultant: Here at HTS we understand that as a Big Bad, you and your lieutenants have better things to do than train some low-level henchmen who are likely going to end in dead or jail the first time you send them on a mission. But we also understand you need complete loyalty and sufficient training that your henchmen present a credible threat, or at least diversion, for any heroes that attempt to interrupt your operations.
Big Bad: I agree.
Consultant: HTS has a secret headquarters where we can train all your low-level henchmen, with optional teleport pad for easy transport. Our state of the art headquarters has state of the art equipment for training your henchmen. Plus, we have psychiatrists and nutritionists on-staff to help manipulate your henchmen mind and body.
Big Bad: I like where this is going.
Consultant: Here at HTS, we can tailor the training regiment to suit your needs. Here’s an example training day –
0530 – Wake up
0545-0700 – Physical fitness
0700-0745 – Breakfast
0800-0930 – Training Class
0930-1030 – Physical fitness
1030-1145 – Training Class
1200-1245 – Lunch
1300-1430 – Training Class
1430-1530 – Organization Morale Boosting Session
1530-1730 – Training Class
1730-1815 – Dinner
1830-2100 – Approved Recreational Activities
2100 – Lights Out
Big Bad: “Organization Morale Boosting Session?”
Consultant: Brainwashing and propaganda. Like the card says, “We take over where recruiting leaves off.”
Big Bad: Nice catchphrase. I notice there’s a lot of emphasis on physical fitness. Does this include actual combat training?
Consultant: Well, we could include actual combat and weapons training if you want, but that’s in our upgraded packages. Our basic package assumes henchmen will be captured and/or killed in their first mission, so why bother to train them when you really won’t get your money’s worth from them?
Big Bad: That’s an excellent point. So what is the purpose of the physical fitness sessions?
Consultant: Mostly just to keep them busy and keep morale up. They think they’re really learning something. And many organizations like the one you head up tend to employ scientists and medical professionals of, let’s say, ambiguous morality, like to use humans in their studies, and favor healthy specimens over unhealthy ones.
Big Bad: Oh, yes, Dr. Brainmelter is always asking for subjects, I mean, volunteers for his experiments.
Consultant: How often are henchmen expected to volunteer?
Big Bad: Usually just once does it.
Consultant: Ah, well, there are several modules for purchase for the “Organization Morale Boosting Session” and I suggest you seriously consider the module, “Scientific Progress and How You can Help.”
Big Bad: Sounds like something to consider. I assume you have a brochure?
Consultant: Absolutely. I also have several sample menus with varying chemical supplements for you to review. We want to make sure your henchmen are as strong, or as weak, as you need them to be. We are also willing to alter our menus based on the suggestions of your morally ambiguous medical professionals.
Big Bad: Excellent.
Consultant: Training classes cover the usual henchmen training; marching in formation, yelling your battle cry, defending the lieutenants…
Big Bad: I’m sorry, “yelling your battle cry?”
Consultant: Oh yes, standard procedures for most organizations. The henchmen yell the battle cry before engaging in combat with the heroes. Generally this battle cry is the name of the organization. You know, “Cooooobraaaa!” or “Hail HYYYYYYDRAAAA!”
Big Bad: But wouldn’t it make more sense to just open fire rather than warning the heroes you’re about to fire on them?
Consultant: Well, yes, of course, for trusted lieutenants. But for henchmen, the purpose of the battle cry is to trigger the psychological conditioning of the training to override all their fear and common sense and charge into battle with little to no actual combat training to engage a clearly tactically superior group of heroes. The heroes take out the henchmen, and your trusted lieutenants carry on the important part of your plan.
Big Bad: That’s surprisingly logical. But what happens if some of these henchman actually get promoted to trusted lieutenant status?
Consultant: HTS offers an advanced training course to break the psychological conditioning if you need it immediately. The conditioning will break down if it’s not constantly reinforced, so your lieutenant will eventually stop yelling the battle cry. We understand that’s a slight downside to our very effective training, but the odds are against any one henchman achieving that level of advancement, which we think outweighs any potential undesirable side-effects.
Big Bad: You make a compelling argument.
Consultant: Thank you. And of course, there are numerous training modules to choose from. As I said, we can actually train your henchmen to use weapons. We can also train them in numerous other skills, such as operating your arsenal of vehicular weapons. Of course, we do need some specifications to tailor the module, but we only need the very basics and understand much of your weaponry is proprietary.
Big Bad: So what’s the minimum you need?
Consultant: On, off, forward, backwards, side-to-side, aim, fire, stop. And if this is an airborne vehicle, take-off and land. Safety features only if you feel so inclined to provide that information, assuming safety features are even available.
Big Bad: Well, you know, tough economic times and all. Even my best engineers have been asked to conserve funds wherever possible.
Consultant: Very thrifty indeed. We will also manufacture uniforms for your henchmen. I have this handy catalogue of colors and logos. We have four styles available – basic, police-grade armor, military-grade armor, and illusion armor.
Big Bad: What’s illusion armor?
Consultant: We make the uniform look like there’s armor, which increases morale without actually charging you the premium of real armor.
Big Bad: Illusion armor it is.
Consultant: It is our most popular style. So, if you’re satisfied that HTS, Inc. can provide for all your henchmen training needs, shall I bring out the contract to commence with the custom evaluation? After all, we don’t want to lock you into a price that won’t bring you the results you need.
Big Bad: And I’m under no obligation to pay HTS if your custom program does not suit my needs?
Consultant: You have to pay us for the evaluation, but you are under no obligation to proceed with the training regiment. Attempting to cheat persons of your reputation and ability through legal loopholes is simply poor business sense.
Big Bad: Am I assured this won’t be later used as evidence against me in a court of law?
Consultant: Absolutely! Here is a copy of the confidentiality clause. And again, attempting to blackmail persons of your reputation and ability is simply poor business sense.
Big Bad: I’ll have my lawyers look over this and I’ll get back to you. But right now, HTS is leading the pack.
Consultant: Thank you! Please keep our promotional materials and here’s my card. Remember, HTS works for you!