Review: Incredible Hercules #127


Or – “There’s Something Funny, Yet Awesome About Fighting In A Skirt And Thigh Boots.”


Quick, raise your hand if the mention of Hercules makes you imagine Eddie Murphy in drag, clapping his hands and chanting!

Yeah, me too…

Previously, on Incredible Hercules:  In the wake of World War Hulk (during which Amadeus Cho, knowing IH2.jpgwhat it’s like to be an outsider, and Hercules, knowing what it’s like to have an enemy slay your family) the former Avenger known as Hercules has been on the run in a world gone mad.  Clashing with the authorities, Iron Man’s Mighty Avengers, his own family, and even a tribe of Amazons with a grudge, the twosome has become a classic buddy team, even successfully leading a group of various Marvel Universe deities into battle against Skrull gods during the events known as Secret Invasion.  Unfortunately, his triumph is probably short lived, as the manipulations of his mother, Hera, and half-sibling Pluto have allowed the evil twosome to take control of the Olympus Group, a corporate entity which (unbeknownst to the general Marvel U) consists mostly of the remaining Olympian gods.  Sidetracked by an adventure during which they helped to form a new version of the Mighty Avengers with Hank Pym, Herc and Amadeus now head for a meeting with his sister, Athena, who has been assisting them in their David-Banner-walk-the-Earth-and-have-adventures phase…

We open with a welcome nod to continuity at Marvel, as former New Warrior Aegis (he appeared briefly in the second volume of NW around the turn of the century, and has not been seen since) is seen fighting crime in the projects of Brooklyn.  Superheroing may have left him behind, but Aegis still fights the good fight.  Sadly for him, bad things are in the offing as he meets The Huntsman, a herald of Pluto.  “Nice outfit,” sneers Aegis. “You with the Thunderbolts?”  “I’m with A Thunderbolt,” replies the villain, who turns on Aegis’ protective forcefield, even cutting off his air.  Aegis makes a run for it, barely escaping due to his faith in his goddess.  That selfsame goddess is currently in a diner across town, meeting with baby bro and Amadeus about their recnet Avengers exploits.  Hera makes her entrance, backed up by Typhon (a titan known for having serpents for legs and little in his head) and Hercules prepares for the smackdown, but it turns out that Mommy Dearest has only come to parley.

She has harsh words for Athena, who plays it off, and Amadeus interrupts them with a history lesson (nicely done piece of exposition, I might add.)  He reminds Hera of Athena’s origins as goddess of wisdom and war, reputed to be greater than even Zeus himself, leaping fully formed from the all-father’s brow.  “Why the heck should she kowtow to YOU?” asks Cho, and Hera snorts.  “A greater embarassment.  And a greater pain in my ass.”  Athena leaves in a huff, reminding Athena that it’s not only she who will pay the price, but Aegis and all who follow her as well.  Hera then calls a meeting with NORMAN OSBORN, the head of HAMMER, to show him her plans to take out unregistered superhuman Hercules, and he’s absolutely appalled.  “Join us, director,” she coos in honeyed tones, “Don’t fight us.”  “Honey…  Let’s get one or two things straight.  I won’t EVER “fight” you.  I will ANNIHILATE you.”  HA!  Norman steals the scene, explaining how he can make one call, and have the room filled with superhumans that even she should fear, and that HE will be kept in the loop on her assault, or she will suffer the consequences.  Her plan is set into motion, with Aegis as the bait, but by the time Herc and Athena arrive, the boy is already dead, and Amadeus is saddened to see his former crush, Dephyne, standing with Hera as well.  Before godly chaos can be unleashed, though, the skylight bursts open, and the full complement of Dark Avengers enters.  “I am shocked… SHOCKED… to find Greek Organized Crime operating with impunity in the seaports so vital to national security,” declared Iron “Norman Osborn” Patriot.  “Avengers… TAKE THEM ALL DOWN!”

Nice!  Betrayal from all side, odds against him…  must be Thursday for Hercules.  I liked this issue a lot.  In fact, I’ve been enjoying Incredible Herc off the stands while at work for long enough that I suddenly realized how ridiculous it was not to buy the book, much less review it.  This issue is balanced between tension and conflict, and the main character has not suffered under Greg Pak’s pen.  Indeed, his characterization as “fists first, questions later” is maintained, but it’s obvious that Hercules is no dummy.  He may be quick to act, but he’s a battlefield general with remarkable foresight and presence, and centuries of experience.  This is one of the most effective Dark Reign books I’ve read, in that it’s not all about the Norman, and yet he’s still in full force, and as threatening and cunning as I’ve seen him.  Deitrich Smith handles the pencils on this issue, and the art is well handled, from boardroom to diner to dark alleys and warehouses, and the closest thing to a false note in the whole issue is the death of Aegis (which, conveniently, leaves a teenager-sized breastplate that bestows immortality within inches of the brilliant mind of Amadeus Cho…  Hmmm.)  This is another example of what Marvel does WELL, unusual heroes with unusual methods who still manage to triumph by playing to their own skills…  This is Hercules the way Hercules ought to be done.  Incredible Hercules #127 ranks the full monty, 5 out of 5 stars, for crisp writing, fun dialogue, a good plot, and attractive art.  This is the total package.