Or – “Ever Wonder Why Marvel’s Afterlife Apparently Has A Revolving Door?”

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The answer is more complicated (as well as funnier and more awesome) than you might think.

IH2.jpgPreviously, on Incredible Hercules:  The paths of Hercules and Amadeus led them into conflict with both stepmother Hera and the Dark Avengers, nd the conflict led to the death of the former New Warrior Aegis (whose powers and shield came from Athena, Herc’s big sister.)  With The Olympus Group and Norman’s pet “heroes” attacking, Athena, Herc and Amadeus barely escape by turning the two side against one another, and Hera realizes that she has a traitor in her company (secretly Hercules’ former wife Hebe,  who has been stalking him for some time now.)  With the knowledge that Pluto is tied up with Hera’s evil plots, Athena realizes that now is the time to act, informing the the Greek & Geek Connection that they can acquire a counterbalance to the power of Hera, but only while Pluto isn’t watching Hades…

We open with Herc and Amadeus bathing in the waters off Atlantic City (I was going to say the East River, but that ain’t right) while Athena explains that this is the closest thing to the sanctifying rituals of the Eleusinian Mysteries…  bathing in toxins and filth.  Nice…  Hercules reminisces about a hot high priestess, and the twosome quickly changes into black suit and tie, causing Herc to remakr.  “You know what the difference between you and me is?  I make this look GOOD.”  Amadeus asks how he knows that line, and Herc hilarious replies, “Netflix.”  Turns out that the plan is for them to sneak into the afterlife by traveling through… a casino?  The twosome meets Aegis again, and are led into a room where the mortal souls thought to be dead who still have unfinished business go before they are reborn.  The shot shows Namorita, Blink, Banshee, Puck, Black Goliath, U-Go Girl, The Ancient One and more mingling with unaware Jersey normies as Aegis explains that the afterlife is kind of an interface, like a web browser.  This causes him and Amadeus to go off about their own browsers, while Hercules laments traveling through the afterlife with Nerd and Nerdier.

He is suddenly distracted by the presence of recently dead Avenger Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, who sits pumping quarters into a slot machine in the hopes of hitting the resurrection Jackpot.  “They let Bucky out.  BUCKY!  The odds for me have got to be good, right?”  Hercules is disgusted by this disrespect to his fallen comrades, but is forced to rush onward before Hades catches them sneaking into his realm.  Back at the Olympus Group, Hera confrontes Hebe for her treachery, throwing HER OWN DAUGHTER OUT A FIFTIETH STORY WINDOW.  That is hardcore…  Hercules and Amadeus are forces to gamble for cash when Charon refused to take them into Hades without payment (a fee for every man Hercules has killed) but they make it through with Amadeus card-counting and Hercules beating the crap otu of everything in sight.  The find where Athena’s ace-in-the-hole (their dead father Zeus) is hiding, only to find that a welcoming committee awaits them, including Orka, Iron Monger, the original Abomination, Scourge, Commander Kraken (?) and several characters that I believe are Hercules foes from earlier issues of this title.  Herc snorts that 12 foes won’t stop him for long, but Pluto suddenly appears and intones that he doesn’t expect them to stop Hercules, but “I do believe it’s the perfect number for a JURY,” revealing a bound and gagged Zeus…

This issue is awesome, and no summary can do it justice.  The interactions with the denizens of the afterlife are priceless, and much as with the issue of She-Hulk a couple of years ago that made it possible to explain nearly every character inconsistency or retcon, it sets the Marvel Universe up with an easy explanation for when, say, Jack of Hearts returns from the dead, as he probably eventually will.  Herc and Cho are awesome together, and some quiet hints are thrown about as to the REAL association between them (something I’ve wondered about myself.)  The group at the end of the book includes a couple of folks I don’t recognize (but know that I should) and their presence indicates that last issue won’t be easy, even for the Scion of Olympus.  This issue really ratchets up the tension, even with the humor, and the art (by Ryan Stegman, a name I’m going to be watching for in the future) is quite good.  Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente combine forces to give us another winner here, as Incredible Hercules #129 earns 5 out of 5 stars, giving us the brains, the brawn, wonderful character work and a compelling plot…  This is the book that raises the bar for monthly comics.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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5 Comments

  1. Ricco
    June 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm — Reply

    The issue was great, I love how Herc and Cho just accept whatever situation they’re in with little question. Be it going in a spiritual ship to kills Gods or entering a casino to go to Tartarus.

    “Orka, Iron Monger, the original Abomination, Scourge, Commander Kraken” + Artume, Baron Zemo, the Centaure he killed way back then, Veranke the Skrull queen, Jack-o-Lantern. Crap, still missing 2.

  2. Brother129
    June 7, 2009 at 7:17 pm — Reply

    So what do you think is the connection between Cho & Herc really is?

  3. Ricco
    June 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm — Reply

    My theory is that he’s Athena’s kid and Herc’s cousin, I don’t remember Matthew’s theory tho.

  4. June 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm — Reply

    My theory is that he is somehow Aeolaus reborn…

  5. June 7, 2009 at 9:56 pm — Reply

    I’ve often considered the possibility that Amadeus was son of Athena Parthenos (i.e., Athena the Virgin), but, therein lies the problem–she couldn’t be considered Parthenos anymore because, well, you know, conceiving children requires certain “interactions”. Then again, considering how Athena herself came into being, it’s not entirely impossible, now, isn’t it?

    Also, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought I read somewhere that the reason Zeus had all these affairs wasn’t to hurt Hera, but because he received a prophecy that one of his children would save the world. I bring this up because what if Amadeus really another son of Zeus, and thus the brother of Athena and Hercules? Athena clearly had foreknowledge of Cho’s existence hundreds of years before his birth, remarking “even if, one day, Heracles should fall… …there will come another” (see the page 31 of Herc’s origin story, Inc. Herc. #126. Pictured is Amadeus riding his Vespa with Kirby tucked in his jacket). Another what? Another of Zeus’ mortal children? Is Amadeus one of those children? I, for one, am looking forward to the revelation of the true relationship between Amadeus, Herc, and Athena.

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