Or – “Whosoever Holds This Envelope Shall Possess The Power Of WILLIE LUMPKIN!”

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So, the end of the month is always problematic for me, in terms of multitasking.  I mention this solely as an explanation of why this issue of Hercules (which came out two weeks ago) is being reviewed a couple of days after the delivery of the NEXT issue of Hercules (which came out on Wednesday.)  After their adventure in the underworld, Amadeus Cho and the scion of Olympus have gone their separate ways.  Hercules now has to take care of his own father, reverted to childhood, with only the help of his goddess of wisdom sibling to assist him.  So, what’s with the wingy hat?

IH2.jpgPreviously, on Incredible Hercules:  When evil uncle Pluto captured his father, Hercules and Amadeus Cho traveled into the afterlife to try and save the Pater Familias from a fate worse than death.  Or maybe just after death.  After an interesting view on the Marvel afterlife, (as the likes of Banshee, the Wasp, and others gamble to win a shot at resurrection) Hercules was forced to battle his own mortal shade, while Amadeus Cho was horrified to find that the sister that he thought dead wasn’t in the afterlife with his parents, in fact wasn’t dead at ALL.  The son of Zeus was eventually successful in his defense of the old man, (sort of) by causing Zeus to realize that even an All-Father makes mistakes, causing the old man to drink from the river Lethe and lose his memory of his previous life, and revert to the stature of a child.  Upon returning to Earth, though, all was not forgiven, as Amadeus seemingly turned on his partner, and stalked away from Hercules (apparently to protect him and allow Cho to find the secret of his lost sister alone.)  Abandoned by his herald, Hercules, his sister Athena, and their now-prepubscent father were left to their own devices…

 

We open with a retelling of the origins of Marvel’s version of Thor (narrated by Hercules) which recaps how Donald Blake was lured into a cave by an interesting stick (“How’d this guy earn an M.D.?  Probably cheated…”) and turned into the mythic Norse deity of thunder.  Moral of the story?  “Even when transformed by Norgwegian hoodoo, a weenie is always a weenie…”  Heh.  We then join the Hercules family, already in progress, as Herc regales Athena with the story of how Zeus finally overcame his contempt and accepted his son as a champion, a tale which gets interrupted by a harpy attack.  Athena leaps into action, ordering her father to be good (“You’re my daughter?  Too bad…  you fill out that breastplate most pleasingly.”  Ewww…) and her brother to get Zeus to the Avengers for protection.  Leaping into action, Athena explains to the creatures that, “my grade-school-aged father just HIT on me.  I’m going to take that out on you.  Prepare to die.”  Double Heh.  Zeus and Herc escape the harpies, only to find themselves attacked by Dark Elves. 

Hercules quickly takes out the attacking hordes, (turns out a Hum-Vee to the face is the weakness of many mystical creatures, cold iron or no) and is greeted by Balder the Brave of Asgard.  A troll attack side-tracks their conversation, until lightning bolts take down their foes, and the elves and troll flee what they think is the return of Thor.  (Turns out Zeus remembered a little bit of his own lightning-throwing abilities.)  Balder explains that Thor has been exiled, and that Hercules has been chosen to act in his stead to fight the new elven queen (who is hot enough to get both Zeus and Hercules’ attentions.)  His own uniform transformed into the garb of Thor, with the Big Z providing the requisite lightning and Hercules’ own enchanted mace (retrieved from a storage unit in New Jersey) completing the disguise, Hercules ventures out to find the world tree Yggdrasil, which is Norse for “makes your spellchecker have a conniption fit.”  Through a combination of arrogance, ignorance, and swift and blinding violence, Thor and his tiny dad manage to smash through the portal into one of the nine worlds, the better to slay an elfqueen with.  ‘Course, the army of monsters on the other side could prove problematic for them…  Meanwhile, Balder watches their actions from afar, laughing in a maniacal and evil fashion, and reveals himself to be Thor’s old foe, Malekith the Accursed, who has sent Herc on a fool’s errand to allow Malekith to finally take over all of Asgard! 

Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente deliver another ripping yarn this month, taking what might have been the end of the premise that made the book go, and instead going someplace completely unexpected.  Clever dialogue throughout, and some neat moments (“I just figured out that I control the weather… which is AWESOME.”) combined with a nicely handled villain reveal make the story really sing, while Reilly Brown and Nelson DeCastro’s art goes from roadside diner to Svartalfheim without a hitch, rendering killer trolls and Hum-Vees with equal skill.  Hercules is still hurting from the seeming betrayal of Amadeus Cho, and throwing himself headlong into an adventure is exactly what he (and the ongoing storyline) needs right now.  This issue manages to take an unexpected sidetrip while maintaining everything that I’ve loved about this series since World War Hulk:  mythology combined with tongue-in-cheek brilliance, all done at breakneck pace without losing the subtle, enjoyable character moments.  Incredible Hercules #132 ranks a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars (really only losing points because of the missing Cho) and continues this comic’s streak of awesomeness.  Incredible Hercules continues to be among the best Marvel has to offer, month after month…

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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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1 Comment

  1. Ricco
    August 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm — Reply

    This was great, but I don’t like the fact that I have to wait not for the next, but the issue after that to know what happens next since the Cho and Herc stories alternate. It was cool that the strange personification of Balder (he’s not really a wimp) turned out to be a ruse and not the author throwing the character’s continuity out the window.

    P.S.-I don’t know how I feel about the Cho story yet, could be great or could kill the book.

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