Or – “HercuThor Vs. ThorCules…Â This Oughta Be Good.”
In a way, Hercules and Thor are reminiscent of Stephen and myself.Â Both equally powerful, in their own ways, equally notorious for different reasons, and oneÂ of them possessesÂ much cooler hair.Â (Tune in next week as we equate Rodrigo with Xerpliphane, Mesopotamian god of war and uncomfortable trousers…)
Previously, on Incredible Hercules:Â So, Herc has had a tiny falling out with his herald and partner Amadeus Cho (whoÂ has beenÂ off having his own solo adventures, searching out his predecessor to the name Mastermind ExcelloÂ in the odd-numbered issues of this book) and has been charged with the care and feeding of his own father Zeus, somehow youthened (Youthified?Â Younginated?Â Youthanized?) to a child-state.Â Through a complex series of events, Hercules has been manipulated by Malekith the dark elf into impersonating Thor, invading the land of the Dark Elves, and accidentally wedding their queen, Alflyse.Â His masquerade is discovered, however, by The Warriors Three (Hogun the Grim, Fandral The Dashing, and Volstagg The Voluminous) who bring the real Thor into things.Â In an attempt to convince the Lion of Olympus the error of his ways, the son of Odin puts on Herc’s identity (and his little skirt thingy) and steps into an already volatile situation.Â Given that one Hercules has nearly started a war between Asgard and Niflheim, I cannot imagine that the presence of another Hercules is going to make the situation any better, though your mileage, as always, may vary…
After a very funny recap of the first battle between these two mighty warriors (narrated by Thor, in contrast to Hercules’ trash-talking introductions throughout the last couple of issues) we join our faux thunder god already in progress.Â Having wedded and bedded the Queen of the Dark Elves, and now preparing to lead her armies in a march on Asgard, Thorcules has a problem:Â Li’l Zeus isn’t willing to provide the storms that will allow him to continue the charade of being Thor.Â When the skies break open anyway, Hercules smiles until he realizes that the realÂ Norse God of ThunderÂ has arrived.Â “I thought the real Hercules was FAR handsomer,” he quips to his pretender, to which Thor replies, “And I thought Thor stank less.”Â Heh…Â Ouchie.Â The two deities realize that they’ll have to fight one another in order to bring this whole mess to a close, and suddenly Zeus starts cheering for “Hercules.”Â It’s kind of sad to see Hercules realize the sheer contempt with which his father views him, a feeling that turns to irritation when Thor implies that he’ll have to fake it to make the fight look even.Â Hercules responds by suckerpunching the thunderer (a wonderful sound effect accompanies this: “SUKKAPUNCH!”)
The sound effects are the highlight of a very clever fight, including a shot from Hercules (“GODDATHUNNDA!”) and a return shot from Thor (“THORRRULZ!”) and neither man is willing toÂ give up.Â Hercules taunts Thor that he needs to “live up” to the legacy of Hercules, and Thor responds with a nard shot worthy of Ric Flair himself, followed by a wedgie of steel.Â “Thor” collapses and begins singing the praises of Hercules, proclaiming loudly and for all to hear that Hercules has finally and absolutely defeated him.Â The smile on Herc’s face throughout this sequence is priceless.Â Both gods are exhausted by the battle, leading Malekith to sweep in with his monstrous lackey to destroy them both…Â A single shot from Zeus drops them both, as the annoyed All-Father-made-son has finally reached the end of his patience.Â It all ends well, though, as Thor reminds Zeus of the reasons to be proud of his muscle-headed son, Hercules gets some super-happy-grown-up fun time with the shapely elf=queen, and Volstagg gets a big jug of mead, and everyone lives happily ever something or other…
This series is the only real consequence of World War Hulk that’s still about in the Marvel Universe, and it’s long been an enjoyable thrill ride.Â What’s most surprising is how touching parts of the story are, as Thor tells Zeus that only Hercules could have saved the day here.Â It’s also nicely handled when Thor mentions that he understands all too well the condition of an angry father who wants to teach him some sort of lesson, and the sheer surprise as Zeus realizes that Hercules fights only for his honor and approval…Â Â Reilly Brown’s art is wonderful throughout this story, with facial expressions that are wonderfully expressive, just bordering on cartoony, while keeping their reality (see the panel when Thor gives Hercules the low-blow for a great example.)Â Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente’s script is a very knowing look at the reality of Herc, and underlines the difference between him and his fair-haired Avenger cohort, making Hercules more than just Thor without a hammer (a difference that hasn’t always been clear in the past.)Â With some fighty-fighty, some entertaining introspection, comedy, tragedy, and a comely blue elven wench, this issue pretty much brings the total package.Â Incredible Hercules #136 earns a wonderfully textured 4 out of 5 stars overall, and I’m excited to see the reunion of Herc and Cho in the near future…Â I have to say, I really enjoy this book, and it’s well worth the price of admission.