Or – “Last Issue We Saw The Brawn Using His Brain.  Will The Brains Have To Use His Brawn?”

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Er war Superstar.
Er war populär.
Er war so exaltiert,
Because er hatte Flair.
Er war ein Virtuose,
War ein Rockidol…

 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #137                                                         

IH2_1.jpgWRITER: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
PENCILS: Rodney Buchemi
COVER: Rafael Alberquerque

Previously, on Incredible Hercules:  Amadeus Cho’s trip to the afterlife was a transfiguring one, making him realize that not only is there more to his association with Zeus’ boy than meets the eye, but that in all the time he has been mourning his lost family, he never verified that ALL of them were killed in the blast that destroyed his home.  Armed with the knowledge that his younger sister may still be alive, Cho made a break from Hercules and set out on his own mission, seeking out the little town of Excello, Utah, a company town built around the Excello Soap Flake company (originally owned by Earl Everett, the Golden Age hero who called himself Mastermind Excello, a heroic alias that Amadeus occasionally uses himself.)  Once in Excello, Cho found himself facing down the EIGHTH smartest man in the world, one Pythagoaras Dupree, who was responsible for the death of his family.  Pythagoras and Amadeus battled their way through a series of quantum realities (read: illusions) and Amadeus discovers that the ENTIRE TOWN is a sham.  Cho escapes with the help of FBI Agent Sexton, only to realize that Sexton is actually his matron goddess, Athena (sibling of Hercules) in disguise…

Amadeus opens the issue by remembering the day that he was crowned seventh smartest person in the world (thanks to an internet quiz show sponsored by Excelle Soap Company) and remembers clearly a beautiful girl he flirted with for just a few moments before all hell broke loose.  Taking a moment to be selfish, he made an excuse to talk to her, got her number, and made himself late for the Cho family dinner for the first time in his life.  In so doing, he also kept himself from being killed when the gas stove exploded in their kitchen.  Angrily, Amadeus reminds Athena that SHE knew what was happening, that she could have, SHOULD have saved his family.  “All we provide are signposts,” reminds Pallas, “You choose the path.”  Amadeus isn’t buying it, and confronts her with the truth:  He knows that he’s being trained to be Hercules’ eventual replacement.  She tells Amadeus that he’s lucky to have a real person to blame for his parent’s death, as most people don’t have anything other than disease or old age, reminding him that Pythagoras awaits him in the crater that was once Excello, Utah.  He discovers Dupree listening to his old recordings of the Mastermind Excello radio show, and asks Amadeus when HE began creating fake realities to keep the real world from hurting him…  The two men share a bonding moment, as Pythagoras explains his own origins, recounting the fact that (unbeknownst to him) he has been manipulated by Athena for years. 

Dupree explains that HE is the mind behind the Excello Company’s Brain Fight, trying to identify more “hyperminds” like his own (with a little bit of monetary hope from Hera and her Olympus Group) going on and on with the exposition until Amadeus interrupts him.  “I don’t give a CRAP about your life story.  What’d you do with my SISTER?” he asks angrily.  Dupree stares blankly for a moment before responding, “You have a sister?”  Dupree pulls a gun and challenges Cho to a duel of the hyperminds, telling the young man to calculate the trajectory of the bullets and dodge before he calculates the best angle to shoot him.  Amadeus stands for a few moments, running numbers, before snorting quietly and vowing to walk away.  Pythagoras is aghast, reminding the boy that he is the man responsible for Cho’s parents dying, and that he can punish him today.  “I am going to punish you.  I’m going to live my life.  I’m going to forget all ABOUT you…”  Oh, my.  The boy walks away, and as he leaves, a loud report sounds as Dupree shoots himself in the head.  Cho breaks down in tears for his lost family before stepping out of the bunker to find Athena.  He realizes that she is the girl from the bus stop, the girl who made him late, and that he has finally taken the last step in his hero’s journey.  She set him up to meet Hercules, to learn from him, and she did it all to create a new champion of the ages.  Amadeus has one surprise for the goddess of wisdom, though, showing her the information that Dupree got from Hera as part of their business dealing.  Both Cho and Athena realize the truth:  “We’ve have to find Hercules.” 

Rodney Buchemi really does a good job with the art on this issue, making Amadeus look his age, and giving great depth to the sequence where the boy finally collapses in mourning for his mom and dad.  Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente take threads in play from Cho’s very first appearance (in Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 #15, some years ago) and weave them seamlessly into a story that gives depth and meaning to everything that has happened in this book since World War Hulk.  With two dueling arcs, Incredible Hercules has seemingly been coming out every forty-five minutes all summer long, but now the main characters must be drawn back together, and Amadeus now has a burden of his own to bear, a mythological labor that even Herc might not have been able to work out.  Not everything is spelled out here, which I very much like, and the fate of Little Miss Cho is still up in the air, but overall this three-issue arc has done something amazing for Amadeus Cho: made me like him more.  Incredible Hercules #137 earns a very respectable 4 out of 5 stars overall, making me happy that the House of Ideas is once again in the business of creating heroes capable of doing more than hosting Wolverine cameos.  I’m champing at the bit to get the band back together next month, and hope that Hercules and Cho will finally take the fight to Hera herself…

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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. ~wyntermute~
    November 1, 2009 at 8:09 pm — Reply

    “…done something amazing for Amadeus Cho: made me like him more.”

    Hear hear!!! I’m on-board this book cuz I thought Cho’s ‘hypermind’ power was pretty neat. Then I started to like him; because of his attitude, his Kirby, his joie de something…. NOW I’m even more cho-headed because of his decision to just walk away. SMARTEST. ‘HERO’. EVER. :D

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