Or – “Amadeus Buckycap?  That’s Pretty Unwieldy…”


Ever since Amadeus Cho and Hercules took over the Hulk’s title in the wake of World War Hulk, the adventures of the Prince of Power have been some of the most awesome tales that the otherwise Dark Reigny Marvel U has had to offer.  Herc’s evil stepmother Hera has set off her ultimate weapon, a second universe called Continuum that threatens the very fabric of reality itself.  Facing portents of his own demise, will even Hercules be able to pull this one off?

Incredible Hercules #141

IH2.jpgWRITER: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente/Jeff Parker
PENCILS: Rodney Buchemi/Gabriel Hardman
COLORS: Guillem Mari/Wil Quintana
COVER BY: Alex Garner

Previously, on Incredible Hercules:  Stuff has been occuring at a phenomenal rate since Hercules and Amadeus took off on their adventure post-WWH.  After fighting Herc’s sort of evil brother Ares, the gods of the Skrull Empire, an army of Gorgons, and braving the realm of the undead to save Zeus, Hercules and Amadeus split up.  Amadeus, for his part, was only trying to protect Herc, having encountered prophecies that Hercules must die that Amadeus himself will become the new Prince of Power (as per the plan of big sister Athena.)  As Hera and her evil cohorts in the Olympus Group trigger their super-secret weapon Continuum (I know it’s supposed to have a copyright symbol, but I can’t for the life of me type the thing) which is slowly creating a new world and erasing things from the existing one.  Worse than that, Typhon the evil titan has killed Hera and stolen the Aegis breastplate that makes him completely invulnerable.  Evil, immortal, invulnerable, and bearing a grudge against our hero?  That probably isn’t a good idea…

We begin with a recap of Typhons history, including the part where Zeus himself had to capture the creature and imprison him beneath a MOUNTAIN RANGE.  An enraged Zeus (still trapped in the form of a young boy) leaps against the Titan to avenge his wife. Down in the Forge of Hephaestus, Hercules fights against the smithy to try and free Athena, when she suddenly bursts free of her imprisonment (She was turned to stone and dipped in gold last time ’round) with the lightning bolts of Zeus in her hand. Hercules realizes that for Athena to have ascended to possession of the divine Thunder that both Zeus and Hera would have to be dead. Thanatos confirms this truth, carrying away the spirits of Sky-father and Vengeful Mother, leaving an enraged Hercules to wonder why Amadeus Cho seems so happy. When the boy explains that he thought Thanatos would take Hercules himself, Herc responds, “Really? What a ridiculous thing to fre over. Everybody dies.” Herc then sets off to confront a mad Titan, and a huge battle commences (including the wonderful sounds effects “THROTEPUNCH!” and “GOODBLOOOW!”) Her is left bleeding, his limbs broken, at the mercy of his most powerful foe…
As Typhon prepares the killing blow, Hercules stammers out his last words. “I… just… want to say… SWALLOW.”

Hercules suddnly shoves the vial of water from the river Lethe into the Titan’s face, wiping his memories clean, and suckerpunching him in the face with adamantine mace. Herc crawls toward the off-switch, while Amadeus and the Avengers confront the rest of the Olympus group. Barely able to move, Hercules is overjoyed to see sister Athena arrive, and asks for her halp, but she refuses. Athena tearfully recounts the life of Hercules, explaining that it was SHE who engineered the circumstances that led to his birth, his ascension to demi-god, his twelve labors and more. “I am your TRUE mother, Hercules,” she cries. “I have loved you more than ANYONE in my whole, eternal life.” She throws her Thunderbolt, destroying Continuum (and the entire top of the building) and Amadeus and his team rush in to find her kneeling in the ruins. “It’s all right, Athena…” says Amadeus. “I know. He’s dead.” Only the unbreakable mace remains, and Athena is left to wonder if it is all worth the life of her friend/brother/child.

The Agents of Atlas backup tells a parallel story, as simultaneously to the Hercules adventure, the AoA are forced to face Venus/Aphrodite, a goddess with a grudge against the woman who stole her name. Venus sings her song, and Aprhodite is forced to return in kind, and all fighting stops… The twin songs are felt throughout the city, and even the Agents themselves are overcome by the beauty of their symphony of battle. Most of all, Aphrodite herself finds that she is affected as well, bursting into tears and kissing her foe (Ahem…) full on the mouth in gratitude. She gives her cestus of office to Venus, telling her that she is now the new goddess of love, and leaves reality on a quest for a new path. We close up with the revelation that even on Olumpus, they speak of the lovely Venus and her agents who attend her: A spy. A spaceman. A mermaid. A robot. A gorilla. Uncommon heroes with a common goal, working to bring peace to the world.

This issue is very moving, in a number of ways, we see Hercules accepting his ultimate fate, while Amadeus deals with the sudden responsibility of power, Athena betrays the one she loves, and Aphrodite is forced to realize that she has lost her path. We don’t actually see the moment wherein Hercules dies, only a massive explosion, making me wonder what we DON’T know (and making me wonder about the nature of this ‘alternate reality’ that Continuum creates.) Seeing Amadeus stepping up to the role of Prince of Power is a bittersweet one for me, with my only real comfort coming from the ‘Ben Grimm Corollary,’ which states, “if ya don’t see a body, he ain’t fer shure dead.” The art of Rodney Buchemi really sells the tragedy, was well, with Athena’s expressions as she does what she has to showing all the conflicting emotions that the goddess feels. Well done on Rodney’s part, especially given the resemblance of Hercules to the classic Bob Layton version in which I first encountered the character. The Agents of Atlas backup is wonderfully drawn and written as well, returning Venus to her status as goddess, and setting the stage for the new phase of AoA. (For those who hadn’t heard, the team will return in a new series entitled simply “Atlas” later this year. Overall, this book is wonderful on all fronts, with stellar scripting from all the writers involved, and some beautiful art on both stories. Incredible Hercules #141 is the total package, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall, and reminding me of the reasons that I love comics.

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: With Barry Allen, Jason Todd, Captain Mar-Vell and even James Buchanan Barnes back from the dead, is there really shock value to be found in comic book deaths anymore?

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. Josh P.
    February 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm — Reply

    I don’t think death really has any shock left to it as it’s used all too often as shock.

    I find the real impact of death in comics in this day and age is not in the shock, but in the dying. Death only has impact if it serves the story.

    Death for death’s sake is a waste, and lessens the story.

  2. James
    February 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    One word, two letters: “No.” Longer exposition: The only thing that would truly shock me would be the return of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The sad truth is that because of the insular nature of comics, they need to have certain established figures installed as what is the norm. You cannot have Dick Grayson remain as Batman, he can be the bat for a period of time but can never replace him. The question reared its ugly head on the most recent podcast. DC has a TON of continuity behind it, and you simply cannot change it for fear of overpowering nerd rage. The worst part is that the changing of the guard is actually needed if comics want to continue as a source of entertainment in my opinion. Or perhaps the concept of having “volumes” of your characters as imagined by various creators without the burden of continuity is perhaps the best way to go now.

  3. Ricco
    February 21, 2010 at 12:07 am — Reply

    I can’t wait for Amadeus to find out Athena killed Herc, nothing says “I’m screwed” like having your own super-smart champion thiking of ways of killing you.

    We still haven’t found out why Athena was so happy about Mikaboshi gainning momentum in the Skrull’s god realm thou…

  4. astrodinosaurus
    February 21, 2010 at 7:12 am — Reply

    I hope Herc is dead, and not just dimension hopping in “Continuum ©”. The reason I want this to be true isn’t because I don’t want to see Herc return or because I want Hercules to be the character who ushers in a new direction in comics, one where death means death…No he would be the wrong choice for that. As always my motives are much weirder. See what I want is a series where-

    Hercules and Ares travel trough the underworld (The various underworlds) having adventures and buddy-cop shenanigans. Imagine the possibilities, this could be waaaay psychedelic…Hell(no pun intended) Ben Parker could be in this series. And having a series like this could be very entertaining for people interested in continuity, seeing as dead characters like Ben could pop up at any time. The series would also serve as a pretty good opportunity to touch on what death means in comics these days, and the different ways the concept is used. It would also be kinda cool to see Amadeus and Alexander (Or “Team Pho to the Cho”) team-up. Unfortunately Grant Morrison already has a paying gig so I don’t think we are going to see a series that great any time soon.

    Oh and…Originally I imagined a series like this but with Ares and The Sentry (Not much of a place for them after Dark Reign) travelling through space, time, spime and tace. It would be called Shock and Awe (Get it?)…and they would try to save the universe from (Censored) whilst fighting dinosaurs and discussing philosophy. Unfortunately the Sentry and Ares have a strained relationship these days.


  5. Ivdar
    February 21, 2010 at 10:13 am — Reply

    Nice review, and I completely agree : this is one of the best books out there, much like Blue Beetle was for DC.

    About comic book death, I’d say there isn’t much shock value to it anymore. Like Josh P said, it can still make for good drama, but by now all readers are genre savvy and know what “comic book death” means. When a character dies, the first reaction is “They’ll be back”. I thought I had seen an aversion of this trope with Steve Rogers, but he still came back.

    In a way, it’s much like death in D&D : there’s always a raise the dead ritual to bring back your character. Death is a temporary annoyance, but I think writers can still use it for good storytelling : it still carries some measure of tension (as we saw in this book with Thanatos), and the effect the death has on those close to the hero can also be interesting. Plus, that ritual ain’t gonna cast itself, and acquiring the components for it can warrant a great quest…

  6. Ben Gebhart
    February 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm — Reply

    I believe you really have to allow yourself to sink into the book itself, and subdue the cynic in yourself. I’m not just directing that at anyone in particular, but to ALL comic book fans. Yes, death is a revolving door in comics, but that doesn’t mean each death – as they happen – can’t have meaning, or emotional attachment.

    Allow yourself to feel the moments as they happen, rather than listen to that voice that screams, “AAAWWW!!! They’ll be back soon enough!” Because really, it’s comic books. You’re supposed to enjoy them, and the journey they take you on. Get lost in them, rather than over-analyzing everything, or even worse, turning your nose to great works just because “death isn’t permanent”.

    And thank god for that! Because if death WAS permanent, we’d have no excellent BuckyCap stories, no FrankenCastle, etc. Sure, there are many instances where I wish death stuck, like with Jason Todd (the perfect example of how Bucky could have gone wrong, thanks Winick!), Aunt May (ASM #400 was perfect!), and Magneto (Morrison’s death for him was also perfect), but them’s the breaks.

    I know it’s the nature of the ‘net to cry foul at thee sorta things, but hopefully more and more people will allow themselves to just start ENJOYING comics for what they are, getting lost in the moments. Death SHOULD mean something, and if you pay attention, it does. Just because said-character might come back someday, doesn’t mean what they originally died for holds no meaning.

    And sometimes, like with Colossus for example, a ressurrection is more undoing past wrongs than simply bringing back a character for the hell of it. Sometimes it’s just the right thing to do with a fictional character.

    • Navarre
      February 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm — Reply

      While my many forum posts have decried the practice of resurrecting deceased comic book characters, you offer one of the most succinct and well-reasoned arguments for the practice I have read.

      • Ben Gebhart
        February 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm — Reply

        Thanks! I’ve found great arguments for and against the notion, but I’m tired of seeing it decried for being “unrealistic” when we’re talking about persons called “Captain America”, “Batman”, and “Colossus”, to name a few.

        To cry foul on ressurrection, when they’ve already comfortably traveled through time, mutated into werewolves, fought with Gods on artificial planets, etc. Waking-up from the After-Life should be like a really bad hangover to these people, honestly.

        Again…this is why I love fiction. Characters can die, and entire storylines for years to come can be based around said-death; Colossus cured the Legacy Virus upon his death, and for the next few years the rammifications of that were felt. Then, when the dust was settled, it was time for that character to rise again and continue his journey, having been gone long enough for a generation to forget, or at least easily forgive, his past mistakes (joining the Acolytes), and re-start old flames like his romance with Kitty. There was no reason he shouldn’t have come back.

  7. Thelastavenger
    February 22, 2010 at 2:37 am — Reply

    First things first, Matthew as all ways you provided a great review.

    Second, I actully cared thab Herc died beause he has been great in Incredible Hercules.

    Third, i find in amusing that there is a discuss about whether or not death matters in comic storytelling that was insipired by the death of a character whose original death and resurrection was first told centuries before any of us were born.

  8. February 22, 2010 at 8:12 am — Reply

    again, Matthew, a brilliant review.
    The Disney Marvel Universe loses a real-world millenia-old hero, right before it’s so called “Heroic Age”?! I guess he’s not tied up in any film options so he’s quite expendable as far as Disney Marvel are concerned; but that feels a little bit like Decaf Coffee to me.

    This must change; I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a case of the old Bait’n’Switch here… Amadeus’ new role is really because only he has the smarts to bring Hercules back; which will be done within 6 issues’ time; and the status quo resumes anon.

  9. Alvarlux
    February 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    I like the way they did “kill” Herc. Since in previous story arcs he’d gone into the underworld to rescue his father, they couldn’t just kill him conventionally, so he has become trapped in an alternate reality situation.

    I’m hoping we get some of the reasoning from Athena soon though. Maybe she’s been seeding the idea Herc would die with Amadeus so he wouldn’t try and save him (considering Amadeus just out-thought the original creator of continuum it should be possible to recreate the device) and Herc has some mission – maybe to do with defeating Mikaboshi?

  10. ~wyntermute~
    February 26, 2010 at 12:30 am — Reply

    I’m really late to the party, but…. WOW. The end of the Lion of Olympus left me in open-mouthed “wow”-ness, even though I was pretty sure (based on what I’d seen on the internets) that Herc was cancelled/offed all at once. I don’t know if it was the death itself that was shocking, but man… I had me some goosebumps. Good storytelling, at the very VERY least, makes _any_ death impactful to me. I cannot _wait_ to see Cho bust some godhead when he puts deuce and deuce together to make, um, fource?

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