Or – “Amadeus Buckycap?Â 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.Â Herc’s evil stepmother Hera has set off her ultimate weapon, a second universe called Continuum that threatens the very fabric of reality itself.Â Facing portents of his own demise, will even Hercules be able to pull this one off?
Incredible Hercules #141
Previously, on Incredible Hercules:Â Stuff has been occuring at a phenomenal rate since Hercules and Amadeus took off on their adventure post-WWH.Â 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.Â 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.)Â 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.Â Worse than that, Typhon the evil titan has killed Hera and stolen the Aegis breastplate that makes him completely invulnerable.Â Evil, immortal, invulnerable, and bearing a grudge against our hero?Â 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.Â 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.
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?