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Incredible Hercules #115

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Khoi Pham (p), Paul Neary, Danny Miki (i), Dennis Calero (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: The Incredible Hercules #115 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 19.

"Glory of Hera"

So I was a little worried last month that the comedy bits in this title were taking over and undermining the actual story being told. Well, when I opened this issue up, the same fear hit me, as the recap page again is a little heavy on the humorous summarizing of previous events. However, to my great thanks, the rest of the book gets back into the adventurous, fun, sometimes serious, sometimes tragic, using humor to take the edge off, style that the first two issues had. Yes, that's what I'm saying. Hercules is back. Not that he was ever gone, really.

Amadeus Cho has done the deed. He's engaged a "self-replicating Neo-Virus" to take over and shut down all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s systems. That's everything with a computer involved, including every helicarrier in the fleet and all of the security precautions at the Negative Zone Prison. All while Herc and Amadeus fly around in The Behemoth (and there's a tasty bit of Marvel Universe continuity revealed, involving the original purpose of the ship and a certain giant radioactive lizard from Japan that just made my day).

Forgiving for the moment the cliche plot device of the computer virus taking over the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D., let me just say that the relationship between Herc and Amadeus, particularly with regards to the notions of anger, revenge, justice, and responsibility, make for great, fun reading. And when you then add fairly straight mythological touchpoints to add depth and relevance to the current action, you've got what is clearly one of the best books on the market.

This issue wraps the first Hercules storyline and gets us ready to plunge into another. The best line of the issue this time is shared by our heroes when Athena tells them that the "planet girds herself for war," and after a beat, they respond with "Again?" It's a nice, light commentary on the state of Marvel publishing, and it made me laugh out loud.

Oh, and don't worry, gentle reader, there's plenty of Ares action as well. A pretty brutal, knock down drag out fight rages through the Behemoth, and we get some insight into why Ares really hates Hercules so much. It's funny, but it's not over the top, like last issue. In fact, while it is a joke, it also actually adds to Ares' character.

There are a couple of things that don't work so well for me, but they were fairly minor. For other readers, the situation at the Negative Zone Prison could be a pretty serious flaw with the story. I'm not going to say anything else about it, since this is an advance review, but if there are no repercussions, or even mentions, in any other books, of the events here, it will be disappointing. There's also a Skrull spotting, but the scene is so confusing, I'm not sure who or where they are.

Paul Neary gets an inking assist this month, and the quality goes down accordingly. Pham continues to clearly and effectively tell his tale, but the art doesn't grab me like it usually does. There seem to be too many detail lines and not enough weight to characters and it seems to fall almost entirely on the shoulders of the inking approach. In the end, it's not enough to knock it down in my scoring, but it could be better.

All in all, this is a pretty good book that continues to entertain on a very consistent basis. The story has just about everything you could ask for: comedy, drama, action, emotion, heroism, tragedy, and even some meta-commentary about the constant state of war that the Marvel Universe seems to be in lately. And in a nice touch, there's also a tribute to the passing of regular colorist, Stephane Peru. It's simple, but nice. He really will be missed.







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