Editor's Note: Incredible Hercules #121 arrives in stores tomorrow, September 17.
"Love and War: Part One"
Incredible Hercules is the most consistently entertaining comic that Marvel publishes. It's not the next Watchmen or Dark Knight. It's not gritty, bloody, and excessive like X-Force or "Sinestro Corps War." It's not breaking under the weight of its own importance and relevance like Civil War or trying to reinvent the wheel like whatever's happening to the Wildstorm Universe at the moment.
It's just straight-forward, light-hearted drinking, fighting, and fooling around. With mythology.
This issue begins the third story arc and promises to be a doozy. We open some time after the events of the previous issue and the end of the "Sacred Invasion" arc, and Herc and Amadeus are enjoying some R & R; Herc by "frolicking" with Namora, and Amadeus by hanging around sulkily, reading an old Sub-Mariner comic, on a little volcanic island in the middle of the ocean. At the same time (or maybe a little earlier) Ares is also sulking in Silly's Greek Diner in New York, featuring what is apparently a cameo appearance by Silenus, the oldest, wisest and most drunken of the followers of Dionysus, as the owner of the diner.
But that's neither here nor there. What's really going on is the arrival of the Amazons. Oh yeah! And these aren't the Amazons you may be used to seeing running around in comics. I won't spoil it, but they're a little more modern and have a little more firepower than other Amazons of note. And they're led by the daughter of Hippolyta, Princess Artume (that's Etruscan for Diana for those of you without Internet access), who has her eye on Amadeus. As breeding stock.
Guess who's happy to oblige?
There's something interesting going on with Atlantis, as well, and the Amazons are tooling around in Atlantean aircraft, which means something's not what it appears to be. I don't know what the big plot that Artume has planned involves, but Pak and Van Lente promise a time-and-space-spanning adventure.
And just for the record, Amadeus is NOT Hercules' eromanos. If you don't know what that is, look it up. But it was pretty normal in Olympus.
The art chores are handled by new series artist, Clayton Henry, and this may be the best that this book has looked yet. And that's saying something. Henry's inking his own pencils and the end result is fantastic: clean lines, expressive character work, inventive set and tech design, and best of all, extremely well orchestrated page layouts. This is some of the best visual storytelling that I've seen in comics for a while. Henry is the total package.
And the colors by Guru eFX (whatever or whoever that might be) do an excellent job of complementing Henry's art. The colors are subtle and crisp, with maybe the best shading work I've seen in ages. Shadows, as well as just the textures of everything from weaponry to clothing to skintones, are smooth and realistic, making Henry's already stellar linework all the more impressive.
All in all, this is an extremely fun book that satisfies on every level that a comic is supposed to satisfy on. It looks great. It's funny. It's action packed. It's the best book I've read this month. Anyone who's not reading Incredible Hercules is missing out on something special. And you may be simple, too.
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