Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Incredible Hercules #119 Review

Writers: Greg Pak and Fred van Lente
Penciler: Rafa Sandoval

In a lot of ways, Greg Pak is picking up where Oeming left off. After years of treating mythical gods as simply superheroes that speak in badly conjugated old English, Oeming's Ares and Thor changed the way that Marvel does gods, and for the better. Instead, they are prisoners of their own personalities, endlessly fighting each other and compulsively unable to grow beyond the archetypes they represent.

Pak has given us something we haven't seen in a while: a mythical adventure. He has the good sense to have fun while doing so. The "God squad", as he calls them on the opening page, have banded together in order to hunt the Skrull gods and end the invasion of Earth. They believe, reasonably enough, that if humanity is wiped out, they will lose their worshippers and be forgotten.

It turns out that the consequences would be worse than that. On arriving at the citadel of Kly'Bn, they discover that he has enslaved the gods of all the worlds conquered by the Skrull. And, so Hercules unleashes his master plan: smash things. The other gods are a little surprised that his plan lacks any more than this, but what did they expect? He's Hercules. Pak's Hercules is fantastically written, because he's basically a drunken warrior who breaks stuff and has a ton of fun doing so. Oh yes, and he beds women, like the Inuit goddess Snowbird. Their post-coital chatter is quite amusing, as Hercules can't quite break out of his swaggering frat boy mode long enough to not get a boot thrown at him.

The issue is in general quite well written, and the big revelation, that Cho's coyote pup is really a Skrull is well handled. The death of Snowbird, if indeed that's what it is, is a little confusing. She turns into a giant green monster that grown hundreds of large white tentacles with multiple mouths that eat the other gods before collapsing into a point and going pop. I think. One problem with this book in general, as has been a problem since this story began, is that I have a feeling the Sandoval is a little unsure how to render many of the bizarre visuals Pak's mythological scripts ask for. A few points of the story are a little unclear, as the script is far away from its usual superhero roots and isn't able to depend on many of the visual hints that usually convey what is happening.

All in all, though, The Incredible Hercules is a great book and Pak hasn't missed a beat since moving from writing Hulk to Hercules. His gods come across as quite interesting, and I am enyoing the merry adventure.


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