Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Incredible Hercules Vol. 1: Against the World

Incredible Hercules Vol. 1: Against the World, written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, art by Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown, Eric Nguyen, and Bob Layton, 2008, Marvel, 136 pages, $19.99

Along with Captain Britain and MI:13 and Agents of Atlas, Marvel's Incredible Hercules gets a lot of love in the comics blogosphere, so I grabbed a collection from the library last week to see whether it was as good as I heard. And I enjoyed it, happily, as it deftly straddles ancient Greek mythology and modern Marvel adventure.

This collection of issues #112-115 picks up after World War Hulk left off. Hercules and his buddy, the super-smart Amadeus Cho, were left wondering what to do now that the Hulk was out of the picture. Their rejection of an offer to join Iron Man's Initiative program triggers an assault/recruitment by the Avengers Ares, Wonder Man, and the Black Widow. Fighting commences, due in no small part to Ares's escalation of the violence because he is pursuing a personal vendetta against Hercules.

I don't have any history with the Marvel version of the character, but I grew up reading and loving the Greek myths, so when I realized that writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente were going to weave those old stories into the fabric of this modern adventure tale, I was pretty well hooked. The myths (and I'm unclear how much creative license Pak and Van Lente are taking with them) are interesting on their own, but the writers intelligently use them to enhance the stories taking place in the present.

For instance, we are told within six pages that Hercules slaughtered his own family in a mindless rage, way back when. Not only does this revelation add more depth to his character, imbuing Hercules with a sadness and guilt and making him more than just another big dude who punches things, but it sets up what appears will be the theme of the series: when the gods mingle with mortals, bad things happen.

Khoi Pham does the majority of the artwork, and turns in a good performance. His Hercules is appropriately big and meaty: he's less body-builder and more brawler. And the action scenes have good power and flow to them.

I don't know if other writers have relied on (and celebrated) the Greek myths in this manner when it comes to Marvel's Hercules, but Pak and Van Lente pull it off so well, and they make the series so much more interesting and unique, that it is worth checking out if you are at all interested in Greek myths.

READ IT: You want to see some of it? Here is a six page preview of issue # 112, six pages from issue # 113, seven pages of issue # 114, and finally, seven pages from issue # 115.

BUY IT: You can buy it from Amazon here: Incredible Hercules Vol. 1: Against The World

RELATED: My review of World War Hulk: Incredible Hercules


  1. This is one of the first books I read after I pick up my monthly haul at the shop. this is the book I point to whenever old Avengers fans talk about Bendis ruining the MU.

  2. I've already asked my library to hold a copy of the World War Hulk: Incredible Hercules collection, but it looks like I'll have to wait a while before they get a copy of the next collection in the series. Or I could get it myself, I guess....