by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Khoi Pham
reviewed by Jason Wheatley
One of the larger “Wait…what?” moments of the aftermath of the “World War Hulk” storyline was the creation of the new Hulk title and the change of The Incredible Hulk to The Incredible Hercules. Of course, with the Hulk being one of Marvel’s big guns, readers flocked to his new title, leaving poor Herc overlooked. While Jeph Loeb writes the adventures of the red Hulk in the new title, the writer who blew everyone away with the “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” storylines, Greg Pak, stayed behind to write what has quickly become one of Marvel’s most underrated titles.
Incredible Hercules picks up where World War Hulk left off, with Hercules and boy genius Amadeus Cho on the run for being unregistered and siding with the Hulk during the war. Besides having the forces of SHIELD on their trail, Herc’s brother, the Avenger Ares, wants to see them go down as well. And Ares isn’t very nice about it.
Pak and Fred Van Lente bring all kind of action to each issue of Incredible Hercules – a “talking heads” book, this ain’t. But they add depth to all the smashing and bashing by tying in the myths of Hercules; his famous twelve labors, for instance. The myths not only parallel the story in the present day, they also provide a look into Hercules’ mind and give him motivation. Their use adds another level to a character who previously was fairly one-note – the jovial, beer-drinking strong man. Amadeus Cho is another fine example of characterization – he comes across exactly as you might expect a bratty teenager with Reed Richards-level intellect to act. The idea of combining that intellect with that attitude is both funny and frightening, and Pak and Van Lente bring that across to the reader very well.
Khoi Pham is an artist to watch. His artwork is reminiscent of Leinil Yu – not a bad thing, given how Yu’s star has taken off in recent years – but distinctive enough that you won’t confuse the two. His pencils have the right combination of grit and grandeur for stories about a rough-and-tumble god like Hercules, and the action sequences are clear and full of energy. I can easily see Pham being stolen for something more high-profile in the future. I hope it’s not too soon, though, since he’s a – dare I say it? – incredible match for this book.
Much like Booster Gold over at DC, which I reviewed several weeks ago, The Incredible Hercules is a well-written book that’s overshadowed by titles starring more well-known characters. Both are a lot of fun, though, and well worth checking out.