Heroic Age: Prince Of Power #1(of 4) - 'Blasphemy Can Be Fun' - Pak, Van Lente, Brown and Pallot
Story - The Incredible Hercules was a book that kind of crept up on me. I was initially buying it just because I quite liked Hercules' 1980s minis by Bob Layton, I wasn't expecting much from it. But slowly but surely it became one of my favourite comics. It was epic, it had humour, it had strong characters. It was a lot of fun, and then they had to go and kill Hercules!
But luckily the book isn't over, and it's up to Herc's sidekick (not his boyfriend, Starlord) Amadeus Cho to continue this tale.
This is pretty much the perfect continuation of Incredible Hercules, in fact it's pretty much the exact same book, but minus one character. And that does make a difference. The book does lose a certains something with the absence of the Lion Of Olympus, perhaps some of the humour, but I feel that's deliberate, we're meant to sense that something's wrong without Hercules. The reader misses him just as much as Amadeus Cho. And while I feel the book can withstand Herc not being around for a while (just as it did during the Origin Of Amadeus Cho arc) that gap needs to be filled soon, and I do sincerely hope that Amadeus is able to use his Hercollider to bring him back.
With Hercules out of the picture, Pak and Van Lente are given the chance to put the focus on Amadeus, and they do a good job, we get a clearer focus on his character, on his personal issues (Delphyne Gorgon, the manipulations of Aphrodite) and also how he has changed from the angry quasi-villain he was back in World War Hulk. Not the least that he's using physical force to fight evil along with his brain.
One of the best things about Incredible Hercules was how Pak and Van Lente were able to meld real world myth with Marvel Comics lore, and this continues to be excellent here. We see the aftermath of Siege in Asgard, Bruce Banner, The Griffin, and others alongside Greek Myth. One interesting aspect is that they've brought back The Pantheon from Peter David's Hulk run in the 90s. It makes for a really rich reading experience. This is set right smack-dab in the Marvel Universe, but it's drawing on wider influences too.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this issue, it works as a strong continuation from the previous book, but is different enough to warrant killing off the central character. It has all the elements that made Incredible Hercules awesome, but with a little different spice. I'm not sure if readers who didn't follow Incredible Hercules would have enjoyed this book as much, Pak and Van Lente use little captions to keep you up to speed, but they were chiefly used for (a very dry) comic effect. If you did read Incredible Hercules, you pretty much have to buy this. And if you didn't, you need to go back and get the trades and report back to me ASAP. Do it!
Art - The art in this issue comes from Reilly Brown, who illustrated what is perhaps Incredible Hercules' finest hour, the 'Thor-Cules Vs Hercu-Thor' storyline, and it's a joy to see him back. His work is cartoony, and really fits the tone of the book, I can't think of a better choice for this comic.
Best Line - 'Angsty brooding teen genius billionaire mythslayer (try to feel sorry for him'
It's an 8 really, but I'm adding 1 point to make up for GuitarSmashley's dick move.