By Steve Moore (writer), Admira Wijaya (art), Imaginary Friends Studios (colors)

Radical makes a very strong debut with Hercules. I remember this book being advertised as “a re-imaging of Hercules along the lines of Frank Miller’s 300“. I think that statement’s completely wrong. This is nothing like 300. Perhaps the only thing it has in common with Frank Miller’s masterpiece is that it takes place in ancient Greece, too. If anything, this story plays more along the lines of the Beowulf movie released last year (and penned by Neil Gaiman).

The book is full of disbelievers who think the power Hercules brandishes is nothing more than a myth. Not helping matters is his size – which becomes an on-going joke throughout the book. Hercules is slightly larger than the average man, he’s restrained with his tongue, and keen on his surroundings. He wears the hide of a Nemean Lion, a rare and fierce creature, as a head dress (probably to command respect). Yet, his would be foes aren’t intimidated.  They see Hercules as just another bastard child of Zeus – some even believe his mother was just a whore who made up the tale. And after numerous taunts and insults, Hercules reaches the end of his rope. In a righteous, murderous rampage, he dispatches dozens and dozens of foes in an unapologetic fashion. Yes, the story is a bit light in this first issue, but it’s all about setting the tone of who Hercules is and what he represents.

With a retail price of $1.00 for the first issue, you’re getting a fantastic deal, not to mention a bloody start to what I’m hoping will become an epic series. The dark tone of Steve Moore’s story is further bolstered by Admira Wijaya’s stunning visuals. There’s some great textured work here that makes the world feel foreboding, yet real. If the creative team can maintain this quality of work, I’m definitely on board for the long term. I just need to know where this whole story is headed, because right now, it’s all a bit too mysterious. Fantasy buffs will most likely enjoy this first issue. (Grade: B)

– J. Montes