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

Why anyone isn’t reading Hercules is beyond me. This is a smart and brutal series that war, history, and mythological buffs will truly enjoy. The character of Hercules is portrayed as a fighting tactician who has no concern of his reputation, nor does he ever feel the need to prove it. He’s a glorified mercenary in essence and when he and his team are hired to whip the Thracian army into shape, he does so strictly for the promise of a paycheck.

As the Thracians move into enemy territory, their merciless leader, King Cotys orders the sackings of many villages for the sake of drawing the enemy army out and in the same process, lowering their morale. Hercules, begins to ponder if he’s done the right thing by joining the Thracians. But seemingly “in too deep”, he pushes on with the army as they extend their dominance into the region.

There’s a lot of meat to this issue and I guarantee you it’s one you won’t finish in five or ten minutes. Even if you’re a fast reader you’ll stop just to admire the stunning visuals by Admira Wijaya, who is one hell of an artist. Steve Moore’s script isn’t lazy either. It’s character drive, very smart. At one point, however, I was taken out of the story when one character utters a modern day curse word (visions of Brian Wood’s awful Northlanders came back to haunt me), but thankfully, that was just a one-time thing. I can let something like that go when it’s done once to make an emotional statement.

All in all, this series is one of the sleeper hits of 2008. It’s the perfect marriage of story and art on a very high level. With Caliber and Hercules, Radical Comics is off to a strong start as a new publisher. High ly recommended. (Grade: A-)

– J. Montes