By Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak (writers), Rodney Buchemi (artist), Guillem Mari (colors)

The Story: The origin of Amadeus Cho’s awesome mental powers is revealed!

The Good: An offbeat title like Incredible Hercules has given Van Lente and Pak a wealth of opportunities to experiment with every aspect of their comic from its cover design to narrative structure, and the guys take full advantage of that freedom again in this issue.   Written to read like an old pulp adventure as well as the narration to a role-playing game, the story was briskly paced and amusing from start to finish.  I’ve dealt with enough insane gamemasters over the years to appreciate all the inside humor and nods to the RPG experience and have to compliment Pak and Van Lente for nailing all the beats and nuances dead on.  Buchemi’s art is appropriately whimsical and does a good job conveying all of the more subtle character moments needed to successfully move the slower parts of the comic, and he is just as successful in making the RPG sequences every bit as exciting as an Indiana Jones movie.  To be honest, I’d love to see Marvel have some fun and apply Buchemi’s versatile style to a range of their books; I think they’d pleasantly surprised with the results.

The Not So Good: My biggest concern this week was that no matter how good this issue might be, it still wouldn’t be enough to justify giving Cho full-length issues to tell his origin, and unfortunately I was right.  At best Cho’s origin should have been a back-up feature to Hercules’ story, and not an entire comic unto itself.  The plot doesn’t have the legs needed to stand on its own, and that in turn brings down this issue and makes it disappointingly forgettable.  Furthermore, I was unable to shake off the impression that Pak and Van Lente were so into telling concurrent stories through their RPG narrative that they dropped the ball and forgot to consider the entertainment value of their story.  I’m sorry, but spending $2.99 to watch a young Cho and his friend play Dungeons & Dragons is absolutely not my idea of a good time.

Conclusion: A well-crafted story does not always make for an entertaining one, especially when there’s barely enough story present to fill an entire comic.  If you were to skip this comic and wait for the next issue, you wouldn’t be missing a thing and I can’t say I’d blame you.

Grade:  C

-Tony Rakittke