By Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Reilly Brown (artist), Nelson DeCastro (inker), Guillem Mari & Ulises Areola (colorists)

The Story: As Queen Alfyse prepares to lead her kingdom to war against Asgard, the epic saga of Thorcules and Hercuthor ends the only way it can, with the bad boys of polytheism throwing down and giving each other the gift of battle!

The Good: This latest storyline is easily one of the finest crafted by Pak and Van Lente, and that’s high praise for a book that is telling consistently good stories month after month.  Part of what makes this comic, and this storyline in particular; so successful is that for the time being at least both Hercules and Thor have the benefit of being kept at a relatively safe distance from the mainstream Marvel universe.  Since neither character is currently mired in continuity they are both free to enjoy a certain degree of latitude, which the creative team takes full advantage of to great effect.  This issue sees the delightfully absurd premise of Hercules pretending to be Thor taken to its logical extreme as Thor does unto Herc what’s already been done to him.  Presumably this is done in order to somehow stem the tide of Queen Alfyse’s impending war, but we know the real reason is simply to give the guys a chance to beat on each other while wearing each other’s clothes, and oddly enough I am so okay with that.  The battle royal between Herc and Thor is as much a raucous comedy as it is an epic, glorious brawl, and you’ll find it hard not to chuckle as each champion resorts to a string of dirty tricks to best the other.  The best part is that you can still pick up this issue without having read the previous ones and still follow along just fine, and in my opinion that is one of the hallmarks of some great storytelling.  I would of course be remiss if I didn’t compliment Brown and the art team for brilliant rendering this tale of balderdash and bravura, as their efforts made every page a pleasure to take in and enjoy.

The Not So Good:  You’ll notice soon that the brawl between Hercules and Thor devolves into a series of progressively infantile jokes and will either find them to be thoroughly amusing or just a tad too juvenile and out of character.  You wouldn’t be wrong either way though, just be forewarned that this is not your typical superhero battle.  Then again, maybe that’s a good thing.

Conclusion:  Wow, what a damn good comic!  You can’t go wrong with picking up Incredible Hercules 136 this week.  Not to be missed!

Grade:  A

-Tony Rakittke