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

The Story: Hercules and the Mighty Avengers unite to take the fight to the doors of Hera’s impenetrable corporate fortress, where she has assembled herself a new pantheon of dark gods to supplant the one governed by Zeus.

The Good: I have to give the guys credit for their outstanding treatment of the Mighty Avengers and actually find myself
wishing they’d take over that title as well, given the disastrous conclusion to “The Unspoken”. Pak and Van Lente write the team with energy and purpose, and they’ve never looked better when Buchemi draws them. There was one moment in particular that stuck out in my mind, when Pak and Van Lente gave US Agent a moment to speak out against the idea of gods and polytheism, that I thought was not only a great bit of characterization, but also smart commentary that puts Marvel’s gods into an interesting perspective. I’m also glad to see Marvel has taken a page from DC’s playbook and decided to include back up features to justify their $3.99 price tags. If this is the road the industry has agreed to go down, the very least they could do for us is include extra content to incentivize the extra cost.

The Not So Good: Remember what I was saying about US Agent’s rant against gods? If that was the good part, then Athena’s follow up to his monologue, while not necessarily bad, inadvertently works against the story. The idea of this story arc, if you’ll remember, is that Hera has convened a dark pantheon of Greek gods who will bring about the extinction of the planet so they can usher in a second creation under their direct control. Okay, cool, sounds dire and epic. I can follow along with that. And yet, when Athena basically described the gods as being superheroes of the old world, I couldn’t help but feel that diluted the story to just another case of superheroes fighting super villains to save the world. It’s early in the story though, so I’m not going to let that initial disappointment prevent me from having a good time. Finally, I’ve noticed that in recent months writers, no doubt under orders from their editors, have resumed giving Hercules that nauseating, faux-Shakespearean dialogue that all Marvel deities have been afflicted with since the 60s. That’s a huge shame. I liked that, if only for a little while, Pak and Van Lente were unafraid to have Hercules sound like a contemporary hero for all ages and not a relic from the past.

Conclusion: Incredible Hercules #138 marks the beginning of another solid story, but it doesn’t feel like the kind of thing you need to rush out to the comic shop to buy and that’s strange for this book.

Grade: C

-Tony Rakittke