By: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writer), Khoi Pham (pencils), Thomas Palmer (inks), Sunny Gho (colors), Simon Bowland (letters) & Mark Paniccia (editor)

The Story: Now that the Chaos King has given the beat-down to just about the entire Marvel U., how is anyone going to stand up to him?

What’s Good: This issue becomes much more of a Hercules story than a Marvel U. story.  If you’re a Herc fan, you’ll love it because all of the other Marvel characters who have played roles in Chaos War thus far kinda fade to the side.

The central problem is that Herc’s God Squad and all other forces standing against the Chaos King have been pretty thoroughly trounced and they’ll either have to flee (which leads to a neat Galactus/Cho moment) OR someone is going to have to seriously level-up.  I’ll let you guess what is probably going to happen as the issue ends on a note that makes me excited for issue #5.

Pham, Palmer and Gho continue to do a nice job on the art.  A special kudos needs to go to colorist Sunny Gho.  Colors are really important to making cosmic or godly events seem…well…cosmic and godly.  And he does a very nice job.  Also, I usually don’t care about cover art at all, but Dan Panosian’s cover is really nice.  Note, I’m giving the kudos based on the art being a pin-up and I’ll discuss the dictated content below.

What’s Not So Good: My biggest issue is with the overall event.  Chaos War proper is really good.  This particular issue suffers from being a penultimate chapter and it is hard for penultimate chapter to be awesome because they cannot contain the climax.  That’s just how drama works.  They need to thrive on the anticipation of the climax.  The problem is that the anticipation has been muted by the 7 tie-in issues that we’ve had since the excellent Chaos War #3.  Some of those tie-ins were pretty cool (Alpha Flight) or had great art (Kaluta on Chaos King or Panosian on God Squad), but they have also made me lose the narrative of the main event.

And, before we get to the finale of Chaos War, we are going to have to get another 7 tie-ins.  So, from an event planning standpoint, between an excellent Chaos War #3 and what I expect will be an excellent Chaos War #5, we have had 14 tie-ins and a penultimate chapter.  That’s just not a good way to maintain momentum.  The easy answer is: Don’t buy the tie-ins, but the fact that that is the answer tells me the planning for the event is off a bit.

And, who told Panosian to draw Thor and Silver Surfer on the cover when neither of those characters is in this story?  It is a great pin-up and I love Panosian’s art, but c’mon.  I know this is a problem when you have to solicit issues months in advance, but why not have Panosian use his artistic talents to draw a kick-ass image of Herc or Amadeus?

Conclusion: I’m still very optimistic about the finale of this event.  This issue just can’t be all that exciting because it is a penultimate chapter, but Marvel could have paced this event better because the abundance of tie-ins is making me lose the narrative a little.

Grade: C+

-Dean Stell