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

The Story: Time for the final throwdown battle between Herc and the Chaos King!

What’s Good: This Herc storyline wrapped up in a really nice and fun way.  As one would expect, the supporting cast gets relegated to… well… supporting roles to make way for Herc and his buddy Cho to save the day.  In the end, it is a combination of Cho’s genius and Herc taking a heroic turn that defeat the Chaos King.

Van Lente and Pak have come up with some neat ideas in their time as collaborators, but the resolution that Cho comes up with the beat the Chaos King is one of their best.  There is really no way to discuss it without SPOILING it, so you’ve been warned…  As the issue unfolds, things look pretty bleak for the heroes, but just as things look their darkest, Cho and Galactus collaborate to form a pocket universe into which the humans of Earth can be evacuated.  Only there isn’t going to be anywhere near enough time to get everyone out (since even a powered-up Herc is able to do little more than delay Chaos King).  Suddenly it dawns on Cho to just toss the Chaos King into the pocket universe.  There he can be happy with his entropy and life can return to normal in the Marvel U.  The end!  How cool is that?

This story also has some fallout.  Herc powered up greatly during the course of this story, but let’s just say that he is NOT the same at the end.  Oh, and a certain team of superheroes made famous by John Bryne seems to still be alive at the end of the issue.  Cool!

The art in this issue does a solid job with the story telling and that is what art really needs to do in a comic.  Good story telling is preferable to the occasional artistic flourish that sacrifices the story.  The layouts are impeccable and Pham does a great job of conveying the epic scale of a battle between Gods.

What’s Not So Good: Not really a complaint on the issue, but this story was really kinda miscast as an “event” and suffered a little for it.  There were way too many tie-in titles.  The tie-ins had a few gems (art from Kaluta and Panosian and the whole Dead Avengers series), but there were a few “not-so-goods” too (Thor and X-Men tie-ins).  And there was also the cardinal sin for an event of having key events take place in the tie-ins.  Without reading all of the tie-ins, one would wonder where Alpha Flight, the Hulks and Yellow Jacket came from.  Why can’t events just have back-up stories that tell the story of these tie-ins in condensed form but ensuring that everyone reading the event gets the same story?

It’s also sad that Marvel ended Herc’s ongoing series to give us Chaos War and now they’re giving Herc an ongoing series again.  So, why couldn’t we just have one ongoing series with consistent numbering and just have Chaos War as a really good story arc within that Herc series?  Of course, the answer is: It’s to boost sales!  But, the sales numbers show that these gimmicks are losing effectiveness.

The only other complain is with the style of shaded color used in this issue.  I really don’t personally care for the style of coloring that looks like a topographical map on characters’ faces.  I’m not sure if this is something that Sunny Gho does on his own (because his coloring on Superior looks just like this) or not (because his coloring on Velocity looks nothing like this and is AWESOME).  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Conclusion: A really good Herc story comes to a close.  This might have been miscast as an event, but some big things did happen including some changes for Herc and the return of some lost heroes.  I’ll be curious to see how things continue in the new Herc ongoing this spring.

Grade: B (for both the issue and the series)

– Dean Stell