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Herc #5 – Review

By: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Neil Edwards (penciller), Cory Hamscher (inker), Jesus Aburtov (colorist)

The Story: And here I thought New York City couldn’t get any weirder.

The Review: Even though in both his mythic and comic book incarnations Hercules technically gets counted as a god (of heroes, no less), it’s hard to think of him as such.  We are far more familiar with his exploits as an adventurer on Earth than those he ever had as a divinity, and especially in the comic books, his brash, gung-ho personality hardly lends itself to the lofty purposes of his fellow immortals.

Small wonder then that the cries of his “worshippers” for help serve to merely annoy him to distraction (“And if you left me in peace for five seconds perhaps they’d be answered!”) more than please him.  Still, even though he’s no god any longer, Herc is ever the mensch, vowing to do right by those that remain his faithful.  On an interesting note, one I’m rather ashamed to not have noticed before, does anyone find it odd how as a mortal, he can still hear “prayers” to him?

Considering Herc has been mortal for—what?—four days in-story, his meeting with Hermes, who bears a possible offer of godhood from Zeus, seems rather premature.  If anything, the speech and command for our favorite hero to return to Olympus and stand by while the world passes into its twilight hour is merely a contrived way for Pak-Van Lente to incorporate elements from Fear Itself, which has only tangentially affected this title despite the brand on the cover.

You’ll have the strong suspicion that, had it not been for the obligatory Event tie-in, the writers would’ve really preferred to devote more time to Herc’s struggles against the entire borough of Brooklyn gone wild magic.  Herc’s attempts to confront his challenges head-on, only to fall back thanks to new ones constantly popping up behind him, should be more enjoyable, but feels too truncated to develop beyond a passable energy.

Our hero’s newfound supporting cast also get their scenes cut to bare minimums, as we haven’t seen George Michael since he succumbed to Hecate’s chaos spell, and Rhea gets but a few choice zingers over the course of two pages and little more.  Oh, but what zingers they are, whether in her outraged feminist reaction to her capture by Helene, or in horror of discovering the identities of Hercules’ true worshippers (“Oh my God.  I’m going to die with nerds.”).  Big words from someone who’s pleasure-read Thomas Hobbes Leviathan.

Edwards gives us the solid work he has always done, a good thing since he has to stretch his imagination this issue, drawing goblin cops with space rays, riding on dragons; hyper-feral apes (in a more menacing Rise of the Planet of the Apes-flavored scene); and gigantic caterpillar transports tunneling through the NYC subway system.  Unfortunately, the action gets cut so often and quickly that he never gets the chance to develop much momentum in those sequences.

Conclusion: I don’t often suggest a story can be improved by writing more, but this is one case where there’s enough underdeveloped material that bears more attention and resources.

Grade: B+

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – “Don’t you know you’re reinscribing phallocentric hegemony by following that horned patriarchal oppressor?”  Coincidentally, this is the same line I use to hit on already coupled girls.  I think you’ll be shocked to discover, as I have, that it never works.

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