By: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), David Hahn (penciller), Roy Richardson (inker), Jesus Aburtov (colorist)

The Story: Herc’s daddy issues interferes with his getting it on with the woman he loves.

The Review: After the completely baffling and apparently pointless crossover with Spider-Island, which seemed to include Herc only to sell some half-spider on half-spider intercourse, this title is set to get back to normal.  Problem is: you don’t know what “normal” is since the series has been plagued with Event tie-ins from day one.  With hardly a supporting cast and only a vague mission to protect Brooklyn, it almost feels like we’re back to where we started.

About the only really consistent element to this title has been Herc and Rhea’s playful but slightly tense romance.  Considering both had an obvious attraction to each other in Herc #1 and acted immediately upon it with some same-day sex, you’d think they’d be past the coy stage by now.  Yet Pak-Van Lente seem intent on pursuing a “will they or won’t they” scheme for the couple, even though they technically already did.

Herc and Rhea’s forced lackluster chemistry doesn’t have nearly the substance to make up for the rest of the issue’s near-complete lack of it.  This newest arc guest-stars Zeus, cursed by the perpetually crotchety Hera for his constant philandering.  It’s hardly a novel story; this particular conflict goes back to literally ancient times.  That said, you have to wonder how Hera manages the power to revoke her husband’s divinity, as Pak-Van Lente don’t address this logistic at all.

It also seems strangely hasty to have Herc and Zeus go through a father-son reunion at this point when just nine issues ago (a long time for comics readers, but no time at all in the comics themselves) Herc was cursing his dad’s name for leaving him to fester in his mortality.  Maybe if the series had gone through a few storylines building up Herc’s new life on Earth and his conflict with Olympus, his meeting with Zeus here would have more bite, but here it’s just random.

Randomness characterizes a lot of Hercules’ tales, but this issue really goes overboard.  You can almost always tell when a series is reaching the end of its creative life when they it tries to reinvigorate itself with any idea, no matter how crazy or wildly out-of-context it is.  Having Herc fight a bunch of ninjas, then get gut-punched by Elektra, who escapes up a ladder to a house moving about on a pair of giant chicken legs?  We’ve clearly jumped the shark at this point.

Hahn’s artwork does nothing to improve the readability of the issue.  His range of emotions is incredibly narrow; when a disheveled and less-than-glorious Zeus collapses into the bar, Herc’s expression looks weirdly neutral, almost blankly pleasant.  And then you have the stiff, clumsy action sequences, which lack credibility in almost every way (Elektra’s entrance looks quite physically impossible).  Honestly, if an artist draws a magic sword and it looks flat, stubby, and plasticized, you can’t really expect much out of the rest.

Conclusion: There’s little point in keeping up this charade of interest any longer; by the looks of it, this title is well on its way to going out with a whimper, and no one really wants to see that.  Consider this Dropped.

Grade: D+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Yeah, it feels like Pak-Van Lente introduce the nerds from Herc #5 merely to provide Herc with some tech support in his travails.  Nice use of the cliché there.

– If you have a shield that can instantly turn your opponents into temporary statues, why use any other weapon?