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Eternals #4 – Review

By Charles & Daniel Knauf (Writers) and Daniel Acuña (Artist)

I suppose I’m not the only person who’s noticed that Ajak is fighting Skrulls with the “God Squad” in Hercules at the same time he’s acting mysteriously in this book. Assuming it’s not a case of bad editorial direction, I guess that means he’s a Skrull, which would certainly explain why he’s trying to kill the other Eternals. But shouldn’t the real Ajak then be dead or incarcerated somewhere, instead of running loose? And if he’s not a Skrull, then what are the Skrulls’ plans for the Eternals anyway?

I wish I cared more about what’s going on in this book, but it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on or what’s at stake. In this issue, Thena and Ikaris are still trying to waken Phastos; Druig is still trying to take over the world; Zuras is still oblivious that Joey is a spy for the alien Horde; and Sersi is still upset that Makkari is physically deteriorating due to his link with the Dreaming Celestial. We’ve seen all this before. In fact, Iron Man shows up this issue to reprise the role he played in the Neil Gaiman mini-series, standing around bitching that the Eternals don’t follow the Superhuman Registration Act rules (he’s fighting Ikaris on the cover, but inside he just stands there with his arms crossed, trying to look badass), so we actually seem to be moving backwards plot-wise.

The biggest chunk of the book is taken up with Sersi trying to communicate with the Dreaming Celestial, which of course goes nowhere. The best part of the story comes at the very end, when Druig and Legba try to recruit the Forgotten One, who has no interest in their schemes. The melee that follows is pretty cool, if brief.

It’s hard to say why this book doesn’t excite me. It’s certainly not lacking in plot. But there’s really nothing original or clever in the story, and not a lot of fun. Moments of playfulness are few, and when they are introduced (“Next month’s issue may very well render you a quivering, gutless husk!”), they seem forced. Similarly, the art, while quite nice, is still much too heavy in the browns and grays.

C’mon, guys, lighten up! (Grade: B-)

- Andrew C. Murphy

Incredible Hercules #118 (Secret Invasion) – Review

Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, (Writers) Rafa Sandoval, (Pencils) Roger Bonet, (Inker) and Martegod Gracia (Colorist)

The last time I opened up a comic to the first page and laughed out loud, I was reading Incredible Hercules #116. I found the beer road map to be one of the funniest things I had seen in a comic and was fairly certain it would be hard to top. It was quite a surprise to find that Herc #118 manages to top the beer map in a big way by offering up…wait for it…FREE GOD SQUAD TRADING CARDS!! Needless to say, this awesome first page, featuring an Amadeus Cho rookie card nonetheless, set the bar pretty high for this issue. Does the rest of the issue manage to live up to the first page? Read on to find out!

Incredible Hercules #118 continues right where the last issue left off as the newly formed “God Squad” makes its way toward the Skrull Pantheon by way of the Dreamtime pathways. The only problem is the Skrull Pantheon is far from easy to find so the team must attempt to persuade Nightmare to give them the coordinates necessary to find the Pantheon. An interesting deal is struck, tensions flare, Skrully accusations are made, and the team faces its first true challenge. All in all, this is a compelling chapter for both the Incredible Hercules series and the Secret Invasion.

As usual, Pak and Van Lente have crafted a funny, suspenseful, and action-packed story. The interaction between the team members is a real high point as both humor and tension is used to great effect. Also, they make some nice additions to the Skrull side of the conflict (for those interested in the way Skrulls treat other religions). The writers show they have a strong grasp on how Hercules and the God Squad should fit into the bigger picture and the book is all the better for it. To be honest, this is just an incredibly fun story and if you aren’t along for the ride yet, you’re missing out. Pak and Van Lente have made Incredible Hercules one of the most consistently entertaining books on the shelf.

The artwork for this series continues to be strong. The team does a great job crafting aspects of the Dreamtime and some of the scenes featuring Nightmare are outstanding. Martegod Gracia’s work was particularly impressive with some fantastic use of color. If I have any issue with the art it is that some of the action gets a bit confusing and there was a few times I felt the scenes lacked direction. Still, this is quite a good looking book.

In closing, Incredible Hercules scores again with another good issue. The story is fun, the writing is excellent, and the artwork is almost always a treat to look at. As I said before, if you aren’t reading this series, you should be. Also, think about this…do you really want to miss out on that Amadeus Cho rookie card? In all seriousness though, pick this one up. While the issue as a whole can’t quite match the bar that was set with the awesome first page, this is still one of the best releases of the week. (Grade B+)

-Kyle Posluszny

A Second Opinion

Maybe I was just tired when I read this, but I found the story a little hard to follow when the God Squad confronts Nightmare. Nevermind, I see Kyle had the same problem as well. Anyway, while the coloring is superb throughout the issue, it gets a little muddled during this sequence and I had to do some backtracking to get my bearings. Also, naming the dog Kerberos and then referring to him as Kirby later on was a bit confusing, too. And why does this coyote pup look like a labrador? Eh.

Dog gripes aside, this is another fun-filled issue that rates high on the humor scale. There’s times where things do get serious and our gods put themselves in danger, but those moments are brief and quickly off-set by a gag or joke. For example, when a bevvy of nightmares is unleashed on our heroes, one of Amadeus’ biggest fears is realized: an over-sized Rubik’s Cube with an additional row of squares on each side. Having that thrown into a sea of bad, nightmarish creatures made me laugh out loud.

There’s just no way to take this book seriously. Sure, there may be a moment where things get heated, but for the most part, it’s very reminiscent of an action-comedy or cop-buddy flick. Again, much credit to Grek Pak and Fred Van Lente for writing one of the best titles on Marvel’s block. Rafa Sandoval’s art, along with his supporting team of Roger Bonet and Martegod Gracia are outstanding as well. (Grade: B)

- J. Montes

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