Marvel’s “point one” issues are supposed to be great stand-alone stories that help new readers jump on and give the comic a try. With “Herc” being cancelled with #10, though, the wind is slightly out of the sails of that particular idea.
It’s a shame, too, because “Herc” #6.1 uses the format well, both progressing ongoing stories and making it new-reader friendly, even if they might think otherwise for a couple of moments.
Most of “Herc” #6.1 is told from the perspective of Hermes, investigating Hercules’ whereabouts and actions as of late. It’s a nice conceit from Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente because it allows them to deliver a lot of exposition while not feeling like you’re in the middle of an information dump (even though that’s exactly what it is). As Hermes follows the trail of Hercules, we get a reminder of what he’s been up to and his new, mortal status. It also lets us plunge into a new situation already in progress. (New readers might think this is the final part of a story involving Mister Negative, but it’s actually just a case of arriving in media res.)
What grabbed my attention even more, though, was Mike Grell’s pencils. It’s been a pleasure to see his art on books like “Herc” and “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” as of late; he’s a great artist and his occasional absences from comics are someone else’s gain. It’s to Grell’s credit that he can draw Hermes in such a traditional-yet-skimpy outfit and it never looks trashy even with so much thigh and chest on display. When Hercules does appear, he not only looks regal but Grell even makes his new outfit look godly. And of course, it’s no surprise that Grell is great on the action sequences. Hermes zipping past the van feels speedy and elegant, and the splash of Hercules using a missile on the Yellow-Crested Titans is nothing short of hysterical.
It’s a real shame that “Herc,” like the “Incredible Hercules” that preceded it, is wrapping up soon. This issue is another firm reminder that this is a comic that mixes humor and drama together well. Pak and Van Lente are able to take the mythical and the modern and make them work well together, and while I never know entirely what to expect from their scripts, it’s almost always excellent. In a better world, these comics would be best-sellers. I know we’ve got a few months to go, but it stands to be said: I’ll miss you, “Herc.”