Sporting a cover that boasts Thor, Hulk, Hercules, and Spider-Man, "Chaos War" #5 draws a close to the saga that has been muddling with pantheons throughout the Marvel Universe. The story opens with the multiple facets of the "Chaos War" afflicted stories blending together. The Dead Avengers, Alpha Flight, and Thor all pull together, smartly summarizing the goings-on to this point. Those threads stay close to the surface of the story, but the focus of this issue - like the entire "Chaos War" series - is Hercules and his struggle to properly utilize his all-father powers. Pak and Van Lente drive this point home with the final page of this story for those who felt this story was a pale imitation of some other tale they might have read some other time.
Unfortunately, this series ends a little too nicely. It's like preschool soccer in which everyone gets a trophy when the season is done. Chaos King is triumphant, but so is Hercules. Some newly-not-so-dead characters stick around, but others are inconclusive in their permanence. This issue packs a fun adventure through all this, but it certainly seems as though it might have wrapped a bit sooner than it did, or perhaps enveloped some of the threads that spun out into miniseries.
Pak and Van Lente have fun with the characters in this story, from the banter shared between Balder and Hulk to the light-hearted determination of Amadeus Cho. Hercules attempting to face Chaos King's haiku-threats with haikus of his own provides a fun moment in an otherwise tense situation. Not to be outdone, Bowland throws in a "HAIKOOOOM" sound effect as Hercules lands a roundhouse on the jaw of the Chaos King. The sound effects throughout the book carry the comic book enthusiasm, celebrating this book for all of its immensely bizarre comic science.
Pham's art continues to glisten, thanks in part to Gho's colors, but also to the style that Pham uses here. Pham's storytelling choices showcase his ability for the big moments - the celestial fisticuffs and larger than life landscapes. This book might not rest entirely on Pham's art, but it certainly is boosted by it.
This book was big, loud, comic book fun. Sure, it may not have warranted all of the tie-ins, crossovers, and pop-outs it got, but at its core, it provided a wild adventure that changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe. It's over. It may eventually turn out to be a blip on comic book history, but the blip provided some very specific fanbases with some very specific memorable moments. Hercules is walking away from this series a changed man, and that seems to be just a sampling of the ramifications to come out of the "Chaos War."