If you’re looking for good, silly, clever fun, you should look no further than “The Incredible Hercules.” With each new issue, I’m genuinely impressed at Greg Pak’s and Fred van Lente’s skills in taking what really should have been a dead-on-arrival comic and making it so much fun. If nothing else, I think it shows once and for all that there are no bad character concepts, just bad executions.
What’s nice here is that (to trot out another old cliche) there really is a little something for everyone in “The Incredible Hercules.” It’s got a superhero plot with Hercules, Namora, and Amadeus Cho trying to save the world from Amazon invaders who have in their possession an artifact that can rewrite the universe. There’s a nice mix of mythology as well, with Atlas squaring off against Hercules once more, as well as Athena’s presence. And if you’re looking for humor, you’ve definitely come to the right place. From Namora’s attack on Atlas (and the comments afterwards) to Atlas using the Washington Monument as a club to knock foes through the air, there’s a great sense of whimsy on display here. Where else can you get sound effects like, “Barrakkaalctd!” when Namora and Hercules punch Atlas in the head, after all? (I suspect letterer Chris Eliopoulos is having a field day adding in all the sound effects from the script.)
Add in some nice art from Clayton Henry and Salva Espin, and “The Incredible Hercules” is a home run. I can’t figure out why Henry isn’t in demand more, with his clean figures and strong sense of storytelling. The sense of movement and the flow of action here are graceful, and I love the way that he draws the cast of the comic. Part of me hopes this helps boost Henry’s profile, but honestly I would be delighted if he stuck around on “The Incredible Hercules” for many more stories to come.
If you haven’t given “The Incredible Hercules” a try, you owe it to yourself to take a look. This is just a joy to read from start to finish, and then some. Even with the end of the latest issue no doubt ready to be reversed in the conclusion of this storyline, it doesn’t matter. It’s going to be so much fun getting to that point, you can’t help but cheer all the parties involved for creating such a good comic.