First, a recap page. All caught up? Basically, Ares and Hercules are having a fight. A feud. A skirmish. A misunderstanding. Oh yeah, were talking about the gods from the Greek myths here (right in my wheelhouse), not just superheroes… although they are heroes. This chapter begins with… crap; let me back up some more. I think I need to explain how this title used to be called “The Incredible Hulk” about three issues ago. And now it’s not. Now, it’s the Incredible Hercules. There, all explained. It’s now a story about Hercules and his giant-brained sidekick, Amadeus Cho (Mastermind Excello to the initiated). Cho wants revenge on the government, namely S.H.I.E.L.D. (represented by Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man), for what they did to the Hulk, namely shooting him off into space to die and then imprisoning him upon his return and cataclysmic defeat in last summer’s World War Hulk event. Jeez, so much exposition… anyways, the point is, Hercules is Cho’s friend, best friend, perhaps only friend, and he doesn’t want to see the little guy get hurt. Soooooo, the pair of them head off on a series of misadventures and predictably, hijinks ensue and comedy is born.
Check it: Hercules has just thrown Ares clear into the next state and Wonder Man flies off to retrieve him. While waiting impatiently for WM to show up, Ares tries unsuccessfully to “carjack” some locals. Becoming increasingly frustrated, Ares takes matters into his own hands and we get this piece of brilliance. Ares, you are the man. Cut back to Hercules, drugged up on Hydra blood, fighting imaginary villains with his former comrades in arms, The Champions. Black Widow, former leader of the Champions and current Mighty Avenger tasked with bringing in her old teammate Hercules thinks up an awesome plan to take down a god.
The explosion doesn’t kill Herc, but it does knock some sense back into him at which point we are treated to this exchange. Good for you, Herc! Um, Natasha… please stop staring at his &@#%! Hercules. Flummoxed by his manliness, Black Widow allows Hercules to slip away before Ares can return. In the meantime, Cho has stolen what appears to be some type of mini S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier. Herc hitches a ride and Cho explains to him the plan. Hercules is not pleased, especially with the part about excrement and ventilation tubes, and tries to talk Cho out of it. But, as Cho states in the cliffhanger final page, “Too late.”
Can you tell I love this book? Greg Pak finally hits his stride here. The previous two issues have been great, but this one really catapults it to the next level of funny. This is the kind of book he should have been doing since the beginning of his career. I don’t know if he’s only doing this now as a result of his recent fame (the successful reboot of the Hulk) or it has more than a little to do with his co-writer, Fred Van Lente… but I don’t care. This is great, epic comic booking. Both writers have stated that their tenure on the book, as well as Herc and Cho’s, are indefinite. As a fanboy, I find this hard to believe, but hope beyond hope that they are true to their word. My only complaint? For new readers, some of the jokes might be too continuity laced to be understood by the casual mind. But despite that, I highly recommend it for fans of slapsticky funny books and overall good timery.