There was a time when I was a Marvel Zombie. Looking back at my review list now, many of you may find that hard to believe, but it’s the truth: up until the ceaseless push of hack events began to swallow every decent idea the company produced in an effort to become increasingly grim to push a faux-realism, I really did not see the appeal of DC Comics. Every so often, Marvel will do something great – Patsy Walker: Hellcat, for example, or The Immortal Iron Fist. Brief genre projects less concerned with fitting in with the overarching company-wide directive of misery than with telling fun, fast-paced stories.
Incredible Hercules, while far more wildly uneven than either of the previously mentioned books, fits the same mold. Despite bearing the “Dark Reign” banner and being hip-deep in the whole Osborn schtick, remains a quick, clever book. Ryan Stegman’s art is competent and dynamic, capturing the fun and the action in equal measures – and if Incredible Hercules has anything, its action and comedy.
Though the book in general is wildly uneven, #129 is an great entry for the middle of the arc, as Herc, Amadeus and Athena travel together into the Underworld in an effort to free Zeus and overthrow the scheming of Hera and Hades. Despite the “Dark Reign” banner, the issue doesn’t touch on the metaplot of the MU in any significant way. The series is never quite as funny as it wants to be and has some underlying issues, but strong characterization and a breezy plot help keep the book fun and relevant.