by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
Hercules: Fall of An Avenger
I have a confession to make: I really don’t like funeral issues in superhero comics. Back when you had guys like Captain Marvel or the Flash die, it was a big deal and warranted a special issue, but since the 1990s death has been way too common and resurrections far too cheap to create the feeling of emotional gravity to make such an issue work. So please keep this in mind as I critique Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1.
The issue is very much standard fare for a remembrance story, with a bunch of heroes gathering in Greece to tell tales of their experience with the Prince of Power. There’s a bit of a continuity gaffe as Amadeus criticizes Athena for smiling rather than crying when Hercules fell. This is way different from what we saw in The Incredible Hercules #141, where Athena wept openly despite being the real reason Herc bit the dust.
For a story that has a distinct lack of action, there are at least some fun moments to be had, such as the many lovers of Hercules (which apparently includes Northstar) remembering his…exploits. There’s also Thor remembering a drinking contest between Herc and the giants, which was equally fun. Bruce Banner, now depowered due to events over in The Incredible Hulk, is on hand not because he remembers Herc well (it was the Hulk who had most of their interactions) but to support Amadeus.
The art here is handled by Ariel Olivetti, whose style is something you either love or hate. I personally like it, but it is a break in style from the art on the previous series, so some people might not enjoy the more cartoonish look of the characters.
This series will get a second issue as Athena makes Amadeus the new head of the Olympus Group, which should be interesting. The virgin goddess has really gone all out to make sure Amadeus has all the tools he needs to become the new Prince of Power, but it’s only a matter of time before her treachery gets discovered.
For a change, the Agents of Atlas backup story is much more my speed, as Venus and Namora are tasked with consolidated Hercules’ assets and consoling his many lost loved ones. I think this is actually more powerful than the main story because instead of having a bunch of superheroes who can expect their buddy to come back any day now, we get the views of normal people who have lost Hercules for good. We also get to see Venus handle the fact that instead of just being the bringer of sweet emotions, she now has to handle all the aspects of love, including the sadness that comes from the loss of a loved one.
Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1 is standard fare for funeral issues, but it only really works if we as readers suspend our disbelief enough to buy into the notion that he’s really gone and not coming back (which we know to be false). The backup story has some good emotional weight to it, and the main tale has at least a bit of humor. Amadeus becoming Herc’s replacement should be interesting, so the story is at least going somewhere. I just hope it gets there before Herc’s inevitable resurrection.