The Incredible Hercules: The New Prince of Power

Writers: Greg Pak, Paul Tobin, Fred Van Lente
Pencillers: Adam Archer, Reilly Brown, Zach Howard, Ariel Olivetti, Ryan Stegman
Inkers: Michael Babinski, Ariel Olivetti, Terry Pallot, Jason Paz
Colourists: June Chung, Ariel Olivetti, Wil Quintana, Val Staples
Letterers: Simon Bowland, Clayton Cowles, Joe Sabino

Collects: Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1-2, Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1-4

It takes something for a book to get away with as badly characterising well-known heroes as this one does at times…and thankfully this collection has it. Now there’s a bit of an elephant in the room in terms of the plot here, which I would consider a bit of a spoiler but I can’t really go on without getting it out there. So, if you want to stop reading now’s the time.

Still here? Good. The two series collected in this book deal with the Marvel Universe’s reaction to the death of Hercules in the Assault on New Olympus storyline. The first two issues, drawn by Ariel Olivetti, have the heroes of the MU gathering at the Parthenon to say their final words on the original Prince of Power. Of course his best friend Amadeus Cho (7th smartest person on the planet) is first there but he’s soon joined by heroes with direct or tangential relationships with Herc who all want to say their piece. Each character gets their chance to tell a tale of Hercules, usually revealing him to be a deeper or better person than he’s often considered to be.

Lover, fighter and friend are all covered by the assemblage before the arrival of the Greek Pantheon who are deciding who will take over the earthly holdings of the Olympus Group. This second issue takes the form of a “team battle” as Athena and Apollo select mortals to do battle for the right to lead. Frankly it’s a little clichéd and it’s only the resolution of the fight which holds any interest and allows Amadeus to take flight to the realm of Hades for one last chat to his best friend.

We then cleanse our palate with the story of Namora and Venus of the Agents of Atlas on a world tour to close down Herc’s earthly holdings, turns out he didn’t spend it all on ale and whores after all! It’s a nice little story and again shows another side of Hercules.

As we enter the Prince of Power arc Amadeus has  his hands full dealing with Athena whilst looking for a way to recover his lost pal. This arc sees the reintroduction of an old-school Hulk villain which was a great surprise and Amadeus teamed up with Thor. This is probably the worst piece of characterisation in the book as Thor talks about Youtube and roofies. I don’t want Thor to be completely a man out of time but it doesn’t sit at all well with how I’m reading Thor in other titles at the moment…frankly it was all a little Thunderstrike. We get some great scenes with Delphyne Gorgon, Amadeus’s off-and-on girlfriend, in which she goes all Die Hard on the troops of the big bad.

Even though there are these character problems the fact is this story is a whole load of fun which more than makes up for any weakness. There’s one spot with an Egyptian cat-goddess being turned into a lolcat-goddess which is just absolute bloody genius. The art doesn’t press my buttons but it stays on-model and Cho is represented looking like he’s 17 rather than the 12/13yr old some artists seem to peg him at.

It’s a good collection, Marvel didn’t succumb to the temptation to pad with reprints, it’s all “new” material which whilst split into three parts does hold some common narrative thread.

Rating:

 

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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