Growing up in the Marvel Universe, you learn to both appreciate and hate some strange things. For Amadeus Cho, those things would be prophecies which have caused the young genius to have fantastic adventures with his best friend, the Greek God Hercules. Their adventures are currently being chronicled in the monthly series "The Incredible Hercules" by writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. That same prophecy dictates, however, that Hercules is going to die, and soon - hence the "hate" aspect.
How Herc dies and and what exactly that means is still unclear, but since this month's "Incredible Hercules" #141 continues next month in a mini-series titled "Hercules: Fall of an Avenger," written by Pak and Van Lente, it looks like the prophecy is inescapable. One thing is for certain, though - the Heroic Age is coming to the Marvel Universe in May, and Amadeus Cho will enter it as the titular character of a new series titled "Prince of Power" by co-writers Pak and Van Lente and featuring art by Reilly Brown. CBR News spoke with Pak about the series.
Next week's "Incredible Hercules" and the "Hercules: Fall of an Avenger" mini-series feature some big moments for Hercules and Amadeus Cho while setting the stage for May's "Prince of Power," but they're also very new reader friendly. According to Pak, "Prince of Power" #1 is designed that way as well.
"This is the next stage in the epic that is the 'Incredible Hercules' saga, so fans of Hercules definitely want to pick these stories up, but the nice thing is that it's also a great jumping on point for new readers. We're introducing a new status quo and it will be very easy for folks who don't know anything about the series to jump on board," Pak told CBR News. "It's also an exciting time to jump on board, because we're entering the third act of the giant storyline that we've been building. So we're getting hot and heavy into massive revelations and big pay offs to all the thematic, emotional, and plot related elements we've been building for about two and a half years now. So for folks who have been following the series, this is where a huge amount of stuff comes together and starts to build towards a pretty spectacular climax. But like I said, for new readers this is an easy place to jump on board. If you've been hearing good things about 'Incredible Hercules,' but haven't quite known where to hop on board, this is a great place."
The events of "Hercules: Fall of Avenger" won't simply separate Amadeus Cho from his best friend; they'll completely redefine the young genius' world. "For quite some time now, Amadeus and Hercules have been running around together, and they're two of the biggest wild cards in the Marvel Universe. They're both incorrigible and crazy and have very poor impulse control. So on their own, each one of them gets into a huge amount of trouble, and when you put them together they get into an exponentially greater amount of trouble," Pak explained. "In a strange way, though, the two of them have kind of saved each other from their worst excesses. They're best friends and they need each other in a lot of ways. They've managed to keep each other from taking that step too far multiple times during the course of their journeys together.
"Now, if Amadeus is on his own, how is he going to react, particularly when he's been given these massive new responsibilities and, dare I say, powers? He remains the character you know and love but he's acquired a whole new set of responsibilities that are sort of pushed on him by the goddess Athena who is his patron and long before that was Hercules' patron," Pak continued. "So it's a whole new high stakes ball game for Amadeus and frankly for the world. The kinds of opponents and challenges that Amadeus is going up against threatens to shake the very foundations of the might world of Marvel Mythology. So the stakes have almost never been higher in the 'Incredible Hercules' than right now So if you're interested in Marvel mythology, you definitely don't want to miss this. A lot of big things are going to happen here that will have reverberations in the months to come."
Amadeus may be separated from his best friend when "Prince of Power" #1 begins, but that doesn't mean Pak and Van Lente are going to be abandoning the buddy book dynamic that worked so well in "Incredible Hercules." "Amadeus is about to have some pretty close encounters with a certain, tall, blond Nordic type fellow...Oh, what the heck! You know who it is! You've seen the cover. It's Thor! Thor is going to play a big role during the course of this storyline, and he also plays a big role in the 'Fall of an Avenger' two parter, which happens immediately before this storyline," Pak said. "It will set up some of the dynamic between him and Amadeus. Thor and Hercules have been rivals/best friends for decades in the Marvel Universe, but we haven't really seen what Thor and Amadeus' relationship might turn into ,and we're definitely going to explore that dynamic more during the course of this storyline.
"It's worth noting that Thor and Hercules do share a huge amount of qualities, but they're also very different, especially when it comes to temperament," Pak stated. "I think Herc and Amadeus have a much similar temperament. So it remains to be seen what kind of dynamic Thor and Amadeus might have. It's an open question whether they are going to be with each other or against each other over the course of this storyline."
When "Prince of Power" begins, Amadeus Cho is a teen on a mission, but given his sometimes explosive temper, this might not be a good thing. "Let's just say there is a new Prince of Power in town, and whether or not that's a good thing for the world remains to be seen. For years, Hercules has been the world's chief monster smasher. That's kind of what [being] the Prince of Power is all about. From the Twelve Labors on, Hercules has been all about smashing monsters, but this is a new age and it's time for a new kind of hero," Pak explained. "The big question is, though, whether or not Amadeus and Athena's conceptions of what a hero is match up at all. And whether what Athena thinks Amadeus needs to be doing with his new station have anything to do with what Amadeus intends to do."
"As I said before, without Hercules around, Amadeus' more volatile tendencies may lead him down a path that's unexpected and extremely dangerous," Pak said. "The title of the first issue is 'Blasphemy can be fun.' That may give you some indication of where Amadeus may be going here."
It may sound like Athena's role in "Prince of Power" may be similar to that of a disapproving police captain in a maverick cop movie, but the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare is a much more cunning and multi-faceted character than that. "You never quite know what Athena has planned," Pak remarked. "We talked about Hercules and Amadeus being wild cards, but Athena is probably the biggest wild card in our series thus far. You've got to keep an eye on her."
Amadeus Cho will have to deal with more than just the machinations of his patron throughout the course of his new series. He'll also have to contend with a horde of both brainy and brawny adversaries.
"As you can see on the cover, Amadeus is now carrying Hercules' adamantine mace, which indicates that some smashing may occur. So, folks who have enjoyed the 'have at thee' nature of 'Incredible Hercules' will not be disappointed," Pak revealed. "It's going to be as action packed as ever, but Amadeus is also, almost infamously, one of the smartest people on the planet. In order to take on Amadeus you have to have a little something going on upstairs.
"And we are going to introduce Amadeus' new arch-nemesis, who is someone that is formidable enough to match him on just about every level. Hulk fans take note! This is a character who comes from the pages of a classic run on 'Incredible Hulk' and has a very interesting link to the mythological milieu in which we're playing," Pak continued. "So starting rifling through your collections, because exactly who it is will be revealed fairly soon, but you can start guessing now. We're really excited about this character. This is a great character who is really a perfect match for this book. We've been looking for the right place to bring them in for some time now, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun to see this person and Amadeus go toe-to-toe."
The supporting cast of "Prince of Power" is rounded out by several more major mythological figures. "We are going to get up close and personal with a couple of other major pantheons, who are going to get the Marvel treatment in a big, big way during the course of this storyline," Pak revealed. "For a long, long time, we've also wanted to delve into the Egyptian pantheon and we're finally getting the chance to do that in this storyline. We're also going to see some of the Hindu pantheon as well.
The tone of "Prince of Power" will be one that befits an epic involving gods and heroes. "It's kind of an exciting time ,because like I said, this launches the third act of our big super storyline and everything that's introduced is going to pay off. There's a major revelation that's going to happen towards the end of this storyline. This is where Marvel's Mighty Mythological Milieu undergoes massive turmoil and a whole new world is about to open up here.," Pak explained. "At the same time, I think it's worth noting that if you've been enjoying the crazy hijinks of the 'Incredible Hercules,' that kind of mix of humor, action and the emotional storyline of these characters, all of that is going on during the course of this story as well.
"At certain points during our ongoing storyline, we've had stories that are just larks. Like the 'Replacement Thor' storyline in 'Incredible Hercules' where Herc dressed up as Thor and Thor dressed up as Herc and mayhem ensued. Storylines like that are a little bit more wacky fun, even though they're still building our characters," Pak continued. "And at other times we've had storylines where the stakes seem higher and the feel is a bit more epic. Our 'Secret Invasion' tie in was a storyline like that, and I think we're entering that kind of a phase again. So the emotions and the stakes are sky high. At the same time, we are continuing the vibe and feel that we've had in our stories all throughout."
Fans of the "Replacement Thor" arc in "Incredible Hercules" will be happy to know that artist Reilly Brown will be penciling "Prince of Power." "He delivered just amazing art on the 'Replacement Thor.' I think he was very rightly praised by reviewers and fans alike for that story. He's got a great sense of the epic action and he also knows how to deliver the humor and the emotional content of these stories," Pak stated. "He draws a mean purple nurple [Laughs], but at the same time he knows how to depict the quiet moments of emotional connection; those surprisingly subtle little moments that come up from time to time in the storyline and that are key to moving these characters forward. I'm really excited about Reilly and the vibe he's going to bring. It's just right for 'Incredible Hercules' and 'Prince of Power.'
"It's also worth noting that Reilly has done the redesign for Amadeus and he's done an amazing job. As I said, Amadeus is kind of growing up here a little bit, and in his new role he's got some different togs and of course he's toting Herc's adamantine mace," Pak continued. "Reilly has delivered just a really great update for Amadeus. It reflects Amadeus entering this next stage in his life while at the same time maintaining the kind of energy and irreverence that's essential to the character."
"Prince of Power" is both a mini-series and an ongoing in that it's the next stage of the story that Pak and Van Lente began telling in "Incredible Hercules." "In your longboxes [Laughs], I would recommend following Incredible Hercules' #141 with 'Fall of An Avenger' #1 and #2 and then 'Prince of Power.' Those stories just follow one right after the other. So, it's a mini, but it's the next stage in this storyline and sets up the next huge incarnation of this book," Pak explained. "And when 'Prince of Power' ends, the story will continue in a huge way, but I can say no more about that.
"It's also worth nothing that I hear that Amadeus is about to get himself a Twitter account. So you might want to keep your eyes open for that. I think it's actually going to be twitter.com/AmadeusCho. That's the word on the street," Pak continued. "Also, Nate Cosby and Jordan D. White, our editors from 'Incredible Hercules,' will also be working on 'Prince of Power.' They're Marvel editors working under Mark Paniccia, who is our captain in that particular Marvel office. And since Nate and Jordan are still working on the book, the crazy sound effects and the awesome recap pages from 'Incredible Hercules' will continue."