For over a year now, people have been telling me that I’ve got to check out “Incredible Hercules.” Every time a list of books that no one is reading but everyone should be reading crops up, there’s “Incredible Hercules,” staring me in the face, reminding me that I haven’t picked an issue up yet. Well, I have finally read an issue and it was okay.
If I were to describe “Incredible Hercules” in one word, it would be ‘fun,’ something that’s either a positive or negative depending on your views of what a good comic should be. I love fun comics, personally, but this one falls a bit flat in the execution. Take the one-page gag that begins this issue where Hercules annotates Thor’s origin, a fantastic idea that never goes anywhere. The comments aren’t funny or biting, they come off as forced as if the idea of this page was so good that even weak material couldn’t stop it from seeing print.
The rest of the issue is like that: fun, imaginative ideas that just don’t work as well on the page as they do in concept. Hercules and his father, Zeus are on the run from Hera’s forces after Zeus died, lost his memory, and was transformed into a child. Along the way, Balder the Brave, Asgard’s current ruler, requests Hercules’s assistance in replacing Thor after a run in with a giant troll. The comedy is very hit or miss here, but the jokes that land are quite funny.
The interplay between Hercules and his amnesia-stricken child father is entertaining at times as Hercules tries to assure his father that he knows what he’s doing, while acting in a way that directly contradicts those assurances. The comparisons drawn between the Norse gods and their Olympian counterparts make up some of the best material in the issue as does a brief appearance by Athena. However, the hit/miss ratio is too far off overall.
Reilly Brown’s artwork is a good match for the writing, clean, cartoony, and fun. If anything makes various visual gags work, it’s Brown’s art, which has a good sense of what looks funny and does great facial expressions for this purpose. The actual action is a little stiff in spots, not quite up to Brown’s skills elsewhere in the issue. He shows a lot of promise and seems like a great fit for this book.
While not as great as hyped up to be, “Incredible Hercules” #132 is an entertaining and enjoyable issue. Not every joke works, but those that do are funny — and that there’s a superhero book trying for this fun, light, funny tone is admirable, and worth a look.