"Sacred Invasion" was "The Incredible Hercules" connection into Marvel's "Secret Invasion" event this summer and it brought together an unlikely team of gods and demigods to battle the primary deities of the Skrull belief system â€" Sl'gur't ("Infinite Names") and Kly'bn ("Eternal Skrull").
That storyline wraps up in "Incredible Hercules" #120. Well, it wraps up for the most part. Some dangling threads and participles are left for future adventures, as not all of the God Squad (Amadeus Cho's tag for the collection of immortals) are destined to remain allies of Hercules. That said, the God Squad is composed of Hercules (duh), Snowbird (of Alpha Flight fame), Demogorge (aka God-eater), Ajak (an Eternal) and Mikaboshi (a Japanese shape-shifting god who has unfortunate ties to Hercules).
This issue follows the battle within the God Squad, as well as their battle against Kly'bn and Sl'gur't. It also reveals to those readers following "Secret Invasion" who the "he" is in the phrase, "He loves you." In all, this story is an integral piece of the summer event, and certainly offers a bit more action panel for panel than either of the main stories from Marvel or DC.
Pak and Van Lente are the main reason why. The duo serves up unashamed integration within a shared universe at its very best. Since this series (or at least the re-naming of it from "Incredible Hulk" to "Incredible Hercules") started, Pak and Van Lente have not hesitated to drop in cameos, guest shots and co-starring roles from all corners of the Marvel universe, in much the same way Peter Tomasi is aptly embedding Nightwing as the crux of the DC Universe in that character's title.
This issue illuminates that concept to the utmost, and is successful due to the art of Sandoval (who, himself, bears the name of an old comic character). In a style akin to Doug Mahnke and, in parts, Andy Kubert, Rafa Sandoval delivers the goods, rendering characters that ring true and stand heroically when called to do so, all the while never giving up their humanity â€" even the gods.
The colors from Gracia help that cause, as do Caramagna's letters. The latter, however, could stand to make the sound effects a little more classic in style so they might stand the chance of being more legible.
While Kly'bn claims that Hercules is, "so flawed. So in need of what I can give you," I beg to differ. This title has consistently offered the readers a solid adventure and found ways to pepper those adventures with mythology and action. Hercules as a character may indeed be flawed, but that, to me, is what makes this book â€" and especially this storyline â€" worth reading.